10 Habits to Adopt if You Want to Become a Real Estate Investing Legend

by | BiggerPockets.com

When people start talking about greatness, there’s always something a little surreal about it. Greatness is for athletes and activists and the type of people that others make documentaries about. Greatness is a characteristic that’s sometimes difficult to see applied to yourself (if you’re the humble type) in that larger-than-life kind of way.

You see these big names, these legends in your field—role models you look up to and aspire to be—but do you truly believe you can be like them someday? Can you be as influential, as inspirational, as aspirational?

We have role models and mentors in real estate investment. That’s just how it is. To be clear, I am not talking about the social media hypers who post 17 memes a day about winning, being a winner, being a ninja legend, greatest of all time with bikinis, boats, planes, and trains! Those are neither role models nor mentors nor legends.

But here’s the thing a lot of us have trouble believing: You have the potential to have influence, to be a mentor. Will you have legions of followers reading your blog and hanging on every word of your Twitter feed?

Probably not. And if you do, that kind of presence takes years to build and comes with responsibility to not let it go to your head.

But what you can have is respect—and a greatness that comes with wisdom and a stellar reputation.

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10 Keys to Building a Legendary Reputation in Real Estate Investment

1. Be kind.

There’s a quote by Maya Angelou that just seems to ring more true as the years go by:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

One of the first things we learn as kids is to play nice—to share. But being kind is more than just playing nice. It has more to do with genuinely caring about other people. It’s investing in them! As real estate investors, our business is deeply people-based. How we treat the people around us is paramount to our success. In this business, trust us: Even when you don’t want to take the high road, even when you don’t want to let go, even when you don’t want to be kind, do all of those things.

Related: 10 Entrepreneurs Share Their Most Memorable Mentor-Taught Lessons

It’s not a big playing field, and no one wants to play with the guy who looks like the jerk, even if that guy was completely justified in the action that made him look like a jerk. Being kind always trumps being a jerk or burning a bridge. Even if you have to part ways, you can do it amicably.


2. Master your niche.

Another saying? The jack of all trades is the master of none. Be a master. Hone in on your niche and completely master it. Be the undisputed champion. Be the person who talks about your area of real estate investment and causes everyone to stop and listen.

It’ll take time to get that experience under your belt—but that kind of mastery is so worth it, not just for your bank account, but for the wealth of knowledge that you can pass on. Stay humble and remember that it take time. Nothing is worse than someone who wants to tout their achievements after completing two flips. Hold up and spend a little more time figuring out your niche.

3. Stay humble.

The best mentors know what they know and admit what they don’t. Stay humble. There will always be things that you still don’t know! Other investors will know more than you do in other areas. Lean into their wisdom. Listen. Pay your dues while you’re still learning—and even when you’ve spent 20 or 30 years in the business.

Humility is one of the best qualities you can have, period—not just for public opinion’s sake, but because it prevents hubris, which prevents us from making stupid mistakes. Stay humble and seek to educate first. Learn to educate in your niche from a point of humility, and your legend will be on its way.

4. Never stop learning.

Hand-in-hand with humility is realizing that you always have more to learn. No matter how long you’ve been in the real estate investment game or how old you are, keep pushing your education forward. Keep learning more because there’s always more to learn.

This is one of the best lessons I have ever been taught by my own mentors. The world changes quickly. Never think you know it all, and never discount others and what you might be able to learn from them. Spend your time with your eyes and ears open, and you just may be amazed at what you learn.

5. Find your own mentors.

One way to keep learning is to sit at the feet of the investors and experts you trust most. Not only do you get to lean on their wisdom, but you can learn from their character, too. They’re your mentors for a reason, remember. If you want to learn from and emulate them, there’s a reason. Surround yourself with people you want to be like. The company you keep matters. You will become the six real estate investing mentors your surround yourself with.

6. Make genuine connections.

Network, network, network! So many investors neglect this key step on their journey. Building up professional connections is key not only to generating leads, but to crafting a network that creates the support and structure your business needs in a way that’s mutually beneficial for everyone. That does not mean pass out business cards and then stand in the corner nor does it mean constantly e-blast and blink-copy every business card you have ever been given. Take time to try and make genuine connections.


Related: What Would Warren Buffett Do? 12 Quotes for Smarter Investing

7. Go above and beyond.

The best real estate investors have something in common: They all go above and beyond. You’ll never find a legendary real estate investor who settles for second rate. They all value excellence—in their services, in their properties, in their deals, in their effort, in everything. Be prepared to make some sacrifices if you want to be that investor. Along those lines, be prepared to give first when you are thinking of going above and beyond. Give before you ask and always give at a level that astounds the person on the other end.

8. Value the details.

Speaking of effort, another way to ensure your status as legend in real estate is to simply pay attention and value the little things—details. Do you make sure to remember things like names? Dates? Thank you notes? Do you follow up? Remember to make good on your word, even if it wasn’t an explicit promise or deal. People pay attention to those little details that add up to a whole lot of integrity. Don’t neglect those little things that don’t necessarily make a direct impact on you business but make a big impression nonetheless.

9. Own your mistakes.

A huge part of your reputation hinges on how you deal with failure and mistakes. Are you the type to pass the buck (and the blame) on to someone else? Do you mope and complain and deny your responsibility in mistakes and mishaps? Or do you own up to it and take charge of the situation? Think about it. The way you deal with the worst of what real estate investing throws at you says a lot to your colleagues.

10. Keep pushing forward.

In the face of difficulties, the best thing you can do for your reputation is to keep going. It won’t be easy, but when you show perseverance and the will to carry on, it says a lot about you. Many of the best investors you will find today, those who may truly be legendary, are the ones who persevered through the toughest real estate climate any of us can remember. They put their heads down and went to work—not after the crisis, but through the crisis. They kept pushing forward; they took hard meetings, made tough phone calls, and continued to believe they would succeed. These are the true legends of real estate, and their example of finding a way should be one you seek to emulate.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer readers.]

What habits have you chosen to adopt based on those you admire most?

Leave your comments below!

About Author

Chris Clothier

In 2005, Chris Clothier (G+) began working with passive real estate investors and has since helped more than 1,100 investors purchase over 3,400 investment properties in Memphis, Dallas and Houston through the Memphis Invest family of companies.


    • Chris Clothier

      Katie –

      I could’t agree more and our company has even looked at the language we use and changed the wording in our contracts, our materials and our culture around the office to eliminate the word tenant and replace it with resident. It is minor, but it absolutely changes how we view and interact with the individual or family on the other side of our business.

      To be fair, anyone we come in contact with in this business: residents, vendors, contractors, team members and clients all deserve that level of respect.

      Thanks for reading and leaving your comments. Best to you ~

  1. Nathan G.

    Another good article, Chris! I suspect you could talk to dozens of successful people and get different lists but many of your key points would be repeated.

    The big ones for me: be kind, stay humble (as if I have anything to brag about), never stop learning, make genuine connections, go above and beyond, and own your mistakes (this one hurts but is a great teacher).

    • Chris Clothier

      Thanks for the comments Nathan. I agree as well. Many who are fulfilled in what they do, which is a great measurement of success, include these same items on their list of traits they want to embody. Best of luck to you!


  2. John Murray

    It always amazes me that I go back to my military leadership training. If you can maintain these points you will succeed in any endeavor.
    1. Be a technical expert
    2. Know yourself and seek self improvement
    3. Know your leadership style
    4. Have empathy for subordinates.
    5. Selfless service is the highest honor

    • Chris Clothier

      Tim –

      I can tell you from personal experience having grown a huge company with my family, mistakes are made and no one and no company is perfect. A good thing to strive for is the strength and humility to know how good you are at what you do even as you are aware and owning the mistakes you make.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Best to you ~


  3. Good old fundamental principles on how to act, interact with people and establish and maintain positive relationships in the real estate business and “life business”. Thanks so much for reinforcing these characteristics!!

  4. Olatunbosun Idowu

    A great article! We all want to be and desire to a legend in what we do someday and that is why we never stop learning new things every day just to keep adding value to what we could give as individuals to humanity which i must be honest with you comes with a lot of challenges and obstacles. We can handle established problems but how do you solve problems you can’t diagnose which eat up quality time which could have been used for something more beneficial.
    Some of these problems make you go nut especially when you have exhausted all options to resolve it and you know deep down in your heart that this is delibrate from someone who has decided to bury you or to frustrate your effort or make sure no one hears about you.
    I have been trying to resolve ordinary password issue on BiggerPockets for months now and nothing has been done about it, they keep telling me it has been resolved but any time i try login it always show wrong password or email address.

    Thanks for the article once again, this will go a long way to help shape many as better and ideal real estate professionals.

    Olatunbosun Idowu

    • Chris Clothier


      Thanks taking time to read the article and think about your response. Hopefully your issue can be corrected quickly, but you have the right attitude about it for sure. We should never let small things break us down and keep us from moving forward, having a great attitude and setting the right example.

      Best to you, Chris

  5. Edward Mikel

    I love reading articles like this for one BIG reason!
    “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar.
    I think it is important to reread these regularly and to remember why we are in the business and the service we are supposed to be providing.
    Thanks for the post!

  6. Kathlene Griffiths

    This is a great article. Number 10 keep pushing that is a hard one that we must strive to do, as the only way we fail is to quit. It says a lot about a person that keeps pushing when you don’t see where your going. That is where I am at at this point. But I will keep on pushing. I also have listened to your podcasts really have lots of valuable nuggets in the podcasts as well. You are truly one of the greats. Thank you for the article written.

    • Chris Clothier

      Thank you Kathleen! And…I agree with that awesome statement that the only way to fail is to quit. I often tell people to focus on the comma and avoid the period. When you end the sentence it is over – the result is the result. As long as you use commas you are extending yourself and preparing for at the result you expect. Then you can put an exclamation point!

      Best to you,


  7. Richard Porter

    Thank you Chris. Those work well.
    A thought I would add a thought to #1… “Be Kind” but also be accurate and truthful. If an accurate truth [objectively measurable – NOT a belief] makes someone “feel bad,” I’m sorry. But maybe it will get them on a path where that momentary “bad feeling” is eventually turned into a discovery of a next level/higher Truth.
    Some of the best feedback I have gotten has hurt like he** when received, I “felt” awful. But then I take it as my job was to look to see WHERE it was true [not IF it was true]. From there one can choose to grow… or not.
    Thanks for the thought provoking post.

  8. garlin smith

    Good stuff Chris!

    Awesome how you start off with your #1 rule. Be kind. In today’s climate, it’s more important than ever to practice being good to one another. Just be a good human.

    I’m still somewhat of a BP newbie, but I continue to be impressed by the supportive community as a whole, and the quality of content that is shared.


  9. Emily Smith

    Great read. I love #1. New to real estate investing and this was the first article I’ve read on the website. Thanks for the article!

    My sister and I are hoping to make our first deal in the next year. Until then, we are reading and researching everything on real estate investing.

    What do you wish you knew before doing your first deal?

    Fresno, CA

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