The 6 Biggest Lessons I Learned From Investing in 2017

The 6 Biggest Lessons I Learned From Investing in 2017

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.

Experience
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.

Education
Sterling attended the University of Indianapolis.

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2017 was a fantastic year for investing in real estate—and for me. As I performed my personal review and looked back over the last 12 months, here are some of the key things that stood out.

The 6 Biggest Lessons I Learned From Investing in 2017

1. There is always room to grow.

My business, myself, investments, and the residential housing market have done very well over the past few years. Still, there is always room to grow as an individual. It’s important to always keep expanding. That may be outwards to new markets, using new strategies and deal structures or new types of assets and properties. If I don’t grow, then I miss achieving my big goals I set out to accomplish.  

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2. Multifamily is so much better.

One of the big realizations I’ve had over the past year—with my first multifamily purchase, among others—is how much more efficient it is to acquire and own multifamily property compared to single family homes. I’ll still hold and invest in single family, but I have started doing more apartment building deals and am seeing great results from it.

Related: 3 Invaluable Lessons Learned From 30 Years of Investing

3. The real estate market has changed dramatically.

The real estate market has taken a huge shift, even compared to a year ago. A broad and deep variety of factors are involved, and trajectories could change. Still, as much as some don’t want to acknowledge it, the market is changing. The retail sector is experiencing the rapid changes with the way consumer behavior is shifting towards the online platform. That does bring opportunity; investors just have to acknowledge the real opportunities may be different than in the past couple of years.

3. It’s vital to leave room in your numbers for changes.

You simply can’t buy deals with the thinnest acceptable margins and hope things will work out. That’s the path to negative cash flow, negative equity, and disaster. Whether you end up having to bring in professional property management, fixing unexpected repairs, or paying a big new tax bill, you want to have an extra cushion in your numbers. The deal I walked away from last year could have easily put me in a tough position from a cash flow standpoint if the deal went through. That was the best deal in 2017.  

4. A willingness to be flexible is valuable.

When rules, markets, and opportunities shift and change, it is vital to be make the necessary pivots. Only those who are will survive and thrive. It is even better when you get ahead of the curve and embrace or pioneer change yourself and with other like-minded entrepreneurs.

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5. It’s a privilege to have a great network.

Over the last year, I have definitely benefited from being able to engage with experienced investors on BiggerPockets. I am also incredibly grateful for those who have read and shared my writings. It’s an honor to have this platform to help and bring value others.

Related: The Surprising Lesson a Six-Figure Salary in My 20s Taught Me About Wealth

6. A great team shouldn’t be underestimated.

No matter how much you learn, experience you gain, or skills and natural talent you’ve got, a great team is essential. Having good partners and team members—and knowing how to work with them—makes all the difference in your success and ability to help others.

Summary

Taking time to reflect on the past year during this season can have a lot of value. This exercise will help you think about what you’ve learned and better plan for the year and years ahead. Keeping a journal of this over the years may be even more beneficial.

You don’t necessarily only have to do this at the end of the year or even in January. It can be done quarterly, weekly, or even daily. Any time you can evaluate yourself and make adjustments to improve it only helps with growth.  

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When and how do you do your reviews and planning? What did you learn over the past year? What difference will it make in your plans for next year and beyond? What are your plans for 2018?

Share below!

As I performed my personal review and looked back over the last 12 months, here are some of the key things that stood out.