How to Create More Time for Real Estate Deals While Working a 9-5

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Working a 9-5 job while investing in real estate on the side?

Don’t sweat it — there are plenty of advantages in working full-time and investing part-time, from stable income to health benefits to paid vacations to easier loan approvals. And most part-time real estate investors don’t fully understand the challenges of quitting their day job to invest full-time.

Still, having prime business hours locked up by your job can make it hard to snatch up deals quickly. So how can you invest effectively, while still working your 9-5 job?

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Flexibility at Work

The biggest challenge for full-time workers is not lack of time, but the inability to act when they need to.

Real estate investing is like war: long stretches of waiting and inactivity, interspersed with frantic moments of action. It’s not that you need to put in 50 hours/week to be an effective real estate investor, but rather that you sometimes need to drop everything and jump on a deal.

It may be 9:02 in the morning when a potentially killer deal pops up on your radar. You can’t wait until 5:00 p.m. to go see it and make an offer — you need to move now.

So the first step for separately employed real estate investors is to arrange flexibility with the boss. Explain that you have no qualms working late, showing up early, or working through lunch if need be. You will put in full hours and complete all your tasks, come hell or high water. But there will be times when you may need to pop out for an hour or two unexpectedly.

Reassure your boss by telling them that you will always, always notify them when taking an unexpected break, so that they are always in the loop. You don’t want them stopping by your desk and finding it empty by surprise.

Related: Should You Quit Your Current 9-5 to Get a Full-Time Real Estate Gig? Consider THIS First.

If you can arrange for part-time (or perhaps even full-time) telecommuting, all the better. Just be sure that your productivity stays high on days you exercise your flexibility. If you slack off, your boss will rein you back in and rescind these flexibility privileges.

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A Fast & Flexible Support Team

So now you can get away from the office at a moment’s notice, but can you actually get into the property? You also need a real estate agent who can drop what she’s doing to meet you.

If your agent can’t do that, discuss alternatives with her. Perhaps she has an assistant who can meet you anytime, anywhere? Or maybe she’ll deputize you as an unofficial office representative and give you access remotely. Or it could be time to earn your real estate license, so you can act on your own.

Beyond access to the property, you also need your agent to be able to draw up contracts at a moment’s notice. If you hear about a potentially stellar deal at 9:02, you should be at the property by 10:00, and if it’s a winner, you should be on the phone with your realtor by 10:15. She should have a contract offer ready and submitted by 11:00.

Not every agent is willing and able to move like that. Find one who can.

Your support team doesn’t end with your real estate agent. You should have a rolodex filled with contractors you know and like. For properties that need substantial renovations, they need to be able to quickly meet you to view the property and provide a rough estimate on the spot and a refined written estimate later that day.

You’ll also need financing, of course. Build your relationships with lenders in advance, so that when a deal comes along, you can make a five-minute phone call on your drive back to the office. Making half-hour phone calls with loan officers at work will only infuriate your boss, a recipe for snipped flexibility privileges.

What About Inflexible Bosses?

All well and good for people with understanding bosses, but what if your boss is a tyrant who hangs workers by the toenails if they step out of line?

One strategy is the “long lunch” approach. Approach your boss and ask if you can come in an hour early every day and break for lunch an hour early for a two-hour lunch. You can use that time to scout deals, make phone calls, research markets, and otherwise build your real estate empire.

Don’t use the time to take long lunches. Ever. Success is built around routine and good habits.

The “long lunch” won’t work in your job? Another strategy is to volunteer for unpopular extra shifts or responsibilities in exchange for flex time.

Remember that negotiation is about finding the other party’s wants and needs, besides what you’re negotiating for. What problems do they need to solve? What are their headaches? What will sweeten a deal for them? Find what else they want that will mollify them when you need to take off suddenly.

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Preserving Family Time

There are only so many hours in the day, and you’re busy. You have a full-time job, a part-time real estate investing career, a family, friends, hobbies, passions — a life.

So how can you do it all?

As mentioned above, lunch breaks are great blocks of time for real estate-related work. Look for ways to schedule obligations during your lunch break, such as inspections and settlements.

On evenings and weekends, look for ways to squeeze in real estate without changing family plans. You can swing by properties while on your way somewhere else, and unless it’s a dangerous site, you can bring your family with you.

Also, look for times when your family is otherwise engaged. You can get up early in the morning, stay up late at night, or work while your spouse is sleeping in and your kids are watching Saturday morning cartoons.

And who says your children can’t join you in your real estate business? If your children are in their teenage years, consider bringing them on as junior partners in your next real estate investment. You can teach them skills ranging from raising capital to home improvement to negotiation to financial management. Even more importantly, you can instill an entrepreneurial mindset.

Delegate!

No one says you have to do it all yourself. Why not pay someone else to take some of the load? There are plenty of investing-related activities you can delegate: bookkeeping, accounting, property repairs, showing vacant rental units — the list is endless.

Remember, you can hire an assistant to tackle any headaches, not just real estate work! The goal is to free up more time to spend with your family and friends, so brainstorm all of the chores and tasks on your to-do list that don’t require your personal expertise. Your assistant can handle everything from your dry cleaning to scheduling appointments to picking up your lunch so you can knock out some urgent task.

Related: 5 Life-Changing Tips for Growing a Business While Working a Full-Time Job

You don’t need to spend Saturdays running errands, grocery shopping, or sitting at your desk doing clerical work. Pay someone $8-12/hour to do these things for you, while you take your kids to the zoo.

We’re all busy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do everything you want. Arrange flexibility for your schedule so you can move fast when needed, and then look at where else in your schedule you can combine activities or delegate. Your free time is less limited by the hours in the day than it is by your own creativity.

What are your war stories from the front lines of trying to do it all?

It’s not easy juggling a full-time job, part-time real estate investing and a personal life, so tell us what you’ve learned along the way that’s helped you keep all balls up in the air.

About Author

Brian Davis

Brian is a real estate investor and landlord with 15 rental properties, who writes fascinating articles for SparkRental.com. His rental management is almost completely automated by now, allowing him to travel the world frequently (if not always in style).

14 Comments

  1. This is a very good article because many people have a day job but they want to do real estate on the side. I would suggest that people find the job that will allow them to invest in real estate. You might have to quit your regular job in order to do this. You might have to find a partner to do real estate. See what works for you. Thanks Brian!

    • Brian Davis

      Very true. If investing in real estate is the dream, then sometimes it makes sense to change your 9-5 job to facilitate your investing.
      And if you have a partner who can do most of the legwork, maybe you don’t have to change your schedule at all!

    • Brian Davis

      Thanks Calvin. We all live in the real world, so what good are non-actionable tips? I’ve used many of these techniques myself (I particularly love the long lunch technique, never had a boss who turned it down).
      Good luck juggling your full-time job, investing and all the other balls I’m sure you have up in the air, no one said it’s easy, but it’s certainly rewarding!

  2. Gabrielle Deyarmond

    Great article!
    I loved the ideas you shared about involving your family in your investing business in order to use that time to spend together as well as get work done. It’s easy to want to still bring home your weekly/bi-weekly check along with capital but sometimes you need to be reminded that everything comes down to time. Without proper time management it is just not possible. I am lucky to be in a 9:30-4:30 job and use the free time I have to take on virtual assistant jobs for a few family members businesses. I am learning how to manage my time better, prioritize my tasks, and best of all I’m learning great marketing strategies that I can eventually use for my own investing and real estate/staging business when funds allow that to become a reality.

    Best of luck to everyone out there! Thanks again for this article.

    • Brian Davis

      Thanks Gabrielle! I don’t know much about the real estate staging industry, but I’d imagine it will ultimately come down to building relationships with local realtors. Fortunately, having good relationships with all the local realtors ties in perfectly with being a good real estate investor! Good luck with kickstarting your real estate business, and don’t be shy, the more people you can get to know the better.

  3. anthony stephenson

    I can relate to this 100%!! I’ve flipping houses for several years now while working a full time day job. Having a very understanding wife is a major plus as well. When I started she was skeptical at first then after seeing the fruits of my labor she became a definite supporter. Very good article.

    • Brian Davis

      Thanks Anthony, and it’s so true: having a supportive spouse makes a huge difference. My wife is still a little skeptical of my business, but she’s been mostly supportive. As the money gets more consistent, I think she’ll come around!

  4. Daniel v Krencisz on

    ok all good advice but.. what if your a truck driver putting about 12 hr days in,300 miles a day and about 16 -20 deliveries in pus lol.boy i sound like a downer lol.. studing everyday for any time i have left before my brain and eyeballs explode.ill get there, to my goels, that is . im like a cheata running till im out of juice. just wanted to share that, and i could use a good realtor when im ready,hint . im in Ridgeland S C

    • Brian Davis

      That’s a tough field for a day job while trying to invest part-time, because once you’re working, there’s no leaving work for an hour or two. But here are a few actionable tips:
      1. Listen to real estate investing audiobooks while driving. You can learn a lot and get in the right mindset, before you ever have to get your hands dirty with your first deal.
      2. Find an experienced and flexible partner. They can find the deals, you can put up money and do legwork on your days off. This will give you hands-on experience that no amount of theory can replace.
      3. Live lean and save up funds, because if you aren’t able to put in the time or expertise to find deals, you’ll need to put up more money.
      Best of luck Daniel, and I do think you’re in a good position to succeed if you find the right partner.

  5. James Rodgers

    I really appreciated this article.

    I am currently looking to make my first move in real estate. I want to focus on the BRRRR approach with multifamily properties. I currently work a 7-4 job with about as much flexibility and trust as I could ask for, minus the ability to work remotely.

    Up until this point I have been using my extra time on workdays for exercise, spirituality and/or sharing lunch with a friend. However, I am realizing, and this post confirmed it, that I’m going to have to make a sacrifice somewhere if I truly want to achieve financial independence through real estate.

    When I get home, I’m and 100% engaged with 2 little girls until they go to sleep, and then it’s much needed time with the wifey. I feel like those aspects of life can’t budge. And weekends are a happy blur for us. So I think one thing I need to focus on is my time management on workdays from when I wake up to when I get home.

    Thanks Brian.

    • Brian Davis

      Thanks James, and I hear ya about how busy your schedule is. It’s so tough to balance a career, personal wealth-building, a family and a fulfilling personal life. But the good news is that the more wealth you build, the less dependent you are on your job, so it gets easier with time.
      Best of luck with your first investment property, and stay in touch about how it goes!

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