How to Quit Your Job & Invest in Real Estate Full Time: The Final Steps


In Part 1 of this story, I provided steps 1, 2, & 3 of a 12-month transition from a regular $100,000 per year job to a career as a full-time real estate investor.

As I began to write this edition, I realized that the details and advice in the rest of the story were MUCH bigger than I had anticipated. This is good for you because I have a lot of juicy details to share, but please stick with me and get comfortable. What you are about to read is loaded with many of my best ideas to launch a new real estate business.

This article is organized into the following sections:

  • Recap of My Story and My Strategy
  • Step #4: Build My Team and Network
  • Step #5: Create a Profile For Good Deals
  • Step #6: Create a Marketing Plan to Find Deals
  • Step #7: Take MASSIVE Action, Get Feedback, Take Action Again

I hope you’ll find my story helpful and thought-provoking. Let me know what you think in the comments section at the bottom.

How to Invest in Real Estate While Working a Full-Time Job

Many investors think that they need to quit their job to get started in real estate. Not true! Many investors successfully build large portfolios over the years while enjoying the stability of their full-time job. If that’s something you are interested in, then this investor’s story of how he built a real estate business while keeping his 9-5 might be helpful.

Click Here For Your Free eBook!

Recap of My Story and My Strategy

Before we start, let me remind you that this is not an actual job transition. I am already a full-time real estate investor and have been since 2003 when I graduated from college. I make my living by flipping houses, managing our portfolio of 60+ rentals, wholesaling a few deals, creating notes, master leasing, and providing consulting for other local investors.

This article tells you what I would do if I were a beginner wanting to replace a regular job earning $100,000 per year. My goal in this story is to earn some real estate income this year while still at my old job. This will give me a running start for next year as I jump in full time.

After getting my mind right (Step 1), taking a 3-month education crash course (Step 2), and creating a business plan (Step 3), I have now decided my basic strategy.

I will use three sources to earn new income:

  1. Fix-and-flip real estate at retail prices
  2. Wholesale real estate for small mark-ups to other investors
  3. Refer traditional listings or buyers to well-chosen brokers for referral commissions

That order will represent the priority and relative amounts of income I will likely generate from each source.

My goals during the transition year (while I’m still working) are the following:

  1. 1 flip deal @ $20,000 net profit = $20,000
  2. 1 wholesale deal @ $5,000 net profit = $5,000
  3. 3 referral commissions. My earned referral commision = .525% (25% of a 3% commission x 70% my cut from my broker). Average of $150,000 sales x .525% = $787.5 x 3 sales = $2,362.50

So, my goal this year for a part time gross income (before operating expenses) is $27,000+. If I can do that, I will be more confident that I can ramp up to much more the following year when I take the leap to full time.

The next step in my new business process is to build my team and my network.

Step #4: Build My Team & Network

“The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of your team.” — John Wooden

The one ingredient that has contributed to my success in the past more than any other has been a strong team. So, in order to start over, leave a regular job, and go full-time into a real estate investment business, I must focus an enormous amount of energy on identifying and recruiting excellent team members.

Related: How to Quit Your Job & Invest in Real Estate Full Time: Steps 1, 2, & 3!

Building my team starts with the realization that I am the leader. When the thought of being the team leader scares me a bit, I revisit some of my favorite resources to rebuild my leadership muscles:

Now that I am focused on my role as the leader of my team, I must decide what roles I need to fill.

Here is a list of my most important members, why they’re important, and how I plan to recruit the right people for this role:

Team Member #1: Money Sources for Fix-Flip Deals

Without money sources, the rest of my team members won’t matter, so I start early and spend a lot of time and energy in this area.

My goal is to have at least $315,000 of short-term capital that can be quickly used to buy good deals. My target retail price for flips is between $150,000 – $225,000. Since my investments will be no more than 70% of full value, $315,000 in capital should be enough to start working on two flips simultaneously ($225,000 x .7 = $157,500 x 2 = $315,000).

My wife and I have approximately $50,000 saved to invest in our new venture. So, I decide to seek out additional funds from two more team members.

First, I build a local banking relationship with a lender who offers a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Seven years ago, my wife and I paid $150,000 for a cosmetic fixer-upper house. We put 20% down and have paid some extra towards principal, so we currently only owe $95,000. After our improvements, the current value of the house is $225,000.

I talked to three different local lenders, and because of our good credit, income, and equity, the best deal we were offered was a line of credit for up to 85% of our home’s value. This means we will have access to $96,250 ($191,250 – $95,000) from this one source. I have also decided to open my business checking accounts with this bank.

Second, I work to find a private lender to fund the balance of my capital needs. My preference is a high net-worth individual instead of a bank or a hard money lender. I need the money, of course, but more than that, I need someone to lend me their wisdom and judgement. This lender is also a trusted advisor and will be invaluable in many ways.

Finding a private lender is not easy or fast. I know that it takes “slow dances” with potential lenders before one or more will commit their money. I also do not want to take just anyone who has the money. I want someone I trust and who has long-term goals aligned with mine so that we can do business together over a long period of time.

To find this person, I hang out where people with money hang out. I participate and add value at my local REIA and on BiggerPockets. While participating, I seek out experienced investors and tell them about my plan. I also keep my radar up for other experienced, high-net worth individuals during my day-to-day life. To recognize these individuals, I remember from reading The Millionaire Next Door that most truly wealthy individuals will not be driving fancy cars or wearing expensive, flashy clothes!

Rather than asking for money, I ask for advice and feedback about my business plan. I know by the quality of people’s advice and by their sincerity whether further conversations about money lending are warranted.

One particular individual gives me very good advice and his sincerity is clear. So, I ask him if he is interested in securely loaning money to me if the terms are attractive for him. After several discussions, exploration of my business plan (which is printed, bound, and with me at all times in the back of my car so that I can share it), and due diligence on one another, we agree to work together for a trial period of 1 year.

My lender will loan up to $200,000 using his self-directed IRA.

The basic initial terms we agree to are these:

  • Loan will be a max of 60% of the after repair value
  • Loan will be funded at a property closing and must include lender’s title insurance
  • Loan will be secured by a first and only mortgage against the subject property
  • Any excess funds at closing must be deposited into a separate bank account from my operating account, and online statements must be made available to him
  • Interest will be charged at 8%, simple interest, and must be paid monthly
  • Upfront fees (points) in the amount of 1% will be charged at closing
  • The loan is callable in one year, which means the lender can extend it, if needed

With a large chunk of money available to buy deals, it’s time to continue building the rest of my team.

Team Member #2: General Contractor/Project Manager

The core operation of my business is the renovation of houses. I am learning a lot more in this area everyday.

My textbooks are:

  1. The Book on Estimating Rehab Costs by J Scott
  2. Hanging out and asking questions at the renovation and construction sites of fellow investors I have met at my REIA group and on BP. I make sure to pick up trash and volunteer to run errands while there to add value.
  3. YouTube videos on every construction subject imaginable

But it is still very clear that I’m not experienced enough yet.

So, I need a team member who I can count on to help me analyze repair costs, avoid large problems, and manage a rehab project from start to finish. As J Scott in The Book on Flipping Houses suggests, I will hire a General Contractor to run the rehab on a fixed-price basis. This means he will give me a bid, which includes his fee of 10-15% of the other costs, and I will pay him directly.

Since this is such a critical member of my team, I decide to interview 5 different candidates before ultimately deciding upon the winner.

Here are some qualities I look for before choosing my candidate:

  • Competency: My GC needs to be skilled in the world of construction. He should know costs and best practices in all of the trades we will be hiring. He also needs to also have all of the proper licenses and liability insurance.
  • Honesty: Can I trust him? Do I pick up on dishonesty, even in small things?
  • Organizational Skills: Is this person competent to handle many moving parts and not drop the ball? This could be old school with a planner and paper, or new school with everything digital. Whatever the case, I want to see a strong system.
  • Low Overhead: I don’t care to pay for big trucks, extra office space, or extra staff that feeds my contractor’s ego. That doesn’t impress me. I want lean, cut-to-the-bone overhead. My ideal GC would just have a smartphone, a briefcase, and a home office. This is important so that he can afford to charge me reasonable prices without the fluff.
  • Fun to Be Around: I will be talking to this person a LOT. Will we have fun? Or do I dread having to talk with him?

My wife and I both interview the 5 candidates. She picks up on different nuances than I do. I like that. We both agree on the best candidate, and we begin to move forward to the next step — getting some help to sell our house inventory.

Team Member #3: Broker & Expert Listing Agent

I won’t make money in my new business until I sell my inventory. So, I must know everything possible about how to move my houses as fast as possible and for top price.

Like rehabbing houses, I am learning a lot about selling houses, but I’m not yet an expert. I need a core team member who can fill my gap in expertise.

This is where my crash course in education starts to pay dividends. If you remember, I got my real estate license and chose a broker who has years of experience buying and selling properties. I also decided to pay a different top-notch listing agent for her time and to ride shotgun for a few hours to pick her brain and to learn about the market.

When I chose this listing agent, I had dual purposes in mind. I wanted to learn from her, but I also had in mind that she would list my properties for me. She came highly recommended from my broker and from other investors.

Here’s a summary of the things my investor-friendly listing agent will do for me and include in a 6% listing fee on each property:

  • Consult with me during the negotiation phase of properties I’m buying to give me estimates of after repair value, including lists of the best comps
  • Consult with me on design, layout, paint colors, finishes, and other rehab choices before and during the rehabs
  • Stage the house to showcase it for showing
  • Take professional quality pictures to include in all marketing
  • Market the property through all the traditional channels: signs, MLS, online websites (Zillow, Trulia, etc.), and networking with other real estate agents
  • Be my eyes, ears, and advisor during negotiations with buyers
  • Handle details required to get a deal to closing

That is a pretty powerful combination, don’t you think? Having an expert team member willing to provide these benefits gives me confidence as I buy and sell my properties. I will also be sending referrals to her for extra income. I like that I can tell my referral customers, “I use her for my own listings, too.” This is a win-win situation for all of us.

Team Member #4: Attorney

The common theme with all of these team members is that they fill expertise gaps as I learn and grow. The business of real estate transactions can be a minefield of legal problems, so I realize that a trusted legal counsel is a necessity.

I use referrals from other real estate agents and investors to find a list of potential attorneys for my deals. I then talk to a few and decide on my favorite.

In addition to looking for the basics like being a straight talker, I also choose my attorney based upon expertise and experience in the following areas:

  • Real Estate Contract Litigation: I don’t ever want to litigate, but I want an attorney who can draw up contracts based upon knowledge of how litigation will proceed. This expertise will allow us to preempt many problems by including specific language in our contracts.
  • Real Estate Transactions and Title Insurance: In my state of South Carolina, attorneys must attend closings, and most are also title insurance agents. I want someone who regularly performs closings for others. My attorney has a team of paralegals and processes to make closings easy, efficient, and seamless.
  • Basic Entity Structuring, Estate Planning, and Asset Protection: I want an attorney to help me create a basic legal entity to perform my buy-sell business. I have studied some basics by reading the BiggerPockets Forums. From that reading, I think I want to form an S-Corporation. My attorney confirms that choice, and she completes the entire process for a fee of $1,500.

Team Members #5 & #6: Insurance, Accounting

I have spent so much time finding my first four team members that I have to quickly get referrals at my local REIA group for other important professionals, like an insurance agent and a CPA.

I email one insurance agent to get a quote on vacant dwelling and builder’s risk policies so that I will know how to estimate costs on my first flips. She gives me the quote, and we agree to reconnect when I get my first property under contract.

I talk to one of the referred CPAs at a local meetup. He approves of my attorney’s choice to use an S-Corporation for flipping, but he advises me to be careful with S-Corporations and year-end tax accounting. He can help me when I get to that point, but for now he recommends that I set up a very basic bookkeeping system so that I am not totally unorganized when we meet.

My simple bookkeeping setup involves the following steps:

  1. Get a single business bank account and debit card.
  2. Get a single business credit card.
  3. Create a folder labeled “2014 Expenses,” where I put every single expense receipt.
  4. Write a detailed description of the transaction on every receipt or invoice (i.e. HVAC, education, attorney fee, etc.) and put every single piece of paper in the expense folder.
  5. Create another folder for each purchased property to hold deeds, HUD-1 statements, insurance, and other important documents.

Later on, when I make more money and get more activity, the CPA recommends that I get QuickBooks to further organize my accounting activities.

Team Member #7: Network for Accountability and Support

I know I’ll need a support network to give objective advice and to pick me up when I’m feeling depressed, overwhelmed, or angry during this crazy business start-up process.

This support network begins with the most important person, my wife. From the beginning, we discuss and agree on the big picture reasons for this business move. She is initially resistant to the plan. She has legitimate concerns about the risks and potential failures we could experience as a family.

But we both agree that the long-term rewards will be worth the short-term sacrifices. We also put a plan in place for worst case scenarios. We agree to boost our emergency cash fund to the equivalent of 12-months of personal expenses before I take the leap from my job.

To save extra cash, we eat out less and cut our personal overhead to the bone. This has the unexpected benefit of giving us more quality time together. With paid entertainment and cable TV not an option, we have real conversations (imagine that!), we get exercise walking to the park with the kids, and we actually become much happier with our simpler life!

We also agree to tackle this project with full communication as partners. She feels better when she notices my level of commitment, my immense preparation, and the experienced team members I am recruiting. She can tell that my visions aren’t just a product of wishful thinking. I have a solid plan, and that gives her and me confidence.

For additional support, I continue to stay connected to my most important investor networks: BiggerPockets and my local REIA group. My BiggerPockets PRO and my REIA membership costs are insignificant when compared with all of the support and advice I receive. The individuals in these investing networks are my friends, my guides, and my mentors each step along the way.

This team-building project has been exhausting, but I know the level of success in my business will be determined by the quality of the people around me. The hard work will pay off down the road.

Step #5: Create a Profile for Good Deals

During all of my discussions with potential team members, I also continue to flesh out my business plan. One of the key components of my plan is a detailed profile of a good deal.

To create this deal profile, I really need to understand the basics of deal analysis.

I realize from my education that deal analysis for fix-and-flips comes down to two different perspectives:

  1. Quantitative Criteria: A fix-flip formula with cold, hard numbers
  2. Qualitative Criteria: Quality of location, market strength/weakness, trends, etc.

1. Quantitative Criteria (the Fix-Flip Formula)

Although the numbers seem intimidating at first, I realize it’s actually the simpler of the two parts. All I need is a formula.

My education teaches me this basic good deal formula for fix-flips:

ARV (After Repair Value)

– Sales Costs (commissions, losing costs, home warranty)

– Desired Profit (my goal is $20,000 per deal or more)

– Holding Costs  (interest, taxes, insurance, utilities, yard maintenance)

– Rehab Costs (including all labor, materials, permits)

– Acquisitions Costs (attorney/title fees, lender fees, inspections)

= Max Purchase Price

I memorize this formula and can recite it anytime, anywhere when doing back-of-the-napkin calculations. When in front of a computer, I also occasionally use the really cool BiggerPockets Fix-Flip Analysis Tool. Still, I personally like having this formula memorized and etched into my brain so it is available anytime.

I use this formula to ensure each deal I evaluate meets my minimum profit goal of $20,000. I love the simplicity and the objectivity of the formula. It takes the emotion out of the process and makes me even more confident.

If you want more explanations on the flip formula, visit some good, basic resources below:

2. Qualitative Criteria (the House and Location)

Some very experienced investors tell me to be careful with deal analysis because numbers can be deceiving. In other words, everything that glitters is not always gold — or everything that meets my formula is not always a good deal.

What does that mean for my profile of a good deal?

It means that I need criteria other than just the formula with good numbers. I need to check the assumptions behind my numbers.

First of all, I need to be careful with the rehab costs for my deals. This is why my General Contractor is such a key team member. It’s also why hiring a property inspector before I purchase any deals will be money well-spent.

Second of all, I need to be careful with the assumptions behind my after repair value. My listing agent is, of course, my main support here, and she will give me a report with an estimate value and supporting comps. But because I am the one risking my money on a deal, I am going to take an extra step for added security.

I create a “Desirability Checklist” of more qualitative criteria about the house and location. My real estate agent and I will review this checklist for each house we evaluate. If the house has 3 or more checks on this list, we will likely pass because it will be too difficult to overcome these negative factors.

My list helps me to avoid these types of problems:

  • Unsafe neighborhoods
  • Neighborhoods with mostly tenants and not owners
  • Properties too far from jobs, shopping, and amenities (10+ miles)
  • Steep lots
  • Busy roads
  • Obnoxious outdoor smells or obnoxious next door neighbors
  • Large power lines nearby
  • Extra-small house size
  • Two bedroom houses (not easy to sell in my market)
  • Weird layout (e.g. walk through bedroom to another bedroom)
  • In-ground pool (not always a plus in my area)

Step #6: Create a Marketing Plan to Find Good Deals

Like finding money sources, all of this hard work will be for nothing if I can’t find good deals. This is a critical step in my plan to launch my full-time fix-and-flip business.

 I want to create systems that bring me opportunities to buy deals (leads) so that I don’t have to constantly chase them down. No single strategy by itself will work, so I will have to begin several systems (aka marketing campaigns) at once.

 But first I decide to create a marketing plan. Putting my plan in writing will help make it more real and actionable.

The Marketing Funnel

I learn that a marketing plan is a lot like a funnel. In order to get to the small part of the funnel (deals purchased), I need to have a lot more activity in the wider part of the funnel (leads generated and offers made).

In my written goals for this year, I want 1 fix-flip deal and 1 wholesale deal, or 2 deals total. My assumption is that I will probably find a good deal that I don’t have the money or time to buy, and I will wholesale that one to someone else. Plus, some of the leads I can’t buy will become referral commissions on traditional listings that I can send to my listing agent.

After talking with more experienced investors in my networks, I take a guess that I will need to make 30 offers to get 1 deal. That means if I want to buy 2 deals, I need to make 60 offers this year.

I decide that my #1 goal this year is simply to make these 60 offers. If I do this, I believe good things will happen financially. Because I educated myself and planned during the first 3 months of the year, I only have 9 months (or 39 weeks) left to reach my goals. I need to buy my fix-flip deal in the next 3 months in order to sell it this year, so I have about 13 weeks to make 60 offers.

This means I need to make 5 offers per week (60 offers / 13 weeks = 4.5 ~ 5 offers/week). This specific goal of 5 offers per week is a good measurement tool to evaluate how productive I was on the most important actions during the previous week.

Now I move to the wide part of the funnel: lead generation. I guess that for every 5 leads I get, only 1 is worth making an offer on. Therefore, I need to generate 300 leads this year before I can make 60 offers and buy 2 deals.

That seems like a lot of activity, doesn’t it?! But I have learned that the secret to finding a lot of good deals really isn’t a secret. I just need a lot of focused hustle.

So, the next step of my marketing plan will be to stir up an enormous amount of lead generation activity by implementing marketing campaigns.

Marketing Campaigns (Lead Generation Systems)

These are the systems and activities I will start doing to get this entire funnel moving. I want to generate enough leads, but I also want to stay on a very tight budget early on until I can reinvest profits into more marketing. So I decide on several campaigns that balance effectiveness and budget constraints:

MLS Leads 

I have access to the MLS (multiple listing service) with my license, so I set up daily filters that send listed properties to my email inbox. I know many other investors get cute with these filters in order to only get REOs, short sales, etc., but I decide to keep my filter simple. I or a team member quickly look at a larger number of properties in our target areas so that we don’t miss little gems not picked up by everyone’s auto filters.

Related: 8 Crucial Points to Consider BEFORE Quitting Your Job to Invest Full Time

From many emails, I get 10 interesting leads per week, and out of those, I make 2 offers on the ones within 80% of my likely purchase price. I also use Google Calender to create reminders to follow up on these offers if they are not accepted at first (which most won’t be).

My MLS filter looks like this:

  • Within my target location
  • Status of new listing, change in price, or back on the market
  • List price below $157,500 (70% of my top retail price)
  • Square footage above 1200 sq. ft.

Referral Campaigns 

As a solo entrepreneur with a full-time job, I have to find ways to leverage other people’s efforts and resources. One of the best ways I can do this is to solicit referrals. My initial strategy is to send letters to local professionals telling them about my service of buying properties in any condition for cash. I don’t expect an immediate rush of results. I want to build a few key relationships. Over the long-run, I expect 25-50% of my deals will come from these sources.

My current referral mailing lists includes:

  • Attorneys handling probates, divorces, foreclosures, bankruptcies
  • Property Managers
  • Commercial Real Estate Brokers (I want them to send me their small stuff)
  • Residential Real Estate Agents (I want them to send me their ugly properties or properties outside of their typical listing type)
  • CPAs
  • Financial Advisors
  • Investors in my REIA and on BP (for leads outside their area or expertise)

Internet Marketing

I do focused online activity to generate leads from potential sellers. My goal is to eventually have 25% of my deals come from online sources.

Here are some specific projects I do first:

  • Create website with video and content (BP blogger Antonio Coleman wrote some good articles on this topic)
  • Create a good BiggerPockets profile, including my target markets and make 10+ forum posts per week
  • Create Trulia & Zillow profiles and answer 10+ questions per week on their Q&A forums
  • Create a LinkedIn Profile and share 1+ interesting tip or news update per week

Vacant or Run-down House “Ant Farm”

I recruit my family, friends, and local contacts to be “ants” and bring morsels (leads) back to me. I ask them to be on the lookout for vacant or rundown houses during their daily routines. If they see one, my instructions are simple: text me the address, and I’ll do the rest.

My goal is to build a list of 500 properties like this:

  • Every 10 leads that come in, I begin a simple mail campaign to the owners asking to buy their house. I send each owner a total of 5 letters.
  • If I get no response, I visit the house to talk with the neighbors to see if they know anything.

Magnetic Car Signs 

My wife and I put magnetic signs on our cars that say, “We Buy Houses, Fast Cash.” These cost less than $100, but they let everyone in our world know what we do. I’m even generating leads sitting at a red-light or grocery shopping!

I set up a free Google Voice number, and it is directed to my cell phone during hours when I can take calls. Other times, it goes to voicemail, but I return missed calls.

Business Cards

I buy 1,000 folded business cards for under $50 at Vista Print. I like the folded card because I can include a lot more content on up to 4 sides. My name, phone number, and business are included, but most prominent is “We Buy Houses, Fast Cash” and the explanation of the benefits of my service.

I hand these out everywhere and leave them at public places like gas stations while I’m filling up.

Email Signature

The bottom of my email signature now says:

P.S. I am always on the lookout for real estate that may need some TLC. I buy all kinds of properties, including houses, apartment buildings, land, and mobile homes. Do you know of a property that needs a new owner to bring it back to life? Know a landlord who doesn’t want to be one? Did somebody you know inherit a house they don’t want? I buy houses. Call or email me anytime. Your referrals are appreciated. [phone number and email]

Everyone who gets emails from me will now know what I do in a very unobtrusive way.

I will continue to add more campaigns, including direct mail, but this activity keeps me very busy capturing and evaluating leads during the first year.

Step #7: Take MASSIVE Action, Get Feedback, Take Action Again

“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” — Anthony Robbins

“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” — Anthony Robbins

Anthony Robbins, the master of peak performance, reminds me that my education and my commitment mean nothing if I don’t take massive action. He also reminds me that real life is chaotic and unpredictable, so I must plan to be flexible as I move forward.

I am very committed to my goals this year of 1 flip deal and 1 wholesale deal, but I realize that this entire process of starting a new business can be overwhelming. So, I break these goals down into smaller, more manageable pieces in order to take action on them.

Here is how I do that:

The Sunday Session and the List of 10

I adapt my own system for productivity and time management from the awesome book, Getting Things Done by David Allen.

Each Sunday evening, I take at least 15-20 minutes for my “Sunday Session.” In this session, I plan the 10 most important projects or key results for the upcoming week. I write the list of 10 results on a small piece of paper, and I carry the list around in my planner to review throughout the week.

The list of 10 results for my first marketing actions looks like this:

  1. Set up MLS filter for daily emails
  2. Spend 2 hours everyday Monday-Saturday prescreening leads and making offers
  3. Order business cards online
  4. Order car magnetic signs online
  5. Use Google search to collect attorney names/addresses for referral campaign
  6. Post 10 times on BiggerPockets Forums
  7. Create Trulia profile
  8. Create Zillow profile
  9. Create LinkedIn profile
  10. Create and start using email signature

This simple list guides my actions during the week. If it’s not on the list, it’s not an important business item. If something truly urgent comes up, I leave myself the flexibility to cross something off and add the new urgent item to the list (like a prospective private lender wanting to eat lunch with me).

I love my Sunday Sessions because I look back over the previous week to see if I took action and checked off all of my 10 items. The items checked off my list give me proof that I am taking the right actions and moving forward. This process gives me energy and momentum as I write my 10 results for the next week.

Debrief Notebook and Personal Seminars

I have become great at learning from others, but I decide that I will also become great at learning from the “school of hard knocks” during my daily experiences.

To learn from my experiences, I carry around a simple notebook and a pen. Whenever possible after a flurry of action, I take a few minutes to debrief or write down how my action went.

Related: 5 Must Haves Before you Quit Your Day Job for Full-Time Real Estate Investing

For example, one time I talked on the phone to an attorney who called off of my letter. He asked me some unexpected questions, and I gave very poor responses. So, in my debrief, I wrote down his question, I wrote down my actual answer, and I wrote down a better answer to use if I were ever asked that question again.

This process of debriefing and giving myself personal seminars in real time gives me constant feedback. I continue to get better and better with each and every action I take.

Your Turn!

“It’s not the critic who counts… the credit belongs to the man [or the woman]actually in the arena.”  — Theodore Roosevelt

This has been a LONG article. I have dug into the nitty gritty of what it might take over a 12-month period to launch a new real estate investing business and leave my $100,000 per year job.

If you’ve stuck with me this far, I thank you and congratulate you! I hope you know that my true goal here was to inspire and inform your own journey as a real estate investor. This isn’t for me; I began my own battles in this arena 12 years ago!

If you’re contemplating getting started (or restarted) as a real estate investor, please think about what you’ve just read and decide 1 or 2 things you can take action on right now. This article isn’t going anywhere. Bookmark it for later to reread and to process more.

As Roosevelt so eloquently explained, the arena floor is where we entrepreneurs belong. Our personal dreams won’t become reality sitting in the stands or being a critic. Go ahead a jump over the wall onto the arena floor!

Where are you in the investing process? For those of you who HAVE quit their jobs to invest full time, what advice would you give to newbies?

Please leave me some comments below and tell me what you thought about my article. I write because I hope it helps you, so your feedback is appreciated.

About Author

Chad Carson

Chad Carson invests in Clemson, South Carolina. He also writes at about using real estate investing to retire early & do what matters. For practical advice each week — join his free newsletter at


  1. Brian Gibbons

    Hi Chad,

    If you ever write a book how to succeed in real estate investing, please email me, as I will buy 10 of them!

    This to do list is just awesome.

    Here is my take on “How not to get overwhelmed”

    -Get qty 4 1 inch ring binders.

    -Label them
    1) Getting Buyers and Tenants,
    2) Getting Sellers,
    3) Getting OPM and Traditional Funding, and
    4) Getting COIs (Centers of Influence).

    1) Getting Buyers and Tenants – has to do with
    Wholesale Cash Buyers,
    Tenant Buyers for Rent to Own,
    Owner Financed Buyers on Installment Sale – Land Contracts `bigger fees ` and
    Good Tenants for Buy and Holds.

    2) Getting Sellers –
    Cash Sellers for rehabs,
    Terms Sellers (sub2, land contract, lease option assignment, lease purchase
    Free and clear houses for terms offers (some cash now and a note, etc)

    3) Getting OPM and Traditional Funding – OPM is Other peoples money and credit,
    Get Private Lenders ` IRA Money`,
    JV Partners like local Doctors for Deal Splits,
    BP Members for Deal Splits;
    JV Partners like Home Sellers for minor rehabs.
    Traditional Small Banks for portfolio loans and blanket loans.

    4) COIs ` Centers of Influence ` are people that can refer you business but are not customers now.
    Bank Managers,
    Boys Club Presidents,
    Chamber of Commerce Presidents,
    Head of Toast Masters ` learn how to give a speech `,
    anyone that knows alot of people.
    FYI I saw a head of Ameriprise a few years ago and told him about my Lease Purchase plan for folks that had a house but no equity. He loved it. His WHIFFM was his client would not have to break an IRA to sell his house.

    Once you get your 4 1″ binders, write one page on major issues, like” Negotiating With ____. Marketing To ____. Sample Agreement for _____.

    Keep it simple and have to do lists with you. Forget the smart phone. Write it down.

    Thanks Chad!

    I appreciate this post very much!

    • Chad Carson

      Hey Brian, thank you very much. That’s a big compliment. I appreciate your own detailed list. I think you covered the 4 essentials with those 4 notebooks. Great idea. I’m a write-it-down guy, too. It just cements better into my brain when I have a written to-do list. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Frankie Woods

    Chad, I’m already a big fan of your articles, but I think this is one of the best I’ve seen on BP! What an amazing breakdown of the critical items an individual needs to position themselves for success. This especially resonates with me because I have that “100k/yr” job, but I’m just itching to switch gears. I took so many nuggest from this, but I think my favorite was the personal feedback loop. That is so important! Each of us must take stalk of the many lessons we learn and use that as a tool to improve. Thank you for this sir!

  3. David White

    Chad your article is one of the many reasons this site is amazing. Thank you for taking the time to write down a detailed step by step blog on how to take on a full time real esate investing career. For a newbie like myself it was very informative.

  4. Trang Herman

    Chad, you have a great fan here now. Do you know what I am so impressed about your writing ? You know how to break things down. The lists are clear and doable. They are not just general guide but exactly what I am looking for a newbie like me. And especially this is not your story but it seems like it was yours. I honestly appreciate your time and effort to write this articles. Please please please keep writing.

    • Chad Carson

      Thank you Trang! That’s a big compliment! Knowing it is helpful to others is why I do it. I appreciate the encouragement. More articles will be coming soon.

      Learning how to start your business and buy properties can get so overwhelming and complicated. I try to break it down as simply as I can – both for my own mind (!) and for helping others. I’m glad it came across that way.

  5. Frankie Woods

    Chad, thanks for asking. I just recently bought my second 4-plex in St. Louis, which brings the total units owned to 11. I’m currently working on getting my systems, much of which you explained in your article, in place and solified/seasoned. I have a great team, but I still need to find a CPA and Attorney, for which I’ve been trolling my REIA to find recommendations. It’s funny, I almost do all the items on your marketing checklist, minus the magnets, business cards, and internet/attorney leads. I will add those shortly!

    I think I am shooting for at least 20 – 30 units before I make the final leap. That would replace about 25-40% of my income. Or, if I reach my loan limit (~pesky 10 properties), I think I’d be ready as well because the W-2 doesn’t help as much anymore.

    The leap is a little more difficult for me because, being in the military, I can retire at 20 years of service. I’m already at 11. So, my desire to leave isn’t as great as some others might be. So, this whole plan of my mine may, and probably will, change. But, I love having options!

    • Chad Carson

      Congrats on the 4-plex, Frankie. My wife’s family is from St. Louis, so I’m familiar. What part of town? CPAs and attorneys were the hardest for me at first. Keep hunting and talking to people.

      Everyone’s time table is different, so your plan to stay 9 more years sounds good. Especially if you are happy doing what you’re doing and earning good money. But no matter what, it seems prudent to have plan a, b, c … so if you change your mind on this 9 year plan, you’ll have options. Right? Best of luck!

      • Frankie Woods

        Chad, both properties are near Gravios Park in 63118. They both haven’t been too much of a headache thus far, but they are in C/C- neighborhoods, so turnover/mx could be an issue going forward. Fingers crossed.

        And yes, options are key!

  6. Ricky Gritt

    Great article Chad. I currently work overseas and plan on retiring early next year to become a full time investor. I have been reading and studying everything I can get my hands on and this article has just outlined most of that information into one place. Very well written.

  7. Darren Smith

    Awesome article Chad. Don’t think I’ve every finished an article this long, but yours I wanted to keep going. I’ve taken away several actionable items from this.

    Question about the referral commission sharing. Is there anyway to do this if you are not a Realtor? I have lots of leads that don’t work for flips or lease options, but would make a great lead for a Realtor. Besides negotiating a future price reduction on a commission, is there any way a Realtor can compensate me for leads I provide where they complete the sale?

    • Chad Carson

      Thanks Darren! Yeah, I wanted to make it shorter but I couldn’t squeeze all the details in. Thanks for sticking with it:)

      I don’t think there is a way to get referral PAYMENTS legally unless you have your license. But maybe you could send each other referrals of business – like the realtor would send you fixer-upper leads and you would send him/her pretty house leads. I have benefited greatly just from taking care of people in my network … i.e. help them with the thing they need most, new business. The good vibes come back around in spades.

      • Darren Smith

        Hey Chad,
        Sounds like good advice. The Realtor I’m currently sending my leads to does great work for me, so I’m happy to send him leads I can’t use anyway. He recommended and I agreed that for any house he closes on through one of my leads, we would negotiate 25% of that commission off the next house I sell with him. That way I’m not compensating him for the leads I give and we’re negotiating the compensation on a completely separate deal. Wonder why that law exists in the first place?

  8. Darren Smith

    Another follow up question about your marketing funnel from local real estate and related professionals (attorneys, managers, CPA’s, etc). Would you mind providing either a template or some tips on what you say to the different agents to encourage them to send you leads? What value are you providing them?

    • Chad Carson

      Agents isn’t my top referral source, but I have worked with commercial agents or other agents who specialize in particular types of listings. If they’re looking for 100-unit buildings, they may send a duplex to me and I’ll pay a referral commission when and if I buy it. It may be 10 minutes of their time and they earn $1,000. More than a template, I just like the mentality of trying to figure out how I can be of service to people I run into. Are they looking for new business? Are they looking for a bookkeeper? Are they looking for financing? If I can help solve people’s problems – whether it’s a referral source or a customer, and then if I also tell people what I’m looking for, referrals tend to come my way (and they have for 9-10 years now). Best of luck!

  9. Bryan Loveless

    Awesome article Chad. Thanks for sharing. I am just getting started in the business and it was good to read that some of the things you suggested were things I’ve already been doing but wasn’t really sure that they mattered or were the right methods. Gives me positive reinforcement that I’m on the right track. It’s also great to see some of your other suggestions, that I may or may not have though about otherwise.

    Do you mind if I borrow some of the verbiage from your signature for now? I won’t copy it verbatim but you hit some great questions in it that I’d like to re-word and use in my own.

    Thanks again

  10. Thank you again, Chad, for a wonderful and insightful post. I needed a few seconds to process everything I read and then dove back in – so much concrete, detailed info!

    I’m currently in Step 2 – Blitz Education. I will be taking my state board exam in late February and I want to hit the ground running.

    However, I’m not sure what direction to take my business plan. We (hubs and I) don’t have a lot of money (I’m currently unemployed with husband working) and we need to build up our emergency fund and RE investing reserve should anything go wrong.

    Would you suggest I first focus on using my license as my source of income (i.e. being a buyer’s agent, doing listings, building leads, etc.)? Or should I just dive in and wholesale and build up reserves that way?

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I appreciate it any advice you can give.

  11. Hi Chad.

    I would like to say a big thank you for this amazing article. There are so many useful information that will help me achieve my goal of becoming a real estate investor full time. This article really resonates with me because I have that 100/yr job and have already started on some of the steps your article suggested in the past few years. I have now taken a few actionable items from your articles to work on in 2015.

    Thank you again !

Leave A Reply

Pair a profile with your post!

Create a Free Account


Log In Here