Real Estate Investing Basics

Why Most Wannabe Investors Never Buy a Single Property (& How to Be Different!)

Expertise: Business Management, Commercial Real Estate, Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics
126 Articles Written

Many people want to be real estate investors, but only very few become one. Why is that?

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As a coach, it’s frustrating to me when I meet someone who tells me about the classes and seminars they’ve attended. When I ask them, “So, what kind of deals have you done,” they tell me that they haven’t… yet. But they’re signed up for the multi-family boot camp next month.

It’s not that the system we buy doesn’t work (most do); it’s that when we come home or finish the course, we don’t translate that into action to affect lasting transformation.

On the other hand, I see people who follow Nike’s advice and “just do it.” Yes, they may purchase the course, but they start doing things even before they finish. Yes, they ask questions, but the lack of answers doesn’t stop them from making offers. They don’t have the money raised from investors yet, but they send out the letters to out of state apartment building owners.

What differentiates the doers from the non-doers?

I’ve heard it said that “direction, not intention, determines your destination.”

It doesn’t matter what we WANT, it matters what we DO.

However, before we can DO, we must first DECIDE. This is a step that we often skip, and it’s at the root of why we can’t seem to take action to change in our lives.

Before You Can Take Action, You Must First DECIDE

What this means practically is that we must decide, right now, that we want to achieve a certain goal or live a certain life. We simply declare it as fact. We accept no failure or alternative. We might not have a clue how to achieve it, but we commit to a certain outcome. We convince ourselves that the pain of NOT changing is so great that we can’t bear it another day. We visualize what our lives are like once we achieve our goal.

It doesn’t “work” if we want something or wish for something. “I’d like a million dollars” or “Yes, I want to retire early.” The universe does not grant lukewarm wishes; it grants only that which you already decided to be true.

You might have little or no real estate investing experience at all, but you make this decision TODAY: "I'm thankful for the $5,000 of passive income per month I'm getting from my multifamily portfolio. I've been able to quit my job to focus full-time on real estate investing. I'm spending more time with my family. I've built a financial legacy that I can pass on to my family. I will do whatever it takes and will let nothing stop me. I am completely committed to achieving this life in the next 3 years. Once I achieve this milestone, I will take my family scuba diving in Belize."

Now read this out loud when you get up in the morning and before you go to bed at night. Can you see how over time this will become a belief that will become so strong that it becomes a reality for you?

Related: The One Question You Need to Answer FIRST in Order to Be Successful in Real Estate

Decision and belief alone will not get us there. While it’s at the heart of change, it is worthless without ACTION.

Decide First, Then Take Action!

Tony Robbins said, “Never leave the scene of a decision without first taking a specific action towards its realization.” I think this is such actionable advice. As soon as you decide, immediately take one action, any action, that brings you one step closer to your goal.

Some people are natural action-takers. Others are not. But if I instruct someone who is not a natural action taker with specific tasks (like "analyze one deal today " or "make one offer today, even if it's immediately rejected"), after a while these non-action-takers begin taking action on their own.

Is it possible that taking action is like a muscle that you can develop? I think the answer is yes.

Try this: if you find yourself not taking action, write down 3 things you should do next. Just 3 things. Not 101 or even a dozen things, just 3 things. They can be small or even insignificant. It doesn’t matter. Write them down so that you can easily complete them in one week. Then do them and cross them off your list.

When you’re done, repeat the process, and write down the next 3 things you should do.

After several weeks, you’ll be amazed at what you’ve accomplished. Blown away. Try it.

Related: How to Accomplish Any Overwhelming Task in 3 Easy Steps

The other thing you’ve done is exercised your action muscle, and you’ve developed a habit of taking action.


Aren’t the implications of this mind-boggling? If you combine DECISION with small but consistent ACTION, you are on the path to achieving anything you want in life.

What are the next 3 things you feel you need to do next? What’s holding you back?

Let me know your real estate goals in the comments section below!

Michael Blank is a leading authority on apartment building investing in the United States. He’s passionate about helping others become financially free in 3-5 years by investing in apartment buildi...
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    Tracy Coleman Renter from Pecos, Texas
    Replied over 5 years ago
    how do you get stared with no money in the wholesaling business and title company will not work with you?
    Cheryl C. Investor from Reston, VA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    For years (decades) I’ve thought about this “issue”. A large problem for people is that they are “risk averse”. What if, what if, what if…what if the worst happens and I lose money? The close relative is “analysis paralysis” – think too long and hard and the decision is made for you; the deal is gone – taken by another investor who can actually pull the trigger. It is indeed extremely frustrating to deal with people that fall into the above categories. For years, friends and relatives exclaimed how “lucky” we were in our real estate investments and that they wish, wished, wanted to do the same. Luck has nothing to do with it. Due diligence and ACTING on opportunities are the difference. No one ever “dropped” a deal on me and even if they did, the “luck” people would not have taken action. Sites like BiggerPockets were not around 30 or so years ago when we “jumped in”. This may be a good thing as many of our purchases would not have met the “rules” (2%, etc.). My over-riding criteria has always been – is there any way that I will lose money on this? Throw in every adverse event, unforeseen repair, “turn in the Market”, etc. Will I come out whole? If the answer was yes (and this analysis should take only a few minutes) I bought. It boils down to “those who DO and those who DON’T”. And, honestly, it takes a certain mind-set and some, well, just don’t have it in their chemistry.
    Chris Perumean from Beaverton, Oregon
    Replied over 5 years ago
    ” For years, friends and relatives exclaimed how “lucky” we were in our real estate investments and that they wish, wished, wanted to do the same. ” Cheryl C. – I felt compelled to reply to this… My friends and family have stated for DECADES that I have a “Luck Dragon” with me, and that all the events in my life have been assisted by it. While I sincerely appreciate their support over the years, I’ve always known that my Luck Dragon had a name: WILL. I appreciate you reminding me of that.
    Cheryl C. Investor from Reston, VA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Who was it that said: “The harder I work, the luckier I get”?
    Michael Blank Rental Property Investor from Northern Virginia, VA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I agree that some people don’t have it in their chemistry, but I also believe the skill can be developed. Some have more work than others, but it can be done.
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Every time I go to a seminar I see the seminaraholcs, those who seem to just go from one seminar to the next as if the high of thinking about becoming wealthy is all they need. At one Lindahl conference I believe, he mentioned how a lady told him she was going to buy the coaching package because she’d been going to his conferences for seven years but hadn’t bought anything yet. The whole thing makes me sad. You do have to decide that this is something you want and while educating yourself first, you need to set a drop dead date where you’re going to jump in.
    Michael Blank Rental Property Investor from Northern Virginia, VA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    It’s scary sometimes to start doing something. That’s why people keep going to seminars because they think that fear will go away. It doesn’t.
    Dominique Grayson Investor from Leauge City, Texas
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I like the comments so far. I think its for sure a mixture of analysis paralysis, fear of losing money and all things that are essentially negative. If you notice, we always talk about what people are “not doing”. Here’s the simple fact Do you believe you can do it? Do you see yourself actually making a decision to do something different? Do you see yourself physically placing bandit signs around your target area, or researching what areas your going to send direct mail to AND actually sending them out? Do you visualize yourself talking to the individuals who call you back and talk to you about what your ad is suggesting, AND visualize yourself mailing them out or pressing confirm on your order of mail outs? Do you see yourself not only budgeting to make your marketing campaigns work, but analyzing what is needed for business to get done, look at your current situation THEN DOING WHATS NECESSARY to make or save the amount of money needed for you to fund your business? I could go on but I am trying to prove the point that you have to visualize yourself being successful. being on the “get things done” path.
    Michael Blank Rental Property Investor from Northern Virginia, VA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Visualization is key.
    Rafael Pacheco Real Estate Investor from San Antonio, Texas
    Replied over 5 years ago
    My Real Estate goals are , to become financially independent , and to have the freedom to do and have anything I want whenever I want. I also like and enjoy helping others so when I feel ready I can teach others who want to learn this business.
    Michael Blank Rental Property Investor from Northern Virginia, VA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks for sharing Rafael …
    Christy Diehl Involved In Real Estate from San Diego, CA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    When I first began investing, the excitement and determination drove me to do things completely outside my comfort zone (contacting owners directly by phone and setting appointments) I remember thinking as I walked around their home pretending to know what I was talking about 🙂 that I probably knew more than they did so I would be ok. So there you go, just act like you know what your talking about and don’t be afraid to say “you know I really need to check on that” if and when they ask you a question your not sure of. Then go for it!
    Michael Blank Rental Property Investor from Northern Virginia, VA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    The key is that you just started doing something …
    Ayodeji Kuponiyi Investor from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
    Replied over 5 years ago
    3 things I need to do is practice analyzing numbers, learning real estate commercial vocabulary, and seek real estate investor doing what I want to do.
    Michael Blank Rental Property Investor from Northern Virginia, VA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    3 good next steps!
    Ken P. Rental Property Investor from Northville, MI
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great article Michael! One thing that really helped me get going was hanging out with a friend who was getting things done. I looked over his shoulder as he looked at properties, analyzed them and then actually walked through his most recent purchase. The great thing about Biggerpockets, which I didn’t know about back then when I was getting started, is that you can look over the shoulder of other investors every day. The Great Recession, in combination with my friend’s success, was what finally got me to move. Prices crashed so low that analysis showed that there was almost no way to lose, so I made my first move.
    Michael Blank Rental Property Investor from Northern Virginia, VA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Ken – it’s critical that you surround yourself with people who support you and/or are like you want to be.
    Dion Boose from Redford, Michigan
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Solid post Michael. I really like the tip of “analyzing a deal per day”, It can help someone take action and create momentum.