Real Estate Investing Basics

Sorry, But Real Estate Investing Is NOT Easy. Still, You Can Succeed if…

Expertise: Personal Development, Business Management, Real Estate Investing Basics, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance, Flipping Houses
125 Articles Written
life-hacking

I’ve stewed all week about this blog post that was posted a week or so ago about how easy real estate investing is. It’s really gotten to me. Has this guy really gone through one of “those” kinds of deals you have to gut out and work through? Has he done many deals? I’ve pondered it often the last week and felt compelled to review some thoughts here.

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I know Scott Trench has a book out, he’s a young guy, he’s bought a couple houses, and all the sudden he is a real estate investor and an expert. He works at a wonderful and amazing place called BiggerPockets. I LOVE BiggerPockets! It’s an amazing site with incredible amounts of great information and a community interested in helping one another no matter what skill level. But the idea that somehow it’s “easy” to invest in real estate long-term is not only misguided and misleading, but it’s dangerous.

Scott, you are probably an awesome dude. But this idea lacks serious perspective and a lot of clarity on what it takes to be a successful long term investor. Yes, there are parts of being a real estate investor that are easy on the surface. And then there is the rest of it that takes patience, learning, grit, and tenacity.

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A Professional’s Job is to Make it Look Easy

Let’s take the example of a professional ballet dancer. They make the most complicated, sophisticated, and challenging moves look easy. It’s their job. They do that every day, all day. Their workouts are designed around dancing well and being limber. And everything they do in their jobs—and oftentimes in their lives—revolves around this one thing.

Or think about the weight lifter. Have you ever watched one of those old school Russian lifters? It’s always some small guy who walks up to the bar with hundreds of pounds of weights, and just lifts it clean over his head.

A race car driver can drive around a track at top speeds, winding in and out of other drivers, while dealing with G forces that could make others queasy or unable to even function. What an incredible feat to drive that fast, while in complete control.

Related: Starting Now is Good, But Starting Young is Great: How Time Affects Investing

It all looks so easy.

Of course it does—because all these professionals have performed hundreds of thousands of reps.

We as a community might want to take a second look at what real estate investing really entails. Without having done hundreds of deals, over years, in various market cycles, how can we know if it’s truly an easy endeavor?

There Are Real Estate Books, Courses, Podcasts, and Blogs for a Reason

There is a massive amount of books, magazines, podcasts, and blogs about real estate investing. If it was so easy, why would there be such a large system of information everywhere about it? And how would real estate masterminds, podcasts, and blogs be so successful? If it was so easy, why would so many people intently listen to the BiggerPockets Podcast?

Within BiggerPockets, there are calculators, forums, and places to learn about everything from apartment investing to wholesaling, scaling your business, buy and hold properties, and more. But don’t worry, it’s easy.

Think of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. That book wouldn’t be so successful if people weren’t looking to learn and grow. In all of the books that talk about building businesses, there isn’t a single story without trials, learning, hardship, pain, and the will to preservere.

Don’t Believe What the Gurus Try to Sell You

There is a ton of gurus out there with crappy education programs making piles of money. But their promises of easy, guaranteed results aren’t helping you become a better real estate investor.

Related: The 5 Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made in My Real Estate Investing Career

There is nothing more important than a great support system and a solid mentor. Maybe you hire a coach or have a friend teach you the ropes. But there is more to being an actual real estate investor than buying a few houses, painting a few walls, and owning a couple rentals. You have to understand what you are buying, create systems, understand your exit strategy is, and know what your numbers are during the entire process.

Final Thoughts

Before we go around telling people how “easy” real estate is, why don’t we first start making sure people have the education, the background, the help, and all the tools to invest as safely as possible? We have to have the discipline to have learn, grow, scale, dial it in, slow down, speed up, and learn some more. Possibly most important is the wisdom that comes with time and deals.  Until then, you haven’t earned the right to call it “easy.” Because if you had done all the work and gained the experience that comes with time, you would know that just isn’t true.

What do you think—is there an “easy” way to find success in real estate? Or is the notion that investing can be easy naive?

Leave your comments below!

Nathan Brooks is the co-founder and CEO of Bridge Turnkey Investments, a Kansas City-based company renovating and selling more than 100 turnkey prop...
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    Scott Radetich Investor from Portland, OR
    Replied over 3 years ago
    There’s also a difference between being a real estate investor and being invested in real estate. I am heavily invested in real estate but right now I make most of my money from my day job, so I am far from considering myself a real estate investor. To me, Real estate investors hustle. They are out there pounding the pavement, sourcing deals, fixing homes, worrying about every dollar spent, why because it’s their lively hood and yes, that is hard. But to be invested in real estate, if buy a couple of quality single family home in desirable areas, you will have tenants, they will pay down your mortgages and eventually, you will receive a nice income. The cash flow I receive on my single family rentals is crap right now. The rent to value is abhorrent. True real estate investors would stay far away from these, but I’m doing it for my future. I don’t need 15% coc right now, I need $XX a month in 8-10 years. These rentals should get that for me. Could I of made more money by taking the down payment and capex I spent on my properties and placing it into an S&P 500 index fund? maybe, Could I of made more money in real estate by buying different deals than what I have? Absolutely! But for the effort I’ve put in into my portfolio and what I’m projecting to make during my retirement, I agree with Mr Trench, real estate has been pretty damn easy 🙂
    Scott Radetich Investor from Portland, OR
    Replied over 3 years ago
    There’s also a difference between being a real estate investor and being invested in real estate. I am heavily invested in real estate but right now I make most of my money from my day job, so I am far from considering myself a real estate investor. To me, Real estate investors hustle. They are out there pounding the pavement, sourcing deals, fixing homes, worrying about every dollar spent, why because it’s their lively hood and yes, that is hard. But to be invested in real estate, if buy a couple of quality single family home in desirable areas, you will have tenants, they will pay down your mortgages and eventually, you will receive a nice income. The cash flow I receive on my single family rentals is crap right now. The rent to value is abhorrent. True real estate investors would stay far away from these, but I’m doing it for my future. I don’t need 15% coc right now, I need $XX a month in 8-10 years. These rentals should get that for me. Could I of made more money by taking the down payment and capex I spent on my properties and placing it into an S&P 500 index fund? maybe, Could I of made more money in real estate by buying different deals than what I have? Absolutely! But for the effort I’ve put in into my portfolio and what I’m projecting to make during my retirement, I agree with Mr Trench, real estate has been pretty damn easy 🙂
    Erik Orozco from Mcallen, Texas
    Replied about 3 years ago
    “patience, learning, grit, and tenacity” exactly what it took to complete my 1st deal! From a complete newbie’s perspective, right outta the gate I began to realize how NOT “easy” real estate investing is. I’ll be writing a detail post of my 1st wholesale deal soon, a deal that included over 10k in liens, disgruntled ex-owner, strange horses on the property, and a scammer posing as an end buyer…all in my 1st deal! Thank you Nathan for the post.
    Andrew Schwartz from Matthews, North Carolina
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Thanks for the post. As someone new to real estate investing who also has a full-time job, a wife, four kids, and church/community involvement, I agree that it’s not easy! Finding/vetting/purchasing stock in a company is easy. Purchasing 20 new stocks is easy, for that matter. Finding/vetting/purchasing even one real estate deal is hard work! I believe the hard work that I’m putting in now will pay off down the road. But let’s call it what it is … hard work!
    Charles Maples from Olathe, Kansas
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Lots of great discussion here for a newbie starting to learn, hearing from the trenches about how to gain more knowledge, gather resources, and do the homework before making a commitment to move forward. Thanks.
    Andrew Lee Rental Property Investor from Cleveland, TN
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Thanks Nathan and Scott for this informative and provocative dialogue. Funny, I’ve listened to both of you on the Podcasts and read many blog posts by both Nathan and Scott, and I bought Scott’s book, too, and made my kids read it after I finished it. So it feels like I’ve known you both for a while now! In my opinion, you’re both “right” and both of you offer invaluable advice and inspiration. I think Scott’s viewpoint is especially relevant for millenials like my son who are just starting out and need to know this is possible and viable. I think Nathan is probably closer to my peer group, and his thoughtful reflections on the hard work involved in REI can help remind us to be realistic and cautious, while also inspiring us to see the road to success may be challenging, but it’s not out of reach. Thanks to you both!