Finding a mentor in the real estate game is both one of the most important tasks of a beginning investor and one of the hardest.
You hear it here on BiggerPockets all the time, “Don’t waste your time with the Gurus! Instead find a mentor in your local market who will show you the ropes of the industry.”
And that honestly is solid advice. There really isn’t a better place for a beginner to start than to seek out the guidance of another seasoned investor who is active in their own local market. Gurus have a tendency to make it sound like there is a “one-size-fits-all” approach to real estate and it simply isn’t true.
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One of the biggest struggles that many new investors have is in coming up with the money to purchase their first real estate properties. Well, BiggerPockets can help with that too. The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down can give you the tools you need to get started in real estate, even if you don’t have tons of cash lying around.
Real Estate is a Location Game.
Figuring what works and what doesn’t is subject to what market you’re in so the key is learning from the big players in your specific area.
Additionally, when you’re first starting out, you normally don’t have a lot (if any) resources to play with, so it’s best for you to partner with people who do, so that you can leverage their accomplishments for your growth and benefit.
It’s very clear that finding a mentor is the best course of action for a beginner to take, but there still remains the actual “How?” behind doing it, and that’s exactly what I want to address in this post.
The first step in finding a mentor is to have an internal foundation as a person, that makes you appealing as a student. The following are 3 components that make up a good student:
1. The Right Mindset
Every good student knows that they are the student; they are the ones needing the mentor, not the other way around. Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not and remember to always remain teachable. Nobody owes you anything, so approach the pursuit of a mentor with humility.
I’ve meet a lot of newbies that think they’re hot stuff only to find that soon no one will work with them because their attitude stinks.
In balance to that, though, be aware that you are valuable and believe enough in yourself to know that if given the chance you’d outperform anyone else.
A good student knows how to walk the fine line of remaining teachable while at the same time, being confident enough to take bold action and to not fear making mistakes.
Mentors like to see these kind of go-getters with humble mindsets.
2. A Clear Vision
Have a clear sense of the direction for your life and your goals as an investor.
What type of investing do you want to do long term?
What kind of lifestyle are you going after?
The answer to these questions dictate the type of investor you should be targeting as your mentor.
For example, if you want to have a freer schedule to travel or you desire a minimal on-going workload, you probably shouldn’t be seeking a fix and flip investor as your mentor. Fixing and flipping homes is a very active form of investing and can look like 10-15 hour days sometimes.
But if your goal is to make large sums of money at a time and you don’t mind the work associated with it, fixing and flipping may be your gig.
The point is a good student has a clear sense of what he wants in life and as a result, he has a passion that drives him.
Mentors look for this because it means the student will keep going when it gets tough, and that they won’t quit. You need that kind of tenacity in real estate!
3. Predetermined Core Values
In life, your convictions will get tested and real estate is no exception. You need to know what you stand for, what your sense of right and wrong is and clearly define the governing principles that you live your life by.
A mentor doesn’t want to deal with a flake or someone who can be overtaken by greed into deceitfulness or with someone who runs their mouth all day but doesn’t actually produce.
A mentor looks for someone who under commits and over delivers, meaning you say you’ll do less but in actual fact you accomplish far more than what was expected of you.
There may be times where someone you’re pursuing as a mentor turns out to hold different core values than you and what they call a “grey area” you call “black and dirty”. If this is the case then move on.
No amount of knowledge or opportunity is worth dealing with shady people!
It’s better to find someone who you can work with while maintaining a clear conscious! And besides, the right mentor will do things the right way.
So Where do You Actually Find Seasoned Investors?
Once you’ve got your heart and your head in the right place the next step is to actually find a seasoned investor to pursue as a potential mentor.
But where do you actually go to find one?
I recommend these 4 places as a good place to start:
In most areas if you do a search for REI related meetups you’ll have a ton to choose from. Speaking out of my experience, most of the time these meetups attract a lot more newbies than active investors, so the people you want to target when you go are the ones actually hosting the meetup.
In my market, the hosts of the meetups are some of the most prolific investors in the community at large. They are great people to know and to network with in general and could very easily turn into a great mentorship opportunity.
There are really two functions of BiggerPockets that I’d suggest for finding mentors. The first is the Meet section where you can actually search for members by zip code. You can filter through the profiles that result from your search until you find some that meet the criteria you’re looking for. Then, the obvious next step would be to contact them.
Caution: I would not come out straight out of the gate saying, “Hi Mr. Bob, I am new to the industry and am looking for a mentor and I was wondering if you’d be open to being that for me….”
Though some may respond positively to that, a lot of others won’t. You could scare of a lot of potentials in that approach.
As an alternative you could do a couple of things.
For starters, you could contact them with a relevant deal of their expertise, (that you actually have of course) and say that you’re new and that the project is way over your head. You could then say you’ll split profits with them, or even give them 100% if they’d be willing to take you under their wing and show you the ropes.
This approach makes them very open to a potential mentorship, because you’re actually making them money in the process.
Another thing you could do is to ask them if they’d like to meet in person for lunch or coffee. Then at the meeting intentionally ask them how someone completely new can become successful in the industry and if they’d have any advice in helping you find someone who’d take you under their wing.
This way it’s not directly, “Hey, will you be my mentor?” but rather “Hey, can you help me find a mentor?” that way, its not as intrusive and you get an opportunity to prove yourself as a good student by meeting them in person.
The second function I’d suggest you use BiggerPockets for is the Keyword Alerts. If for whatever reason the Meet section doesn’t work out for you, this is the next best thing. You simply set a keyword alert for your specific market and you keep watch on which members are the most active in mentioning your specific market and you contact them just like above.
3. The Local Wealthy Social Scene
Every market has a place where all the wealthy people seem to hangout. It might be a high-end strip mall, a restaurant, lounge or bar. If you just go to the places where the wealthy are, you’re bound to find some people worth networking with, including possible real estate investors. This is probably the most blind attempt in finding a mentor, but one of the people I actually work with met my mentor that way so its worth a shot if nothing else is working.
If all else fails, pull a list from the yellow pages or Google for all the real estate investment firms, development companies, and/or anything that remotely seems related to real estate investing, call them up asking for the owner and then proceed to ask the them out to lunch.
Once you meet them like above, either bring them a deal you need help with or ask them for advice on how to be successful and how to find a mentor.
Why is it so Hard to Find an Investor Open to a Possible Mentorship?
Well the fact is if you are dealing with a successful real estate investor, they are super busy!
They also know that most “new” people in the industry were sucked into it by some pipe-dream sold to them by the Guru Empire and that they won’t last very long in the industry and they don’t want to waste their time. Additionally they may have difficulty seeing how the relationship could be mutually beneficial.
I mean most likely they are a millionaire or close to it, and who are you to them?
It is your ultimate goal to make it very clear how engaging in a relationship with you will benefit them and their business.
Demonstrate that you are willing to do the tasks that they themselves hate doing.
Once you’re in dialogue with someone who could possibly be a potential mentor, when its appropriate ask them “What’s giving you the most trouble right now in business?”
Then step up to the plate and say “If you show me how, I’ll do what I can to manage/fix that for you.”
Then actually do it!
Let them know you’ll jump at any opportunity to learn real estate even if it’s cleaning bathrooms to prepare for open houses, or dropping everything at a dime to run comps whenever they need it.
The key here is to give, give, give and give some more.
If you take initiative and give them your time, you bring them your deals and you don’t act greedy or selfish when it comes to your wholesale/acquisition fee they will enjoy having you around and teach you everything they know because you’ve made yourself an actual asset to them and their business.
The End Goal
You see, the end goal isn’t really to simply be told what to do in real estate and how to do it. Its way more than that!
Its more about sparking a relationship with someone you want to work insanely hard for because you value them as a person, and you respect their wisdom and insight in your life.
Your goal is to push them higher, to make them even more successful than they already are because in the process of them becoming successful, that success will overflow into your cup.
Ultimately you want to grow to the point where you and your mentor are actually friends and that only comes out of a genuine heart and with invested time.
Do you have a mentor? If so how did you meet and how’d the mentorship develop? Do you have any tips or pointers I left out here?