What would you say is the difference this website makes?

25 Replies

I'm curious to know how many of you have noticed that same sort of thing in your area: in mine, there are three kinds of rental-property investors. The ones who read this website compulsively, the ones who have logged on once or twice, and the ones who have heard of it but never bothered to take a look.

Quite simply the Bigger Pockets people are running rings around the other two types of investors in my area. When you meet these people in real life, they have better, clearer business plans and they're far better prepared for what could come down the pike.

When you meet the others through local REIAs and other means, you see these huge gaps in their business plans, a lot of things about landlording they don't think about or have really never considered, a tendency to hang back and repeatedly refer to the one dog-earned book they've ever read on landlording that they refer to as their "bible," or some yellowed seminar handouts from a get-rich-quick guru from six-seven years ago, that sort of thing.

Have you noticed a similar phenomenon in your areas?

Yeah @Jim K. I have noticed something similar. I am newish to the site, but everyone here seems to be more clear on what their goals are. I think the people who are more serious about their business see the value in bigger pockets.

@Hollis Whitehead

I'm not sure about "serious." I would always call myself serious by any stretch of the imagination. But you get these people to talk a bit about what they're doing, and you ask what should be a simple question, and you see the panic spark behind their eyes.

You realize, "Holy cow, they've never thought about this. We talk about this every day in the forums." It's often basic things, like what should you do if a tenant offers to do some work for you, or about insurance and dangerous dog breeds, where to get the EPA lead paint pamphlet.

Originally posted by @Jim K. :

@Hollis Whitehead

I'm not sure about "serious." I would always call myself serious by any stretch of the imagination. But you get these people to talk a bit about what they're doing, and you ask what should be a simple question, and you see the panic spark behind their eyes.

You realize, "Holy cow, they've never thought about this. We talk about this every day in the forums."

I think its great that this site represents both sides of the landlord coin.. its not all RA RA RA 

OR financial freedom so many talk about but not sure they know what that really is … I think they know the concept but the reality of doing that through rental properties is probably not exactly what they envision ..  at least as it relates to the work force housing stock.

And how much real work and effort goes into being successful 

@Jay Hinrichs

The tire-kickers my age thinking about renting their starter home as soon as they pay it off and and moving into their McMansion dream home with a giant mortgage are ALWAYS like that, exactly. "If I go $750K in debt to buy a new primary residence that's OK, I'll be heading toward financial freedom because I'll have my first rental and that means I'll be a Real Estate Investor."

If you drink a diet soda after the pigout it's all one calorie, really!

@Jim K.

I get a mix too. I don’t see big time investors from my area joining but a lot of small to medium (20 units and below) investors. Some have a solid business plan, most don’t.

The bigger pockets forum, the books, all of the different podcasts now... For me it's made real estate investing attainable. It's really hard for me to imagine getting into real estate without BP.

It's also given me the courage to make some pretty huge career changes as well. I hate to sound cliche, but it's been life changing.

I'd like to say I've been using it correctly for the past year or however long i've been on here. Met some great business minds, gave input on what topics i decently know, read some great success stories outside of the podcasts. 

Met a lot of great people in my area as well.

I wish i was more active than i am.

The biggest thing for me is the different viewpoints from experienced investors that give me an idea of how to better help my clients. I think too many agents stop being concerned with how to help from an investor standpoint when they hit a comfortable groove so I come on here all the time to read up on issues and solutions from investor viewpoints, lender viewpoints, contractor viewpoints, agent viewpoints and sometimes even governing body viewpoints (usually the least fun to read but still informative all the same). You'll have to decide what's relevant and okay in your area, of course, but a little vetting is way better than learning it all the hard way.

@Randall Weatherall

Yeah, the different viewpoints. I came into this with all kinds of stories about how my grandparents did what I'm doing. A huge chunk of my mother's extended family is, in one way or another, involved in urban rentals. I can pick up the phone and call three or four "uncles" who are really second and third cousins and tap years of experience in mom and pop landlording.

But there's a great deal I didn't know, and Bigger Pockets has very much filled in some serious gaps in my knowledge.

Originally posted by @Scott Jensen :

The bigger pockets forum, the books, all of the different podcasts now... For me it's made real estate investing attainable. It's really hard for me to imagine getting into real estate without BP.

It's also given me the courage to make some pretty huge career changes as well. I hate to sound cliche, but it's been life changing.

@Jim K. you forgot about the 4th type:

Those that never attended a REIA meeting, never heard of BP, and make all their landlording decisions "by intuition" or "what my Uncle Joe said."

Sometimes they get lucky and, out of desperation, find the BP forum after a web search.  But often, they sell at a loss to someone who is more prepared, educated, and positioned.  (i.e. those you describe as "the first kind".)

@Wesley W.

Doesn't that end up being the truth, though, so often? You meet these types, and they HATE tenants, they HATE the job, they're convinced that there's only one way to do it, Mommy and Daddy bought the duplex in 1951 and passed it on in the mid-eighties and they wish their parents had given them a stock portfolio instead. They also concurrently tend to insist that, "Nobody ever gave me anything!"

I know investors with huge portfolios that have never even visited this site, so it is not necessarily the defining success factor. The key to success is action. This website is a great resource, but information without action will get you nothing.

I see new people find BP, get active for a while, then often move on to other things. BP is an amazing resource, but like any tool, only as good as the person using it.

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :

I know investors with huge portfolios that have never even visited this site, so it is not necessarily the defining success factor. The key to success is action. This website is a great resource, but information without action will get you nothing.

I see new people find BP, get active for a while, then often move on to other things. BP is an amazing resource, but like any tool, only as good as the person using it.

 "People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents."

Andrew Carnegie

I found this site last October. I have become an addict. I’ve learned quite a bit, and it’s nice to be able to find things I’m looking to find out about or learn. I’ve connected with some local guys, that maybe will throw me some work. And it’s nice to have found a friend in @Jim K. that we can go to each other with questions.

@Jim K. The people who I know that are the most successful in real estate in my area, are not on BP.

That being said they do attend local meetups, so I think there’s something there.

@Caleb Heimsoth

I don't think that participating in BP is the key to greatness for landlords everywhere. But what I do see is that a lot of the local self-managing landlords I meet who are not here, both those who attend the local meetups I've been to and those who do not, don't have good toolchests for dealing with the everyday issues of self-management that come up. What do you do if a tenant provides partial payment, when do you need to start working on your eviction, when to do Y if X happens...that sort of thing. What @Jay Hinrichs said -- for landlords, BP provides a place where you really get to see the other side of the coin.

Leo Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina famously begins, "“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  There's obviously a lot more to say about unhappy families, in this case a whole novel. In a parallel example on of my professors used to love to point out, the English poet John Milton initially planned to write 8 books of Paradise Lost (about the fall of Adam and Eve) and 8 books of Paradise Regained (about Christ's triumph over Satan's temptations in the desert). He ended up with 10 books of Lost and 5 books of Regained. We're a lot more lost than redeemed, apparently.

What actually happens at the meetups, what's the regular format? You get to talk for an hour before the speakers, you get to maybe go to dinner afterwards with some of the people you met there or arranged to meet. You make a contact, exchange phone numbers.

While I agree that there are all sorts of things about landlording one might not want to discuss online and would prefer to talk about in a private meeting, there's much less opportunity to go through so much of the stuff you have to know in order to be seasoned enough to know what to do when the next burst of crazy comes out of your rentals and consider vastly different perspectives on LLing (by the way, whatever happened to no-mercy-no-pity-pound-of-flesh-Thomas S.?).

BP can't be all things to all people; like any other resource it has its strengths and weakens. In general it is arguably the best place for individuals looking to create wealth though SFR/ Small MF to learn a significant amount about about all facets of the investing process. This is central to BP's corporate strategy: the more inexperienced investors they bring to their platform (via forums, podcast, blogs) the more they can charge advertisers to reach this audience.

That means its a great place for, Real Estate Agents, Property Managers, wholesalers, lenders, CPAs, attorneys, ect to market themselves to the new-ish investors. And this creates a great symbiotic relationship, investors can grow and expand their professional network while learning from others in a low threat environment while professional demonstrate their expertise in a tangible form (votes). 

Its also not a bad place for S-D IRA folks and some syndicatiors to drum up some clients.

In short, it is a great place for the owner operator to learn how to grow their money with some common strategies/niches. 

If you already have capital, BP isn't so great. If you want to do a deep dive into the niches like notes, MHPs, tax sales ect, BP can be hit or miss and there are better resources/communities. If you have made a living as REI and don't truly enjoy the unique community here, then you don't need BP.

We are only 3 months into our REI. I began learning here in December but came across a good deal in February on a four flex and jumped on it. I still have LOTS of learning to do and find BP invaluable. In the next couple weeks I am replacing a renter and will be on here making sure I do it right.

I also find that the podcast are trending more to MF, mobile home parks, and commercial properties - maybe that is just me because that is what I am interested in.    

I have recommended BP to several people but they don't seem to have found it as exciting as I do.  

@Randall Weatherall

I don't work for the website, Randall, the redoubtable @Mindy Jensen  sent me the shirt and I figured the least I could do was post my profile pic with it on. Mindy is one of my personal heroes in life for various reasons both related and unrelated to this website.

@Jim K. , I wonder if what you're noticing is more of a self-selecting distinction. People starting out today who are much more organized/self-motivate/knowledge seeking (whatever you want to call it) will probably encounter BP sooner rather than later. 

At the same time, anybody who is totally new to this will have no idea what they're doing, and it's up to them to figure out how to conquer the learning curve. Landlording is one of those things where you really don't know what to ask until a problem comes up, because you've probably never thought about the day-to-day work in much detail. Also, I think the instincts of a seasoned landlord in dealing with tenants are often completely different from how most people normally deal with interpersonal relations. I notice a lot of new landlords think "I'm just going to treat the tenants the way that I would want to be treated", and as many of us know, that is a recipe for disaster both in terms of management headaches and running afoul of landlord-tenant laws. 

Anyway, I think BP is helpful, but not the only way to go, and maybe it's easy forget how much we all didn't know when we started. Heck, I roll my eyes a lot about some of the questions that pop up in the forums here, too - I just can't help myself!

I didn't use BP for starting out, but I find it useful to direct people here when they start asking me about getting into it.