Author’s Note: I am not advocating that you do or do not get an education in order to be successful in real estate. I know that no matter what tools this world gave me, I would eventually find my way to success. I say this as a military spouse who has moved three times in almost six years marriage (with another move on the horizon), yet who is a successful investor whose houses don’t follow any “rule.” I self-manage all of my houses from thousands of miles away. My point is to emphasize why I am not only GRATEFUL for my education, but an advocate of higher education.
At age 27, I am a buy and hold real estate investor with seven houses. By the age of 28 years and one month, I will have eight houses, and one month later, I will land my ninth. This time next year I hope to tell you I have achieved and surpassed my goal of fourteen units by my 29th birthday (I am a New Years baby!).
Guess what! I not only have an undergraduate degree in finance with a minor in accounting, I have a Master’s degree. I tell you this not to brag or boast, but to answer a question.
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“Should I Go to College?”
This question seems to be a much-asked question on the Forums. It also appears to be controversial, with a diversity of opinions. While everyone has their own answer, here’s mine.
YES! 100 percent. Absolutely.
I am such a believer in higher education that I, a Master’s degree investor, am going back to school. This spring, I will be applying to a Real Estate Certificate or Master’s Program this fall to further my education.
My degrees have allowed me to reap more benefits than the money they cost. Here are three ways my degrees have led me to a successful career as an investor.
1. Education provided me a paid mentorship opportunity.
One of the questions I see all the time on the Forums is how to land a mentor. Thanks to my Master’s degree, my professional career was in the real estate field. My first job right out of college was as an executive assistant for two owners of a real estate firm. Guess why I was hired? MY MASTER’S! These were the same owners who taught me how to read contracts, a lease, create a budget, walk units, etc., etc., etc. My second, more advanced job in the real estate field was also a direct result of having a Master’s degree. It was the reason they took a chance on me.
Lesson Learned: I would never have found a paid professional position that mentored me without my degree. That was my foot in the door.
2. Education helped me qualify for a loan.
My husband and I bought our first pure rental five months after I started my first job and our second eleven months later. Because of my $8,000 Master’s degree, we had no issues qualifying my work experience for a 30-year conventional loan, even though I had just entered my position. Without my degrees, we would not have qualified for the loan and would have had to wait until 2014 to qualify for a rental.
Lesson Learned: Because we were able to invest at the all-time low of 2012 in Summerville, SC, we are now able to pull $70,000 out of our investments. If we would’ve had to wait two years to qualify, we would have lost $70,000 in appreciation.
3. Education has given me good, real-estate related knowhow.
While my husband and I have done well for ourselves, we have worked with very limited financial resources. My Master’s degree has allowed me to understand the tax, mortgage, and legal implications related to the real estate field. Understanding the tax law has allowed me to be a knowledgeable consumer when managing my business so I have the maximum tax deductions. My background in finance allowed me to understand the rules as well as any mortgage broker. I can’t tell you how many deals ended up going through because I had the ability to double check the math and point out errors. I have made thousands of dollars because of my understanding of the nuts and bolts of the business world.
Lesson Learned: Having the skills to be in the know as far as the technical ins and outs has allowed me to close deals that otherwise would not have closed. I’ve solved problems that otherwise would have killed the deal.
I am not advocating you go thousands of dollars in the hole. The one point I would like to point out is that your degree doesn’t have to bust the bank. My Master’s cost me $8,000 because I went to an offshoot of a state school. I still got the name without cost. Texas A &M Corpus has opened many doors, and my degree was $8,000!
In the end, everyone has their own thoughts and opinions on this subject. There are tons of ways to get started in the real estate. You can wholesale, bird dog, etc. My dream was to own rentals, and I have achieved over $400,000 in net worth, as well as seven (soon to be nine) rentals, all thanks to my Master’s.
What are YOUR thoughts on getting higher education for a real estate career? What has been your personal experience?
Let’s have a discussion in the comments section!