I hear this come up a lot — people thinking about looking for a job in the real estate industry so it will help them learn more about it. And for this, I’m talking about replacing your current 9-5 with another 9-5 that is in a field more closely related to investing (versus leaving your job completely to become a full-time investor).
Well, should you do that? Maybe. Maybe not.
I think there are two major things you need to consider before you go diving into some new career path in an attempt to learn the ins and outs of real estate investing.
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Consider your goals for investing.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What do you ultimately want to do with real estate investing?
- Do you know what route you want to take in REI (like flipping, rentals, wholesaling, etc.)?
- What do you eventually want to accomplish?
What you want to do in real estate investing has everything to do with how much (and which) education you need in order to succeed in it.
For example, my goal is to own an empire, or some level of portfolio, that has a lot of properties and/or businesses. In order to successfully run an empire, I need management and business skills, as well as creative problem solving skills. In working towards this, I use a property manager for all of my rental properties currently because I would rather my time be focused on how to expand and build my empire rather than dealing with minuscule issues with each property.
To what extent do you need to learn the nitty gritty?
A lot of people argue that you should landlord your own properties before hiring a property manager so you can learn how to manage a property — at the level of fixing repairs and dealing with tenants and such. Landlording isn’t specifically a full-time job in the context that I’m talking about jobs in REI, but it’s the same point — would doing that help me in achieving my long-term goal? To me, the answer is no, it would not. Me learning to swing hammers and manage tenants would not help me in successfully running an empire because those skills aren’t what is required for successfully running an empire — I need management, business, and creative problem solving skills.
Now, would being a landlord and learning the ins and outs of that hurt me? Absolutely not. That goes for any job — working in a REI-related job will never necessarily hurt you, and it’s never a bad thing to learn more skills, but the question is whether it’s necessary or not for what you want to do. There is no point in me wholesaling, working as a typical real estate agent (with primary homebuyers), or working in lending or any of that if the basis for my goals is simply learning to run a business. Running a portfolio of rental properties even, in my opinion, is exactly like running a business. You have to learn strategy, management of personnel, and creative problem solving.
Is an REI-related job beneficial to you?
However, not everyone is the same as me. Maybe working in an REI-related field would be beneficial. Let’s say you want to become a flipper. What are the two biggest qualities of a good flipper? In my opinion, they are knowing how to find the best properties to flip and then doing or managing the rehab of them. What are jobs that could help you build those two skills? Well, wholesaling for one (yes, I absolutely consider wholesaling to be a job and not an investment method) would absolutely teach you about finding properties. I can think of few other jobs that would teach that better. Then for the rehab side, maybe working in construction or as a high-quality handyman and such.
Do you see the difference in the two scenarios? For my goal of running an empire, I need to learn business and management skills, so working in some REI-related job wouldn’t necessarily teach me what I need to know. The skills I need are broader. But for the flipper, it may be beneficial to get an REI-related job in preparation because those are more direct skills that you would need, and they would be awesome to build ahead of time.
So the trick here is knowing what would make you great at what you think you want to do. It’s not always as obvious as one may think. Like in my case, I don’t think it’s obvious to people that knowing how to swing a hammer really won’t help me get where I want to go with my investing. The more clear you are on what each facet takes, the more you can tailor your education and preparation for it.
Less official than education and skills prep, let’s not forget about what makes you happy in life. That leads me to the second major consideration when deciding whether or not to get an REI-related job in preparation for investing.
Determine your likes.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Do you like your current (presumably non-REI related) career?
- Would you enjoy working in an REI-related field?
This quickly boils down to your happiness levels in life. I advocate that your happiness trumps all else (except hurting others). It’s not worth sacrificing a job you like or taking on a job that you don’t really like because you think it might help you be a better investor. There are too many ways to invest that don’t in any way require you to have some kind of intricate honed-in skill. There are also too many ways to invest that require minimal time and effort on your part so you don’t have to quit your current job.
Now, on the other hand, if you don’t like your current job and are pumped about some level of real estate investing and think it would be cool and fun to work in the industry in some capacity, then by all means go for it! Some people really do like the technical skills involved with REI and would love to work more closely with them.
Don’t take a job that doesn’t excite you.
The moral of this one is — don’t quit a job you like because you think you need to work in an REI-related field, don’t take on a job you aren’t really that excited about just so you can learn REI skills, and know that there are so many ways to do anything you want in REI that you can make it happen if you really want it to.
Related: 5 Life-Changing Tips for Growing a Business While Working a Full-Time Job
I want to add one more quick blurb about my own situation. Before I even got into REI, all I knew was that I didn’t want to work for someone for the rest of my life — and more than that, I didn’t want to work a 9-5 job for any longer than I had to. My goal was, and still is, freedom. In considering that, which falls into this category of my interests and likes, getting out of one job and into another just to make my goal happen didn’t exactly make sense. Why trade one job for another if my goal is to not have a job?
So again, thinking about your goals and what you really need to accomplish what it is you want to accomplish.
Yes, you CAN enjoy your real estate-related job.
Never forget that REI can be enjoyable! Stressful and overwhelming at times, yes, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. Don’t do things with it just because you think you have to do it or people say you should do it. Do you know how much time I would have wastedm how much slower my portfolio would have been built, and how many more headaches I would have had if I had listened to all of the advice that said I should landlord all my properties before switching to having a property manager? No thanks! Sure, learning those skills wouldn’t have hurt me, but they would have slowed me down in learning what it is I really need to learn to achieve my goals.
Always remember, “Don’t take advice from people you wouldn’t trade shoes with!”
What do you guys think? When do you think working in an REI-related job is helpful for becoming a successful investor? Or can it be a hindrance?
Let’s get a conversation going in the comments section!