7 Daily Steps to Steadily Build a Real Estate Empire

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Real estate can be a very hectic business. There are often many projects going on all at the same time, and every one of them needs attention right this second.

I can be a “Ready…Fire! Aim…” kind of guy, so it was important for me to learn how to manage (or at least try to manage) my day effectively. I’ve read a ton of articles about time management, have tried a billion different methods — and have come upon seven steps that I (try) to implement into my daily routine to help me buy more real estate. They are as follows:

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7 Steps for Higher Daily Productivity in Real Estate

1. Add four real estate agents to a contact list.

I always consider myself “in the market” for a real estate deal. If an agent brought me a good deal, then I would do everything in my power to go out and find the capital for it.

The key is to have agents bring you deals or new listings. I started keeping a spreadsheet of all the agents I have done deals with in the past or who I have met. Any time an agent gives me a business card, they are added to my list.

Related: Four Productivity Improvement Tips To Make You A Better Real Estate Investor

I start with a follow up email saying what type of deals I’m looking for and telling them a little bit more about myself. Then I make sure to follow up at least every two weeks and check in to see if there are any deals they have that would be interesting to me.

Most times agents are very receptive and welcome having an investor in their back pocket in case a deal requires all-cash or a quick close. Aside from giving you the opportunity to buy more deals, it is a really great way to expand your network. You never know what opportunities may come up.

Your daily task is to add four people to this list.

2. Prioritize your money.

If you want to buy real estate deals, the harsh reality is that it usually takes a chunk of your own change. Yes, you can find investors, but the more money they put in, the better terms they get. Ideally, you want to put in a significant amount yourself. This will make the investors more comfortable and also hopefully make you more money in the long run.

In order to have money to invest in real estate deals, you likely need to sacrifice in other areas. Yes, being frugal by eating in, not buying the new car and spending less on iTunes helps. Still, I have found that the real key for me has been to not invest (at least as much) in other areas.

For example, for a long time I was having a lot of money taken out of my paycheck and put directly into a 401K investment plan through work. There are a lot of benefits to investing in a 401K, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t. I just decided that real estate was my priority and stopped putting as much money in the 401K so that I could save for my next rental property.

Many people are in a situation where they live paycheck to paycheck, and saving seems impossible. I have lived most of my life that way, even when I did own real estate with an investor. My advice is to start saving a little bit — hell, even $10 a week. But make sure that it is actually saved, and not dipped into the next time you want to go to dinner at the new restaurant in town.

Eventually, you will make more money — you simply have to believe that — and when you do, you will already have the saving skills ready!

Your daily task is to not spend money on something frivolous and to put that money into an account that you don’t touch — except for real estate purposes.

3. Plan your day the night before.

I stole this one from good ol’ Ben Franklin.

Ever find yourself sitting in front of the television on Sunday evening wondering where the day went? Happens to me all the time — particularly since the advent of NFL RedZone! Oftentimes, I will have gone out on Saturday night and not planned what I want to do on Sunday, which makes it easier for me to get drawn into the commercial-free black hole known as internet streaming television. Maybe for you it’s not football — maybe it’s doodling or sleeping.

None of these things are inherently bad, but they don’t help you buy more real estate.

I am the most productive when I plan my day out. Your plan may never be perfect, but you will be in a way better spot than if you didn’t plan anything at all. It’s too easy to get off on a tangent. I plan what I’m going to eat, what I’m going to do, what I’m going to accomplish and even sometimes what I’m going to wear!

Yes, I know I may have some control issues, but the point is that a plan will improve your productivity as you head towards the goal to buy more real estate.

Your daily task is to plan your day the night before.

4. Get your real estate license.

This will count as an expense at first, but could help in a couple ways.

The first way is that you will learn more about real estate. The courses aren’t terribly expensive, and they give you a ton of good information. I personally don’t have the attention span to read through all the material, but I do use the books as a reference guide to this day. The basics of real estate can sometimes be overlooked on blogs, but they are really important and are often forgotten. First, and foremost, it’s all about “location, location, location” — and you will read that phrase about six billion times in most class materials.

The second thing that getting your license could help with is finding you a chunk of change. Representing yourself on a deal can be tricky, and there is certainly liability. I would recommend working under a broker or at least talking to a lawyer. However, if you are able to represent yourself (or even a friend) on a deal, then you can earn a chunk of change that could get you started on your first property (or second, or third, etc.). Hypothetically, you could approach an investor and say that you will put up your commission on a particular deal as your contributed capital. It may only be a small percentage, but it gets you started.

Your daily task is to spend a half hour working towards getting your real estate license.

5. Try to find chunks of change.

I use “chunks of change” to describe a large sum of money. A chunk of change is different for every person. When I was ten years old, a chunk of change was $20. Today it is much larger than that. I really like chunks of change because I find it is easier to do something with it and because saving money gradually is hard.

To take the real estate agent example, if you are an agent on a $500,000 deal, then you will likely get a commission check for around $7,500, less your broker’s fee and whatever you need to save for taxes. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, as I used to, then this is tantamount to a pot of gold! Take this money and try to invest it into a property. $5,000 likely isn’t enough on its own, but it’s a start.

Chunks of change can come in many forms: inheritance, bonus, other investments, etc. I recently met with a very successful investor who owns close to 1,000 apartment units. When he was thirty years old, he took all of his money out of savings and used it to buy an apartment building in San Francisco. His chunk of change was his retirement savings.

I’m not necessarily advocating for you to be that risky, but my point is that you need to be creative in order to find your chunk of change.

Your daily task is to spend a half hour thinking of ideas to get a chunk of change, or working towards them.

6. Refocus your day at noon.

I stole this one from an email flier that I get on a daily basis.

Planning your day the night before is great, but it’s just that — a plan. Things happen: your boss gives you an assignment, your kid gets sick and needs to be picked up, or you simply forget to do something. That’s fine, life happens. The key is to get back on track. Know your goals for the day, and make sure you have them prioritized. You want to do the most important things first. I know it feels good to get all the busy work out of the way, but it saps your best energy from the most important thing — buying more real estate.

I constantly ask myself two main questions:

Can this be done tomorrow? If so, then stop doing it.

Is this what I planned to do today? If not, then ask yourself if it helps you buy more real estate. If the answer is still no, then stop doing it.

Related: Boost Your Productivity in Real Estate With These iPhone Applications

Your daily task is to spend ten minutes at noon to refocus your day.

7. Have a coffee meeting with a real estate person.

Coffee rocks! It’s also cheaper than lunch. Force yourself to get out there every single day and meet someone for coffee. Your natural tendency right now is going to be to think of a reason why you can’t. Your schedule is too busy, you don’t like coffee, or you can’t afford it.

Make the time, drink a cup of tea, and bring a cup of coffee for all I care. Hell, go Goodwill Hunting on me and meet someone for caramels. The point is to get out there everyday and grow your network.

Your daily task is to get coffee (or caramels) with a real estate person.

These are ways I try to improve and manage my day.

What do you do that works? What have you done that doesn’t work? How else do you help yourself invest in real estate?

All comments welcome below!

About Author

Conor Flaherty

Conor has experienced every aspect of the foreclosure and rental business for single-family homes. He was VP of Acquisitions at Silver Bay Realty Trust, and has flipped over 100 homes. Conor started a blog called Wall Street Slum Lord and is working on publishing his first novel.

9 Comments

  1. This was really great and practical advice. I never really considered getting my license until right now. I LOVE the idea of putting up your commission as capital contributed on the deal. That’s a wonderful way to grow the number of properties a person owns a portion of. Genius!!!

  2. You will never progress in real estate investing if you don’t take steps. I find this article very convincing in building wealth through real estate. As the Little Prince says, “What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step but you have to take it.”

  3. Mario Mormile

    Terrific post! Surrounding myself with others who will lift me up… I agree with you that even though the upfront costs (time, treasure, talent) may be more than you would like to invest, the dividends are tenfold. Coffee daily- constantly networking is key. Thank you for the inspiration!

  4. Robert Easter

    On point 4 getting licensed as a RE agent. Becoming licensed by a state for RE proves to TH IRS that you are a RE professional. There is no dispute when it comes o this license… This makes the difference between being a buy and hold investor forced to declare you properties on schedule D and unable to declare all losses and some expenses on a property versus declaring your properties on schedule C for federal income tax declaration. Mind you…you still have to use your license but by having it and declaring “Real estate Agent” as occupation on your 1040 shows the IRS you are certainly pursuing RE as an occupation.

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