Ten Characteristics of Successful Real Estate Investors

In my years in the foreclosure and real estate business, I bet I’ve met over 1,500 investors. These people have been at all levels of knowledge and experience. Some have become amazingly successful, while others have lost steam or experienced drastic failure. I watched people who are successful and I’ve noticed that there are certain characteristics that come with real estate investing success.

Before I outline the specific characteristics that I’ve found in successful investors, let me define what I mean by “successful investor”. A successful investor is NOT the person who owns the most properties or does the most deals, or who has the most zeros in his net worth. A successful investor is simply a person who knows what he wants – financially, personally, and in terms of what he wants to contribute to the world – and uses real estate investing as a way to get those things. For a successful real estate investor, real estate is a means to an end, not an end unto itself. A successful real estate investor works to become as financially secure as is necessary for his peace of mind and who is happy and comfortable with his investment activities.

Successful investors I’ve known include high school dropouts and PhDs, men and women of all races and backgrounds, people born into poverty and people born with trust funds, guys who started investing at 18 and those who started in their 70′s, part-timers and full timers. There is no single trait that will predict success, but there are traits that I’ve found that all successful investor have in common. Here are a few:

1. Successful investors have a plan – and work it.

It’s pretty easy to work pen & paper and figure out how to become financially independent in 2 or five or ten years. It’s another thing to wake up each morning and do the things you need to do to get that done. Somehow, your real life always seems to get in the way of your long-term goals. Successful investors battle this dilemma to get caught up “in the thick of things” by creating not just a list of goals, but a daily plan for getting there. Every day Lisa and I start with a checklist of things we need to get done that day, but also things we want to get done. Some examples will include marketing, getting letters out, or meeting sellers. What it doesn’t include is swinging a hammer.

Plans are fluid, they are always changing. Just because I plan to do something does not mean I must accomplish that task. I must sometimes alter a plan to meet a new timeline or move its priority up or down on my list because of a new crisis.

The point is that it all starts with a written daily plan that leads me to the end result. My Daily Plan typically starts at 4:30 am and terminates at 8:00 p.m. 6 days per week. Of course there are days I start later and quit earlier, but that is a “normal” day for me.

2. Successful investors network.

Real estate investing must be the only profession in the country that has no accepted curriculum of formal training. Electricians have to be licensed, Realtors have to pass a test, Attorneys have to pass the BAR exam and so many other examples exist. Since your success as a real estate entrepreneur relies SOLEY on your ability to get reliable and practical information & advice when you need it, & since the local community college doesn’t teach you how to evict a non-paying tenant, the only answer is for you to find a mentor who can teach you the ropes from their learning from the school of hard knocks. The “been there done that” school can surely help you keep from skinning your own knees. As Ron Legrand would say, “Been to that seminar”. We are currently evicting a tenant buyer who gave us a $34,000 non-refundable option deposit. Our network brought us the attorney who is doing the eviction. Sure we have an attorney or two that can do the standard eviction. But with such a large non-refundable option deposit and a few other twists in the case, they were a little gun shy. The attorney handling the case now, is so assertive, that one of the plaintiff’s is having a difficult time finding an attorney to take his case. And that all came from networking!

Choose a mentor who is knowledgeable, motivating, accessible, and is known for high ethical and business standards. Don’t abuse the mentor you choose by constantly asking for information that you could get from a simple trip to the internet. And don’t forget to thank your mentor by taking him to lunch, giving him gift certificates to his favorite restaurant, and, of course, letting him in on good leads when you find them.

One of my personal mentors is in Upstate NY. We are in regular communication, we try to talk weekly. Sometimes there is a question I may have, but sometimes it is just a quick hello. On occasion I get a lead that is in his back yard. Don’t get me wrong I am not marketing in any way in his neighborhood much less his state! Even if I was located there, I wouldn’t market in his farm area. That just seems wrong in some way. So when a lead pops up in NY, I pass it on to him.

3. Successful Investors Cull Their Herds.

When I was a teenager, I spent time at a family friend’s farm in Wisconsin. Part of his business was the raising of hogs. The hogs were always giving birth, sometimes several times a week. The farmer killed the weak, undersized, and deformed piglets before they had a chance to grow up. I was horrified!

Most real estate investors look at selling their “dud” properties with the same horror with which I view the culling the herd of pigs. They will keep a property year after year despite that it loses money, doesn’t fit the business’s goals, is a management hassle or is in an area that has become a warzone. Successful investors review their portfolios at least once a year, and get rid of their loser properties before they can damage the profits from their winners.

Late last year I bought a condo and a 3 unit building from another investor, who is also Realtor and a Banker. He wrote us a nice healthy check to take over his properties “subject to”. I hated those properties. The tenants in the 3 unit were worthless. They had (I imagine still do) an attitude of entitlement. They were owed by society a place to live, yet didn’t feel that paying me was a priority. It took about 2 months of that attitude to wear on me. Sometimes tenants think they can steal your property and hold it hostage and get away with it for free! We got rid of those properties pretty fast. Dump the dogs. I have children to give me grey hair; I don’t want my properties to do it to me. You will buy properties you wish you never would have (everyone I know has), just recognize them, dump them (maybe for a loss), move on, and stop crying over spilled milk. As Ron Legrand says… Go milk another cow.

4. Successful Investors Protect Their Assets.

What’s the use of building a huge real estate portfolio if a single lawsuit could wipe it all out? Why bother to achieve financial independence if the bulk of your estate will end up in the hands of the government when you pass on? And why is it that the average real estate investor does absolutely nothing to reduce their #1 yearly expenses – taxes?

If you chose to make investing a career, you will be sued one day. It is not something I look forward to, but it is a reality. Even if you enter into an arrangement with perfect intentions and honorable heart, someone will view you in their sights as a payday. You don’t even have to do anything wrong to be sued! Arranging your affairs to protect your assets from creditors, plaintiffs, and the taxman is tedious, expensive, complicated, and time consuming. Yet every successful real estate investor takes the time and spends the money to do it, thus assuring that their hard-earned money stay theirs and not the victim of a law suit.

5. Successful investors have a code of ethics.

We tend to think of our investments in terms of properties and cash. In fact, the real estate business is about PEOPLE and RELATIONSHIPS. Without sellers, renters, contractors, agents, brokers and so many others, I would not have a real estate business. And since your business affects so many other people, I think it’s important to decide how you are going to treat the people you come into contact with each day.

I read an article recently about Donald Trump. When he was introduced to the article’s author, the first thing he did was compliment the author on something about his clothing. It made the author feels good about himself. Later on when the author saw Mr. Trump rip a contractor who was trying to unjustifiably raise his price, he saw both sides of Mr. Trump, the sweet and the bitter.

Since there is no formal code of ethics for real estate investors, it’s up to each of us to decide how we’ll behave toward customers, tenants, sellers, workers etc. Instead of using as a measure, “what can I get away with?”, or “what allows me to sleep at night?”, perhaps the proper question is, “what’s FAIR?”. Take the time to think about your activities and how they affect people that you come into contact with.

6. Successful Investors Involve Their Families.

I have not yet met a truly successful investor who did not have the support of his (or her) significant other. Because your real estate activities generally involve spending (or promising to pay) tens of thousands of dollars at a time, and since your business will take time away from your family, I think it’s critical to sit down with everyone who’s old enough to understand and explain what you’re doing, and why, and that you’d really like to have their help or at least their understanding.

If you have a spouse who’s reluctant to support you, try sending him or her to a beginner’s seminar. Some of their natural fears may be conquered by an understanding of what you’re attempting to do.

7. Successful Investors Treat Everyone Better than They Expect to Be Treated.

What goes around comes around. If you think that your reputation as a buyer or landlord doesn’t precede you, think again. When you go the extra mile to solve people’s problems, both profit and success will follow.

This week we received a caller from a seller. She was referred to us by a realtor whom I never heard of nor dealt with. How the realtor came up with my name, I have no idea. She told the seller, (her sister-in-law) that she heard we can do deals that others can’t. I didn’t buy the house, it is still listed on the MLS, but she and I will be in contact over time. When that listing expires, I will work the deal out so everyone wins. And when that happens, I will send the Realtor a nice gift certificate so she can take her husband out for a nice meal. I think she will remember us, don’t you?

Some of my best tenant buyers come from my current buyers. And I have had more than 1 seller refer a friend to us. That is the best marketing I can get from anyone. No amount of money can replace that type of marketing.

8. Successful Investors Stay Educated.

Since I began investing in real estate full time, Illinois has passed disclosures for people in foreclosure. There are other laws that exist: the federal government makes lead-based paint disclosures mandatory and expensive to ignore. Congress has rules for capital gains taxes. HIV-positive people have become a “protected class” in terms of fair housing. One city has ordinances that dictate what months that you cannot evict people who steal your property. Mortgage money for high-risk borrowers has become harder to get. The Fair Credit Reporting Act has been revised to include landlords. Things change. Your business may be affected. Stay on top of it and meld yourself.

9. Successful Investors Find The Money Before They Need it.

Imagine this scenario. You found a deal of a lifetime. A property worth 650,000.00 in great shape comes across your desk. It needs just a quick clean job and the grass to be cut. The seller is moving to another state to be with the spouse’s mom, who is going through some health issues. They are going….PERIOD, or the spouse made it clear that their future together would be quickly shortened by their lawyer. They only owe 300,000.00 and just need 50,000 to get moved and settled in. But they want the loan out of their name and they need the cash. Well, a subject to deal is not going to work now will it?

Plan To Succeed With Information Product Creation: Why You Need To Split Your Process Up

One of the keys to succeeding in information product creation is to break the process up into discrete steps. This frequently isn’t an instinctive reaction for the typical information marketer. Especially on the internet where small sized learning products are the norm.

However, it is extremely important to your ultimate success. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you don’t do this you probably won’t succeed… even when you are starting out let alone as you move forward.

Your product creation system should do this for you if only to help you to understand the overall task.

But why?

In this article, I’m going to ignore chunking and focus on the practical aspects. That’s not to say that chunking isn’t important. It is. It’s important to understanding and to learning the process. But while you can use the same chunks as you move forward, long term your focus needs to be on the operation of the system not the understanding of it. Unless of course you are constantly training new people!

So why is chunking important to long term use of the product creation process? (Yes, I know systems design uses a different term for this process but I’m not teaching you systems design. So I’m going to use the word learning content designers use.)

The first reason that having individual discrete tasks is important is one of schedule estimation. Frequently it is very difficult to estimate how long the total task of creating a product will take. After all, the size and type of the products matters as does the number of products in your product funnel. And those are just the most obvious elements. However, estimating a discrete task is often much easier. The total can then be estimated as the total of the discrete tasks.

Secondly, scheduling a large task can be problematic. However, by segmenting the task into a number of discrete tasks, you gain a much greater flexibility in scheduling. Not only that but as your business begins to add people you are able to schedule multiple people to the product creation.

Finally, segmenting a large task into smaller discrete tasks allows you to have much better control over the product creation. This affects two different areas — status and quality.

By segmenting your process into discrete tasks you are able to schedule and record the progress at much more detailed level. As a result you are more in control of the status of the product creation. You know what everyone is doing. When they should complete it. And how much it should cost. You also know exactly what has been done.

You also improve your overall quality. Instead of waiting until everything is done you can check quality as you go. This allows you to immediate react to low quality products without absorbing their costs. This means that you have less rework and your rework costs less. And if the product is not going to meet its quality requirement you will know about it in time to stop the development, change the requirement or fix the product.

Effective Marketing Strategies in Product Creation

Marketing includes matters such as pricing and packaging of the product and creation of demand by advertising and sales campaigns. There are other options, of course, like product creation, resale rights marketing, joint ventures and the likes, but they are merely secondary to the above.

If you take the freelance route, it is important to ensure that all rights to profit from the final product, or any materials produced in its making, remain yours. Bookkeeping, physical product creation or delivery of goods can be done better with specialized help. Determining the purpose of the product is vital in niche product creation.

Implementation of Methodology – The choice of implementation of Six Sigma methodology depends on whether development is required on existing processes (DMAIC) or on new process/product design creation (DMADV). Determining what you really want to sell, something that you can be relaxed selling is the first step at the creation of a niche product. With the technological advancements in the hosting industry, from automated control panels and scripts that simplify creation of accounts; to complete turnkey solutions, there is no excessive need to worry about spending time on the actual product sold to the customer.

For instance, you should be prepared to either perform yourself or to subcontract the completion of the following tasks:- Product idea research (are there any existing products or patents already existing for this idea)- Product specification document training (what it will do, how it will look, how will it be powered, and how the user will interface with it)- Marketing study (what it will be named, who would buy this, how much would they pay, how will we get customers to purchase the product)- Schematic or electronic circuit design process- Creation of a bill of material or BOM and an approved vendor’s list or AVL for each component in the design, preferably with multiple sources identified, with a BOM and AVL for each assembly level in the product- Printed circuit board layout design process (single sided board, double sided board, or multilayer board; size of the PCB; board material)- Mechanical packaging design with user interfaces (displays, buttons, switches, key. This removes all product creation costs from your budget as a marketer.

No other database of affiliate programs offers such a possibility for profit on either the affiliate side or the product creation site. Your chosen niche should allow for the creation of more than one product or service.

There are several marketing strategies that are necessary in the creation of a successful e-commerce web site – Email marketing (broadcasting) of prospects/customers – Effective use of auto responders (generate automatic email messages) – Online Newsletter – Online Form / Survey to capture your prospect’s email address – Electronic Product Delivery (if you sold a digital product) – Advertisement (Ad) Tracking – Back End Sales – Affiliate program etc.