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3 Steps to Kickstart Your Real Estate Investing Journey

3 Steps to Kickstart Your Real Estate Investing Journey

4 min read
Erin Helle

Erin Helle is an Army veteran turned entrepreneur specializing in flipping houses, turnkey renovation products, and real estate investor coaching and education.

Erin served in the United States Army for a total of 14 years, deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan. While serving, she learned the value of hard work, networking, and commitment.

Since leaving active duty, Erin has pursued a life of financial freedom and enjoys challenging the status quo to create a life she never thought was even an option as a real estate investor and entrepreneur. She combines her passion of real estate with her desire to help everyone around her.

Erin pursued real estate with fury, purchasing 19 doors in her first year as an investor, with a deployed husband, a toddler, and a newborn. She owns single family homes, a duplex, a triplex, and a ten-plex. She also regularly flips houses in the Nashville and Clarksville markets in Tennessee.

Erin loves to spend time with her two young girls and her husband, who is still serving active duty. She enjoys traveling, eating great food, drinking good wine, and working out.

Erin is a licensed Realtor in Tennessee, a certified Project Management Professional, has completed a Master’s degree in Management, and is months away from completing her dissertation for her Doctor of Business Administration degree.

Instagram @theerinhelle

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We all know people who are crushing it in real estate. But for some reason, we doubt our ability to do the same!

When I talk to hopeful investors, I hear the same reasons repeatedly. These “reasons” are really just excuses—justifications that people use to avoid getting into the business. These include fear of the unknown, concerns about maintenance costs, lack of cash, and not wanting to fix toilets at 2 a.m.

You will deal with a broken water heater. Or a busted HVAC unit. Or a leaky roof. Or perhaps all three at the same time.

Your tenant’s dogs will pee on every inch of your carpet, and their kids will color all over your once-perfect walls. These are all things investors will have to deal with at some point or another.

In order to ensure that none of this bankrupts you, consider these expenses when assessing a property.

Realize that if you commit to investing, you will likely make a bad investment at some point. Or you may come across some costly expense that you never anticipated.  Understand and accept this, and your investing career will be a lot more enjoyable.

If you plan for these inevitable speed bumps en route to financial freedom and put the appropriate protections (a savings account or line of credit) in place, you will come out on the other side. It will be a nuisance and may affect your bottom line, but no entrepreneur is free from all risk.

The lack of the cash thing can be an actual reason not to invest. However, if you listen to podcasts and read about investing in real estate, you will quickly realize that you don’t even have to use your own money!

Is your mind blown? I know mine was when I first learned about this.

aerial view of houses and culdesacs and tree-lined streets

I truly believed that only people with access to lots of money or friends with deep pockets could ever begin investing. I was wrong and can happily report that I have used other people’s money to make a fair profit.

You can absolutely use other people’s money as a down payment or even have a seller finance a property for you, bypassing the usual credit checks and income requirements. This is a conversation for another day, but don’t let a lack of funds keep you from getting in the business!

Related: BiggerPockets Podcast 352: No Driver’s License, No Money, No Excuses: How Diego Corzo Blazed a Trail to 18 Doors

The last excuse I hear frequently usually has to do with fixing toilets or getting your tenant a copy of a house key at 2 a.m. because they drunkenly locked themselves out.

Guys, this does not have to be how it goes. You could save yourself a couple hundred bucks over the course of a year and manage a property yourself, but the chance of these things happening are low, and their frequency is even lower—especially if you keep up with your maintenance and put good tenants in your properties.

How to Get Started Investing in Real Estate

If you’re thinking about everything I said and are even remotely intrigued, I recommend that you take a few action steps.

Step 1: Get out of debt

I am not talking about your personal home mortgage; rarely would I consider that bad debt. I’m talking about car payments, college loans, and credit card debt. Pay all of that off, and start saving.

Take a look at these extreme ways to save money. Oh, and fair warning, the title does not lie. Some of these are more than a bit extreme!

Hello, military showers! I can joke about this, because I have literally been there! So, there I was in Iraq, taking a rare shower, and the water runs out while I am completely lathered up! Thank God for a handful of water bottles close by, so I could at least get most of the shampoo out of my hair before going to work. Not my best day…

Anyway, let’s get back on topic.

Business people networking and having cocktails at meetup in conference room setting

Step 2: Learn, learn, learn

Listen to podcasts, read a few books, attend a real estate networking event. Find a mentor, and take a course. Listen to the BiggerPockets Podcast. They are straightforward, informative, productive, and usually pretty entertaining.

As far as books, check out these must-read books, and start making your way down the list. Then, Google a local real estate investor meetup, go grab a beer, and soak in all that knowledge!

Step 3: Make an offer

None of this will ever matter if you don’t take action. I am not suggesting that you run out and offer full asking price for the first house you see or listen to someone you sort of know who met a guy who has an uncle-in-law who is a real estate millionaire. I am suggesting you put to use everything you learn from the podcasts you listen to, books you read, and all your new, experienced friends in real estate.

Do your homework, run the numbers, and make an offer that works for you. You will likely get denied a time or two (I had eight rejected offers before finally getting one accepted). But each time you assess, analyze, and offer, you will learn something new.

Related: Rental Property Numbers So Easy You Can Calculate Them on a Napkin (With Real-Life Example!)

If you’re not inspired, then I have failed you, but hope is not lost. If my experience and hypotheticals did not convince you, check out these inspiring stories, and then try to fall asleep tonight without thinking about it!


If you haven’t started investing yet, what’s holding you back? What questions can I answer? 

Let’s chat in the comment section below.