Is It Too Late For You To Get Started Investing in Real Estate?

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Do you ever feel like time is just flying by?

Do you ever look at your life and wonder where all the years have gone?

A few years ago, I hit a stage of life where I started becoming acutely aware of the fact that life was moving by at the speed of light.

As I’ve grown increasingly aware of this unpleasant reality, I’ve started to realize that “the future” actually isn’t some grand vision of what’s going to happen somewhere on the horizon. No, the future (for all intents and purposes) is happening right now. Today. These are the moments when you’re going to make or break the plans you’ve had for all these years.

It was sometime around my 30th birthday when all of these thoughts started to hit me like a ton of bricks. All of a sudden, I couldn’t keep telling myself things like, “When I grow up, I’m going to do something great!” The fact is, I am grown up and the journey is already well under way! If there was something awesome I want to do with my life, I’d better be doing it right now.

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Here’s A Little Perspective:

The good news is – this kind of “heightened awareness” of the temporal nature of life is actually a very healthy thing. By embracing it, we can snap out of foggy monotony of our daily grind and start living each day with a greater sense of purpose.

As I’ve pondered this more and more, I’ve been reflecting back on some of the conversations I’ve had with people over the years. Whenever I talk with friends, family and colleagues about things like:

  • cool business ideas
  • dream jobs
  • life goals
  • family vacations
  • working for yourself
  • etc.

…it seemed like I would always hear a lot of reasons why they couldn’t do what they dreamed of doing. For example:

“I’m too old for that kind of thing. That’s a younger person’s game.”

“At my age, I could never get hired for that kind of job.”

“The market is WAY oversaturated right now, there’s no point in trying to pursue that idea.”

“The economy is just too… (e.g. – hot, cold, good, bad, up, down, sideways, fill-in-the-blank) to get into real estate right now. It’s a fool’s errand!”

“I’m just too late to the party. All the good opportunities are LONG gone by now.”

These Are The Lies We Tell Ourselves.

to-avoid-criticism-do-nothing-say-nothing-be-nothingWhy? I think it’s because it lets us off the hook. It keeps us from having to actually think about what it takes to turn dreams into reality. It might even be a subconscious “defense mechanism” of sorts. After all – if we can find the reasons not to do something (however ridiculous those reasons might be), it will admittedly save us a lot of time, effort, heartbreak and pain along the way.

Let’s be honest – there is a price to be paid if we want to do something great in this world. Obstacles and difficulty is pretty much an ironclad guarantee (and most of us thoroughly understand this). Given the inherent risks that come with “taking the leap”, it shouldn’t surprise any of us that so many people just can’t get started.

Related: Real Estate Investing: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

That Being Said – I’ve Got Some News For You.

If you think you’re too old – guess what…  you are never going to be any younger than you are right now. Assuming you haven’t already made the conscious decision to give up on life, here’s an idea…  start looking past your self-imposed age restrictions and start using your age to your benefit. Believe mea lot of young professionals would LOVE to appear wiser and be taken more seriously than they are. Having lived it myself for the past decade, I know that age is an assetIt’s not always easy for young people to be taken seriously is the business world.

If you think the market is oversaturated – guess what…  succeeding in any business is about finding the right solutions to the world’s problems – solutions that people are willing to pay for. If you’ve got the passion and creativity to think outside the box and establish an innovate new approach to solving the same old problems, there is no limit to what you can accomplish.

If you think the economy is to blame – guess what…  more than half of all Fortune 500 companies were started in the midst of a major recession or bear market. It doesn’t matter where the economy is headed, you just need to figure out how your solutions will fit into the grand scheme of things. Over the past five years, I’ve heard a lot of people use the economy as a scapegoat for their refusal to get started. Personally, I saw it as one of the greatest financial opportunities of my life…  and anyone who bought real estate between 2009 – 2012 will probably tell you the same thing!

If you think you’re too late to the party – guess what…  for as long as I can remember, I’ve listened to the exact same people, give me the exact same misguided objections, to the exact things that I’ve already accomplished. It doesn’t matter how the world changes, people are always going to get hung up on the same, tired old things. It usually has very little to do with where we’re at in world history, and it usually has everything to do with the fact that it’s incredibly easy (and understandably human) to sit on the sidelines and play the skeptic. Don’t allow yourself to be marginalized by skepticism.

Take It From A True Visionary:

Live Your Legacy

Do you ever wonder what your legacy will be? Everybody has one – whether they recognize it or not.

The truth is, your legacy is being created today. Right now. Think about the things you’re choosing to spend your time on, because those might just be the things you’ll be remembered for.

What are you doing with your time today? What will you do with your time tomorrow? Are you spending your energy and resources on things that matter?

You Are Never Too Old To Set Another Goal Or Dream A New Dream

Many of us make excuses to rationalize our inaction. Some of us live our entire lives treading water in an ocean of self doubt. And a few of us (sadly, not enough) have the guts to take some risks and put in the time and effort to power through the challenges and difficulties that come with anything worthwhile.

It’s never too late to get started, and if you’re asking yourself when the time will be right for you, I think you probably know the answer.

The only question is, will you do anything about it?

Photos: QuotesPictures, openDemocracy

About Author

Seth Williams

Seth Williams (@retipsterseth , G+) is an experienced land investor, commercial real estate banker and residential income property owner. He is also the Founder of REtipster.com - a real estate investing blog providing real world guidance for part time real estate investors.

21 Comments

  1. I would call this more of a motivational blog. However, you hit the nail on the head. I have a small handful of people that are like minded and one of the topics that comes up regularly is how people think and limit themselves. We are constantly amazed by how people limit their thinking. The reality is we use to be like them until something “clicked.” Most of us reading on Biggerpockets have probably had our “click” moment at some point due to different triggers. Some never seem to. Good article though. I think it’s interesting to listen to how people talk about how they are going to work til retirement and the things they’ve put in place. Some use the same system that was being used by their great grandparents.

  2. Mr. Williams:
    This is a great article because we all heard that little voice in our head convincing us that time is on our side, that we will start investing in R.E. next year when the market is better or we say that we don’t have the money or time to invest in R.E. today maybe next year. Before you know it, next year is five years and you still haven’t invested. I know this because it happened to me; I was the guy that kept putting it off another day. If it wasn’t for BP and REtipster, I would never have gotten off my ass. Just reading the blogs made me realize that I can do it so I set some deadlines for myself and will send out my letters/postcards in two weeks to out of state R.E. owners.
    Just want to say thank you to everyone.

    • That’s awesome Luis! Wow, it’s great to hear that you’re springing into action with this! Time does fly by pretty quickly, and I think most of us realize this more and more the older we get. It’s encouraging to hear about your recent developments – keep up the good work!

  3. Seth

    GREAT ARTICLE!! I am living proof of all you said. Here’s a brief version of my story.

    I lived in the same town for the first 45 years of my life. I had 3 major jobs from the time I was 16. At 45 I left my home town, moved 15 miles and lived on 8 acres in a tent! Not because I had to but because I wanted to. After living in the tent, I moved around a bit and ended up 150 miles from my home town. I Always held a steady job, spending most of my time as a meat cutter for safe way stores. I had tried a couple of times to start my own business, including an excavating business, a meat shop, and a welding business. None succeeded.

    At 52 years old I packed 2 duffel bags loaded up my dog and moved to Alaska. I had a 3 month job in a salmon fishing camp, 140 dollars and that damn dog. No future beyond that 3 month job. The fish camp paid a total of $5000 plus room and board, for the 3 months. I had bought a house in Colorado, so guess how I became a land lord.

    Long story short I cut meat after the fish camp for 8 months or so and made $10 per hour plus room and board. The house in Colorado was like most forced rentals, wrong house, wrong location, 8% loan, etc. After all I had bought it to live in not rent out. We got paid every other week, and at my low wage I was Broke beyond belief. Most times I had 25 to 50 dollars to make it 2 weeks to pay day. Some how in this time frame, now well past 50 I figured out the very things you talk about in your article. It occurred to me I better start living in the moment, not in the future.

    That was 7 years ago. Today at 59 years old I work for the state of Alaska, Still own that house, (refinanced, fixed up, rented most of the time, not a real money maker though) plus two more. I am buying the 3rd as I write this. I have got a steady job as an equipment operator/ fire fighter at an airport. That’s long ways from cutting meat. Most Importantly I am very happy.

    If this story isn’t proof that it’s never too late I don’t know what is. At 52 years old I was able to change career paths, relocate 3000 miles, hang on to a 130k house through a terrible real estate crash with a $10 dollar an hr. job, start investing in real estate and turn my life completely around.
    Ralph Ramey

  4. You are so right about age. I would give so much to look at least my age and a male. Our society just can’t take you seriously if you’re a female and look like a 23 year old for the past 15 years. One of my criterea for choosing a realtor is if he/she clings to my husband during the showing or not, and in most cases he is, and in these cases this is his last showing to me. The same goes to contractors, they automatically go to my husband (and he is there for “looks” only). The least problems I had with lenders, but that just because they see my application before they see me.

  5. Thank you Seth. This is a fantastic article. I’m about to turn 45 in December. Although I’ve owned a home before, I’m just now getting started in REI and am very excited where this will take me. The idea of making your future instead of dreaming about it has been a theme of mine for quite a few years. I don’t have any excuses dictating my decisions these days. I figure that wherever the real estate market is today is just fine for me as long as I see any obstacles as opportunities for solving problems to get me where I want to go. A great business leader said, “nothing is a conflict until we perceive one.”

    • That’s an awesome quote Tom, thanks for commenting on this post – I’m glad you found it helpful. It’s good to hear that you’re not relying on excuses either! You’re already leaps and bounds ahead of most people in your shoes, so keep it up!

  6. Seth-

    You are spot on. My wife and I own one rental condo property (2 bedroom 1 bath) that we have rented consistently for the past 16 years. My profession as a public health consultant in a piss poor contracting government is no longer job security prior to the economic meltdown in 2007.

    Having said that, after being laid off 3 times in the past 2 years with no promising job outlook in the horizon since I was laid off in September, I took the bold move and cashing out my IRA and 401 K and paid cash for a 2nd rental (2 bedroom 1 bath), that I was just informed today by my realtor, that our cash offer was accepted (11 K below asking price).

    Closing will be in two weeks and I already have 3 prospective tenants who want to see/rent my unit here in Alex, VA where I live. It will be rented by Dec 1, with 100% positive cash flow, and my current rental that I have will be paid in full April 2014 (5 months from now).

    I don’t care how crummy the economy is, sometimes you have to take a limited risk to acquire maximum gain. With two rentals plus renting out my basement in our townhouse I will be brining in nearly 4K, which completely replaces my salary I lost and I can still save nearly a 1K per month after my expenses.

    Real estate is a very lucrative and wise investment, but you have to do your homework. I’ve been playing the landlord game for 16 years now and have had some bad apples that I have had to evict. But it is OPM (other peoples money), and your long term financial future and economic bottom line that you have think about. You have to create your own reality, an believe in your God given abilities and have the faith and “gumption” to stick your neck out. Because if you want, someone else will capitalize on your indecision and self defeating mindset that will keep you from realizing your goals and objectives in life.

    Best-

    Wayne

  7. Gayla

    It saddens me, She had kidney failure and I had to put her down 4 years ago. she was 12-13 years old. She does have a place in my heart, though. On the bright side I have another dog though and she too is a great companion.
    RR

    • I’m sorry to hear about your first Alaskan buddy. It seems like she helped you to get through pretty tough times. But it’s good you got a new buddy now to share your success.

  8. Sharon Vornholt

    Great post Seth!

    It is never too late to get started. For all of those folks still on the fence, with any luck you will be one year older next year. The question is; will you still be “thinking about” getting started? Take the plunge!

    Sharon

  9. Seth
    I have never commented on any article I have read here on the BiggerPockets blog and there have been many articles that were quite good and worthy of comment but your piece stands far above the rest for me. I was drawn in and glued to your entire article. Every word spoke to the very core of my being, When I read ” some of us live our entire lives treading water in an ocean of self-doubt ” it really reached down into the depths of my psyche. Your article is one that should be printed out and put in a prominent place so that one is reminded daily of the need to ” snap out of the foggy monotomy” and take ACTION towards the goals and dreams that matter.

    Thank you for a very well written and intelligent article

    • Wow – thanks so much Kathy, that really means a lot to me! I appreciate you taking the time to share what this meant to you. Comments like these help me stay motivated.

      I understand how it feels to tread water in an ocean of self doubt, believe me. Some of us weren’t necessarily born with the gift of self confidence, but this doesn’t mean we’re any less capable than the greatest achievers out there. Stay strong and keep putting yourself out there Kathy!

  10. Very motivational and spot on.
    It is always great to see the really young investors going full blast right away but there is no reason someone can’t get started at any age.

    Real estate won’t be for everyone but if you really want to get into it the age stuff or waiting for “the market to change” is just BS.
    Feeding the fear and justifying in-action.
    Now I’m not saying anyone should get in before they are comfortable, but be honest that you are scared and work on those fears.

    Again great piece!

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