One very important discovery of mine as I began researching real estate investing was finding valuable resources to learn from and become familiar with the actual day-to-day business of investing in real estate. As you can imagine, I found some fantastic resources as well as some “not so stellar” ones.
I have compiled some tips/best practices on what I have sifted out to be the most effective for getting some initial information. I found the following resources to be helpful:
- Television shows – it is rarely beneficial to spend hours in front of the television for anything, however, by watching particular programs and networks, I picked up some initial information.
a.) Reality Shows – You can take away a great deal of information from some of the common ones such as “Flip This House” on AETV, “Tough as Nails” on HGTV and “Property Ladder” on TLC. I will qualify that statement by saying to pay close attention to the YEAR the episode was made and the particular people represented in the episode (there are some characters in those shows that I would never want to emulate– you can’t fault a network for featuring a little drama to sell advertising). I rarely watch any episodes of any property-related shows from 2007 or earlier as times were DRASTICALLY different and it would be the equivalent to reading an outdated textbook or manual.
Furthermore, you have to pay attention to what geographical areas the show is being filmed in. Since I live in the Midwest, I pay very little attention to the cost for variable things like the actual properties and materials/labor as some information is very geographically specific. Unfortunately in Michigan, knowing what the going rate for labor and materials to stucco a house in California isn’t going to help me much since stucco isn’t widely used in this region for example.
I also try to remember that the people selected for these shows were the EXCEPTIONS to the rule and that’s why a network chooses to feature them. Their success is not the norm! Again, I use the shows to gain some general exposure as opposed to treating episodes as strict lesson plans.
I also recommend you pay attention to the shows you might have previously ignored or weren’t interested in. I started watching “Holmes on Homes” and found just simple exposure to renovation terminology and what problems they made episodes around really opened my eyes to the types of renovation problems that can come up.
- Talking to people that work in the field, but not your specific interest area right away…it will give you some alternative ideas to consider. For example, with my interest in real estate investing (particularly in wholesaling properties to start), I talked to a gentleman who was a long-term landlord with many properties and tenants. His area of focus and his experience level were both very different from mine, however, I was able to gain some perspective by hearing some of the challenges he faces dealing with tenants and ownership of multiple properties. It helped me learn that it was an area I didn’t want to initially focus on. When you start to hear what kind of issues people deal with, it opens your eyes and gives you some context around issues in the business.
Another example took place during tax season. I went to hear an accountant (who was a real estate investor herself) talk about tax filing and the best tips for how real estate investors should file their taxes (and I will get into all kinds of creative concepts I learned about taxes down the road). At that time, I didn’t even have a business established so filing taxes weren’t an immediate concern; however, hearing her speak served as an important forewarning about potential tax issues one can face investing in real estate.
- Online Webinars – I found these to be great resources for the following reasons:
a. ) They are free – in fact, don’t pay to attend an online webinar, there are too many valuable ones that do not cost anything. The main reason they are free is because the host of the webinar is most likely selling something. I have found tremendous value in the webinars even when there is “a catch” because for the first 50 minutes of the 1 hour webinar, the guru is usually giving away tremendously valuable ideas and concepts. Depending on what your particular interest is, you may find value in purchasing the product at the end of the webinar but at the very least you are aware of a concept that others in the business know that you weren’t before.
b.) They can help you build relationships. At the end of the webinar, a lot of times, the guru will open the forum for live questions. If you ask an interesting question, most likely that guru will remember you and you may be able to connect with them down the road for more tips/development help.
- Associations – I had someone introduce me to the “REIA” which is the “Real Estate Investors Association”. Most communities have one of these organizations – some are “for profit” and some are 501c3 (non-profit). If you are familiar with your local chamber of commerce meetings, I found the REIA format to be similar. I went to 2 different REIA chapters in two different counties near the community I live in.
Now for the “not-so-stellar” ways to gain exposure to real estate investing:
- Learning from “Talkers” – not “Do-ers”. I think one of the most toxic traps a new person learning about real estate investing can get caught in is spending too much time with the wrong people. These “wrong people” constantly talk about what they are going to do in real estate and have the answers to every question but do not draw from personal experience. They have memorized facts/concepts but have never taken one step towards actually investing in a property. Instead of listening to a “talker”, listen to a “do-er”…the people who have made have mastered a particular niche, have taken a step forward (however small) or that have made mistakes and have come out on top for the better.
- Researching everything – There is no quicker way to get yourself confused and overwhelmed than researching every hot niche under the real estate investing umbrella. REOs, bank owned, buy and hold, landlording, commercial, residential, short sales, foreclosures, seller financed, apartment building deals, single family, multi-family, rehabbing, pre-habbing, flipping, contracts, wholesaling, you name it. These were just some keywords that got into my head early in my research process that I felt I had to be knowledgable about before I could take action. That was a mistake – when you are a lighthouse and you spin around looking at everything, you lose focus. Instead, you need to be a laser with sharp focus on one area that initially intrigues you, learn about it and then move on. There is such power in an individualized niche.
- Bootcamps – The main reason why I have bootcamps in my “not-so-stellar resource” column is simply because of timing. I do not feel that a “newbie” looking for simple exposure to real estate investing knowledge can benefit from a bootcamp right off the bat. The problem is is that bootcamps are primarily sold and positioned to the newbie audience and they aren’t inexpensive. When you are new at anything, you aren’t always in a position to understand when you can most benefit from something – not to mention how hard it is to know WHO you should learn from. I think there is tremendous value taught in bootcamps and there are some sessions out there that can teach wealth of information in a short amount of time, which is great; however, when a newbie attends a bootcamp, it is simply putting the cart before the horse.
I myself almost attended 2 different bootcamps on rehabbing properties but thought to myself “why would I need to learn how to knock down a wall in a home when I have no idea how I would even have that property in my possession in the first place?” I first need to learn how to find deals, how to evaluate them, how to fund them and how to assemble the contractors and manage the project before I learn how to do the actual construction work, just for example. Nothing would be more frustrating than leaving a bootcamp, filled with ideas and concepts but no clear path of action and usually a couple thousand dollars poorer.
I hope you were able to take away some valuable insight regarding the best resources and ones to avoid when it comes to obtaining initial knowledge to be informed about the world of real estate investing. Was this helpful? Please write me a comment/question below and I’d love to reply! Please pass along the insight to your Twitter/Fb friends as well 🙂
Thanks for reading!
Emily A. Hay