What Should I be Doing as a 17-year old?

138 Replies

What's up BiggerPockets community! My name's Cameron and I'm a 17 year old high school senior from Fort Smith, Arkansas. I'm going to college next year at the University of Arkansas to study Investments and Securities but my biggest passion is Real Estate. From the time I read "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" I've been fascinated by the concept of real estate investing, specifically multi-family real estate investing. I dedicate almost all of my time to learning from the typical sources like books, podcasts, and youtube videos etc. My question is, whats the next step?

What action should/can I take now? I know I need to build my network and experience/knowledge and the best way to do that is to find a mentor and provide value, but what can I do at 17?

I have no aversions to working for a real estate agency or investment group and making cold-calls (for free, in exchange for experience and knowledge) or something like that, but is that something that's even possible for my age? My main concern right now is getting educated and developing the necessary skills to succeed in this field while also building up my network.

Any and all advice is greatly appreciated, I'm VERY ambitious and I have some pretty big goals so I'm very eager to get started with this!

@Cameron Dye First off, congratulations on starting out at your age! I wish I had started investing in high school. Since you already seem to be learning a lot through books, pod casts, etc. I would say the next step is to get out there and start networking - go to your local meetups or REIA meetings and introduce yourself to people there. Tell people who you are and what you want to do, you'll be amazed at how much people will want to help.

Build your credit. Get a credit card, get a car loan, anything to build credit. 

Find a job working in real estate, you'll learn more by doing than reading. 

Congratulations on getting an early start. You'll be far ahead of your peers by the time they graduate college. 

Hey Cameron, Love your ambition! I have been in banking for 11 years now and the number one mistake I see from college students is using their college years to accumulate debt and ruin their credit score.

Couple of recommendations for you: 

I would strongly recommend you use this time to build your savings (as much as possible in college lol), open a credit card, and keep the balance low or at $0. One of the main factors for a credit score is "credit age" .  Most credit cards won't let you open one without a cosigner until you're 18, so you might have to wait just a little bit. Having a good credit score will just make securing your first deal so much easier. 

The importance of connections of like minded people is indispensable. Contacts and networking are so essential in real estate.

The best piece of advice I could give would be find a mentor. I have had several mentors over the years and finding someone who has been down the roads you want to go is just so invaluable.

Hope that helps and good luck!

@Matt Faix

Thanks for the advice. I have recently signed up for my local REIA and I'm really looking forward to attending and meeting people in this profession!

Just to add to what Chase said, the best way to get your credit started is to be added as an authorized user to a credit card. The best cards have been open for many years and have a perfect payment record and very low usage. When added to your credit file you will "inherit" the activity history of this card.

@Chase Buchanan

I absolutely agree with what you said about connections and networking being invaluable in attaining success in real estate. I've recently signed up for my local REIA and hope to reach out local investors and agents. Thanks for the advice!

keep learning. Read lots of real estate and personal finance books, save up money and don’t get into consumer debt. You might be able to apartment hack at school if the school allows it, get an apartment and sublease to your roommates to try and live for cheap or free. Start watching the market where you will invest in and also network with other investors in that area. Work for an investor or contractor part time while in school.

At your age, all you need to do is get engaged and stay that way. Clean credit and get an income stream and you'll be retired by 30.

My advice is my opinion and it is very extreme but if you're serious about real estate and retiring at 30 this is what you do.

Dont go to that university(unless you have a full ride scholarship). The student loan debt will cost you years of retirement. If you must go to school go to trade school or community college.

Never finance a car for any reason.

Work two jobs for a few years to try to save your first 20-30k or more. Consider working for a contractor to learn handyman skills, that will be very valuable when you start investing.

When you buy your first home you must buy a multi family with an FHA loan and house hack.

Avoid debt on anything other than rental properties and live very frugally.

Dont date until you are 25. By then you will know what you truly need as a partner, find someone with the same drive and frugal discipline. If you marry someone that wants a big fancy house and always needs a brand new car you will forever be trying to make up for those debts.

If you do all this and stay focused you will be financially free no later than 30.

@Robert Norvell

Appreciate it! Also, it’s nice to see someone else from Fort Smith on here. Wasn’t really expecting that.

Watch the movie buy a copy of "BIG Short".... Burry started earlier than others. But he had several good things going for him. Watson Scholar, MD, work very hard contrarian.  These days he does not invest in stocks or real estate investments. He had the vision and wanted to accomplish more than most people of his age.

There has been a lot of great advice so far.

Here are a few more ‘big’ concepts to consider as you head out on your journey:

Make sure to establish a strong “why?” so you can maintain that burning desire to achieve even when things don’t go as planned.

Leverage is the key. Leverage other people's money, expertise, efforts and relationships.

Find a mentor and/or establish a partnership. If you are headed into a dark cave, take someone with you that has been there before.

Invest in people, not deals.

Work with people you know, like and trust.

Marry a partner who has a similar financial blueprint as you do. Divorce is a sure way to lose half of everything you have worked for.

Start tracking your net worth.

Look into the “infinite banking” concept, which involves a cash value life insurance policy specifically designed for investing. It is best to establish something like this when you are young and healthy. The compounding interest and dividends over time will serve you well.

@Eric Schultz

Thanks for the advice! Love what you said about leveraging other people’s money and your own relationships. Will definitely look into the “infinite banking” concept!

@Sam Shueh

“The big short” is an excellent film that gave me some inspiration the first time I watched it years ago. Burry definitely has some characteristics (hard work and ambition) of the person I strive to be.

Originally posted by @Cameron Dye :

@Eric Schultz

Thanks for the advice! Love what you said about leveraging other people’s money and your own relationships. Will definitely look into the “infinite banking” concept!

This is a long thread on leveraging high cash value life insurance. "infinite banking" is just a marketing name for one particular "system". There are a lot of "systems" and they are all based on the fact that each state has statutes that mandate that insurance companies make loans to policy owners secured by the cash value of their policies.


@Cameron Dye if I was you, I would contact every property management company in town. Talk to the owner. Let them know your story, that you are young and want to get into rental properties. Tell them you are looking for a foot in the door. Tell them you are willing to do anything. That might be cleaning out vacant apartments, picking up rent checks, unlocking a door for a showing, scrubbing toilets, whatever. The point is getting your foot in the door and being able to learn the business. You may start out doing grunt jobs, but over time you will get elevated to higher responsibility. 

You could do the same for a real estate company, but I think learning the property management side is more important. You will see the good, bad and ugly of different types of properties and tenants. You will also find that people who own property management companies also own rental properties themselves. Most realtors do not understand investment properties or even own their own investment properties, so that is why I wouldn't start there.

One other bit of advice... You are 17 years old, so enjoy your youth, have some fun and make memories. It is great you are looking towards the future, but don't lose sight of where you are today. Keep a balance is all I am saying. 

Good luck!

Hey Cameron, Congrats on entering college! I'm a senior at the University of Connecticut, and I can honestly say LinkedIn has helped me out tremendously in terms of building my network and experiences. Your college page has an alumni network of everyone who has attended the university, and people are typically generous with offering time and advice to current students (I personally used the UConn network for both my PE and IB internships).

I've recently started to get serious in real estate, so you're definitely in a better starting place than I am. As you and others said previously, just try to get as much hands-on experience as you possibly can to put to use what you read/listened to relating to real estate.

The only other thing I could suggest is to be active on campus. Join investing clubs, real estate clubs, or other finance clubs to meet like-minded guys and gals at your school.

Best of luck!



You're already on the right track! Anytime you aren't sure of your next step, just go to those who have done what you want to do. I have 3 suggestions that have been mentioned separately in replies above.  

1. Bank Cash (Get your money right) Start banking cash as soon as possible. ALWAYS pay yourself first! Whether you keep this in a savings account that you are disciplined enough not to touch or open a Roth IRA start building a financial runway. Through college I paid all my own rent, vehicle, books, etc. but I always paid my Roth IRA account every paycheck. I will be graduating this spring with roughly $10,000 cash that has just accumulated. (Please Note) If you place your money in a Roth IRA you can only withdrawal contributions, not interest, unless it is used for your first time home purchase, student loans, or a medical bill,

2. Gain Experience (Surround yourself with the right people) 

I have a degree in sales and marketing. My advice to you if you are looking to get in the business in real estate is gain sales internships or work for a broker. These experiences will not only teach you the business but sales focused internships will force you to learn how to communicate and come out of your shell. 

3. Build Credit (Save first and spend whats leftover) 

Spend time reviewing Youtube and Bigger Pockets money content on the proper ways to be using a credit card. Pay the card off every single month in full. 

Best of luck,


@Cameron Dye save, build your credit, and learn everyday.

Congrats on starting young, that is awesome. Spend some time building yourself financially, build your network, then take your step!

@Cameron Dye

Hi Cameron,

I am currently 16 years old in Southern California as a sophomore in high school. It’s nice to someone else young with lots of ambition on bp. I have read many books and listened to many podcast as well, and the most important piece of advice that I took away from all of this is to get a mentor or a partner who is experienced and willing to help you out. The way I would find these mentors is through local real estate meetups. As long as you do all the “grunt work” or mundane task they have for you, it will result in much learned knowledge and tips from experienced investors. Also I recommend “house hacking” as a first investment due to the safety factor it provides. Good luck!

@Joe Splitrock

Great advice! Contacting local property management agencies and some real estate investment firms was something I was already thinking about doing and I’m definitely gonna take action on it now. Appreciate the response!

@Dillon Jalbert

Thanks for the response Dillon! I definitely need to get on LinkedIn and start building my network through that platform.

@Ryan P. Kotschedoff

16 year old sophomore on BiggerPockets interested in real estate? And I thought I was getting an early start! That’s awesome that your starting so early. Also, what you said about House hacking is absolutely true. Great way to start and your rental income pays for your own expenses and rent, which frees up further capital for further investing.

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