March 17th will be my one year anniversary of joining BP! I went pro a few months back as well. I've read countless books, listened to almost all of the normal BP and BP Money podcasts, and have devoured more forum posts than I care to admit. I don't have an investment property yet and I'm actually, technically, in the negative about $2000 from "Real Estate".... but I am absolutely thrilled about that, and here's why (and spoiler alert, that money didn't go to a guru!):
I've always had a desire to own investment property, but had always assumed it would be something I could do down the road a decade or so, once the kids were grown more and I had either sold my business or expanded to the point of excess cash-flow and less daily obligations. I own a successful service business that I run with my wife and we live a pretty frugal lifestyle. I luckily bought a new builder house at nearly the bottom of my local market in 2009 that has appreciated over $60,000 or 33% since purchase. My mortgage is about $600 less than it would be if I rented the same house. I don't plan to ever sell it as it'll make a great rental when I'm done living in it years from now, but the excellent financial aspect of it's appreciation was pure luck of timing. I do plan to use the equity for investing going forward with a HELOC. But I've also been through a costly divorce I had to put on credit and have two kids half time, pay child support, and have three awesome step kids. So even though my wife works as hard as I do and we each make a pretty decent income, it's still tight.
So basically, I was at an entrepreneurial glass ceiling when joining BP. I make better income and have much more control over my life than an average 9-5 employee, but further growth is difficult. I wouldn't trade my life for a corporate job even with a 30% pay increase. However, the busier and more "successful" I got in my service business, the more it began to feel like a 9-5 but with hours more in the sunrise-to-sunset 6-7 day per week range. Expanding our business through hiring doesn't make financial sense with the risk of capital for very small profit margins. I was pondering that dilemma when joining BP a year ago, thinking about what I really wanted from life, the blessings I had, and the options I could pursue.
The more I learned on BP, the more I found there was to learn. I went down so many different learning paths I lost count. I found insight from experts and 'in the trenches' stories from the guys out there making something happen, sharing successes AND failures. I went down the wholesaling rabbit hole and decided I wasn't a fan, explored creative financing compared to my personal risk tolerance and logged it away for future potential use, found the BRRRR method and read just about everything posted about it. I learned about note investing, which I didn't even realize was a 'thing' before. I was educationally ready to invest by late last year, but without the capital to invest in a manner I was comfortable with. My desire to be 'full time' in real estate sooner than I could feasibly have the rental cash flow to do so, and my building exhaustion with my current business drove me to read hundreds of posts on being a real estate agent as a person with an investment interest. I felt like I could build a business as a successful agent, piggybacking on the relationships with current clients that I've been nurturing for years, and with some of the capital earned, begin a BRRRR snowball that can pick up speed with partnerships and more success. I would love to get to a point where I worked 40 hours or less (a pipe dream at this point!) and about half of that time was spent working with clients as a REALTOR, and the other half was spent growing and managing my portfolio of rental properties, maybe with some flips mixed in if/when they come up.
I realized that this was a path that touched on everything I was looking for in life and for my future and I dove right in. I bought an online real estate pre-license course on Black Friday 2017 and passed my state exam 2/9/18. I've hung my license and have finally conquered the mountain of compliance courses. I took an online NAR compliance class, a three hour in person local association of REALTOR orientation class, and three online MLS training classes.
In the meantime, we have started referring excess new customers to a local "competitor" who is trying to launch his similar service business and support a family. We have plenty of regulars to pay the bills, and my wife is getting a graphic design degree and will be transitioning to freelance employment in that field. I've pulled the company branding off of our trucks so I can make my truck pull double duty as my 'REALTOR vehicle' and work truck. I drive an anonymous un-branded vehicle for the first time in over a decade. That may sound insignificant, but when I've had my business name plastered on my vehicle for a decade, seeing a blank tailgate is truly enlightening. It will likely be some time before fully closing our business, but shutting off to new customers and letting natural attrition run its course, I'll be transitioning to full time RE over the next two years. There are some customers that I enjoy working for so much that I may continue to work for them well beyond the time i need to. We realized our business wasn't an easy one to sell for a huge profit, so a comfortable and friendly transition away from it over time, passing off leads to other competitors trying to build their businesses while hanging on to the loyal regulars, was a great win-win to get the income we need during 'transition' and not be concerned with a slipping gross revenue like we would be preparing the business for sale. It also allows us to include our regular customers in the conversation of our next chapter in life, one in which we may remain in contact with them and offer service in a different industry. Selling a business often implies to customers that they are viewed as value on a balance sheet and as such is often kept private until sale is final.
I've learned a lot more doing all of this than I ever would have jumping straight into trying to wholesale or something. The MLS alone is an incredibly powerful tool. You could almost run an entire empire using only the tools available through the MLS (at least in my area). At the local REALTOR association orientation, the instructor recommended and highly encouraged taking the GRI (Graduate of REALTOR Institute) designation coursework, stating those that waited until later in their careers to do so regretted it. I'd like to pass that advice on to any new agents reading this as well. It is available through NAR, so I believe that means it is applicable in all 50 states.
I came home and immediately enrolled in the GRI online courses. They offer it in-person for a lower price, which I'd likely enjoy more, but I simply don't have the time to do it that way. So far I'm only about 10 hours into it, but I have scrolled forward through the units and can't wait to get to all of the information. The first of three courses satisfies my 45 hour post license coursework, and together, the three units comprise 105 hours of the finite details of every aspect of launching, building, and keeping success in the career. My brokerage also offers amazing training at the brokerage level, as do many others, but I am thoroughly shocked at the amount of training and coursework offered through my local association, ORRA, to all REALTORS of all member brokerages. Some people scoff at the costs of pre-license coursework, MLS and REALTOR memberships, and classes such as the GRI that I'm taking, but where else can one get this level of knowledge for $2000?
So far I am only working with a few clients that I have found organically and haven't yet started aggressively reaching out to my sphere of influence or marketing for leads. Juggling building my RE career and running my business has been an exercise in time management, and most of that time for the month I've been licensed has had to go to compliance and training. However, with most of the initial 'start-up' classes done, I'm feeling confident and excited about my next steps as I work through GRI coursework and begin to reach out to my sphere of influence.
For anyone considering trying to enter the "Wholesaler Hustle" and drop $3000 on direct mail, please at least consider getting licensed for that money instead! The amount of information I have learned on law and compliance, as well as strategy, is priceless. None of it is worth anything without taking the initiative to build relationships and clientele, but I feel like I'm entering the field with a fully stocked tool belt. There are so many brokers out there, if you really like the hunt for off market properties sold on net listings, find a broker who does that off of the MLS but fully compliant with the law. Who knows, you may aim for that and get your interest sparked by commercial investing, going down that rabbit hole instead. My point is, I wish I had started my pre-license coursework earlier because it'll allow me to live a full time real estate lifestyle without having to have built the cash flow to do it on rentals.
BP is amazing, and I appreciate all of you who make it what it is. I will continue to learn what I don't yet know and share what I have learned. This site is downright life-changing!
Congrats on the progress. Sounds like you have learned a lot in a year
Thanks for sharing! We live in Utah and are looking for SFH to hold in Apopka or surrounding areas, I'd love to hear how your journey going! My husband and I have been binge listening to books and BP podcasts for several months now. We have some capital and want to put it to work! The agents I've spoken with thus far are not very encouraging. But we won't give up! We have one rental here in Utah but home prices have far surpassed rental prices and we want to buy somewhere else. Orlando area/central Florida is our preferred spot so let us know how it's going!
Amazing story! I hope this is everything that you could ever wish for and more! Being in the field of real estate is a very liberating feeling I must say! I recently met with a realtor from EXP Realty and she loves her company. @Russell Holmes , I wish you all the best!
@Raymond J. Rodrigues thank you!
@Emily Ross I'd be happy to connect with you or more information on the local market here, send me a PM or email and we can discuss further.
The market in general is making good flip properties hard to come by, but I'm often finding properties that would make good rentals for the right buyer. Apopka is a great suburb of Orlando, and there are several other ones around the area. Right in the heart of Orlando, prices are very high and rents haven't kept up. There's money to be made flipping in the right neighborhoods with the right deals due to the high property values, but I haven't found rentals that work well there. However, Orlando is growing in all directions, and along the outskirts of that growth there are deals to be had. I'm personally a bit biased to Apopka being the best thing since sliced bread, but of course I watch and analyze the entire Orlando Market as one, there are pockets throughout town with the right mix of purchase/rent. Some interesting properties have popped up down near St. Cloud/Lake Nona on the opposite end of town with similar purchase and rent numbers as Apopka.
As far as progress on my Journey in the last two months since posting, I'm making small but important steps and putting things in place for my future.
Running our service business has been much less stressful running on regulars and existing customers only. I'm talking with customers throughout the normal course of my day and finding out all sorts of interests they have that I never knew (Some RE and others just off the wall retirement plans).
I'm beginning to reach out to my sphere of influence, and have a handful of buyer clients that I am working with to find properties. I also selected through research about 108 houses out of my 135 lot neighborhood to be my initial 'farm' of houses most likely to sell and have sent my first direct mail to them (making sure to make it clear I'm a neighbor! haha). I hung 45 door hangers before deciding it took triple the time I estimated and made the similar cost of mailed postcards with none of the time much more appealing for an initial contact. I mailed to all on the list and will again with a different mailing in a month. I feel my in person time spent marketing would be better spent knocking on FSBO or expired listing doors rather than neighbors who just might sell. I'll be interested to see if I get any calls from my neighborhood marketing, and whether they got a door tag, I had a conversation with them, or they simply got mail. I'll be tracking and analyzing the numbers for the future when I can afford to farm a larger area consistently. For now I figure I can start with the very active market of my own neighborhood. Several listings have sold quickly the last few months, and although not by me, none have been by the same agent twice.....meaning there isn't a dominant agent in my small neighborhood like some of the larger ones around have. I can't afford to consistently mail 1000 homes yet, so I'm doing a test market of 108 while I also explore other marketing.
I've also begun a $100/mo Google adwords campaign to drive some local leads to my site (estimated at 6-8 leads per month). It has only been running a few days, but have already had a lead and some activity.
I can easily see how by getting the ball rolling, I'll pick up momentum and have more and more activity to help transition myself to RE full time. Since I've got my service business, I don't mind all of this productive, yet unpaid effort. If I was blowing through savings I think I'd be freaking out about no paycheck already.
On the personal finances, buying my first BRRRR side of things:
My wife and I are within 10 days of closing on a refi of our house in order to wipe out the divorce legal and settlement debt I racked up on second mortgage and credit cards back in 2014 and cut $800-1000 out of our monthly obligations. I've been paying on it all, but its a lot to manage on promotional rate credit cards. I intentionally lost count of the exact cost of the divorce, but I know I could have a new base model Corvette in the garage for less money (I drive a 2014 base model silverado with 80,000 miles). It was a job in itself to juggle it to 0% cards and navigate the paydowns. I had 22 years left on my first mortgage and 12yrs left on the 15yr second. The credit card debts were predominantly "0%" but that costs 3% every 12 months to transfer as we pay down and is a big thorn in my credit score to have large balances on credit, even when under 30% of available. Basically, I fought tooth and nail to keep my house and business in addition to 50% of the time with my boys, but I had to pay heavily for what I came away with. Rather than allow it to keep me down by paying down as a short term revolving debt, my wife and I are basically considering it "re-buying" the house I bought with my ex wife in 2009 for a collective number that would be a steal today and considering the collective divorce debt as a 'business loss' from my past that I'm paying with the deal I bought the house for. My new mortgage will be more than I bought it for in 2009 unfortunately, but even still we'll have 20% equity where as I bought with FHA and put 0 down after builder credits. Beyond that the equity I unknowingly made in 2009 buying the house saved my *** in divorce and now my wife and I will have 720+ credit scores and low enough payments to potentially qualify for conventional investment financing. I'd buy my house again today in a heartbeat for our total refi amount, so I guess I did an appreciation-refi-play on my house to pay for a divorce and am at about 20% equity when the dust settles with no revolving debt. I would much rather have only my first mortgage balance left due on my house (I'd have $100K+ in equity if so), but life happens and I'm glad I at least hung on to things where I could and 'made' the money I did by buying low so that we could clean the slate and dive into the next chapter with clean credit.
I've wanted to get an investment property since last year, but getting my RE license, and cleaning up my debt and finances to the point of shaving $1000+ off of monthly obligations is setting the foundation for what we will accomplish in the future. I see posts of people saying "I have horrible credit, no money, and want to get a duplex". My credit isn't horrible, my income is decent, but my personal finances are admittedly too much of a jumbled mess to reasonably invest. Rather than go boo hoo about it, we've been hustling to get the refi done, get my Realtor business up and going, and keep enjoying every day of this awesome life. Thanks everyone for chiming in, it's good to have somewhere to vent goings on of the RE hustle. I've only got about 10 hours left of the 45 hour GRI 1 Course to satisfy my post licensing, and am glad to have it as an informational foundation.
Well thats my autobiography update for the night, hope there's some value in it for someone! haha
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