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Why You Shouldn’t Worry About How Many Loans You Have in Real Estate

David Greene
8 min read
Why You Shouldn’t Worry About How Many Loans You Have in Real Estate

When it comes to RE investing, if you’ve been listening to the BP podcast, roaming the forums, or reading the blog, you’ve no doubt heard many people asking the question: “How many loans can I have?” For those embarking on a new journey (which RE investing usually is), it is completely natural to want to understand every step you’ll be taking along the way. Most of us find comfort in predictability, so when we are scared, it’s only natural to try to understand every single step of the mountain in front of us we have to climb.

The Problem is, Success Doesn’t Work That Way

In fact, no journey really works that way. It’s nice to think of success as a straight line without any hitches, ditches, or bumps in the road. But that’s just not accurate. The road to success is a never-ending path of mistakes, inefficiencies, and unexpected changes in direction. My advice to you, if you want to start making some serious progress in your business, is to get OK with the fact that progress is messy, unclear, and often times involves a healthy amount of uncertainty.

What I’ve found over the last two years of learning a brand new trade (real estate sales as opposed to law enforcement) is that progress often comes in ways and from directions I did not expect it. I very rarely ever know what my path will look like, or what my next step will be — until I’ve taken the one right in front of me.

Brandon Turner and I were talking about this the other day. We have both found success is like a staircase you have to walk, but it’s in the dark. And the only step you can see is the one right in front of you. It’s not until you take that step that the next step is illuminated. For those willing to operate in this level of uncertainty, you will find success. Just like you will find an increase in your elevation if you keep walking up stairs. The path of success isn’t a problem if you’re OK not having the whole road map before you start the journey. It’s only a problem for those who like to know exactly what they are getting into before they get started.

Let’s Take a Step Back and Think About This

When we look at different professions, very few of them pay well if the average day’s work is predictable. Certain jobs offer very little variety, stress, or need to think and adjust on the fly: a worker at Amazon who fills orders, an assembly line worker who does the same thing everyday, an office admin assistant who follows the same procedures all the time. These are positions that offer a high level of certainty but typically very little pay.

Related: What Newbies Should Know About Financing Investment Properties 

Now let’s consider positions that pay very well. They oftentimes also come with a very low level of certainty. A professional athlete who doesn’t know which pitch is coming next, or even what team he’ll play for next year, or if he’ll be out on injury. Or a company CEO who is responsible for making huge adjustments on sometimes short notice. What worked yesterday isn’t guaranteed to work today. A CEO needs to be able to constantly analyze data, interpret it accurately, and make prudent decisions and changes based on that data. This type of work is inherently more stressful, but also tends to pay much much better.

What’s My Point Here?

I’m trying to help you see that for those who can overcome their fear of the unknown, those who can embrace living in a world with less certainty, there are oftentimes big rewards waiting for them! We all want security and protection, but do we think about the price we are paying? Or what we are giving up to have that? Those who are willing to operate without knowing every step of the journey are those who will reap the biggest rewards.

Now to Tie This Back Into Real Estate Investing

Here’s the thing, a huge proportion of potential real estate investors never get started because they want to know every step of the journey when that is impossible to know. If that didn’t strike a chord with you, please read it again. If you are frustrated with your lack of progress, I want to bring attention to the fact that maybe it’s not about you needing to do more, and it is about you needing to let go of the need to know everything.

When folks are trying to start something new, there are a myriad of resources available that offer advice for how to be successful. The majority offer the same wisdom repackaged in different forms.

  • Accountability! Find people to hold your feet to the fire.
  • Grit! Push through it! Don’t stop no matter what.
  • Vision boards! Surround yourself with your goals and motivate yourself to keep moving.
  • Mentors! Find a bunch of people who have done what you’ve done, and stalk them until they are guilted into teaching you what they know!

This type of wisdom does come from a good place, and can be useful in certain situations. I’m just not convinced it’s a one-size-fits-all solution like it’s being offered as. I think a lot of people are willing to do whatever it takes, to constantly envision what they want. They are fine with accountability and they know they need a mentor. What they don’t want to face are the insecurities, fears, and negative emotions that come with starting a journey when they don’t know every step.


Here is Why They Are Always Frustrated

These people reach out to the “experts” to say, “Tell me exactly what you did so I can copy you!” What they are really looking for is the feeling of knowing what to expect. The frustration stems from the fact that experts just aren’t able to provide that, because it hasn’t worked that way for them. They didn’t know any of the steps after the first one, and they can’t detail for you all the steps you’ll be taking either. People who are looking for each step they need to take, rather than looking for the mindset that welcomes challenge, will never find what they’re looking for.

Is This You?

Do you feel like you’d be willing to start taking more action if you had no worries about making a mistake, having to solve a problem, think creatively, or live with a healthy level of uncertainty? If it is, I’m going to tell you right now, priority number one for you needs to be accepting that life isn’t going to show you every step of the way, and it doesn’t have to. None of us are entitled to that, and in fact, real estate investing is possible because so few attempt to do it — mostly due to the fact there is too much uncertainty!

This all ties in to today’s blog post because I hear so many people asking the same question: What do I do once I get to ten loans and can’t get anymore? The question sounds practical, but it’s rarely ever helpful. In fact, the only people I ever hear ask this question are those who own very few, or no, rental properties at all. It’s a complete newbie question, because it’s rooted in the desire to know what you’re going to do 10 steps out, when really you just need to be taking step one.

Related: The Comprehensive Guide for Financing Your Very First Real Estate Deal

Am I encouraging reckless, irresponsible investing? No way. What I’m saying is that by the time you get to ten properties, you will have figured out the solution to where your next loan is going to come from. The learning curve for real estate is incredibly steep. You will learn so much from each property you buy it will blow you away. This is why we are always encouraging newbies to buy that first deal. In my experience, you just can’t understand how much you are going to learn until you do it.

Don’t Hold Yourself Back

Basically, if you’re not making progress, ask yourself if it’s because you are holding yourself back. Are you stubborn and refuse to move until you know exactly what to expect? Do you really believe that life is going to work that way for you in all things? Think about becoming a parent (I’ve never been one but I hear about it a lot). Isn’t there a massive amount of fear, worry, and stress that comes along with it — largely because you don’t know what to expect? In fact, you can’t know what to expect. It’s impossible! But for those who become parents, they always say it’s the best thing that ever happened to them and they wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Stop getting in your own way. You don’t need to know the answers to step 10 before you take the first step. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking step one and then staying there until step two becomes clear and then repeating that process for step three. This is how entrepreneurs build businesses. This is how investors create products. This is how explorers find new lands. This is how all big accomplishments are made!

My guess is, you know exactly what you need to be doing already. As you read this, that little nagging thought starts popping up in your mind, reminding you what you know you should be doing. My advice is, stop lying to yourself. Stop saying you will take action but only when (fill in the blank) happens. That day is not going to come. You can’t see that part of the journey until you summit the mountain in front of you-the mountain is blocking your view. It’s only once you’ve climbed it that you can see what’s next.

This is How Success Works

Success in real estate isn’t any different. You’ve got to embrace this process, and this mindset, if you want to be successful. For those who do, huge rewards are available. With every step of the journey you take, you find there are less and less people keeping up with you because more and more of them stopped along the way when they couldn’t see 10 steps out.

Now, for those of you who just really want to know about the loan situation (even after reading all this), here’s your answer. You can have up to 10 Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac insured loans, and after four they get much more difficult to secure. If you hit your limit, you’ll simply start looking for portfolio lenders, commercial lenders, private money, or other options.

If you end up not liking that situation once you get to step 10, you can start flipping houses instead, explore selling with seller financing and holding the note, buying multi family property, or a myriad of other options. The thing is, you won’t know which option is best for you until you get there. So why waste time worrying about it now when you literally can’t do anything to help your cause anyway?

If you really want to help your own cause, focus on taking those steps faster than you have been previously. Make it a race to get to the top of that staircase and once you get there, slow down and think about what your best option will be for loan number 11. No matter what your decision ends up being, don’t let that decision slow you down from your ascent!

We’re republishing this article to help out our newer readers.

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.