The Newbie Challenge: 30 Steps to Get Started in Real Estate in 30 Days

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Anyone up for a challenge?

Hi all, Liz back with you this week! Most of you would probably agree we live in an “instant gratification” society. If there is something you don’t like in your life, well, all you need to do is Google it and see how you can quickly change it. We all like shortcuts and cliff notes. And most of us here on BP want real estate investing success — immediately. I’ve always loved the quote, “Most overnight successes took 10 years.” Isn’t that true? Every success in real estate (and in life) takes time, focus, and guts. There are no shortcuts. It really doesn’t happen overnight. However, what it does take is consistent action, commitment and a plan.

Here is a challenge for all those newbies out there. Here are 30 steps you can take in the next 30 days to get started in the real estate investing business. While these 30 steps are not going to make you a real estate millionaire overnight, they certainly can help provide direction and momentum. And the good news about momentum is that “momentum creates more momentum!”

If you are interested in taking on this 30 day challenge, I would love to hear about your progress in the comments section below!

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30 Steps to Get Started in Real Estate in 30 Days

1. Do some soul searching.

Establish your real estate investing goals. I call this your “why” statement. What is the WHY behind your interest in real estate investing goals? What are you passionate about? Just to “make money” is quite honestly not good enough.

Related: 5 Harsh Realities About Real Estate Investing Every Newbie Should Know

Listen, this business is not always “sunshine and roses.” It can be tough at times. So you have to have a deep reason behind getting into this business to keep your motivation high!

2. Determine your investment goals.

Cash flow? Planning for retirement? Chunks of cash? If you are looking for cash flow, then “flipping houses” would not be an effective strategy. Your real estate strategy/niche has to align with your investment goals.

3. Take a personal inventory.

Take out a blank piece of paper and on the left hand side of the paper write “1 – 10.” Then, next to each number, write down the top skills and strengths that you currently have. This can be anything from being great with people to being quick with numbers.

If you can’t think of any, consider the feedback you have received from family, friends or work colleagues over the years. Sometimes others will notice our strengths quicker than we can.

4. Assess the “time” you have to put into this new venture.

Time is the one limited resource. If you have little time, how can you carve out more time?

5. Assess the “assets” you have.

This includes your credit score, your available cash, retirement accounts, equity in your home, and friends and family who have available equity and/or cash.

6. Create a list of three real estate strategies/niches you are interested in.

7. Network both online (BP) and offline (local meetup groups and REI clubs).

You want to find and connect with successful people in these niches. Remember, success leaves clues.

8. Reach out to at least five successful people in these niches.

Schedule coffee/lunch and learn as much as you can about how they became successful and their “success” habits.

9. If you reach out to these folks and don’t hear back from them, don’t give up.

Persist, but in a nice way! I like to use the sandwich method. Email and call simultaneously. Don’t give up!

10. Stay in touch with these successful people.

Figure out how you can spend more time with them if they are in the niche you want to be in. Find out ways to help them and they will want to help you!

11. Once you understand what skills and assets are needed for these niches, determine your “areas of improvement.”

These can be skills you need to learn or cash you need to raise or credit you need to improve. Remember, we all have skills and strengths we bring to the table, and each of us has skills we need to learn in order to be successful in a new endeavor.

12. Seek out support.

I don’t know any successful REI entrepreneur who has done it on their own.

13. Get an accountability partner.

Find one other person (or a group) who has similar goals, and support one another to take action and keep one another honest.

14. Once you establish your REI strategy/niche, write a brief business plan.

I suggest The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur by James Horan. This will help you focus your energies and avoid jumping into too many areas and/or losing focus. I believe focus is the key to success.

15. Read the work of, listen to and surround yourself with successful and like-minded people.

The worst thing you can do is start this new venture and allow yourself to be brought down by naysayers and negative people.

16. Become comfortable with getting into the habit of learning and taking action.

You’ll need to constantly be learning more and taking more action. You need both to be successful.

17. Gain knowledge and experience in your area of focus.

There are lots of ways to do this. Again, there are many free, as well as paid, ways to do this. Find what will work best for you.

18. Continue to attend online and off line conferences and networking meetings.

You want to stay in contact with like-minded people in the niche you have chosen.

19. Focus on progress, not perfection.

My husband Matt and I have been at this real estate investing business for over 10 years. We still make mistakes. But we learn from them and are committed to getting better day by day.

20. Once your strategy/niche is established, determine the type of market you want to invest in.

21. Determine the type of property (or properties) you want to invest in.

Not all property types will meet your investment goals (revisit Step #1).

22. Determine how far away you are willing to invest.

23. Determine how “active” you want to be in the business.

Do you want to be an active landlord or would you rather purchase a “turnkey” deal or even invest your money with an “active” RE investor?

24. Find team members applicable to your niche.

Some ideas include: accountant, contractor, handyman, investor-friendly realtor, wholesaler, attorney, banker, lenders, hard money or private money lenders.

Related: The #1 Reason Newbie Investors Fail to Close Deals (& How to Fix That)

25. Once you feel comfortable and are ready, begin to make offers.

This will apply to most real estate niches.

26. Don’t take anything personally.

Don’t get emotional about any deal and/or offer. Stick to your offer number and don’t pay too much for a property — even if you really like it.

27. Tell everyone and anyone that you come across in your day to day life about your real estate investing venture.

Not in a “salesy” kind of way, but in an enthusiastic and excited way. You never know where you will find team members, support and even money partners.

28. Realize that the “deal of the decade” comes along every day.

When deals and offers don’t get accepted, learn from the situation and move on.

29. Write down every lesson you learn on your first deal.

Not only does this have entertainment value, it is a great way to keep a record of your beginnings.

30. Find someone to help get started. Don’t forget – what goes around, comes around.

Bottom line – begin to take action, get support, and don’t give up.

What steps am I missing? Would you add anything to this list? Are you ready to take on the 30 day challenge?

Thanks, as always, for reading and for your comments. Happy investing!

About Author

Matt Faircloth

In 2005, Matt founded The DeRosa Group along with his wife, Elizabeth. At the time, the two person company owned and managed two assets – a single family home and a duplex. Over the last nine years, they have grown the company to a 12 person team owning and managing over five million dollars in residential and commercial assets throughout the central NJ and Philadelphia area. One of DeRosa’s mantras is “to make money while making a difference.”

46 Comments

  1. Brian Gibbons

    hmmmm, theres alot there.

    Here is my advice to newbies.
    Forget about starting in…

    1) House Wholesaling – Flipping – Birddogging (being a finder) Why? It is a needle in a haystack, and you are trying to get some house at BELOW Wholesale, not easy.
    2) Retailing – Rehabbing – Not a great place to start unless you are a builder and can get hard money easily.

    Look at https://www.biggerpockets.com/search/topics?utf8=%E2%9C%93&term=203(k)
    203(k) 3% down duplex – fourplex, and live in one. Need income and good credit. That is doable.

    Look at learning low equity deals – Say 95% LTV on a pretty house, do a lease option assignment and make 3%. That is doable.

    I’ve been doing this for 30 years, just my humble opinion for rookies.

    Action List for Low Equity Deals
    1. Get Licensed
    2. Get MLS List of Expireds
    3. Talk to them, give them a free report on Lease 2 Own.
    4. Get an attorney
    5. close at a title company or attorney
    6. Advertise on Craigslist – Postlets
    7. Have Tenant Buyer cut a check to Title company or attorney’s trust account for
    a) first and last rent
    b) option fee
    c) assignment fee (your profit)

    Good luck all new folks!

    • Cydni Anderson

      Hi Brian, thanks for the advice! I’m newly licensed, although not new to RE. I have been out of the game for several years and am just starting back in.

      I have some serious health issues (MS) and need to generate some cash quickly. I’m not on the MLS yet, but expect to be in a week or so. What you outline seems reasonable (and most important for me, quick) but I always get a little nervous about the legalities involved. I would talk to my broker first, of course, before pursuing this, just to be sure he’s cool with it. But you have certainly given me an idea to run with, so thanks!

      • Brian Gibbons

        Cydni

        Health issues are tough! Best of luck!

        Lease option assignments are legal but many brokers are risk adverse

        Read the book Shift by Gary Keller of Keller Williams, ch 10, Creative Finance

        My advice to agents is

        if your broker doesn’t allow you to buy as a principal on “subject to” or wraparound mortgage or lease option, find another broker and hang your license with them

        • Cydni Anderson

          Brian,

          my library has this book, so I just reserved it. Thanks again for the advice!

          As to my broker, I picked him because of “online only” options, no desk/office fees, etc. , MLS only option (it is quite expensive to start if you’re required to join the board!) as well as a phenomenal commission structure.

          Is this guy the best option out there? Who knows at this point! Time will tell! 🙂

          Thanks again,
          Cydni

    • Aaron Foster

      Hi Brian,

      I am just breaking into this world. At this point I am a bartender, but I am marketing for wholesale deals in my off time. I am still tweaking my list and my negotiating skills to score my first deal. I have done a lot of networking, and I even have a mentor who I can ask questions at any time. I plan to joint venture with him for my first deal. I am not licensed, but I may get licensed in the near future. Right now my main focus is learning and finding this first deal.

      I have also been taking steps to improve my credit, which has been rising over the past couple of years. I am thinking very seriously about buying a duplex or triplex as my next place of residence (I live in an apartment now). I don’t know much about buying a house or being a landlord, but I figure it would be a good idea to live in one part and rent the other out. I could have my first rental property, continue to improve my credit, and significantly decrease or eliminate my monthly rent, creating passive income for myself.

      Your link caught my attention, but it just brought me to a search page. I would like to know more about locating a duplex or triplex, and what it takes to rent one out successfully. For now, I am going to send some letters to out of state absentee owners with high equity and see what happens. I would appreciate any insight on the matter.

  2. Elizabeth Faircloth

    Hi Brian,
    Thanks so much for your comments and suggestions for newbies! I think your points are great. I think a lot of folks who are new don’t know the power of lease options. The key is to be educated in this strategy and have the right paperwork in place as well!
    Thanks for your list and commenting!
    Liz

  3. I have learned so much from your husbands writing it is so nice to read an article that proves that an investor should involve their spouse in their business.
    You have obviously spent time educating yourself and most certainly are teaching me that skipping the first step is the fastest way to make the saying, I always take time to do tings right the second time.
    Of coarse NEVER skip the related articles within the articles.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Thanks Gary! Glad to hear you have learned a lot from Matt. I know it is not overly clear, but I actually share the weekly blog with my husband and have written quite a number of posts! You are absolutely write – it is so critical to involve your spouse in this business. We began our business together over 10 years ago. And yes we have spent time educating ourselves, and continue to do so. It is a life long process! Good luck to you!!! And thanks again for commenting!
      Liz

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Hi Maria,
      There are some great resources on BP to get started in flipping property. However, I would begin with these three items:
      1. Market – The first step to flipping property successfully is location, location, location! Some markets are great for flipping property and others are not. We tend to look for locations that have a high homeownership % and a strong school system.
      2. Knowledge – Construction and real estate knowledge are really important. Even if you don’t do the rehabbing yourself, you still need to be knowledgeable so you don’t get take advantage by contractors. Their are lots of ways to acquire the knowledge – workshops, classes, books, BP, etc.
      3. Team – Three critical team members include a realtor who knows the market very well, wholesaler who can help find deals, and contractors to do the work.
      4. Finances – Most properties that are great flips are in some type of distress, and need a quick closing. Being able to buy properties cash is key.
      5. Manage time and expenses -If you don’t have a great system in place to manage these two items, your deal can get upside down – quickly!
      Let me know if you have further questions. Please feel free to message me!
      Hope this helps!
      Liz

  4. Aaron Mazzrillo

    #s 8, 9, 10 are great advice. I’d start there and I’d forget all about the 30 day time limit. If I could surround myself with successful people, they’ll pull you up eventually. Don’t be in a hurry to make potentially huge financial mistakes.

  5. Elizabeth Faircloth

    Thanks Aaron for your comment. The reason why I created a “30 day challenge” is to inspire daily action that is consistent and creates momentum. A lot of folks that are in the beginning stage get stopped because it can get overwhelming. I completely agree with you about not being in a “hurry.” There is a lot of success in being patient. Thanks again for reading and commenting!
    Liz

    • Danny Everett

      Hi Elizabeth, I want to thank you and your husband Matt along with for this advice. This will give me a good road map to start because you are right I was feeling very overwhelm. I plan to start in duplex – quadplex and build from there.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Hi Brenda,
      You are very welcome! Starting out small makes a ton of sense! I would begin learning as much as you can about these two areas (wholesaling and flipping) here on BP. The suggestions I offered to Maria (here on this blog post) re: beginning to flip properties might also help you! Please let me know if you have any specific questions.
      I would be happy to help you!!
      All the best,
      Liz

    • Cydni Anderson

      Hey Brenda,

      I just wanted to say, slow and steady is the way to go. I actually invested in the past (pretty heavily, actually) and made some stupid mistakes which caused me to crash. Seriously crash.

      I’m not saying this to scare you; to the contrary, I believe RE is where it’s at. I always knew I’d eventually be back, but needed to stabilize my health first.

      Find your first deal, do the math, then do it again. And remember, everything you learn is cumulative- it just keeps adding up in your head. 🙂

      Good luck!
      Cydni

  6. Uneshia S.

    Great article as a newbie, I’m happy to say that I have completed nearly everything on this list and I’m glad I have. The more research I’ve done and the more networking I’ve done the more I’ve learned to be open to changing my goals and strategies. I’ve quickly learned that what seems to be very easy for one investor can be extremely difficult for me (i.e.Wholesaling). But thanks to my strong why, I haven’t given up and I’m learning to track to my success and my failures so that I can create a streamlined gameplan.

    Thanks to following theses steps (even before I read them), I signed a contract on my first deal yesterday which is a JV fix & flip with my mentor. I’m looking forward to putting my learning into action.

  7. Neil Schoepp

    Liz,

    Thanks for the pointers and for taking the time to help. You can check #30 off your list.

    I accept your challenge. I like that you broke it down into “simple” steps. It creates a sort of road map if you will. Looking forward I have a few follow up questions I am hoping you can offer some suggestions on.

    In step 7 you suggest to get involved in local meet up groups and REI clubs. The closest groups/clubs to me are quite a distance. In the area of 1.5 hrs away. Do you feel it’s a good use of both my time and theirs for me to attend. I know I will gain at least something just by the mere fact that I will be mingling with other investors. But I don’t have much to offer and my market will be very much different from theirs. One of the big picture reasons for me is a shorter commute. So I would like to stay (invest) with in 20 miles or so.

    My last question is in response to #8. Yes it is invaluable to speak with successful people. This in my view is the most important task on the list after figuring out your why. The last thing I want to do is waste peoples time. Do you have any suggestions on how I should approach such people. It would be much easier to appear at a few meetings so they could get to know my face but there are none and who knows if the real players are going to be there. It sounds to simplistic just to walk up and say:
    “Good Afternoon Mr. Moore. My name is Neil. First I’d like to thank you for your contributions to Music in the Park. It really does have a great atmosphere and brings the community together. I stopped by today because I am looking to get into real estate on the investment side. I was hoping I could ask you a few questions over lunch one day.” Is this the way it’s done or should I be attacking it from a different angle. I just envision him or his secretary being like “Uh no, another ‘I’m gonna break into real estate and make millions quack looking to waste my time'”.

    Your suggestions are eagerly awaited.

    Thanks for getting me thinking.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Neil,

      So HAPPY that you are taking me up on the “challenge!” Please keep me and us posted on how it goes!!! SUPER excited for you!

      Okay, happy to answer your two questions (which are great ones by the way!!)

      With regards to the first question about the closest meetup/REI club being 1.5 hours away. I agree with the concern of traveling the distance. However, it may not be a bad idea to attend the next meeting to be around other investors. There is a great energy that comes from face to face! But attending these meetings on an ongoing basis (which is important) will be tough. Why don’t you start your own Meetup group for REI investors? I can’t believe that you are the only one in your area interested in REI investing. For example, I am starting my own MasterMind group this month. I wanted to join a mastermind for woman entrepreneurs, but there is nothing in my area either, so I am starting one! And you DO have a lot to offer even though you are new to real estate investing. Remember no matter how much of a newbie someone is, they have qualities, skills, and assets they are bringing to the table!!

      Great question about “how to approach successful people.” I like what you wrote above re: what you would say to Mr. Moore. However, another idea would be to offer him your ability to help with this event or in general. People who are busy and successful typically run out of time. Time is the one limited resource! So, you could approach him with the following, ” Good afternoon, Mr. Moore. First I’d like to thank you for your contributions to Music in the Park. It really does have a great atmosphere and brings the community together. I would love to take you to lunch and learn more about this event and how I might be able to help.” See, you don’t just want him to get real estate investing advice, you actually want to spend time with him. You want to learn how he thinks, etc. Over lunch, you can ask him about real estate investing too (of course). However, if you are willing to help him – I am sure he would be willing to help you too!

      I hope this helps. Please, please keep me posted on how you are making out. I would be happy to support you anyway that I can, so message me if there is something that I can do during the 30 day commitment!!!

      Setting a goal, committing and taking action is a great start!!! You are on your way.

      Liz

  8. I really like the comments of Brain Gibbons on getting started.I rent apartment for 500 a month. I’ve been thinking very hard to make a move to a duplex or triplex or fourplex for owner occupied to start on the road of investing. I have Income coming in, Ijust don’t have good credit score it’s about 558 very poor due to family member. I read tons of real estate books.
    My question how could I get around the credit and if I can, how much of a property should I go for, 20,000,50,000,100,000.

  9. Michael Williams

    Wow!!!!!This means that I am on the right track. I dedicate evey minute except 1 hour per day (Which I use to watch something entertaining on Netflix) that I am not at my job to real estate tasks or learning. I am so focused I think I burped up an assignment contract while I was sleeping and of course I am going to use it on my next deal. Great advice.

    Oh yeah…my reason for getting into real estate is to create generational wealth for my entire family while helping fuel the perpetual growth in the knowledge of finances and mental well being. Focus is the key.

    I do not have a plan “B” it detracts me from plan “A”.
    — Will Smith

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Hi Michael,
      So glad to hear that you are on the right track! That is great to hear about the time you are dedicating. I know it is not always easy to do things “differently” than others. But as the old saying goes, to get different results, we must do things differently! 🙂 I really love your “why” statement you shared. Being able to provide generational wealth is a very powerful thing. Most people want to be able to do this but can’t figure out how to do so. Good for you for having an inspiring “why” behind your real estate investing activity. It really is so much more than “making money.”
      I would love to hear how your progress is going.
      All the best to you!!!
      Liz

  10. Neil Schoepp

    Liz,
    It was very kind of you to take the time to help me out.
    THANK YOU!
    Thanks for the suggestion of offering my time to him. Now I don’t feel like someone looking for a handout, but instead someone presenting what could be a win-win offer.
    I will be sure to keep you posted on my progress and to reach out to you as I am sure I will need to clarify some techniques on getting all 30 done.
    It’s funny you suggest starting my own REI group as I have put that on my list of goals. I just never thought of doing it so close to my start as I would not be a very good source of “expert” advice to the real estate world. But now you have me thinking that I don’t need to be the expert. I just need to be the nucleus. The driving force behind it to bring everyone together. Gotta go thanks again.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Neil,
      Absolutely! I am so excited for you! I am glad my suggestions were helpful. Please, please keep me posted on your progress. Can’t wait to hear how it is going, how your meeting with Mr. Moore went, and how your new meetup group is going! And you are absolutely right, you don’t need to be the expert, just the “nucleus!!”
      Knock em dead!!
      Liz

  11. Nice list to help new folks get started!

    Finding a niche that works with one’s personality can definitely be tricky. Many who are experienced will give their advice and input. Though, the fact of the matter is that we are not all the same – different things work for different people. What works for one person may not work for another and vice versa.

    The key is to keep plugging away and learn from experience. Ultimately, the experiences we have and what we learn from them can be the greatest teachers of all.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Rachel,
      I can’t agree with you more!! It really frustrates me when an experienced investor tells newbies to “follow their path” to success in real estate investing. No two people are the same, so individuals need to find their own path to success.
      Thanks for commenting and reading the post. If I can help you in anyway, please let me know!
      Liz

  12. Darmi Parikh

    Hello Elizabeth and every contributors:
    I am very much impress with the comment and knowledge about starting Real Estate business. I am newbie took some education with good investor and join the some REI meet ups. What I read today from Elizabeth and Brian how to start and How to start with Lease Option is excellent way to start.
    Elizabeth Thank you for the list to do step by step. I think I will start with that first at the same time try to take my RE broker license exam that I was putting it off due to ( Expensive comment from other license brokers).
    Keep writing inspiring point and help REI newbies.
    DP

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Darmi,
      Thanks for your comment and feedback. It really is about taking action and continue to learn and grow. As long as you are doing that, you should be in good shape!
      Please keep us posted on your progress and where you need support!
      Thanks,
      Liz

  13. Jalisa Ray

    I am an REI Newbie and I started this challenge on March 1st and Day 7 stopped me in my tracks. I have been to REIA events but none of the connections I have made was I able to sustain. What are some things I can do to make sure to sustain the relationships with the people I connect with either on or offline? People have told me to lead with what I can offer the experts but it seems to me they have everything covered and as a newbie I have no clue what I can offer them in exchange for their help. Please help me I am currently still stuck on Day 7 because of this. Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Jalisa,
      First and foremost – awesome job for getting started on this journey and taking action!! Most people “talk” about getting started and you did! Step 7 is all about building relationships. I would suggest a wonderful book “Never eat alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. It is all about becoming more effective in networking and build relationships. Additionally, here are some suggestions when you attend a REIA meeting. When you meet people and begin the conversation, get them talking. Of course, you will get a chance to share what you are up to and what you are interested in. However, it is more important to get them talking! After event (hopefully you collected some business cards), set up follow up coffee/lunch meetings with some of these folks. You will be able to get to know these folks more over a coffee/lunch vs simply talking to them at a networking meeting. Then you will be able to see how you can help them, and how they can help you.
      Does this help???
      Please let me know. And remember don’t stop!! 🙂
      Liz

  14. Neil Schoepp

    So I did a lot of thinking, writing, listening, and 7 level deep exercises. And finally narrowed it down to what appears to be a very simple statement but one that will conjure up that _________ You attitude to give my staying power.

    To Protect My Family.

    Now I just have 29 to go.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Hi Neil,
      So sorry for the delay in writing back. I thought I had commented on this! Just wanted to say that I love your “why” statement. Very inspiring and deep!! How is the 30 day challenge going? I would love to hear your progress!!
      Keep up the great work!
      Liz

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