Over the past 10 years I’ve had several mentors and I still have one to this day. I plan on having a mentor until the day I die, because I’m pretty sure there is always going to be someone on the planet who is smarter than me.
Just like everyone else, I’ve had good mentors and bad mentors, but my bad mentors were at the very beginning of my real estate career when I didn’t know what to look for, and I didn’t know how to tell if they were all hype and no substance.
Ever since then I’ve been very fortunate to work with top people who have no doubt helped me become successful a lot sooner than if I had been trying to learn this business all by myself.
How Do You Find Quality Mentors?
Well, first off, you need people who are actively in the business. I know that’s common sense but I ran into a lot of mentors who used to claim to me that they were now retired and hadn’t bought properties in years, but they were retired because they were so successful. Hearing that raised a major red flag. I know that true entrepreneurs really never retire and that even if they weren’t doing 50 deals a year, they should still be doing a few deals a year.
Also, start local. Go to your local REIA and find out who the most successful person is. Find any way you can to learn from this person. I do know several good mentors who are not local, however, if you get one of these, you must be getting your mentoring directly from them. In other words, if some television guru is selling mentoring and you’re talking to one of his “people,” that’s probably not a mentoring program you want to be in. You want to talk to the investor himself or herself.
Before you commit to mentoring
There are a few things you need to ask your potential mentor. First, ask them what they’re doing right now and what types of deals they specialize in. If they have trouble answering that question, walk away. Next, ask for references. Any decent mentor should be able to refer past students who “graduated” successfully and ended up buying some properties.
Also, be sure to use the “property test.” What this means is that you ask your potential mentor to give you the addresses of two or three of his properties so that you in fact know he does invest in real estate and own some rental properties. If the mentor refuses to give you any addresses, then again, walk away.
For a brand new investor, I realize it’s not easy to spot a good mentor from a con artist, especially because you don’t know the business well enough yet, but using the information above will at least get you headed in the right direction.
Photo: Christopher Schmidt