If you started all over again, what would you do differently?

135 Replies

I've come across a lot of different stories on Bigger Pockets, and there are people who come from all different types of backgrounds. Everyone has had a different starting point. If you were young again, where would you start and what would you do differently? Is there anything you'd avoid right away, or something in particular you wish you started doing earlier?

Invest out of state right away instead of waiting. But thats because I live in an expensive city where investing is hard and I spent too much time investing locally. I would also network a lot more. Every week I would be networking. 

Teaming up with the wrong business partner

Originally posted by @Antoine Martel :

Invest out of state right away instead of waiting. But thats because I live in an expensive city where investing is hard and I spent too much time investing locally. I would also network a lot more. Every week I would be networking. 

 I apologize for not responding sooner, I didn't get any notifications. I live in the Chicago area, and it's expensive aswell. Are there any particular precautions to take when investing out of state?

I agree networking is very important! I'm trying to ask a new question everyday on the forums and so far it is going well. Have you ever attended any Bigger Pocket events?

Originally posted by @Dustin Frank :

Teaming up with the wrong business partner

Have you had any bad experiences with a personal friend or relative?

@Taylor Nunn  Great question!

If I could start over, I would take action a lot more action and would have invested in more properties with silent partners. I would also schedule a brainstorm meeting per week with creative investors and seek more mentors. I would attend more real estate events and make sure I make at least a few offers per week as I used to do when I got started. 

I would also use at least couple different investment strategies and work simultaneous on opportunities in all those areas.

Originally posted by @Lumi Ispas :

@Taylor Nunn Great question!

If I could start over, I would take action a lot more action and would have invested in more properties with silent partners. I would also schedule a brainstorm meeting per week with creative investors and seek more mentors. I would attend more real estate events and make sure I make at least a few offers per week as I used to do when I got started. 

I would also use at least couple different investment strategies and work simultaneous on opportunities in all those areas.

 Really great advice, thank you for sharing! I try to connect with somebody, and ask a question on the forums once a day. I'm grateful to hear from someone else in the Chicago area.

@Taylor Nunn if I could start over, I would never EVER buy turn-key or move-in ready rental properties even if they cash flow well. That's what we did with our single family houses. We bought in a high-demand area and as such never struggle to rent them out. And they cash flow very well. But I have a lot of my own money trapped in the equity in those homes. This is a fine option for the wealthy 1% and such, but for the rest of us 99% all it takes is buying a few properties like this and we're done. Our money is consumed in the downpayments, and that's the end of our REI path.

If I could do it all again, a) I would use the BRRRR approach over and over to maximize my available investing funds, and b) I wouldn't mess around with single family rentals but focus instead on commercial multi family.

Hope there's a nugget or two in there.  Best of luck!

Avoid all out of state investing. I went to 5 states and they all turned out to be the worst performers in my portfolio. The lost opportunity cost of not using that money to invest locally is incalculable.

Never partner with someone with less experience and money. What a complete waste of time.

Sell off my worst performing properties immediately. Never wait and expect it to get better. It doesn't. Drag them out behind the woodshed and beat them mercilessly into the ground with a big wooden club.

If it doesn't feel right, just don't do it. Your gut is much smarter than your brain. You'll be surprised. Live by, "It isn't the ones I don't buy that hurt me." 

Avoid niche properties like condos and senior anything (houses, mobiles, condos). In a good market I will do them, and am doing one now, but in any other market these types of properties just take a ruthless beating and are next to impossible to sell.

Focus on cash flow needs today and get that covered ASAP. I still have a Post-It Note stuck above my desk from my early years that reads, "3 IDEAS to increase income $20 and decrease expenses $20." Do this once a month, especially when looking at the credit card bill. Those $40 gaps in the beginning make a big difference over time. I had another one, long gone now, that said, "$100 net income per month." Every month my goal was to increase my net by at least $100. If I did $150, I did not get $50 credit for next month. If I missed my goal that month, I owed it the next month. Once you meet your monthly nut, every other dollar is an extra point you don't need to win. You've already won and now you're in bragging rights territory. 

Focus 1/2 to at least 1 day a week on actively building a private money network. This is what really allowed me to grow my business beyond my yearly goals year after year. With good private money lenders at your back, what you can accomplish will surpass even your craziest dreams. Several years ago I wrote down some wild goals that I thought I'd surely disappoint myself with by December, but by June I was rewriting them because I had knocked 7 of my 10 out already all because of one private lender. 

Every December spend some serious time thinking, really thinking about what you want to accomplish over the next 12 months. Put these on paper. I put these on a big white board directly above my desk. I have several paper copies as well. I keep one next to my bed and try to look at it before I go to sleep and once I wake up. I keep another tacked to the wall above the toilet paper in the master bath. As my good friend likes to say, "When I'm stinking, I'm thinking." I have my goals numbered and at the right side of the page a line I can write the date on that I complete the goal. 

I could go on and on, but these are some of the habits I picked up along the way which I had in the beginning.

@Aaron Mazzrillo Hi Aaron, I really appreciated the input you gave regarding what to avoid and how to succeed. As a fellow Californian, I'm sure you're aware of the current local housing markets, and how difficult they can be to get into if you don't have quite a bit of capital up front, or someone you know who does. Is there any specific reasons or bad experiences you've had investing out of state? Thank you so much for your time!

-Ryan

Originally posted by @Ryan Mattson :

@Aaron Mazzrillo Hi Aaron, I really appreciated the input you gave regarding what to avoid and how to succeed. As a fellow Californian, I'm sure you're aware of the current local housing markets, and how difficult they can be to get into if you don't have quite a bit of capital up front, or someone you know who does. Is there any specific reasons or bad experiences you've had investing out of state? Thank you so much for your time!

-Ryan

 You may think you have all the control, but the only control you have with out of state investments is writing the checks while other people spend your money. And they will spend the heck out of your checkbook. All of it was and is a nuisance and a hassle. Even in markets where the properties appreciated well, I have to rely 100% on local brokers to sell my properties and I've yet to meet anyone with a real estate license that knows diddly squat about marketing. Just this past summer one of my houses in Austin, Round Rock specifically, went vacant. I wanted to sell it. I dumped a few grand into "fixing it up" according to the broker's opinion of what needed to be done. It sat on the market with little to no showings in a supposedly hot market. Now it has another tenant which cost me a hefty leasing fee, and my $150K+ in equity is rotting away. Years of cash flow blown by months of vacancy and unnecessary improvements, which will probably be ruined by tenants. 

I can buy a wholesale deal here in California, and have 100% control. I can keep costs down. I have a broker's license and a deep marketing background. When I put one of my properties on the market, it actually sells. I can analyze property here quickly and efficiently. I know what a 2/1 and 3/1 will rent for in my target neighborhoods. If a cold call comes in, I can give that seller a verbal offer right over the phone within 10 minutes and I've purchased dozens and dozens of houses this way. No way you're doing that with something in another state. 

Not having enough capital is an excuse, not a reason. I closed on a property last week. My private lender over funded the deal. I have a refund check from escrow sitting on my desk right now. I put $0 into this deal. I've already served the tenants with notice to vacate and when the dust settles, I'll walk away with around $25K on a deal I put zero dollars into. I bought a rental a few months back that I paid 63 cents on the dollar for. One of my private lenders funded all but $5,000 for the deal. You could put that on a credit card if you absolutely had to.

This market is not difficult to get in to. You just haven't looked behind enough doors.

Starting over I would take greater risks, use more leverage.

Originally posted by @Chris Jensen :

@Taylor Nunn if I could start over, I would never EVER buy turn-key or move-in ready rental properties even if they cash flow well. That's what we did with our single family houses. We bought in a high-demand area and as such never struggle to rent them out. And they cash flow very well. But I have a lot of my own money trapped in the equity in those homes. This is a fine option for the wealthy 1% and such, but for the rest of us 99% all it takes is buying a few properties like this and we're done. Our money is consumed in the downpayments, and that's the end of our REI path.

If I could do it all again, a) I would use the BRRRR approach over and over to maximize my available investing funds, and b) I wouldn't mess around with single family rentals but focus instead on commercial multi family.

Hope there's a nugget or two in there.  Best of luck!

Thank you for your insight! My initial thought process on getting started was to flip houses to get some cash behind me, to then pursue multi family rentals. I'm pretty good with my hands and could cut costs by fixing some of the house myself. Have you stayed away from flipping or whole sales? And if so, why?

Originally posted by @Aaron Mazzrillo :

Avoid all out of state investing. I went to 5 states and they all turned out to be the worst performers in my portfolio. The lost opportunity cost of not using that money to invest locally is incalculable.

Never partner with someone with less experience and money. What a complete waste of time.

Sell off my worst performing properties immediately. Never wait and expect it to get better. It doesn't. Drag them out behind the woodshed and beat them mercilessly into the ground with a big wooden club.

If it doesn't feel right, just don't do it. Your gut is much smarter than your brain. You'll be surprised. Live by, "It isn't the ones I don't buy that hurt me." 

Avoid niche properties like condos and senior anything (houses, mobiles, condos). In a good market I will do them, and am doing one now, but in any other market these types of properties just take a ruthless beating and are next to impossible to sell.

Focus on cash flow needs today and get that covered ASAP. I still have a Post-It Note stuck above my desk from my early years that reads, "3 IDEAS to increase income $20 and decrease expenses $20." Do this once a month, especially when looking at the credit card bill. Those $40 gaps in the beginning make a big difference over time. I had another one, long gone now, that said, "$100 net income per month." Every month my goal was to increase my net by at least $100. If I did $150, I did not get $50 credit for next month. If I missed my goal that month, I owed it the next month. Once you meet your monthly nut, every other dollar is an extra point you don't need to win. You've already won and now you're in bragging rights territory. 

Focus 1/2 to at least 1 day a week on actively building a private money network. This is what really allowed me to grow my business beyond my yearly goals year after year. With good private money lenders at your back, what you can accomplish will surpass even your craziest dreams. Several years ago I wrote down some wild goals that I thought I'd surely disappoint myself with by December, but by June I was rewriting them because I had knocked 7 of my 10 out already all because of one private lender. 

Every December spend some serious time thinking, really thinking about what you want to accomplish over the next 12 months. Put these on paper. I put these on a big white board directly above my desk. I have several paper copies as well. I keep one next to my bed and try to look at it before I go to sleep and once I wake up. I keep another tacked to the wall above the toilet paper in the master bath. As my good friend likes to say, "When I'm stinking, I'm thinking." I have my goals numbered and at the right side of the page a line I can write the date on that I complete the goal. 

I could go on and on, but these are some of the habits I picked up along the way which I had in the beginning.

 Wow! A lot of good information here, thank you. I love the way you literally surrounded yourself with your goals. I keep a notebook by my bed that has lists on there, but I will definitely be taking it to the next level as you have so that I am locked in.  

The cash flow needs you speak of, are they needs you calculate to replace your everyday expenses, to love financially free? Or were you strictly speaking on cash flow returns of the property to make a profit? 

Why do you stay away from condos? 

If you were actually able to be present in those states you tried investing in, do you think you would've found greater success?

I'm a little confused by what you mean when you talk private money lenders. Are these people you actually knew, or did you have to go out and find these People? Or have you developed a relationship with a private money lending company?

Originally posted by @Aaron Mazzrillo :
Originally posted by @Ryan Mattson:

@Aaron Mazzrillo Hi Aaron, I really appreciated the input you gave regarding what to avoid and how to succeed. As a fellow Californian, I'm sure you're aware of the current local housing markets, and how difficult they can be to get into if you don't have quite a bit of capital up front, or someone you know who does. Is there any specific reasons or bad experiences you've had investing out of state? Thank you so much for your time!

-Ryan

 You may think you have all the control, but the only control you have with out of state investments is writing the checks while other people spend your money. And they will spend the heck out of your checkbook. All of it was and is a nuisance and a hassle. Even in markets where the properties appreciated well, I have to rely 100% on local brokers to sell my properties and I've yet to meet anyone with a real estate license that knows diddly squat about marketing. Just this past summer one of my houses in Austin, Round Rock specifically, went vacant. I wanted to sell it. I dumped a few grand into "fixing it up" according to the broker's opinion of what needed to be done. It sat on the market with little to no showings in a supposedly hot market. Now it has another tenant which cost me a hefty leasing fee, and my $150K+ in equity is rotting away. Years of cash flow blown by months of vacancy and unnecessary improvements, which will probably be ruined by tenants. 

I can buy a wholesale deal here in California, and have 100% control. I can keep costs down. I have a broker's license and a deep marketing background. When I put one of my properties on the market, it actually sells. I can analyze property here quickly and efficiently. I know what a 2/1 and 3/1 will rent for in my target neighborhoods. If a cold call comes in, I can give that seller a verbal offer right over the phone within 10 minutes and I've purchased dozens and dozens of houses this way. No way you're doing that with something in another state. 

Not having enough capital is an excuse, not a reason. I closed on a property last week. My private lender over funded the deal. I have a refund check from escrow sitting on my desk right now. I put $0 into this deal. I've already served the tenants with notice to vacate and when the dust settles, I'll walk away with around $25K on a deal I put zero dollars into. I bought a rental a few months back that I paid 63 cents on the dollar for. One of my private lenders funded all but $5,000 for the deal. You could put that on a credit card if you absolutely had to.

This market is not difficult to get in to. You just haven't looked behind enough doors.

 Are you walking away with 25k because of the over funding? Just to clarify, you bought a house with tenants already occupying the property, evicted them, and are going to rent it back out after renovations? Or did you sell it?

Originally posted by @Taylor Nunn :
Originally posted by @Aaron Mazzrillo:
Originally posted by @Ryan Mattson:

@Aaron Mazzrillo Hi Aaron, I really appreciated the input you gave regarding what to avoid and how to succeed. As a fellow Californian, I'm sure you're aware of the current local housing markets, and how difficult they can be to get into if you don't have quite a bit of capital up front, or someone you know who does. Is there any specific reasons or bad experiences you've had investing out of state? Thank you so much for your time!

-Ryan

 You may think you have all the control, but the only control you have with out of state investments is writing the checks while other people spend your money. And they will spend the heck out of your checkbook. All of it was and is a nuisance and a hassle. Even in markets where the properties appreciated well, I have to rely 100% on local brokers to sell my properties and I've yet to meet anyone with a real estate license that knows diddly squat about marketing. Just this past summer one of my houses in Austin, Round Rock specifically, went vacant. I wanted to sell it. I dumped a few grand into "fixing it up" according to the broker's opinion of what needed to be done. It sat on the market with little to no showings in a supposedly hot market. Now it has another tenant which cost me a hefty leasing fee, and my $150K+ in equity is rotting away. Years of cash flow blown by months of vacancy and unnecessary improvements, which will probably be ruined by tenants. 

I can buy a wholesale deal here in California, and have 100% control. I can keep costs down. I have a broker's license and a deep marketing background. When I put one of my properties on the market, it actually sells. I can analyze property here quickly and efficiently. I know what a 2/1 and 3/1 will rent for in my target neighborhoods. If a cold call comes in, I can give that seller a verbal offer right over the phone within 10 minutes and I've purchased dozens and dozens of houses this way. No way you're doing that with something in another state. 

Not having enough capital is an excuse, not a reason. I closed on a property last week. My private lender over funded the deal. I have a refund check from escrow sitting on my desk right now. I put $0 into this deal. I've already served the tenants with notice to vacate and when the dust settles, I'll walk away with around $25K on a deal I put zero dollars into. I bought a rental a few months back that I paid 63 cents on the dollar for. One of my private lenders funded all but $5,000 for the deal. You could put that on a credit card if you absolutely had to.

This market is not difficult to get in to. You just haven't looked behind enough doors.

 Are you walking away with 25k because of the over funding? Just to clarify, you bought a house with tenants already occupying the property, evicted them, and are going to rent it back out after renovations? Or did you sell it?

 I'm going to kick them out and then to a super light rehab; clean & paint. Then sell 10% below full retail as a handyman special. It should go fast since there are no other active listed properties in the community and it will look like a smoking price compared to the last 4-5 sales.

Originally posted by @Taylor Nunn :
Originally posted by @Aaron Mazzrillo:

Avoid all out of state investing. I went to 5 states and they all turned out to be the worst performers in my portfolio. The lost opportunity cost of not using that money to invest locally is incalculable.

Never partner with someone with less experience and money. What a complete waste of time.

Sell off my worst performing properties immediately. Never wait and expect it to get better. It doesn't. Drag them out behind the woodshed and beat them mercilessly into the ground with a big wooden club.

If it doesn't feel right, just don't do it. Your gut is much smarter than your brain. You'll be surprised. Live by, "It isn't the ones I don't buy that hurt me." 

Avoid niche properties like condos and senior anything (houses, mobiles, condos). In a good market I will do them, and am doing one now, but in any other market these types of properties just take a ruthless beating and are next to impossible to sell.

Focus on cash flow needs today and get that covered ASAP. I still have a Post-It Note stuck above my desk from my early years that reads, "3 IDEAS to increase income $20 and decrease expenses $20." Do this once a month, especially when looking at the credit card bill. Those $40 gaps in the beginning make a big difference over time. I had another one, long gone now, that said, "$100 net income per month." Every month my goal was to increase my net by at least $100. If I did $150, I did not get $50 credit for next month. If I missed my goal that month, I owed it the next month. Once you meet your monthly nut, every other dollar is an extra point you don't need to win. You've already won and now you're in bragging rights territory. 

Focus 1/2 to at least 1 day a week on actively building a private money network. This is what really allowed me to grow my business beyond my yearly goals year after year. With good private money lenders at your back, what you can accomplish will surpass even your craziest dreams. Several years ago I wrote down some wild goals that I thought I'd surely disappoint myself with by December, but by June I was rewriting them because I had knocked 7 of my 10 out already all because of one private lender. 

Every December spend some serious time thinking, really thinking about what you want to accomplish over the next 12 months. Put these on paper. I put these on a big white board directly above my desk. I have several paper copies as well. I keep one next to my bed and try to look at it before I go to sleep and once I wake up. I keep another tacked to the wall above the toilet paper in the master bath. As my good friend likes to say, "When I'm stinking, I'm thinking." I have my goals numbered and at the right side of the page a line I can write the date on that I complete the goal. 

I could go on and on, but these are some of the habits I picked up along the way which I had in the beginning.

 Wow! A lot of good information here, thank you. I love the way you literally surrounded yourself with your goals. I keep a notebook by my bed that has lists on there, but I will definitely be taking it to the next level as you have so that I am locked in.  

The cash flow needs you speak of, are they needs you calculate to replace your everyday expenses, to love financially free? Or were you strictly speaking on cash flow returns of the property to make a profit? 

Why do you stay away from condos? 

If you were actually able to be present in those states you tried investing in, do you think you would've found greater success?

I'm a little confused by what you mean when you talk private money lenders. Are these people you actually knew, or did you have to go out and find these People? Or have you developed a relationship with a private money lending company?

 I bought Quickbooks and tracked my personal expenses for 1 year. That really helped me understand what I need to make passively to cover my monthly expenses. Tracking things over a year catches all those small items you might not think of like trips to the dentist for teeth cleaning and oil changes on the vehicle. 

I don't avoid condos. However, in a flat or downward trending market, these are tough sales. Condos in every market take a bath when the prices are falling. They go the quickest.

I think one can always find great success in their own backyard. 

Just going to lunches and meetings and trying to discover who the real whales are in the room. My best lenders are retired landlords who sold off all their rentals and my 2nd best are landlords who are no longer acquiring new rentals. Older investors who have millions in equity, enough cash flow to drown a Ferrari dealership, and nothing to do with their money. They understand real estate. They like to invest in it, but they don't necessarily want the headaches of new properties and more tenants. They do however enjoy the ride investing along with you and I often get 100% financing on anything property I intend to hold. They all have a similar mantra; I don't want my money back. In otherwords, they like the interest income and having the luxury to be able to pick up the phone and bend your ear as often and for however long they like. Keeps them in the game without actually having to sit at the table.

I agree with what @Aaron Mazzrillo stated about not having enough money to get started in California. We started with about 5K between me and my business partner, we are both medic/firefighters still and we continued to open door after door for opportunities. Budgeted marketing and worked deals for months and slowly chipped away saving all that money to put into more
marketing to find more GOOD deals. All the while finding good private lenders and putting portfolios together to show family members our deals and now they lend money as well. Now we wholesale, fix and flip and buy rentals and most of this is leveraged money. The thing I would change if I could go back would be to take even more action and network much better. Now my next problem is my Contractor issues, but on the tail end of getting that better and becoming even better at this game for it.

There are so many things I wish I'd done differently.  As you and I have already talked about, I will never again buy a "down house" (a house where the land slopes toward the house--perpetual water problems).  If I could do it all again, I'd also stay on top of my PM more.  I bought locally, but ended up moving and now live out of state.  I don't think out of state investing is terrible, but you definitely need to visit your property at least yearly, as well as keep up with your PM regularly.  I wish I'd purchased something else while I was still in the Army and making bigger bucks than I am now.  lol  I wish I hadn't lowered my credit card limits as it lowered my credit score.  (Though it does help keep me from running them up as much.  Then again, I lost them all in the move, so I can't run them up right now anyway as I have no idea where I put them.  lol)  I wish I'd spent more time learning about real estate and networked more.  And finally, I wish I'd found BP sooner!  :-)

I would give agents a second chance and I would lengthen my finish line.

I felt my first 3 offers ever were shopped by the listing agents so I stood on my little hill and gave the bird to all realtors 15 years ago.  A good buyer's agent would have benefited my business immensely but I was and am still on my little hill.

I finished at content and shouldn't have.  I celebrated and quit the 100 yard dash of my investing career at the 80 yard mark.  If I had kept running I would have more to give.  I see now that's what my purpose should have been all along.

Originally posted by @Steve Vaughan :

I would give agents a second chance and I would lengthen my finish line.

I felt my first 3 offers ever were shopped by the listing agents so I stood on my little hill and gave the bird to all realtors 15 years ago.  A good buyer's agent would have benefited my business immensely but I was and am still on my little hill.

I finished at content and shouldn't have.  I celebrated and quit the 100 yard dash of my investing career at the 80 yard mark.  If I had kept running I would have more to give.  I see now that's what my purpose should have been all along.

Thank you for sharing your experience! I don't know who you are referring to when you say "buyers agent." Where have you looked to find one so far?

Originally posted by @Mike Flora :

I agree with what Aaron Mazzrillo stated about not having enough money to get started in California. We started with about 5K between me and my business partner, we are both medic/firefighters still and we continued to open door after door for opportunities. Budgeted marketing and worked deals for months and slowly chipped away saving all that money to put into more
marketing to find more GOOD deals. All the while finding good private lenders and putting portfolios together to show family members our deals and now they lend money as well. Now we wholesale, fix and flip and buy rentals and most of this is leveraged money. The thing I would change if I could go back would be to take even more action and network much better. Now my next problem is my Contractor issues, but on the tail end of getting that better and becoming even better at this game for it.

 Thank you for the knowledge! I find a consistency in people wishing they networked better, so that is 1 thing I'm trying to get a head start in. 

I also hear a lot of people having trouble with contractors like yourself. What further analysis are you and your partner taking to sort out the bad ones? 

Originally posted by @Aaron Mazzrillo :
Originally posted by @Taylor Nunn:
Originally posted by @Aaron Mazzrillo:

Avoid all out of state investing. I went to 5 states and they all turned out to be the worst performers in my portfolio. The lost opportunity cost of not using that money to invest locally is incalculable.

Never partner with someone with less experience and money. What a complete waste of time.

Sell off my worst performing properties immediately. Never wait and expect it to get better. It doesn't. Drag them out behind the woodshed and beat them mercilessly into the ground with a big wooden club.

If it doesn't feel right, just don't do it. Your gut is much smarter than your brain. You'll be surprised. Live by, "It isn't the ones I don't buy that hurt me." 

Avoid niche properties like condos and senior anything (houses, mobiles, condos). In a good market I will do them, and am doing one now, but in any other market these types of properties just take a ruthless beating and are next to impossible to sell.

Focus on cash flow needs today and get that covered ASAP. I still have a Post-It Note stuck above my desk from my early years that reads, "3 IDEAS to increase income $20 and decrease expenses $20." Do this once a month, especially when looking at the credit card bill. Those $40 gaps in the beginning make a big difference over time. I had another one, long gone now, that said, "$100 net income per month." Every month my goal was to increase my net by at least $100. If I did $150, I did not get $50 credit for next month. If I missed my goal that month, I owed it the next month. Once you meet your monthly nut, every other dollar is an extra point you don't need to win. You've already won and now you're in bragging rights territory. 

Focus 1/2 to at least 1 day a week on actively building a private money network. This is what really allowed me to grow my business beyond my yearly goals year after year. With good private money lenders at your back, what you can accomplish will surpass even your craziest dreams. Several years ago I wrote down some wild goals that I thought I'd surely disappoint myself with by December, but by June I was rewriting them because I had knocked 7 of my 10 out already all because of one private lender. 

Every December spend some serious time thinking, really thinking about what you want to accomplish over the next 12 months. Put these on paper. I put these on a big white board directly above my desk. I have several paper copies as well. I keep one next to my bed and try to look at it before I go to sleep and once I wake up. I keep another tacked to the wall above the toilet paper in the master bath. As my good friend likes to say, "When I'm stinking, I'm thinking." I have my goals numbered and at the right side of the page a line I can write the date on that I complete the goal. 

I could go on and on, but these are some of the habits I picked up along the way which I had in the beginning.

 Wow! A lot of good information here, thank you. I love the way you literally surrounded yourself with your goals. I keep a notebook by my bed that has lists on there, but I will definitely be taking it to the next level as you have so that I am locked in.  

The cash flow needs you speak of, are they needs you calculate to replace your everyday expenses, to love financially free? Or were you strictly speaking on cash flow returns of the property to make a profit? 

Why do you stay away from condos? 

If you were actually able to be present in those states you tried investing in, do you think you would've found greater success?

I'm a little confused by what you mean when you talk private money lenders. Are these people you actually knew, or did you have to go out and find these People? Or have you developed a relationship with a private money lending company?

 I bought Quickbooks and tracked my personal expenses for 1 year. That really helped me understand what I need to make passively to cover my monthly expenses. Tracking things over a year catches all those small items you might not think of like trips to the dentist for teeth cleaning and oil changes on the vehicle. 

I don't avoid condos. However, in a flat or downward trending market, these are tough sales. Condos in every market take a bath when the prices are falling. They go the quickest.

I think one can always find great success in their own backyard. 

Just going to lunches and meetings and trying to discover who the real whales are in the room. My best lenders are retired landlords who sold off all their rentals and my 2nd best are landlords who are no longer acquiring new rentals. Older investors who have millions in equity, enough cash flow to drown a Ferrari dealership, and nothing to do with their money. They understand real estate. They like to invest in it, but they don't necessarily want the headaches of new properties and more tenants. They do however enjoy the ride investing along with you and I often get 100% financing on anything property I intend to hold. They all have a similar mantra; I don't want my money back. In otherwords, they like the interest income and having the luxury to be able to pick up the phone and bend your ear as often and for however long they like. Keeps them in the game without actually having to sit at the table.

Aaron, I asked a lot of questions so I truly appreciate you taking the time to answer. You have definitely provided me with a clearer thought process on all the questions I had. These lunches and meetings you speak of; did you find them through bigger pockets? 

Probably shouldn't have bought a new corvette at 22.. O well..

@Aaron Mazzrillo Thank you for all the knowledge, you're absolutely right, I can't blame circumstances as a reason for my own shortcomings. Do you have any advice as to approaching private lenders with deals for someone who hasn't yet closed a deal? 

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