Beginning a career in real estate at a young age

19 Replies

Hi I am new to this website and have decided to ask for some advice from people with some experience in the real estate investing business. I am currently a junior in high school and want to start a career in real estate. Ideally I would like to begin investing right out of high school. I am not interested in a 4 year college degree because of the debt and falling into a job that I hate. My question is what are some steps I can take right out of high school to begin a career in real estate, preferably without a college degree. I am open to any advice. Real estate investing is my dream career.

Do some research and reading around BP. You will find many ways to invest at any age. I started when I was 18 utilizing an FHA loan to put low money down for an investment property. Your question is very broad. Start by using some of the free tools BP offers and pick up a few books to see which direction in real estate you wanna go or if it even interests you at all once you gain some knowledge.

Good luck!

Thanks for the advice Kyle! I will definitely keep reading and learning! Do you have any good books on real estate that you would recommend? I wish you good luck as well!

@Jon W.  Take real estate training courses at a local community college (IE: Real Estate Licensing Courses). Most 2 year schools are well funded and will work with you to help avoid taking out student loans. I relize you said no college, but at your young age, you will have a hard time getting people to take you very seriously. Especially if you don't have one of two things.... MONEY or KNOWLEDGE. Starting on BP is a good step towards learning (aka knowledge). But it won't make you a pro over night. 

If money is an issue for a couple of classes at a community college, it will be an even greater issue in Real Estate. I am not saying it can't be done, I am just trying to help you determine the least costly way for you to learn the business, of the niche within the business that you have chosen.

A third option which is harder, is find a great mentor. One that you will work for a couple of years while they teach you what you need to know. Often times, mentors will not accept you as a trainee until you have proven yourself worthy of their time and effort. Like in most corporate environments, results are only as good as the effort. And a mentors attitude will generally be: "what have you done for me lately?" 

Read the blogs there are some great ones about mentors on BP. Expect a lot of reading, and work smarter, and possibly just maybe; you'll find a niche that you will excel at without much trouble. But most likely, you will have a hard time getting started, but don't get discouraged. The payoff is well worth the effort.

Best of Luck, and welcome to BP

@Richard D.  Thanks for the advice! I will definetly look into a 2 year program like you said. Money is not too much of an issue, I just want to ensure I am taking the right steps to get into the business sooner rather than later. I also don't seem to be seeing all the positives of college when the degrees offered at colleges don't have much to do with the career I want. I know there are degrees for real estate but they seem to be more about becoming a broker rather than an investor. I also simply don't like the idea of more school even though I get good grades in high school. However, if college will benefit me in the long run I would be much more interested. Thanks for the motivation and I wish you good luck as well!

Start with the Ultimate Beginners Guide here on BP under the learn tab (its free) and decide which direction you want to go. Then grab books focusing on the areas that interest you whether it be flipping, wholesaling, buy and hold ect. 

I don't completely agree with @Richard D. either as to needing college for anything. I'm now 24 and own 4 rentals and have zero college or real estate courses. Most of my friends are just now graduating college and have 50-100K in student loans to pay off and I own a home, 4 rentals and all toys I want. It all comes with how you carry yourself. You can learn a lot of great knowledge right here on BP. Take that knowledge and become confident in yourself and utilize your skills to advance your REI career. Just remember presentation is key.

Don't get me wrong... Richard makes some great points and I worked my *** off as a retail manager for many years to be able to help finance my investments. There is a lot more to it then just not going to college. You will need some form of cash flow and lots of knowledge to get you started.

@Kyle Boughton  I was planning on reading that book as soon as I got up in the morning. The student debt is definitely something I don't want. I also have never had a problem of working hard towards my goals. It might not seem like much but I have a job at a McDonald's that I feel I can move up in relatively quickly if I continue my hard work. My dad is also good friends with the owner of the store I work at and others in my city. The owner has also said he pays his head managers well. So if I decide college is not the route I want to take I can get money to finance investments from that. Thanks for the motivation and advice again! I truly do appreciate it very much!

@Kyle Boughton  the fundamental question is not weather or not young @Jon W.  should attend college. But the question is what does young master Jon bring to the table as he begins his investment career? It is my premise that college is not the only solution; but could actually become a viable solution to his many problems that he will face at his young age.

Is it possible that he could become a great investor without ever stepping foot in a classroom? His odds are far better in Real Estate, than in any other field of business; that he can be successful without attending college. 

However, college does offer an advantage over McDonalds. The advantage of learning about the field in which he has chosen as his preferred career path. To earn his living from, for the rest of his life.

I only recommend attending college in hope that he targets his studies in the field of real estate. For example, he could go to get his Real Estate License, or Professional Appraisers License, he could study architecture to learn how to design and build homes, commercial buildings, apartments and so on. 

The advantage McDonalds offers over college can be argued as well. He can learn teamwork, and team building skills. He can learn that attention to details, can make or break you. He can build up disposable capital @ $8-15 an hour. Jon just to give you a rough idea. If you had ZERO expenses, and wanted to save $25,000 in capital, You would need to work full time (40 hours a week) for 2 years @ $8 an hour. 

Jon, I do not know anything about, you, your home life, schooling or anything else. But, I do know this, you sought out knowledge on how to start. And it looks to me like knowledge would be the greatest asset that you could gain while learning about investing. That I would venture that your actual best option would be the third option. The toughest one, find and work for a great mentor. You may work for free for a little while to prove your worth to the mentor, but over time, they will pay you to keep you around. And they will need to pay you well to keep you even longer.

I know a young man age 26. He went this route, and currently has part ownership in over 1000 properties. He started (bought first property) at age 17. His net worth is currently in excess of 10 million dollars. And he works his Real Estate Business every day of the week. He never worked at McDonalds and never went to college.

@Jon W.  To keep costs low, you could do community college for two years then matriculate in-state to Penn State. I went there for finance and did a concentration in Real Estate. They now have a Risk Management major specifically with a real estate option. This is not geared towards brokers or agents, it is geared towards real estate finance. I participated in real estate case competitions when I was there and got the opportunity to present case studies to real estate professionals in NYC. This was real experience where you are analyzing deals then presenting the findings and being critiqued by real estate CEOs, CFOs and portfolio managers with hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in assets under management. Just about every person in the program went on to careers in Real Estate Finance or Banking.

Originally posted by @Richard D. :

@Kyle Boughton the fundamental question is not weather or not young @Jon W.  should attend college. But the question is what does young master Jon bring to the table as he begins his investment career? It is my premise that college is not the only solution; but could actually become a viable solution to his many problems that he will face at his young age.

Is it possible that he could become a great investor without ever stepping foot in a classroom? His odds are far better in Real Estate, than in any other field of business; that he can be successful without attending college. 

However, college does offer an advantage over McDonalds. The advantage of learning about the field in which he has chosen as his preferred career path. To earn his living from, for the rest of his life.

I only recommend attending college in hope that he targets his studies in the field of real estate. For example, he could go to get his Real Estate License, or Professional Appraisers License, he could study architecture to learn how to design and build homes, commercial buildings, apartments and so on. 

The advantage McDonalds offers over college can be argued as well. He can learn teamwork, and team building skills. He can learn that attention to details, can make or break you. He can build up disposable capital @ $8-15 an hour. Jon just to give you a rough idea. If you had ZERO expenses, and wanted to save $25,000 in capital, You would need to work full time (40 hours a week) for 2 years @ $8 an hour. 

Jon, I do not know anything about, you, your home life, schooling or anything else. But, I do know this, you sought out knowledge on how to start. And it looks to me like knowledge would be the greatest asset that you could gain while learning about investing. That I would venture that your actual best option would be the third option. The toughest one, find and work for a great mentor. You may work for free for a little while to prove your worth to the mentor, but over time, they will pay you to keep you around. And they will need to pay you well to keep you even longer.

I know a young man age 26. He went this route, and currently has part ownership in over 1000 properties. He started (bought first property) at age 17. His net worth is currently in excess of 10 million dollars. And he works his Real Estate Business every day of the week. He never worked at McDonalds and never went to college.

 Well put Richard. I agree 100%. 

@Jon W.  

Welcome. Remember this is a marathon not a sprint. I have buddies that get SFR in PA for $500-2,500 each through the county tax repository sales. There is no question you will be a better person than without. You will pay for your learnings one way or another. Time to build the foundation below.

Check out the Start Here page http://www.biggerpockets.com/starthere

Check out BiggerPockets Ultimate Beginner's Guide - A fantastic free book that walks through many of the key topics of real estate investing.

Check out the free BiggerPockets Podcast - A weekly podcast with interviews and a ton of great advice. And you get the benefit of having over 100 past ones to catch up on.

Two Great reads, I bought both J. Scott The Book on Flipping Houses,The Book on Estimating ReHab Costshttp://www.biggerpockets.com/flippingbook

Locate and attend 3 different local REIA club meetings great place to meet people gather resources and info. Here you will meet wholesalers who provide deals and all the cash buyers (rehabbers) you will need.

Consider checking out HUD homes for small multi's owner occupied gets first crack.

You might consider Niche or Specialized Housing like student housing. Rents can be 2-4 times more. Remember you don't have to own a property to control it.

Download BP’s newest book here some good due diligence in Chapter 10. Real Estate Rewind Starting over

http://www.biggerpockets.com/files/user/brandonatbp/file/real-estate-rewind-a-biggerpockets-community-book

Good luck

Paul

You should get a broker license and work with investors.  Tbis will belp you build a buyerz list and give you experience while building a reputation and capital.

@Richard D.   Thanks for the advice again! You showed me a lot of different options that I can take to start my career. I will definitely look into the things you were taking about. Thanks for all the help again!

While there are many people who have been super successful without ever having a degree for me, the degree was very important for my success! Before you count it out, know there are cheaper options, for example going from a community college to a 4 year institution. I wouldn't just rule it out because of the cost. I would use your same "energy" into finding a great deal in real estte to doing that with your education.  

@Gregory Hiban  Thanks for the advice! Sounds like a good program. I will check it out.

Account Closed Thanks for the recommendations! I will give them a read. Good luck to you as well!

You sound like a person wiser than your years.  Most teens in high school don't have a clue what they want to do and surely are not considering the consequences of graduating college with mounding debt.  Most walk through others' expectations only counting the cost when it is too late.  Those people are blindsided when they have to start paying back the loans and many (if not most) end up paying for a degree they soon decide to abandon because it isn't what they thought it would be.

College is one of those things that many people are very passionate about.  You will get a slough of opinions on it relative to individuals' experiences with it.  Allow me to tell you a little of mine:

I was similar as you about not wanting to be buried in debt.  To keep that from happening (while still following others' expectations) I worked 3 jobs while working my way through college.  My parents sent me a $20 bill 2 or 3 times while I was there.  They saved nothing for my schooling (I didn't expect them to) so I was either going to work or pay debts.  I worked 80 to 100 hours a week while taking between 18 and 21 credit hours a semester.  I went 3 and a half years on 2 and a half hours of sleep per night.  I am not exaggerating.  I was living on Vivran and NoDoze.  Some professors would let me stand in the back so I would not fall asleep.  I woke up with my books hitting the floor more times than I can remember.  When all was said and done, I had no debt, some sleep deprivation health issues, and a decision to go into a different field which made me question its worth.

Now, I have 3 boys who are beginning to make similar decisions about their lives.  I will treat you as my son and answer your question in the same way I would answer it if it were one of them.

I would never recommend anyone go to college for an unknown reason.  What I mean by that is this.  All those who go to college not knowing why they are going are wasting time and money in my opinion.  Many take classes to bide time and waste money while they don't have a clue what they want to do with their lives.  I recommend that you do not necessarily DECIDE to or not to go to college.  Instead, determine not to waste time on meaningless activities to impress or please people who do not have to live with your decision.  Never go to college just to go.  Decide what you want to do with your life AND THEN decide the course of action to take to get there.  If you want to be an employee in the RE field (or any field) and someone in  that field needs a degree, then, at the time of the confident decision, pursue the education needed.  If colleges were full of 25 year olds who knew what they wanted to do, they would be more serious, do better in their classes, and may be able to pay out of pocket for a lot of it.  On the other hand, if, after learning a lot about RE investing in books and here on Bigger Pockets blogs and forums, you still want to pursue the investing side, then pursue the education needed (most of the time, NOT college).

My oldest son, a 14 year old, is a spittin' image of your question.  He adamantly wants to be a full time real estate investor in commercial real estate.  I am incorporating a lot of creative education in his schooling (as he is home schooled).  He has an account at the local credit union and the people there know who he is.  He has other accounts as well.  Any and ALL money he receives (whether from working or birthday cards) is split up into those accounts.  He saves most of his money in his FFA (Financial Freedom Acct).  This is money earmarked for investments.  By the time he is ready to move out of my house, he will own his first multi-unit building.  The plan is that he will live in one apartment while his tenants pay the mortgage off for him and give him some cash flow to reinvest.  He will work a full time job as soon as it is legal and will save nearly every penny in his FFA while he has no expenses under my roof.  When he owns his first rental, he will move into part of it.  He plans on not getting serious with girls until he is financially free so he can stay home with his family.  I would recommend something similar to all this if you are serious.

My 13 year old is looking seriously into being an electrical engineer.  He is studying that already as well and is building circuits.  His toys are resisters, transisters, and solder.  I believe he will be choosing the college route (but that is up to him).

As for people taking you seriously?  If you have a cash down payment and are legal age to sign a contract, institutional lenders do not care if you have a "baby face".  They care if you know what you are doing and if you can pay them back.  If you keep your job and keep most of your money, you should be fine.  Stop buying stupid stuff and save a down payment.   

Side note:  WIVES AND CHILDREN ARE VERY EXPENSIVE.  If you don't want to be an employee most of your life, wait for that until you establish a good foundation.

Good Books? 

Rich Dad, Poor Dad - by Robert Kiyosaki (sounds like you may have read it already.  

Cashflow Quadrant - same author

One Minute Millionaire - by Mark Victor Hanson

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind - by T. Harv Eker (good book on budgeting for investments)

The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: King Solomon's Secrets to Success, Wealth, and Happiness - by Steven K. Scott (great book about following your plan(you need one))

How to Win Friends and Influence People - by Dale Carnegie (you must have people skills)

Bigger Pockets podcasts about the RE field of interest (listen a lot - super helpful)

The books mentioned on this site and in those podcasts!

@Daniel Mohnkern  Thanks for the advice! First of, I think your story about your time in college is very impressive. Although I can only imagine the effects on your health that getting next to no sleep at all that you received. I am very confident that a career in real estate investing is what I want to do. I am now starting to take serious steps towards my goal of becoming a full time real estate investor. I have always been good about saving my money ever since I was a little kid and understood what a savings account was. I do not save money as aggressively as your oldest son does but I did save up enough money from gifts and some work at my dads shop to buy a car (03 Pontiac Sunfire) as soon as I turned 16. I am now working towards having enough money to do something similar to what your son is trying to do. I also agree with the advice about girls and children. I can't imagine getting married or starting a family before I was at least financially stable. I am going to check out the books you recommended. Thanks again for the help!

By the way I have never read Rich Dad, Poor Dad but it does sound like a good read.

Thanks Jon.  I hope they are a help to you.  Another thing you might consider looking into is being a help to a real estate agent or broker in your area.  You might be able to land a job as an assistant rather than work at McDonald's which might be a little off your desired path.  And, even if it doesn't land you a job, you could get some experience while volunteering in your free time while keeping your current job.

Oh, and the whole college thing?  Now that I am older and more mature, I would never make the same decisions.  We only have one body.  Several of my peers who did the same thing have serious health problems which I attribute to their lack of sleep for more years than I went through.  Some have major immune system issues, cancer, etc.  Maybe a job that helps pay the bill, but making sure to get 6 hours of sleep per night would be more wise.  I had been unwisely conditioned to believe that if I got the sleep my body needed I was being lazy.

@Daniel Mohnkern  Working as a helping hand to an agent/broker like you said would not be a bad idea either. I can't imagine only working on 2 hours of sleep a night. Thanks again for the advice and I am sure it will help me when I pursue a career in real estate.

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