Sorry, But Real Estate Investing is NOT Easy. Still, You Can Succeed if…

by | BiggerPockets.com

I’ve stewed over this blog post about how easy real estate investing is. It’s really gotten to me. Has this guy really gone through one of “those” kinds of deals you have to gut out and work through? Has he done many deals? I’ve pondered it often the last week and felt compelled to review some thoughts here.

I know Scott Trench has a book out, he’s a young guy, he’s bought a couple houses, and all the sudden he is a real estate investor and an expert. He works at a wonderful and amazing place called BiggerPockets. I LOVE BiggerPockets! It’s an amazing site with incredible amounts of great information and a community interested in helping one another no matter what skill level. But the idea that somehow it’s “easy” to invest in real estate long-term is not only misguided and misleading, but it’s dangerous.

Scott, you are probably an awesome dude. But this idea lacks serious perspective and a lot of clarity on what it takes to be a successful long term investor. Yes, there are parts of being a real estate investor that are easy on the surface. And then there is the rest of it that takes patience, learning, grit, and tenacity.

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A Professional’s Job is to Make it Look Easy

Let’s take the example of a professional ballet dancer. They make the most complicated, sophisticated, and challenging moves look easy. It’s their job. They do that every day, all day. Their workouts are designed around dancing well and being limber. And everything they do in their jobs—and oftentimes in their lives—revolves around this one thing.

Or think about the weight lifter. Have you ever watched one of those old school Russian lifters? It’s always some small guy who walks up to the bar with hundreds of pounds of weights, and just lifts it clean over his head.

A race car driver can drive around a track at top speeds, winding in and out of other drivers, while dealing with G forces that could make others queasy or unable to even function. What an incredible feat to drive that fast, while in complete control.

Related: Starting Now is Good, But Starting Young is Great: How Time Affects Investing

It all looks so easy.

Of course it does—because all these professionals have performed hundreds of thousands of reps.

We as a community might want to take a second look at what real estate investing really entails. Without having done hundreds of deals, over years, in various market cycles, how can we know if it’s truly an easy endeavor?

There Are Real Estate Books, Courses, Podcasts, and Blogs for a Reason

There is a massive amount of books, magazines, podcasts, and blogs about real estate investing. If it was so easy, why would there be such a large system of information everywhere about it? And how would real estate masterminds, podcasts, and blogs be so successful? If it was so easy, why would so many people intently listen to the BiggerPockets Podcast?

Within BiggerPockets, there are calculators, forums, and places to learn about everything from apartment investing to wholesaling, scaling your business, buy and hold properties, and more. But don’t worry, it’s easy.

Think of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. That book wouldn’t be so successful if people weren’t looking to learn and grow. In all of the books that talk about building businesses, there isn’t a single story without trials, learning, hardship, pain, and the will to preservere.

Don’t Believe What the Gurus Try to Sell You

There is a ton of gurus out there with crappy education programs making piles of money. But their promises of easy, guaranteed results aren’t helping you become a better real estate investor.

Related: The 5 Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made in My Real Estate Investing Career

There is nothing more important than a great support system and a solid mentor. Maybe you hire a coach or have a friend teach you the ropes. But there is more to being an actual real estate investor than buying a few houses, painting a few walls, and owning a couple rentals. You have to understand what you are buying, create systems, understand your exit strategy is, and know what your numbers are during the entire process.

Final Thoughts

Before we go around telling people how “easy” real estate is, why don’t we first start making sure people have the education, the background, the help, and all the tools to invest as safely as possible? We have to have the discipline to have learn, grow, scale, dial it in, slow down, speed up, and learn some more. Possibly most important is the wisdom that comes with time and deals.  Until then, you haven’t earned the right to call it “easy.” Because if you had done all the work and gained the experience that comes with time, you would know that just isn’t true.

We’re republishing this article to help out our newer readers.

What do you think—is there an “easy” way to find success in real estate? Or is the notion that investing can be easy naive?

Leave your comments below!

About Author

Nathan Brooks

Nathan Brooks is a dad, husband, worship leader, and real estate investor in the Kansas City market. Foodie. Coffee addict. Crossfit junkie.

52 Comments

  1. Scott Trench

    Most of our bloggers are folks like you Nathan, folks who invest full-time as a primary means of income and wealth generation. Many of our readers, however, are folks like me, who have full-time jobs that want to build wealth on the side, as part of our overall investment strategy for financial freedom.

    For those that haven’t taken the time to read my post, my strategy is this:

    1) Save a ton of money from a solid job
    2) Invest in a property that is well within my means once every year or so in a local market that I believe has excellent long-term prospects.
    3) Keep a huge cash reserve, and make sure that I have a large positive monthly cash flow by doing significant research on each possible expense and analyzing the deal with the BiggerPockets calculator.
    4) Self-educate by continuously meeting with investors in the local community on a monthly or weekly basis, and continuously keeping up to date on the self-education aspect by listening to podcasts, and reading books.
    5) Not attempt to scale super quickly, until or unless one decides to jump in with full-time best efforts like the full-time pros that blog on BiggerPockets.
    6) Manage tenants, properties, and real estate professionals and contractors reasonably and with respect

    Which part of my strategy is extremely dangerous? Is there a path for the part-time investor in your opinion that is suitable? Who is that great resource for this part-time investor if so?

    Thank you and I look forward to continuing to learn from you!

    • Chris Ayers

      I think what is dangerous when there are titles claiming that it’s easy when years of analytics and education have been put into acquiring this knowledge to make it look easy – especially after much failure via trial and error. I think he hit it on the head where he said the pros can make it look easy after they’ve been doing it for quite some time

      There’s also a hint of immodesty when someone claims it’s easy because of a few successes early on with a rising market. After 20-30 years when markets rise and fall will someone still say it’s easy? Probably not.

      I’ve had a few successes early on, but my investment career started post market crash so I looked like a genius because everything I invested in made money. If I go to someone whose been doing it for a 40 year career and say it’s easy, how do you think they are going to perceive me?

      • Nathan Brooks

        Hi Chris – I think the key point as we learn and grow is the adapting, and putting into practice all those lessons we learned. Once we made it through the crash, we had that lens to look through (and how awful for a lot of people it was) so we could see both the OPPORTUNITY and also the DANGER. We get to learn and grow through those moments, which make us better humans and better investors.

        40 years, that means you have seen a LOT! 🙂

        • Chris Ayers

          I haven’t seen 40 years on this earth yet haha.

          I was just agreeing with you and commenting how we shouldn’t act like we know everything after a few successful deals.

    • Nathan Brooks

      I agree with your concept in principal Scott. But what I don’t agree with is it being easy. Or that its so simple others can get into or understand the real estate game without doing the necessary work and preparation to do it. I love all your points… and its important to save money. It’s important to be really clear on what you are doing in the plans, and have the partners and relationships around you. The ideas are GOOD in your plan. But the title, and driver of your post was about “This is really easy” … and that was what I took issue with.

      So, I don’t believe your strategy is dangerous, I think its very safe and stable. I think it is a great path to investing, I just want to make sure we aren’t suggesting to folks that it’s easy. There is a pathway, a methodical one. That requires the learning, time, and guidance of others who know the business and have been there.

      As far as resources (beyond biggerpockets) I love the book “Millionaire Real Estate Investor” and the book “The Unofficial Guide to Real Estate Investing.” Both are great, the latter takes a little more detailed numbers approach … both great. These were both formative in my early years of investing.

      Thanks for the dialogue Scott – and seriously, I appreciate your perspective, and appreciate your desire to grow, learn, and get after it in real estate. Keep after it.

    • Renee Zhang

      Just wanted to say that I loved your book and it changed my life. I started seriously considering saving and investing, which made me wish I had read your book in my 20s. I didn’t get the feeling that anything you mentioned in the book is easy, and especially since I started doing research on different types of investment and trying to find what would work best for me and my family, I quickly realized that I have a lot of homework to do, haha. The investment world, especially real estate is so fascinating and soooo much to learn. But I know my journey started with “Set for Life”. Thanks a ton!

    • Nathan Brooks

      Hi Wilson – I think that could be a factor. I also think that people are often afraid of unknown, and they don’t know how to get past their own fear of failure versus the opportunity. And also the best way to learn, mitigate that risk, and get after it. We have to have a way to enter, and depending on the type of investing, there is definitely a harder/more or less costly / and sometimes (at least perceived) more dangerous – barrier to entry. Thanks for reading and posting!

  2. Mark Hentemann

    Thanks for the post, Nathan. I agree. Seems like there’s a lot of cheerleading now about how easy it is to make a fortune, quit your job, and retire at 22. I remember this same cheerleading in 2006. The real estate market had gone up for several years and was at record highs. A year later it went off a cliff.
    I love real estate investing, but be careful.
    A good investing motto: When greed is in the air, you should be afraid. When fear is in the air, you should get greedy.
    Right now there’s a lot of greed in the air. It’s a time to proceed with caution.

    • Nathan Brooks

      Hi Mark – I definitely agree with you 100%. YOU CAN do that … retire at 22. I know guys well before 30 with monster portfolios, and absolutely crushing it. BUT, there is also a lot of back ground information that is missing in that kind of scenario. How did the learn? How long had they been in the business? Were their parents or others people who brought them up / mentored them in that business.

      I love that Warren Buffet kind of thinking. Understand the market, and see whats happening and where things are moving. Thanks Mark!

  3. Tiffany Johnson

    I completely agree with this. I have months where everything goes smoothly, then a month when all my rentals have a problem at the same time. Then there’s all the time I spend thinking ahead and planning for a vacancy, next purchase, etc. It comes easily to me, because I enjoy it, but I’d never say it’s easy to be a real estate investor.

    • Nathan Brooks

      Hi Tiffany – that’s exactly right. There are unforeseen things that do just come up. We have to be prepared, not be surprised but actually expect the unexpected and be prepared as much as possible for the “anything that can happen!”

      And, keep after it … keep learning and growing, and getting better. Thanks for taking the time to comment Tiffany!

  4. Jerry W.

    Scott,
    There are a lot of dangers in investing. I believe what Nathan said was that it is dangerous to think it’s easy. When you think it’s easy and hit the unexpected sewer line replacement, or the horrible tenant who fights an eviction for 6 months, or the contractor who rips you off or hides shoddy work until after the job is over. there are many dangers folks do not know about when they start investing. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t start, but don’t think it’s easy. Many parts are, but not all. I have not read your book, b good, especially for younger folks just starting. You have only done a few deals, and hopefully have not had the hit you in the gut moments, or weeks, where everything goes wrong. Luckily for many folks sites like Bigger Pockets are there to help share the burden and help folks with both advice and support. The problem is you don’t know what you don’t know. It is really nice to learn from other folks who have made mistakes, but it is inevitable that you will make some of your own despite your best efforts. I have been doing this for quite a few years as pretty part time, but the last 5 or 10 have been pretty busy, I now have over 30units and a full time job. The local economy has tanked pretty hard. The County I work for has had over a 40% drop in revenue and the employment and housing and rental market is feeling the pain. Worse we are not through the bottom yet. Despite 25 years of experience in investing, it is hard right now. I bet it will be 2 to 5 years before local property values start going up again to even keep up with inflation. What do you do? You dig in and keep working. I decided to take it easy today. I finished doing a little grout on a bathroom, I put some baseboard trim in that bathroom. I moved a bunch of items into winter storage, like pressure washer, and some paint. I took down a large swamp cooler and put it in storage, I hauled a dishwasher over to a house that needs one replaced so I can install it next weekend, I looked at several online adds I ran trying to get a renter for a pretty nice house that comes empty in two weeks. Still no luck. I really don’t want to be paying the heat bill all winter in it, but have turned down 2 applicants so far. They were train wrecks waiting for a place to happen. Ten years ago I might have accepted them, but not now. Plus at work I have a huge trial coming up that will probably take two weeks to try so I really need 30 days of preparation. I only have about 22 days to prepare so it is cram time, and the place might sit empty till after New Years due to lack of time. It would be easy to say I have had enough and put up for sale, but with the depressed market even that would be tough. Still I have a goal that I won’t reach by putting my money in the stock market. If I decided I would only keep going if It was easy I would have quit long before now. Nathan is dead on. Grit matters in life and in this business. As you grow older you will find you have more things demand your time. Perhaps a girlfriend, or a wife, children, a promotion to a tougher job, your church, a sick friend,etc. Life can be fun, but for those who desire to build something, it is not easy.

    • Nathan Brooks

      I agree with you Mike, and thank you Jerry for such a thorough and thoughtful response. Thats EXACTLY what I was saying. It’s not easy, and dangerous to think otherwise. I know – I got into it early in my career, and ended up sitting in Chapter 7 BK court after basically… and quite literally, losing everything in the real estate bust. It didn’t make me any less motivated to succeed, but it sure made me a whole lot more eyes-wide-open and cautious to the downside.

      And, just like part of your post here, times are sometimes just hard. There are things you don’t want to deal with, even as a part time owner (and to some degree more there – since you might have less control on the costs or the outcome since you are relying on others). The other thing I loved about your post is, you learned of what kind of tenants YOU DIDN’T want – and are willing to wait a little longer to get the right ones. That kind of learning takes time, and it takes putting in the reps to learn the been there and done that. Great addition to the conversation sir.

  5. Chris Jensen

    It feels to me that both sides of this argument are actually correct if we frame the positions a bit differently. The “simple” side might very well be accurate in saying there is a fairly simple formula that, if executed well, has a high likelihood of leading to success. The “not-so-simple” side might also be accurate in saying the execution of that formula is actually very difficult. I personally have a pretty good idea what it’s going to take to achieve my goals, but I have no delusions at all that it will take a lot of work to get there.

    I really appreciate conversations, books, articles, podcasts, etc that make me think and provide new perspectives, and this post has done just that for me. Thanks Nathan!

    • Cindy Larsen

      I agree. I wouldn’t call real estate investing easy: it takes a lot of time to learn how real estate investing works, both theory and practice. On the other hand, it’s not rocket science.
      Anyone with a reasonable level of intelligence and the determination to learn, can learn it, and BP is full of great information. Yes, if you don’t do due dilligence in learning what you are doing, you can fail badly.

      But, if you put in that skull sweat, you are in a wonderful position: you can go into a deal with your eyes open, having determined the risks ahead of time and planned for how to mitigate them. By doing all the research needed to analyze a specific deal, not just relying on rules of thumb, you can have a very good idea of the numbers, and the ROI. Best of all, your success or failure is under your control. The key is to only buy great deals, and then manage the property well.

      I find real estate much less risky than the stock market, because it is deterministic.
      meaning you can determine, and affect the outcome for your property by the decisions you make. Obviously can’t know everything, even if you do your due dilligence. So you factor that uncertainty into your numbers, and then if the deal still works, you go ahead, and manage the problems when they happen. Never buy a deal without assuming problems will happen. There will be vacancies, capex, maybe even an eviction (although, if you select tenants properly, that is unlikely) Every property has problems: what is important is to identify them before you buy the property, and factor them into your offer. And don’t buy the deal unless the numbers work.

      Easy is a relative term, and off all the types of investing I’ve done and researched, real estate is the easiest and most profitable, if you take the time and effort to do it carefully. Real estate is easy compared to the stock market, where the fate of your investment depends on the whim of the market: no matter how carefully you have done your due dilligence, once you invest, you have no way of affecting the outcome, and the only meaningful decision you can make is whether to keep or sell your investment. Real estate gives me a much greater level of control, and a lot less stress.

      • Adam Britt

        Great thoughts, thank you!

        As an aspiring (but not yet started) investor myself, your post brings up a number of questions I often ponder. I’ve read about 5 books, mostly from BP, on real estate. And I’m still polishing a few more off. Love these books. Excellent sources. I’ll also say that I’ve read far fewer books than that in my field, in which I am considered an expert. I say this not to brag but to make a point: I graduated top of my class, and within my work group at a major medical center, I’m generally considered one of the more capable in my field (nutrition/behavior change/psychology). But this brings me to my question. I have read all these books, listened to more podcasts than I can count, and I spend every spare moment at work scouring these BP boards for excellent posts. And despite spending MORE effort than I ever have in my field, I still feel … incapable.

        “You don’t know what you don’t know” seems particularly appropriate. In your post you mention, “If you don’t do your due diligence, you can fail badly.” So what all does that entail? If I follow the “Analytics” section in Josh Turner’s book on Rental Investing, is that enough? Even he points out in the book that this is an over view. A guideline. So where do I go to learn more about due diligence? What questions am I not asking?

        How do I know when I have put in enough skull sweat and planned for the mitigation of risks? After all my learning thus far, I still find my real estate agent points out problems I wouldn’t even dream of considering.

        You say to do “all the research.” How do you know when you accomplish that? Because I’ve analyzed deals and thought I did exactly that, till I read just one more post and it blows my thought out of the water with a new topic to consider.

        The key is to buy great deals, as you say. So how do you do that? Network. But then you read posts about not letting your contacts take advantage of you. Or perhaps you drive for dollars. But make sure you know every inch of every neighborhood. You can do direct mailing, but first you have to figure out WHO to mail to. I feel like I understand all the “rules of thumb”, but thus far I feel inadequate to act on them.

        Perhaps this is an issue of mindset. In the medical field, your path is clear. I went to school, did my 7 years. I did an internship for another year. I finished my graduate degrees, and I took my national board exams. After all that was said and done, I was left with 4 different pieces of paper claiming I am an expert in my field (along with massive student debts). And so, I act like an expert in my field. I went out immediately and was hired to do all the things somebody with my credentials is supposed to do. I had “arrived” at the end point.

        In real estate investing, where is the arrival point? When can one say, “Alright, I’m ready to do my first deal. I know enough to hedge my risk and get the right deal.” I’m thinking that maybe, people who get stuck in “analysis paralysis” are like me. We are too afraid that what we don’t know will come back to bite us. And then we read all these dire warnings on BP that say things like, “You could make a horrible mistake that costs you millions! Don’t start without doing the due diligence!” And then the cycle of reasoning starts over.

        P.S. To answer a question before it comes, I feel strongly that the majority of my education was finished and could be summed up in a tiny handful of classes. The majority of my 7 years in college was spent on absolutely pointless and wasteful classes that have absolutely no bearing on “what I do.” Which is why I say, with confidence, I’ve given more effort to real estate than to my conventional education, yet without an end point.

        • Nathan Brooks

          I love all these great questions Adam. I remember having a conversation with my attorney a few weeks ago and one of the things he talked about was out of law school, he knew the LAW (or what you could just of out law school) but he didn’t know anything about HOW TO BE A LAWYER. That comes with a killer mentor, the desire and choice to grow and learn everyday, doing the actual job, and the most crucial – IS TIME.

          You can’t buy time. And you can’t buy the reps in that time. You just have to do them. So the best by far is a trusted coach or mentor. What and learn from others who are doing exactly what you want to do. And then just remember … like walking, riding a bike, learning to read – all those things take time. Understand your downside risks, have a plan, and get after it.

        • Adam Britt

          Excellent thought, thank you. I certainly hope to find a killer mentor before long! I see the value for sure, especially with the way I learn. Thank you for the thought!

          Anyone out there in the Birmingham area that knows the ropes, I’m certainly wanting to get started and would love some direction! A business partner perhaps, that knows the things I don’t and doesn’t mind explaining.

      • Nathan Brooks

        All of these points are really good Cindy. And I think if I had to reduce your comments to a point it was this – real estate works for YOU! And, you’ve gone step by step learning and growing in your business … and you’ve kept after it, learned, and made it your own. That is SO awesome … and I really appreciate you sharing not only how it has gone for you, but that its working. Even if it takes that “blood sweat and tears” its a great business to be in for sure. Thank you for taking the time to post a comment!

    • Nathan Brooks

      Chris! Yes – I agree with you. It is definitely both sides of the coin, that there are things that are simple or easy… parts. My Dad even sent me a message saying he appreciated that counter point (and part time investor with us, and has a few houses from our TK company). So I knew that struck a cord with him too …

      That fact is, you as an investor still have to learn. Understand the deals even if you aren’t flipping 100 houses a year. BUT, you can make the process of acquiring them easier once you’ve done your homework, and have understood the deal you are getting into.

      Thanks for saying the comments too, I’m glad it made you think and appreciate you taking the time to post a comment.

  6. Mary White

    I definitely agree with the argument that real estate investing can be harder than some bloggers make it seem here on Bigger Pockets. For me the difference is that so many are waiting to have families and are in possibly easier financial situations than those with families and loads of responsibility. I was caught in an overspending cycle right out of college (marriage, babies, first house, etc). It took years to pay off all of our debts and shift our focus towards wealth building. I often wonder how many people are carrying student loan debt and other burdens along with them while they try to invest. The problem is not Scott’s plan or promoting investing, it’s that you can’t control the people who will prioritize investing and jump in before they have that big savings. For every savvy person willing to work hard and make sacrifices for success, there have to be a lot that will overleverage and get themselves into trouble. I definitely agree that more education is needed…for all of us!

    • Nathan Brooks

      YES MARY!! It’s about the plan in place. Its the education around it. And then executing. Having the plan, what a necessary part of whatever you are working on. The other interesting point, is the “cycle” you talked about in your post. There are cycles for everything … what you are buying, what you are investing in, what you are learning, or even … that you aren’t taking action. Understand the cycle, and take a 10k foot view at what you are doing – what a difference it will make to know that going in. Thank you for taking the time to comment about the blog post!

    • Adam Britt

      Hey Mary!

      Sounds like you understand my position first hand! Overextended on bills, huge student loans. My issue is, if we wait to start investing till we have paid off all those loans … we will literally never start. At our current income (which will not drastically increase in any foreseeable future) we literally may die before we pay our way out of debt. (I have taken care of my wife’s old maxed credit cards and have really worked with her on the spending, but the student loans are astronomical).

      I’ve turned to real estate as the only option I can find that offers hope to increase my income to the point of getting out of debt. I can, at the very least, use “OPM” and what paltry savings I can muster to get started. And if I truly could get a monthly cashflow increase of $500, which is what I would expect after reading these forums, then it would go a massive way toward helping us save and do MORE. Think BRRRR Method. Only by building real estate holdings as I have debt do I have any hope of working my way out of debt.

      What suggestions would you give an individual in my situation? At face value, it seems that you suggest not investing unless you have taken out all your debt and saved a large cash reserve. Is there no hope for individuals who don’t have that as an option? I can use OPM and back it with a small cash reserve around 10k. But I’ll quite literally never have the 50k in the bank that Scott recommends. Frankly, if I did, I would never have bothered learning about investing!

  7. Great article. It is a sobering reminder that one should pursue any endeavor with open eyes and a heavy dose of realism.

    Thirty years ago, I left a secure job with a 401K, medical benefits and profit sharing for a sales position that offered no 401K, no medical benefits, no profit sharing and NO SALARY – 100 percent commission. Was I nervous? Oh, hell yeah! My boss used to say, “if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.” Well, that’s true. Being successful was important to me, so I had a relentless pursuit of knowledge and a powerful desire to success – and I did. We lost 30 percent of our sales force every year due to none performance. Were these people lazy? No. In fact, they worked very hard at the job, but they didn’t work smart. There is always a reason [or reasons] that some people succeed and some people fail in any endeavor. Being honest about the challenges and having a relentless desire to succeed will improve the odds of success.

    • Nathan Brooks

      This is so great Randy, and on point. I remember that time looking at my wife and saying “I have to do this!” And boy – there are always challenges, no matter how big or small your business or goals are. You just have to keep after it – and it is true, if it was easy, everyone would do it! BUT, I think a lot of times its missed on when things DO HAPPEN how do you handle it. Do you quit? Or do you get back up, and get back after it after losing. That is where the magic happens …

  8. Lisa Haney

    I went and read Scott’s blog so I could see what he actually said. He specifically differentiated between two ?types of investors before he made his point about RE investing not being that hard. (I understand that there ?could be other types of investors but just go with me here). There are full-time ride or die RE investors that ?MUST get deals consistently in order to make money to feed themselves and their family and to pursue ?financial freedom. Loved ones (and hard money lenders!) are depending on these investors to make this thing ?work. They are fully in the RE game and are constantly dealing with contractors, banks, financing, looking for ?investors, large projects, renovations, flipping, wholesaling, etc). ?

    Then you have the other type of investor (like Scott). These are the part-time/non-entrepreneurial investors that ?already have a full-time job/career and use their own saved money for RE investing in order to supplement their ?income. They do this by purchasing one single or multi-family home at a time as little as once or twice per ?year. They don’t want to build an RE empire, they don’t want to start a PM company, they don’t want a 100-?unit apartment complex, they don’t want hundreds of single family houses, and they definitely don’t want to ?constantly be “on the hunt” for deals. These types of investors don’t aspire to these things because they know ?that it will require a certain amount of time, a certain level of RE obsession and dedication that they are not ?willing to give.?

    Two totally different animals, two different motivations, two different stress levels and psychological things ?going on. ?

    One group may at times stay up at night walking the floor, not able to sleep, fear in the pit of their stomach ?because some deal or some financing or some project is going bad and now they wonder how will they pay their ?mortgage, car note, child tuition, etc. Can you guess which investor this is? The other (the one with the full-time ?job) uses her wage earning income to pay family bills and only savings are used to invest in RE, no outside ?investor obligations. For one, real estate may be much more hard and stressful because they are trying to build ?an RE empire (i.e. hundreds of units, houses, apartments, PM company, etc) and they are constantly in the midst ?of some deal or another. But the stress and drama is worth it to these ride or die investors that want to take ?over the RE world. They will probably end up with much more money and property than the part-time investor. ?

    But for the others (ex: Scott and me and probably the majority), purchasing one or two houses a year to hold ?and rent is not that hard or drama-filled. Of course life happens and you can’t predict what people (tenants) ?will do but for the most part we don’t require any special powers, keen insight, or multiple graphs and charts ?with schematics to buy a house. Like Scott said: “Real estate investing IS hard when you have to manage huge ?rehab projects for the first time yourself. It IS tough when you have to educate yourself on tenant management ?on the fly after buying a 30+ unit apartment complex with money borrowed from investors who will foreclose ?on you the moment they feel that you can’t repay them, and it IS tough when you have five units go vacant and ?no cash in the bank to cover your next mortgage payment.”?

    I think that quote above shows the point Scott was making. Whichever investor camp you fall into may determine ?how hard or easy RE investing is for you.?

    • Nathan Brooks

      Hi LIsa – I DO think there is a lot of truth in what you are saying, and there has to be a way investors who aren’t actively investing as their career have to be able to invest. That’s what makes things like turn key companies, or a great local realtor and property management company, a really compelling choice. My point was that there is so much garbage out there in print / podcasts/ etc … that just doesn’t really get to the heart of what investing is about. And I wanted to make the point that people must do the homework. They must do the reps. Even if it is simple as learning about the deals you want to invest in … great. And after you have done that for a while, learned how to buy, have great partners – you are in a great position to buy some more.

      I just don’t want to have people lulled into thinking its so easy that all the sudden people are doing things at my (or others) behest putting themselves at unnecessary or significant risk of which they don’t understand. Thanks for being a part of the conversation!!

  9. Austin Fruechting

    Yes it’s easy… but there are different ways to use the word easy.

    The gurus use it in a dangerous way in to sucker people into paying them a lot of money. They tell people it’s easy in the sense that they won’t have to put in hardly any effort and they can make tons of money.

    I tell people it’s easy, but not in the same sense the gurus do.
    Yes, it takes time to educate yourself before buying your first property. It takes time to stay on top of your properties in the long run too. But being easy, and taking time/effort are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I use it in the sense that the concepts and tasks required are all easy, or simple, or whatever word you would prefer to use… I use it in the sense that they are not hard to grasp or learn.

    I believe that (nearly) anyone could do this successfully, if they took the time. You don’t have to have any special intellect or rare skill set. REI doesn’t require multiple years of higher education. Rental analysis is very basic math. Mostly addition and subtraction with a little dividing/multiplying thrown in every once in a while. You can learn everything needed from free resources and cheap books in the course of a few months to buy your first duplex.

    So it all depends on how you’re using the word easy.

    Is it easy in the sense of requiring little to no time/effort to get started correctly and grow it well?
    No.

    Is it easy in the sense that all the concepts/tasks are easily graspable/doable by the average person if they’re willing to put in the time?
    I say yes

    • Nathan Brooks

      Hi Austin – I appreciate what you are saying here. BUT – all the things you are saying doesn’t make it easy. It makes a clear road map of HOW to get there. Not that it’s easy. But people have the fear. They have the uncertainty. And with that comes doubt of how to do something. I truly believe it is not easy. There are a clear set of boundaries and mentors in the world who can lay the road map.

      It just depends on how bad you want it.

      • Austin Fruechting

        Your last statement of how badly you want it is absolutely true, because it will take time effort and energy.

        Again I think it comes down to how you are using the word easy. You’re using it to describe the amount of time and effort it takes to learn everything and do it well, and you’re right it’s not easy and that takes discipline and effort.

        But if you’re using as a reference to the concepts and tasks needed to be successful, I still hold to the statement that the concepts and tasks are not hard concepts and tasks. I have 156 rental units. Nothing I do is hard. Yes, I wanted it badly so I put in a lot of time and effort to learn the concepts and execute the tasks well… but they are still relatively easy tasks and concepts.

  10. Kyle Scholnick

    Most people just want to make others believe they are an expert. Its a self confidence thing. Scott seems to have this going. I think most people are smart enough to dismiss his articles. I never read them. I read one and knew it was all hat and no cattle.

    • Nathan Brooks

      Hi Kyle! I honestly believe its even beyond that. I believe that we want it to be easy, because easy – is … well, easy. And its easier to digest information when it is more simple. But no matter how badly you want it to be simple, it’s just not. That doesn’t mean you can’t figure it out, and it just means we as investors and mentors/coaches have to be transparent what investing is all about. And set the conditions for people coming into the business to understand, have the education, and the tools to be successful.

  11. Judith Sullivan

    Let me just say—everything’s harder when you’re stupid. My own stupidity has made my little trek into investing more difficult than it had to be. But do I think the concept of investing is hard? No. Because it’s not guesswork, it’s not magic. It’s diligence and education and getting good advice.

  12. Colin Reid

    It can be easy, but there’s a price. My investment career has been easy. I bought a home, got orders to move, handed it to a decent property manager, collect check. I did it again with my then fiancee. Find home with good rental numbers, live there a while, move, rent it out with a good PM. I bought a pure investment, with an investor-minded agent, used his PM, collect check.
    I do virtually nothing with my rentals, but cash checks. I did enough work in some of those properties to learn the hard way to build a team. That team allows me to just cash the checks.
    What’s the price? My checks aren’t as big as they would be without the team.
    I work that cost into my due diligence. If it works, I buy. If it doesn’t, I move on.
    As for market conditions, I’m in markets that weren’t hit hard in 08, and haven’t enjoyed much appreciation since. I know my markets, and they’re not very volatile.
    So, sure, I’ve only done 5 deals, including homes. But I’ve rented three of them, soon to be four, and it’s easy.
    The people like me I find that don’t think it’s easy are intimidated. Lots of dollars, mortgage payments, what if, what if?
    Education makes that go away. The only hard part is perseverance in finding the right deal, and walking away from the wrong one.

    • Nathan Brooks

      I think this is EXACTLY what you would want to do in this situation. And it takes the time to learn what you want, markets to invest in, have the funds to the side to invest, and learn and grow as you go. Great job, and keep after it Colin!

  13. Rick C.

    Great article, Nathan! I think you summed it up perfectly here:

    We have to have the discipline to learn, grow, scale, dial it in, slow down, speed up, and learn some more. Possibly most important is the wisdom that comes with time and deals. Until then, you haven’t earned the right to call it “easy.”

    I have been thinking the same thing for a while, especially whenever BP allows inexperienced investors to give their advice to the masses through these articles. Although it is nice for everyone to have a seat at the table, it can also be dangerous if members do not know to take certain items with a grain of salt based on the author’s background. Thank you for having the courage to stand up and respectfully call out this particularly reckless statement.

    • Nathan Brooks

      Thanks Rick and I share that sentiment. It is great to hear many voices but we want to make sure those voices are leading with guidance, clarity, and the skills to be leading. I appreciate everything you said, and also hope that other investors are not scared by this idea … but empowered to get a great education (mentor / coach / local friends / books / podcasts) and get after it!

  14. John Murray

    I have been successful in RI. Relative success has different meanings to different people. I have high levels of building skills plus a great understanding of human nature. If you are a nerd engineer type that thinks only in numbers you will not do well with the people issues. If you are a great psychologist but lack building trades you will not do well in the technical elements of RI. This does not mean an individual cannot succeed in RI, there are missing pieces of the puzzle. The package will lack some elements always, seek constant improvement not perfection. Monetary resources is relative to how much capital you have. To me a large amount is $1M and a small amount is $100K, To others this may mean these amounts would be relative to their own situation. You have to start somewhere and skill building is a great place to start.

    • Nathan Brooks

      Skill building IS the place to start. Love it John. And then grow, learn some more, put some money away, invest some more, and repeat. We all have to know our strengths and weaknesses and work at things are love to do, and are good at. Fill in around you with people who share different views, different skills, and understand the vision! Thanks John for taking the time to comment!

  15. karen rittenhouse

    Real estate investing is not easy and it’s not fast.
    I think the flip-it shows create a lot of investor wanna-bes who fail out because they get in, run into difficulties, and think they’ve done something wrong.

    I always start my coaching sessions by discussing goals and plans. We work them down to a point where they are both attainable and manageable. Plus, I find students are thrilled that we start off discussing where their expectations are wrong.

    It’s not easy and it’s not fast. Name one business where you have the potential to make millions of dollars that is.

    Not easy, not fast, but oooooh, so worth it!
    Thanks, Nathan.

    • Nathan Brooks

      Hi Karen, thanks so much for taking the time to join the conversation. I do the SAME THING with my coaching students. We have to understand the big picture. Understand where the work has already been put in, and then begin building that education, goals, and tactical things to get after within all those concepts.

      I love what you said – not easy, not fast, but WORTH IT! Thanks Karen … get getting after it!

  16. Scott Radetich

    There’s also a difference between being a real estate investor and being invested in real estate. I am heavily invested in real estate but right now I make most of my money from my day job, so I am far from considering myself a real estate investor.

    To me, Real estate investors hustle. They are out there pounding the pavement, sourcing deals, fixing homes, worrying about every dollar spent, why because it’s their lively hood and yes, that is hard. But to be invested in real estate, if buy a couple of quality single family home in desirable areas, you will have tenants, they will pay down your mortgages and eventually, you will receive a nice income. The cash flow I receive on my single family rentals is crap right now. The rent to value is abhorrent. True real estate investors would stay far away from these, but I’m doing it for my future. I don’t need 15% coc right now, I need $XX a month in 8-10 years. These rentals should get that for me. Could I of made more money by taking the down payment and capex I spent on my properties and placing it into an S&P 500 index fund? maybe, Could I of made more money in real estate by buying different deals than what I have? Absolutely! But for the effort I’ve put in into my portfolio and what I’m projecting to make during my retirement, I agree with Mr Trench, real estate has been pretty damn easy 🙂

  17. Erik Orozco

    “patience, learning, grit, and tenacity” exactly what it took to complete my 1st deal! From a complete newbie’s perspective, right outta the gate I began to realize how NOT “easy” real estate investing is. I’ll be writing a detail post of my 1st wholesale deal soon, a deal that included over 10k in liens, disgruntled ex-owner, strange horses on the property, and a scammer posing as an end buyer…all in my 1st deal! Thank you Nathan for the post.

  18. Andrew Schwartz

    Thanks for the post. As someone new to real estate investing who also has a full-time job, a wife, four kids, and church/community involvement, I agree that it’s not easy! Finding/vetting/purchasing stock in a company is easy. Purchasing 20 new stocks is easy, for that matter. Finding/vetting/purchasing even one real estate deal is hard work! I believe the hard work that I’m putting in now will pay off down the road. But let’s call it what it is … hard work!

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