Why Your Real Estate Business Should Mean More to You Than A Way to Simply Make Money

by | BiggerPockets.com

This week I wanted to (again lol) write something more on the side of investor psychology.

A lot of the time, our community focuses so much on the “how to make a bunch of money” part of real estate that we neglect the “why” behind our actions. Now I’m not trying to harp on being a softy, but in light of recent events going on in the media, I think it’s clear that happiness and purpose is not synonymous  with wealth and a large number on your bank statement.

At the same time, let’s not pretend… all of us are in this real estate thing in order to make money, but to what end? So we can drive cool cars and work like animals? I don’t think so…I think there is more depth to the opportunity at hand than we realize and I want to bring it to light and have us discuss it.

The Conscious Business Model

So there is a lot of talk going on with companies like Wholefoods, Chik-fil-A, Starbucks and so on that exist as a for-profit entity, with a simi-non-profit attitude.

Related: Difficult Questions Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Ask Themselves

These are businesses that have been designed with a purpose, to solve some sense of problem in the world, and as such they are changing the way people do things. Today I want to talk about this model in the context of real estate, and real estate investing in general.

What is it to be an investor with a mission?

Do you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world in what you everyday?

I think so… here’s why:

We Have Influence On The Morale of Our Community

We as investors have the ability to buy those properties (apartment complexes especially) that no one else wants. We can take the ugly, high-crime nastiness of a city and help clean it up by renovating it, attracting higher-class tenants etc.

Depending on how involved you want to be, you could even help tenants in low-income areas get exposed to education, job opportunities, all kinds of things by hosting events, parties and so on.

The point I’m trying to make is that we as investors can and should, be a lot more like Michele Fischer and Al Williamson and really invest in our communities, not just in the property of those communities…if you caught my drift.

Our Opportunity

We really have an opportunity on our hands.

This world needs the affluent to make a stand and facilitate growth and vibrancy in the world.

What if you started hosting real estate classes in your local lower-income areas?

What if you mentored 1 person a year who wouldn’t others get the opportunity to see the things that are possible in real estate?

What if you intentionally bought a property in a rough area with hope to turn it around?

What if?

Related: Why Educating Your Children About Real Estate Matters


Below, I want to hear from you guys.

I really want this to be interactive.

How can we use our knowledge and our business to give back to the community?

 Or if you already are doing something, what are you doing that others can gleam from?

Be sure to leave your comments below!

About Author

Jaren Barnes

Jaren Barnes is passionate about what the BiggerPockets community has to offer and is very active in his local real estate market. Come say hi to him on Twitter!


  1. I think part of what makes someone successful and whole, regardless of their field, is whether they give back to humanity. So many of us turn the other way when we see unappealing homes or people in despair (homelessness). We simply don’t know what to do – or don’t care.

    Growing up with a bi-polar mother was challenging and frustrating, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. If she hadn’t lived with us, she would’ve most likely ended up on the streets with no one to care for her. Unfortunately, this is a reality for many people who struggle with mental illness.

    One of my long-term goals would be to provide affordable housing specifically for mentally challenged/ill people. A place they can be safe. Maybe this is just a pipe dream (I don’t have any specifics worked out), but one of my hopes is that along with revitalizing these run down places, we’re also contributing to boosting the people themselves.

    “Success” shouldn’t be calculated in money. It should be calculated in how much you helped and made a difference.

  2. Good things come to people who send good things out into the world. Otherwise known as karma.
    Thanks for the ideas. I always try to be ethical but haven’t incorporated a specific humanitarian objective into my business plan. Something to think about.

  3. Andy Jacoby II on

    Its three things first when you improve those ugly houses in those rough neighbourhoods not only do you elevate the tenant standard in the area but your generating jobs in that area and that creates a ripple effect. Second if you take the time to adopt a community cause your really assisting the community in multiple ways. Third if you educate your children and others you are exponentially replicating those ripples in community.

  4. Chad Carson

    Hey Jaren,
    Love the topic! It reminds me of an awesome Emerson quote:

    “It is one of the beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

    There is not doubt our businesses of flipping houses and renting houses can help others. But I admire businesses that take it a step further and make your business a vehicle that makes profits SO THAT you can make an even bigger difference in the world … either within the business or outside of it.

    This means the mission is first, the profits are very necessary engine to accomplish it.

    Some really cool books for these types of conscious businesses, as you mentioned in the article are:
    Conscious Capitalism by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey
    Building Social Businesses – Muhammad Yunnus

  5. Hattie Dizmond on

    Thank you, Jaren. It’s so refreshing to know there are people out there who are not in it SOLEY for the money. Don’t get me wrong, making a profit is important. If we don’t make a profit, we won’t be around very long to do good. However, making a profit shouldn’t be where our passions lie. I know for myself, the easiest way for me to become down and discouraged is to focus to narrowly on myself and what may or may not be in it for me. I am most passionate…most energized when my focus is expanded to how will this benefit others. Sometimes that benefit is simply to those in my innermost circle of friends and family. Other times the vision extends far beyond to those I’ve not yet met or encountered. I just know that, for me, passion comes from the knowledge my actions can and will have beneficial impact on others. It’s what drives me, what challenges me and what keeps me up at nights.

    Thank you for challenging us to not only give voice to our desire to impact others through our investing, but challenging some to think beyond the dollar signs.

  6. GREAT article!! I’m just starting out as an investor. Haven’t even made my first deal yet but it has long been my desire to help others somehow through the profits I’ll make. Whether that’s rebuilding a neighborhood house by house, donations to charities, educating others so that they can pick themselves up or a combination of all of those, I will do something. Jaren I would love someone to partner with on my first deal who has that same desire and willingness to help. I’ve got some money but have a lot to learn. If you know of anyone who wants to help me help others, send them my way.

  7. We have 1 unit that we rent well below market to help a really nice low income family. We want to do more and you have some very practical ideas. Thanks for your thoughtful post.

  8. Jaren – Thanks for your article. I just finished reading Conscious Capitalism and am halfway through It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For, and have been praying for direction on how I can find purpose in a real estate career. My thoughts of late have been aligned with exactly the view that you espouse, there exists a real opportunity for empathetic real estate investors to make a difference in their communities one life at a time. – Gary

  9. Jaren, thanks for this article. I’m new on this site , so I am behind on my reading of all these great articles ! It was a pleasure to read this and reflect upon it. I think that the extension of the service concept to the community we invest in is great.
    I would like to know if there is a bigger Pockets group in Katy Tx. The closest investment clubs I know of here meet in the downtown Houston area. With the terrible traffic here, I can’t really participate. If there is none, we could form a local Katy real estate investors group and participate in these community affairs as well as cooperate in business development.

  10. Lafontant Cherilus

    Jaren – I know you’ve posted this a while ago, and this is EXACTLY my vision and goal. I’ve told people, anyone who listens, is my goal is to eventually rehab a block in my hometown of Newark / Irvington NJ.

    Although I’m in Southern NJ now, I want to provide wrap around services to buy and hold properties in working class neighborhoods. I still want to earn a profit, but I also want to make a DIFFERENCE.

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