5 Things I’d Do Exactly the Same if I Started Over in Real Estate

5 Things I’d Do Exactly the Same if I Started Over in Real Estate

3 min read
Sterling White

Sterling White is a multifamily investor, specializing in value-add apartments in Indianapolis and other Midwestern markets. With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling was involved with the management of over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $18.9MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments. Through the company he founded, Sonder Investment Group, he owns just under 400 units.

Sterling is a seasoned real estate investor, philanthropist, speaker, host, mentor, and former world record attemptee, who was born and raised in Indianapolis. He is the author of the renowned book From Zero to 400 Units and the host of a phenomenal podcast, which hit the No. 1 spot on The Real Estate Experience Podcast‘s list of best shows in the investing category.

Living and breathing real estate since 2009, Sterling currently owns multiple businesses related to real estate, including Sterling White Enterprises, Sonder Investment Group, and other investment partnerships. Throughout the span of a decade, he has contributed to helping others become successful in the real estate industry. In addition, he has been directly involved with both buying and selling over 100 single family homes.

Sterling’s primary specialities include sales, marketing, crowdfunding, buy and hold investing, investment properties, and many more.

He was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast episode #308 and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single family investing and apartment investing to mindset and scaling a business online. He has been featured on multiple other podcasts, too.

When he isn’t immersed in the real world, Sterling likes reading motivational books, including Maverick Mindset by Doug Hall, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, and Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone.

As a thrill-seeker with an evident fear of heights, he somehow managed to jump off of a 65-foot cliff into deep water without flinching. (Okay, maybe a little bit…) Sterling is also an avid kale-eating traveller, but nothing is more important to him than family. His unusual habit is bird-watching, which he discovered he truly enjoyed during an Ornithology class from his college days.

Sterling attended the University of Indianapolis.

Instagram @sterlingwhiteofficial

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If I had to start all over again in the real estate industry, this is what I would do.

While you can’t change the past, there can be value in looking at your decisions and path—and keeping stock of what has worked and what hasn’t. Many people have regrets and say they would do things differently. I can honestly say that I would personally do everything just the same if I had to go back and start again—and I would advise you take some of these lessons and apply them to your own investing journey early on.

Specifically, here’s what I would tell those who are just starting out.

5 Things I’d Do Exactly the Same if I Started Over in Real Estate

1. Getting your feet wet in construction early on.

I started out in construction in my teens. It enabled me to learn the ins and outs of the construction side of the business. That’s a very critical part of the industry, no matter what you do later. You learn hard work, how to fix things, and the costs of repairing and improving a property. You also get experience on working effectively with contractors. I got to work with friends—and even had some fun.

2. Find a mentor.

Finding a mentor can make all the difference. Some will call me crazy, but I sought out a mentor and worked for this individual for free for two to three years. Yes, for free! During that time, I was able to glean what he had learned over the course of 20 years in about a sixth of the time—and without paying for any of those super expensive real estate guru programs.


Related: 5 Ways My Life Changed When I Reached Financial Independence

3. Get on BiggerPockets—and hit the books.

Finding BiggerPockets was one of the best moves I’ve made. I’ve filled my mind with volumes of knowledge—and all for free! That’s a big part of the reason I enjoy consistently giving back through these blog posts. In fact, I’m still active in the forums, and I recently got some great insight for making a multifamily apartment building deal work by networking on the platform.

I hit the library, too. I dug into books like The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller. I am still learning and will keep on learning all I can, so I can continue to grow.

4. Take action.

Getting into real estate and reaping its rewards is all about taking action. Learning is vital, and working for others in the industry can have value, but you won’t get ahead until you put what you’ve learned into action for yourself.

I’ve tried several types of investing. I’ve wholesaled properties and fixed and flipped houses. I finally honed in and got serious about buying and holding income properties. I personally enjoy it most. I also believe that it has the most upside potential and benefits of all the strategies out there.

Still, the key is just to get started. You can learn as you go and switch strategies as needed, but nothing will happen if you are still on the sidelines. I understand the unknown can be daunting, but the action will help open possibilities.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do the thing and you shall have the power.” This is very true.


Related: 7 Lessons I Wish I’d Known When I Started Investing in Real Estate

5. Block out the noise.

There is an insane amount of noise out there. Media and industry noise will distract you. My friends and colleagues would discourage me and tell me how much of a pain it would be dealing with tenants and fixing toilets. The thing is that I don’t fix toilets myself. I have property managers and a staff to service the tenants.

Getting here required distancing myself from those negative friends and surrounding myself with uplifting ones instead.


If I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing. If I had to start over from scratch tomorrow, I’d follow the same system: take action, find a mentor, work hard, and make good connections—in that order.

What would you do the same or differently?

Let’s talk below.