4 Rookie Mistakes That Drive Potential Real Estate Mentors Away

by | BiggerPockets.com

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John Maxwell

I don’t think any real estate investor (new or experienced) would disagree with me that having a mentor is essential to growing his/her business. We have had various mentors at different stages of our business. We have had official mentors (people we have directly asked to mentor us) and unofficial mentors (networking contacts who we know and best-selling authors we have never met). In my humble opinion, if you want to be successful in this business of real estate investing, having a mentor (or even coach) to guide you, support you, and encourage you is absolutely critical. No one is successful by themselves. Every great business person — athlete, mother, and, of course, real estate investor — has people around them who support and encourage them.

Since we have been in this business for quite some time now, I have seen new and experienced investors make a lot of mistakes when seeking a mentor. I hope this blog post helps you avoid these mistakes and inspires you to find a mentor who helps propel you to the next level.

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4 Rookie Mistakes That Drive Potential Real Estate Mentors Away

Mistake #1: You approach mentor without being clear on your goals.

Over the years, I have had various people express interest in having us mentor them in casual conversation. When I ask them what their goals are, they will often mention they want to get into an area of real estate investing where we don’t have a ton of experience, such as wholesaling or land development. If you have people in mind that you are interested in approaching for mentoring, you need to make sure they have the experience and expertise that can help you with your goals and aspirations. This might seem completely obvious, but unfortunately it’s not.

Most new and some experienced investors have no clue of their one, three, or five-year goals. They may have some vague answer like they want to be “financially free”; however, they don’t have concrete goals that they read and review every single day. Therefore, the first thing you need to do when seeking a mentor is become CRYSTAL clear on your goals — where do you want to be in one, three, or five years?

If you are going to begin approaching potential mentors, you also need to do your research on this potential mentor. You need to be clear on their experience and knowledge before approaching them about mentoring you. Does the mentor have what you want to have? Is the mentor the kind of person you want to learn from? Not everyone is going to be a good fit for you as a mentor. Your time is just as valuable as their time. Do you research before seeking out a mentor!


Mistake #2: What you really need is a coach, NOT a mentor.

I believe there is great power in having both mentors and coaches throughout our lives. However, there is a distinct difference between these two roles, and people need to be clear on this difference and clear on their expectations before entering either type of relationship.

Related: Why an Amazing Mentor Makes the Difference Between Mediocrity & Wild Success

Let me explain the difference:

A mentor can be someone in your personal network or someone you have met through some type of networking avenue. A mentor is there to guide you, support you, encourage you, and be a resource to you. This is someone who has achieved something that you aspire to achieve as well. There typically is no money exchange with a mentor/mentee relationship. However, I have seen mentors and mentees “barter” with each other, where they offer one another help that the other person needs. I have also seen mentors just simply offer their time and support for free (just to give back and for philanthropic reasons). A great place to find mentors is your local real estate networking groups. Mentoring tends to be more unstructured and more of a “call as you need support” type of approach.

A coach is also there to guide you, support you, and be a resource to you. However, a coach/coachee relationship is much more structured and driven by results. Just like a coach on a basketball team, they push their team, hold them accountable, run practice sessions, and push them to new heights. A coach is there to help their team win, not just to “support” them on the field. This is less of a casual, “call me when you need me” relationship. A coach/coachee relationship in the business world tends to be paid (not free), and there are clear expected results. The coachee has a specific result they are seeking, and the coach helps this coachee get there as quickly as possible.

In this business of real estate investing, I have paid for coaching and have also coached individuals. I have had mentors and have been a mentor. Having a coach and/or mentor is extremely beneficial. Again, the mentee or coachee needs to be clear on what it is they are looking for (their expectations), and they need to be willing to “play full out” with their coach and/or mentor. Bottom line — depending on your goals and expectations, a coaching relationship might be what you really need. Or based on your goals, you may simply need a mentor to support you. Either way, get crystal clear on your goals and expectations, then it will become very clear which path you will need to take to get you where you want to go.

Mistake #3: You propose on the first date.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Believe me, I have a ton of weaknesses. However, one of my strengths is relationship building. I have met so many new and experienced real estate investors who are NOT very good at relationship building. Relationship building in real estate investing is very similar to dating. Most people would not meet someone for the first time and in that same initial conversation ask them to get married. That would be way too forward for most people, and you would probably walk away thinking that person was a bit desperate and weird, right?!

Well, the same approach goes when seeking a mentor. I have met countless investors who I have never met before and in the first conversation might ask, “Can you mentor me?” If you have not built any type of relationship with the person first, then this can seem a bit forward and might turn people off. If the person you are seeking out to mentor you is super busy (which is probably the case if they are successful), then you might need to add some type of value to them in exchange for them helping you. You don’t want to be a burden — you want to add value to this mentor’s life. The best relationship builders in business add value to people’s lives and are an amazing “go-to” resource. Be THAT person, and you will not have any problem or issue finding (and keeping) a mentor.


Mistake #4: You lack self-awareness, vulnerability, and commitment.

There are many qualities that make a successful mentee, but here are the top three in my opinion: self-awareness, vulnerability, and commitment. One of my favorite authors and business leaders, Gary Vaynerchuk, is always talking about the importance of self-awareness, and I can’t agree more. Let’s be honest here — most people in our lives are NOT self-aware and quite honestly are not even interested in becoming more self-aware. I get it! It is hard to look in the mirror and get 100 percent honest with yourself about what is working and not working — what you are good at and not good at.

Related: Here’s How I Found My Real Estate Mentor (& How You Can, Too)

However, it is important to be honest with yourself, and this is a skill that can be developed. Another key quality is vulnerability. What do I mean by that? I mean being 100 percent open and real with your mentor. Being vulnerable means being open and receptive to receiving feedback and not taking any feedback you get personally. The last one, commitment, might seem obvious, but this is the most important quality. Many people decide real estate investing is too hard, takes too long, and is not worth the effort. I can tell you that it takes 100 percent commitment and not looking back to be successful in this business.

In summary, I hope this blog post will help you as a guide as you seek out a mentor (or even coach). No one can do it alone. Take any successful person in our society — from all walks of life, all types of backgrounds. They did not get there by themselves. No way. They had people supporting them in their journey. As you look to 2017, determine for yourself what you need to get you where you want to go!

Would love to get some discussion going. What have you seen to be the positive traits of both mentors and coaches you have worked with in the past? What are qualities to avoid?

Let’s chat below!

About Author

Elizabeth Faircloth

Liz Faircloth has been managing and investing in real estate since 2004, along with her husband, Matt. We have built our business from scratch and now own over five million dollars in residential and commercial assets. We love to help and educate investors. Our YouTube Channel, The Landlord’s Chronicles, offers short, yet educational videos that covers topics such as flipping houses, rentals, rehabs, property management, and lessons learned along the way. http://www.youtube.com/c/DerosaGroupTrenton


  1. Jackie Botham

    Great post, Elizabeth! This is such an important topic! People who really want to be successful in real estate realize quickly that there is so much they don’t know and that they do need help along the way. This is very similar to what I have seen in 12-step recovery where a sponsor(mentor) looks for “willingness to go to any lengths”, “honesty” and “open-mindedness” in a new person asking for help. The thing is that most people who start out end up giving up when they actually have to start taking action. As in recovery and in real estate, it is really tough to go through the initial learning curve and then venture out into unfamiliar territory. But, if you REALLY want a better life, you WILL walk through fear and DO IT!
    I am so thankful for my mentor who originally started out as my investor/realtor and helped me buy my first couple deals! Now, he literally gives me “homework” to do to like sending me out to talk to sellers, talking with various lenders, deal analysis and walking through properties. I have learned so much! Someday, I plan on “paying it forward” to the next newbie! Thanks again for a great post!

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Thanks for reading the post and commenting here! I can’t agree with you more. We ALL experience fear at some point. The difference is what we DO in the face of fear! I am sure you heard the old saying FEAR stands for “False Evidence Appearing Real” – isn’t that the truth??!!
      I am so glad you found a great mentor. We all need mentors in our lives! Good luck to you as you get ready for an amazing 2017!! Thanks again for reading and so glad you liked the post!!
      All the best,

  2. Steve Vaughan

    Thank you for sharing about your experience with this, Liz! I hope many new people read and heed.

    I heard an interview with Michael Gerber, author of the e-myth, talking about the mentoring/coaching subject. Even as a paid coach, he wouldn’t take on a new student that didn’t have a clear mission, vision and purpose. Having a ‘goal’ of financial freedom or bringing in $x per month wasn’t nearly enough and I agree. Have more than a material goal. Share your why.
    Offer value. We all have something to offer. Ask what they need and how you can help. Don’t ask just to pick their brain. Have a clear objective and a time limit at any initial meetings, like 12 minutes. Don’t propose too early. Classic stuff. Well done!

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Thanks so much Steve for your comment and reading the post! And I absolutely love Michael Gerber and the E Myth. He has such wisdom about running a business without becoming the business. I always say to my husband – are we working on the business or working in the business? You need to do both but can’t ever lose sight of the importance of working “on” the business! Wishing you a fantastic 2017!!

  3. Kyle Jones

    That was definitely worth the read. I’m new to Real Estate investing so this helps out a lot. I’d prefer not to reinvent the wheel. Thank you for your knowledge. I’ll be working on myself so that the right mentors will appear in my life when the time is right.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Hi Kyle!
      Great to hear! And you are so welcome! It is my pleasure to share knowledge and hopefully help some people in the process. I think our investing decisions early on would have looked very differently had we found a mentor early on. So good for you – as you get started and determine your “why,” your vision, goals, and purpose – then seek out a mentor that will help you get there. Good luck to you and wishing you a phenomenal 2017!!

  4. David Greene

    Great article Elizabeth. I couldn’t have said it better. Differentiating between a coach and a mentor is a really important division to make. Most people need a coach, they just don’t want the accountability or to have to pay for it. What they end up doing is using up a lot of their “mentors” time asking questions that are intended to ease their fears, not necessarily help them progress towards their goals.

    Hope to see more articles like this soon!

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Hi David:
      Thanks so much for the feedback and comment! I really don’t think most people know there is even a difference between a coach and mentor. But there certainly is!! Both have value but for different reasons! So glad you found value in the article! My husband Matt and I blog every other week for BP. Our blog posts typically come out on Fridays. This coming week will be Matt’s turn! Good luck to you David! 🙂

  5. Alex Day

    I really enjoyed this article and appreciate the time that you took to write it. I do agree with the fact that you should have some set of goals set in place but I do feel that there should be somewhat a give a take considering most people just starting out don’t even realize their goal of maybe one property that first year is even obtainable, let alone having a plan for 5 years. I believe every now and then, helping someone obtain that first property is just the right momentum.

    At the same time i’m not oblivious to the fact that there are many people who come and go lol and the amount of time wasted.

    I guess i’m what i’m ultimately trying to get across is that we should continue to receive and provide but not be so stuck on sticking people with prerequisites. If you talk to 100 people and change one life, you changed one life.

  6. Nicole Williams

    This article is very timely for me, I recently made Mistake #3, I thought I was cutting to the chase and being transparent with my intentions. Now, after reading your article I can see how forward it is to ask for a mentor right out of the gate.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Hi Nicole,
      So glad that this blog post was timely. It is funny how that happens!! Remember there are a ton of great mentors out there for you! Thanks for reading and commenting. And please do not hesitate to let me know if you need some support!

  7. Rick Santasiere

    Elizabeth, thank you. This was great. I commend the way in which you compare the differences in coaching and mentoring. I am in a position to be mentoring and coaching other newer REI’s, and to be honest, I need a mentor (heck, maybe even a coach) for myself. As a real estate broker, I always thought that because I was “in the business” that that made me just as experienced as any good REI. Knowing then, what I know now, certainly would have helped me in building a stronger network, and potentially increasing my business, along with the people I could have helped further their goals. I have always been the “shy guy” and didn’t do the dating thing too well, so I have always had a hard time “asking anyone” for just about anything.. Let’s face it, most of us aren’t good at “asking” for help. I would love to hear your thoughts on how I can go about adding value to a more experience investor. I have my 5, 10, 15 year plan/goal(s), I have clear visions of my three businesses, and I value relationships, loyalty and integrity more than anything. Helping newbie investors has provided me with the benefits of “helping” which always feels good, now, I find myself (wanting to be even better of course) looking for someone who has more experience and wisdom than myself. Thanks for sharing your insight. You did a wonderful job, and I hope to see future articles from you!

  8. Sonia Spangenberg

    Really enjoyed your post. We have been in business just under 3 years and just last night signed up for a coaching commitment. Your article helped me to clarify what our role is going to be as we are being coached. It also helped me evaluate the coaching team we will have. I can see that based on the questions they were asking during the interview process (3 stages) how they were evaluating us because of your article. I am reassured that we are in good hands, and are to the point that we are fairly self-aware and were able to define our strengths and weaknesses going in. I hadn’t really thought about the structure of the mentoring/coaching roles quite as deeply however and your article will help us to operate within the relationship in a more effective way. Thanks so much for such a clearly written, helpful article.

  9. Lord Aidan Gray

    I have found 1 mentor in real life, and one online. These are all great points in necessity to someone looking for a coach/mentor to guide them along the way. The same goes when getting a tattoo, when you find an artist, you can’t just say “I want a tattoo” obviously. They need to know what the tattoo is, what colors, how big, what size, etc.

  10. Seth Taylor

    Thank you, Elizabeth for the great article. I noticed a huge increase in income when I hired a coach. I thinking coaching can be a spring board to the next level. I feel like I can ask more out of a coach than a mentor. When I am mentee I feel like i may be bothersome when asking loads of remedial question. Thank you for helping with that distinction.

  11. MAI K MOUA

    Really thankful and appreciative of this post Elizabeth! I am fairly new to RE and starting off with wholesaling. #2 and #4 is what probably would have busted my chance! I’ve come to find that a coach is what I am needing. Mentors are great as well! I substitute that for Books, YouTube videos, and learning from others in the BP community!

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