How I Made $50,000 on my First Real Estate Deal Even Though I Did Everything Wrong

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I first got interested in real estate investing about six years ago after watching a late night Carleton Sheets infomercial. I ordered the course, and after reading it from cover to cover the day the UPS guy dropped it off on my doorstep, I was chomping at the bit and ready to make my first million!

Fast forward two years and I had my first rental property……along with a couple of deadbeat lease option tenants who decided to trash the house and skip town for Alaska in the middle of the night.  True story.   Had I bothered to screen them properly, this could probably have been avoided, but I was so eager to get a paying tenant into the property that I didn’t bother.  (Mistake #1).

I still remember walking into the house after they vacated, and almost getting sick to my stomach- partly because the place was a filthy disgusting mess, and partly because the tenants were supposed to exercise their option the following month, and I would be getting my first big fat check from my real estate investing endeavors.  I already had the money spent in my head. (Mistake #2).

When I bought the house, it had very little equity (Mistake #3), and I had very little cash reserves in my bank account to fall back on if /when something went wrong (Mistake #4).  Luckily for me the real estate market was going bananas at the time, so in the short period that I owned it (less than two years), the value increased close to $100,000.  Crazy.

I could have sold the property at a discount in as-is condition and still made a tidy little profit, but I decided it would be a better idea to rehab it instead (Mistake #5).  I had zero rehab experience at the time, so you can see why I thought this was such a good idea. *sarcasm alert*

I decided to do all of the work myself in order to save money (Mistake #6), and it ended up taking me 3 months to complete a rehab that should have taken one month tops.  I wish I would have taken pictures of the finished product so I could post them here and you all could get a good hearty laugh.  It was that bad.

After a three month rehabbing nightmare, I was so sick of this property that I never wanted to set foot in it again.  I was also pretty close to running out of money, so I had become a bona fide motivated seller.

I received a low ball cash offer from an investor shortly after I put the house on the market, and I took it without hesitation.  We closed a few weeks later, and I ended up walking out of the closing with a check for $50,000.  Thankfully I sold it when I did because the market in Tampa started to tank just a few months later- I got out just in time!

The bottom line with this deal is that I got VERY LUCKY.  I basically did everything wrong, but ended up making money anyway because back in those days it was so easy a Caveman could do it.  If I attempted to pull off the same deal in this market, I would without a doubt get creamed.

Thankfully, though, I made it out unscathed, was able to learn from my many mistakes, and use the knowledge I gained from them in my future investing activities.  Onward and upward!

About Author

Formerly a bartender, Steph Davis is now a full time wholesaler in Tampa, FL. If you'd like to get an idea of what it's really like out there in the trenches, head on over to her blog:!


  1. Usually, mistakes are learned from losing money, in your case, your mistakes still made you $50k so I wouldn’t call them mistakes but rather learning experiences 🙂

    When are you going to start doing a day in the life of video?

  2. Hey Nick,

    I didn’t mention it in the post, but I actually bought that property sub2. 🙂

    As far as the video goes- do you mean like the one you did the other day? If so, I’m going to do one soon- next week hopefully. Going to cold call some landlords and see if they want more rentals. Should be entertaining…

    .-= Stephani´s last blog ..Focus, Focus, Focus! =-.

  3. You’re a machine!

    I have trouble getting one video up each week. No way I could do one every day…

    Looking forward to watching them- particularly the one where you dance a jig in a tutu. HAHAHAHAHA! 🙂

  4. What an awesome title to your article Stephani!

    I read it and I was like, “Damn! That is a great title!”

    You have given me a great idea for a future blog post as I have a somewhat similar story with my first rental!


    Neil. 🙂

  5. Pingback: How I made over $65,000 on my first rental property by doing everything wrong

  6. James Blakeley on

    After reading, still don’t understand why others would not be working hard to make their own mistakes and experiences. Having lost a small fortune in stocks, can’t see how it will ever be a mistake to purchase a home, with the correct purchasing reasons. You did a great job of proving my case, even with mistakes your property rewarded you. This is rarely the case with other investments.

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