How to Succeed in Real Estate — One Small Win at a Time

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Many newbies don’t achieve their goals because they fail to celebrate each small milestone on the way to success.

Because they don’t get a deal in the first 3 months after getting started, they give up. They conclude that real estate doesn’t work — or at least not for them.

The problem is that the goals these investors set are too far into the future, and they fail to recognize the progress they’re actually making. The result of both of these mistakes is that most investors give up with real estate investing even though they’re actually on the path to becoming successful.

The solution is to set realistic interim goals and to celebrate the smaller milestones along the way. This provides much-needed “proof” that you’re on the right path — and gives you a much higher chance that you’ll stick with it and succeed.


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How to Retire in 3-5 Years

Let’s assume you want to retire in the next 3-5 years and you’ve decided that the best way to achieve that goal is by investing in apartment buildings by raising money from others (good decision, BTW!).

There are three problems with this goal:

  1. It’s too far into the future.
  2. You’ll likely have to do several deals to get there.
  3. Even doing your first deal might take a year or longer.

Most newbies are so overwhelmed by this that they never get started. The few that do get started give up after several months because they haven’t done their first deal.

Related: 5 Highly Actionable Steps to Make REAL Progress Towards Your Investing Goals

Why do they give up? They’re analyzing deals, making offers, meeting with potential investors, and building their team, but they don’t have a deal under contract. This is incredibly frustrating, and many quit because they expect immediate results if they implement a series of steps that are supposed to lead to a specific outcome.

They think that because several months of work have not produced a first deal, they are not making progress. They become discouraged, and without a good mentor, they will quit.

The truth is that they’re actually making progress, but they don’t see it. The solution to staying on track is to recognize and celebrate the small milestones on the way to the ultimate goal.


Celebrate the Small Wins

In the context of apartment building investing, here are some of the milestones I tell my students to celebrate:

  • First deal analyzed
  • First phone call with a broker
  • First offer made
  • First counter-offer received
  • First contract submitted
  • First meeting with a potential investor
  • First conversation with a potential team member (like property manager or lender)
  • 10th phone call with a broker or potential team member
  • 10th offer made
  • 10th investor meeting
  • 50th offer made

Notice that all of these milestones are not outcomes but activities. The beauty of this technique is that you can actually see yourself making progress even though you are not achieving any results. This is important because that first tangible result (doing your first deal) may take longer than you have patience for. But if you consider certain activities as “mini results,” then you feel like you’re making progress and you’re more likely to stick with it.

Related: Stop Dreaming & Start Doing: How to Turn Big Real Estate Goals Into Actionable Steps

Whenever you get started with something new, focus on activities, not outcomes. The outcomes will come later but only after you do the activity long enough. Do not become discouraged by the apparent lack of success. Continue taking action and make sure to recognize and celebrate the small milestones along the way. Eventually, the results will come.

Are you frustrated with your real estate investing? What “small” milestones can you set and celebrate?

Let’s talk in the comments section below.

About Author

Michael Blank

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 building deals with a special focus on raising money. Through his investment company, he controls over $30MM in performing multifamily assets all over the United States and has raised over $8MM. In addition to his own investing activities, he’s helped students purchase over 2,000 units valued at over $87MM. He’s the author of the best-selling book Financial Freedom With Real Estate Investing and the host of the popular Apartment Building Investing podcast Apartment Building Investing podcast.


  1. Zachary Gwin

    So true, Michael! I think a lot of new investors, myself included, come into this with high hopes and big eyes. Not understanding that the hardest part is getting all of your chips in order before you can get that first deal. Celebrating those little “wins” keeps you going and makes it enjoyable. Thanks for shining some light for the fellow beginners out there!


  2. It took me two years and the analysis of 100+ prospective deals to close on my first commercial property. The process became much easier after that first one!

  3. Hello Michael,
    You made some good points in this article. As a newbie to Real Estate investment, I can appreciate your advice, “celebrate the small milestones.” Perfect – thank you.

  4. Courtney Merricks

    Michael, thank you for really putting the small things into perspective. It’s hard to see the efforts made as wins, when you haven’t closed on a deal yet. But I get it! You have to celebrate the small wins in order to obtain the big one. In due time the big wins will come… I am focused on the smaller ones. Thank you sir!!!

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