Do you tell your coworkers about your real estate properties?

60 Replies

Just wanted to see what people do. I've owned RE for about 3-4 years and I haven't told a single coworker about it. I'm a private person in general. 

Still though sometimes I consider it. I think it's interesting conversation material. It'd make me look smart in front of them (I think.)

What do you think?

In conversation I tell people I am a landlord , and am always looking for houses . I plant the bug and over time it pays off . My last 2 houses were word of mouth 

Absolutely.  Its part of networking.  If you cant talk to your coworkers about it, how can you talk to a local investor.  The more people know about what you do, the more likely your are to find a local investor and maybe a partner. 

I tell some of my trusted coworkers. Mostly to plant the bug on future tenants and deals. I work with some younger people who rent so I would love to have them as tenants. I say “trusted” because I don’t want everyone knowing. It’s not that big of deal for me since my prior boss has vacation rentals so we talk sometimes about it.

Really it’s up to you and your privacy level.

@Alex Silang I think you should tell anyone who will listen.  You may very well work with someone who would love to invest but is afraid to.  That could be your next partner or private lender.  Or you may find out one of them is also investing but at a larger scale than you and they could be your next mentor.

I’m not shy to tell people at work because it’s where I know hundreds of people and one of those may network me a deal or finance.

The concern is burning bridges a bit. But it’s not like having another business where you are trying to get out. Many people across the country have properties and work their job forever.

That said, most of my coworkers are blue collar. I have not got 100% enthusiastic response. Many just aren’t in a financial position and lack the imagination to see beyond their situation. Others have been fearful for my financial disaster. Plenty have groaned at the extra responsibility of fixing toilets (why is it always toilets?) And a few have reacted quite negatively about how landlords are evil and proceed to tell me how the mean owner wants his money on time and in full.

It’s important to have some sensitivity and back off when it’s a subject they aren’t interested in. But I have found a few who know people or have or had their own. Including one who has 5 small houses free and clear.

I figure that I may need to kiss a lot of frogs. But the return on investment for talking about what I’m interested in is enormous.

You mention coworkers may think investors are evil, etc but how realistic are these concerns? Should I really only tell people I trust for sure wont be mad? I just dont see how it would be an issue because I thought I could find a few deals through it.

I normally don't go around advertising that I own and work with Realestate to most people.  If the topic comes up and they are interested in investing or learning more about being a landlord then a little more information may come out.   But I don't always tend to tell them the number of investments that I own.

When the conversation does head that way the same things always come up.  "I have always wanted to do that". (flip houses)

" you must have a lot of money"

"aren't tenants just a headache"

The people I do converse with are the contractors, real estate agents and other investors. 

I do enjoy listening to those who have properties and what they are thinking, but unless someone new has a real question or can add value to the conversation, I guess I steer clear.  

I am a little divided on this issue.

If your co-workers or boss are likely to be jealous and cause you problems, then it might not be such a good idea.

However, if not, then as everyone says here, it would be a great opportunity to network to find potential deals, tenants, or even partners.

It’s not realistic to be concerned about it. You will find some that have their own baggage. But I have just said, “oh I will be one of the good ones.” Of course what I really mean is to be fair, consistent, and hold the tenants to their responsibilities.

I used to and I think it's a potential huge mistake, that is if you plan on staying in your job and advancing; at least someone will get jealous and think you won't deserve advancing because you own assets that no one else does and they will tell more. Remember the quote - "they want to see you do good but never better than them - remember that"

I would just stick to BP, RE meet ups etc. for connections and keep your job completely separate and NOT appear to be smarter than everyone else. It's tempting to show how clever you are but from my experience this isn't wise in a job - just read 48 Laws Of Power - one of the laws "Never outshine the master". 

IMO just show you are smart with investors who actually want to see you have a brain and have the ability to help you reach your goals. 

I do not. I am the youngest person in my co worker group by at least 15 years. I am guessing none of them have investment properties and me telling them I have several at my age would probably come across as bragging.

Plus since I invest out of my market it wouldn’t do much for me anyways

I don't go around advertising or bragging about it, but just about everyone in my office knows that I'm a landlord/wholesaler/flipper and that I'm constantly looking for more properties to purchase.  This has led to tremendous opportunities as a result.  I was in conversation with someone in my department about my side business, and she mentioned that her friend in IT was interested in selling his mom's house.  He and I grabbed lunch, walked the house, and proceeded with negotiations over the next month or so.  I purchased the house at an awesome discount, via seller-financing, since he just didn't feel like doing the work and going through the hassle of selling.  I did a "lipstick" rehab, rented it to great tenants, and it's been one of the best deals I've purchased to date.  

After a year, I refinanced that home with a big bank, and my coworker liked working with me so much he mentioned that he'd be interested in "being the bank" on another deal in the future.  4 months later he's now financing the entire purchase price on a flip we closed on last week.  Amazing how one conversation can cascade into so many other opportunities!

Soon after all of this, my department reorganized our org chart and added another management position opportunity.  Since I've been able to perform at a high level, while also managing a business, it put me high on the candidate list and I ended up landing the job.

The key is that you must maintain a high level of performance at your 9-5 if you're going to spread the word there.  Running a successful side business can go from an impressive quality to a major liability pretty quickly if you aren't meeting your objectives/deadlines at work.  As you communicate this, you might be surprised to hear how many people in the office also have something they do on the side to make extra money.  

I would be very careful, I chose to tell some of my co-workers that i started flipping homes and very shortly after that I had a talk with my supervisor about me making sure that i stay focused on my job and that i make sure that I am not doing stuff for the houses and taking phone calls from Contractors while I am at work. I thought it was complete bulls**t because I was doing my job perfectly fine and I was not doing anything wrong on the company time. I told myself that I will not tell anyone anything at work anymore and just recently, a year later, my boss decides to tell me how he thinks the Real Estate stuff obviously did not work out for me since I have not done one since. 

What he doesn't know is that I have done two flips since then and I was still doing the same exact job. The point of the story is that absolutely nothing changed and my boss got jealous because he is a person that makes close to 6 figures and lives paycheck to paycheck and cant understand how I can have the money to do flips or anything like that. I would just be very careful with telling everyone, just my opinion. 

@Haris Bajric  I see the conversation you had with your boss as less of a threat and more of an "I'm ok with it, just make sure it doesn't interfere with your work priorities".  He can be as jealous as he wants, but if you're still performing in the workplace he has little reason to single you out.  Best to exercise caution either way I suppose.  I hope someone chimes in with a story of how it backfired, limited their career mobility or mobilized them out of the building.  I'd imagine many of us are in the same boat, and could definitely learn from it.

I have chosen not to tell my coworkers. For one, I don't want to explain why I did it (I want out of corporate world). This could cause lack of advancement if they know I want out (even though it will be 10+ years). I know people near retirement that were being nice and announced retirement well in advance. They admitted that was dumb because it was basically giving company permission to give 0% raise.

It's important for those who are currently in a job, that while you are at that job, you give 100% to the job. If you need to do things for your real estate business, do that while on breaks, at lunch, or before/after work hours. You certainly wouldn't like it if you hired someone to do a job for you and they were doing something else.

When I still worked a full-time job, I let my boss know about getting rental properties. He'd ask about them occasionally. However, it still came as a surprise to him when I gave my notice. To be fair, I gave a 2-month notice instead of just 2-weeks, to help the transition.

I am also a private person so It is not something I share with co-workers. From time to time I have contributed to ongoing conversation on the topic of real estate but you have to do what you are comfortable with. I would caution that if someone is competitive otherwise sharing is not going to bring out the best in them. I also think some industries/careers/departments are more accepting whereas others expect total commitment and anything outside of the day job suggests to them lack of commitment.

@Alex Silang Hey Alex, if owning RE gives you joy and helps you financially I think you should tell people as they might benefit from your experiences. 

Now, a word of caution, most people aren't going to jump on board and some may be straight apathetic to your excitement. So, at the end of the day, you should be strategic about telling folks. 

For instance, you can tell folks when you feel it is organic, for example, if they ask you what else you do outside of work. 

Goodluck :)

@Alex Silang there are two sides to this:

1. Telling people you invest opens a wider network for getting off market deals or tenant referrals.

2. In some cases when your boss or coworkers find out about your side hustle, it can be a negative. Maybe you take a long lunch or leave early one day, even for something innocent like the dentist. Then all the sudden they start watching you and getting the idea you are doing real estate stuff on company time. Another issue can be people not taking you seriously in your career. If they perceive that you are going to leave your job for real estate, you could be passed up for promotions or the first one let go in a down turn. As another post pointed out, people generally don't like to see others do better than themselves. People may try to undermine you in your job if they feel you are too successful. 

Neat topic. Hardly any books cover the topic of rather to disclose to co-workers and others your REI activities.

I went sort of yes, no, yes on it...

And it may depend on your context (type of work and the demographic and psychographic of co-workers).

First, if you work for some employers you may have to disclose it. Like my day job with a subdivision of the state, I disclose all business dealings.

So it was not top secret for me anyhow. Never been an problem--just a formality (I just note I do REI on my own time, with my own resources, and it is unrelated to my job duties). There is just a conflict of interest form to sign with my annual contract. Check with your hr dept if you are unsure.

Second, more on the social and psychological level where I think the question aims--it may depend. 

I housed someone that worked in the same organization early on, so word got out. I didn't really mind, but in my context (a college) some folks are not as keen on free market capitalism in general....

With just one mid-level condo housing a professional at market rates--someone called me a "slum lord" and another said I was "a capitalist" (the latter of which I think they meant as derogatory--but I kinda appreciated or preferred to being called socialist or communist). 

So I kept it more low key after that. I sensed it could make me vulnerable, like if you misssed work or something, folks could be like "oh, he must be out showing a rental house or something". Or some may paint you as the greedy villain. 

But the good news, the cat was out of the bag, and once you have been called a slum lord it is rather liberating.... it can't get much worse. 

In fact, it frees you up to not worry about what others think. You see their comments won't be driven by rationality or anything you are doing--but  more about someone's insecurity with your ambition or direction. It's them. Not you.

 And "yes" your extra motivation and business savvy will be a trigger for some folks.  It takes them out of their comfort zone, for with about the same income and time constraints, you acquire and manage a half dozen income producing properties and they binge watch Netflix from an underwater single family or maybe just rent! That an rub some folks the wrong way. But this is much the same as if you do award winning daily work, get a promotion, or author a just makes some folks unhappy. Avoid them.

Finally, you actually may find several folks in your workplace have rentals (be it a vacation rental, an accessory apt or the duplex down the street) or other cool side hustles. And it can even become something of a badge of honor and part of your identity.

 I even took what was at first a possible workplace vulnerability and made it a strength. For example, in my job we are encouraged to do writing, so I did a book for the part time landlord and was honored at an author's reception! 

So you see the transition from some possibly frowned upon side hustle to getting an award!

Best of luck!

I will bring it up to some coworkers if the topic arises, but I do not just find a way to shoehorn the topic into every conversation with every coworker. When they do find out about it, they typically have been curious and ask some questions. Sometimes, they even come to me with questions on how to handle a RE situation of their own, and I feel honored for that. Some of them also make playful slumlord jokes and I laugh along with that too and even make up a couple of funny lines at my own expense. ;-)

I definitely don't cram the topic down anyone's throats though. I know that can be easy to do when a person is really excited/passionate about a topic, but it typically won't do you any benefit to lose control like that.

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