As a real estate investor and advisor, I often see novice investors make the same exact mistakes. As a result, I decided to create the following list to help novices understand what these common mistakes are and how to avoid them. The good news is that all of these mistakes can be easily corrected. The bad news is that any one of these mistakes will seriously limit your potential for success. In my experience, these are the 9 most common mistakes I see novice real estate investors make:
1) Not getting an education
Getting an education is a critical part of becoming a successful real estate investor. It’s much easier and less costly to educate yourself than to make mistakes in the real world. We are lucky to live in a country full of educational opportunities for whichever endeavor we want to pursue. Surprisingly though, not everyone takes the initiative to learn before they take action. This exposes these people to costly (and sometimes career-ending) mistakes that could have easily been avoided. Some misguided people even complain that the books, courses, or seminars promoted by real estate experts are too expensive. I guess that depends on where you stand. To me, they seem cheap compared to what I know can be earned in this business. Perhaps to a novice though, they may seem expensive. But as the saying goes, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Think about it. Is a $500 course worth it if what you learn only makes you $5,000 on a single wholesale deal? What if it could save you a mere $5,000 on a single rehab? Or what if it helped you create an extra $200 per month cash flow on a single property for just one year? Would it be worth it to you? The value of an education often doesn’t reveal itself until you’ve stepped up to the plate and put yourself in the game.
2) Not getting an education from the right people
The internet is a great tool. But it’s also saturated with too much information – good and bad. Oftentimes, from less than credible sources. So don’t confuse the information you find on the internet as necessarily being quality information. For example, there are a number of real estate investing newsgroups and blogs that have proliferated the internet. Many so called experts on these sites are more than willing to share enough information to get you into trouble. Do you really want to get your information from “rei-man-TX” or “investor-guy75?” Carefully consider whether these are truly reputable sources to be obtaining information from. I can’t believe some of the misinformation I’ve seen posted on these sites. Remember, anyone can post on a newsgroup and anyone can create a blog. But just because someone has a blog, doesn’t mean they necessarily know what they’re talking about. The misinformation you get may be costly…in either lost profits or reputation.
Novice investors may also get misinformation from friends or family members. Perhaps they dabbled in real estate at one point. Now they feel entitled to tell you what little they may know about real estate investing. Be extremely wary of people who have “dabbled” in anything. Dabblers are rarely experts in anything. As the saying goes, “Jack of all trades, master of nothing.”
3) Not taking action
If you’ve managed to get a good education from a good source, the next step is to take some action. Knowledge is only power once you begin to apply it properly. Merely buying a wide array of real estate investing products or attending bootcamps isn’t going to make you any money. Some novices neglect to take action because they’re still searching for that magical secret that is going to make it start raining deals. The real secret is hard work! Others are paralyzed by fear of what might happen if they get one of their offers accepted. Or, they may give up making offers if they don’t experience instant success. Whatever the reason, not taking consistent action is a sure way to fail at anything. Personally, I believe that initial failure is the universe’s way of forcing us to make sure we truly want what we’re pursuing. In the end, persistence is what leads to success. And the more we persist, the closer we get to success.
Many novices regularly attend their local real estate clubs. Clubs and associations are excellent way to network with other like-mided people, learn techniques and strategies, and have fun. Unfortunately, I’ve met countless club goers who have never done a deal before. Instead of using the club as a spring board into taking action, they tend to use the club as a warm blanket because they fear being out on their own. When I meet these people, my advice to them is to stop sitting around with the other novices talking about all the deals they would like to be doing. My advice is simple, go out there and get some deals done. We all need a good education. But that is only one step in the process. There is no substitute for hard work.
4) Not having realistic expectations
Most novice real estate investors have unrealistic expectations. It may be about the amount of repairs a property needs, the time it takes to complete a project, or the profit they should get from a deal. They’re expectations are either too high or too low. If they’re wholesaling properties, they may get too greedy and try to charge the rehabber too much. If they’re rehabbing properties, they may underestimate the repairs required. If they’re landlording, they may underestimate the amount of maintenance a property will require or forget to factor in vacancies. While getting an education plays a large role in these mistakes, another reason is that they did not leave enough room for error. They assumed everything would go as planned. Real estate deals rarely go exactly as planned. Experienced investors understand the importance of planning for the unexpected. This way, when things don’t go as planned it’s not the end of the world.
5) Not treating real estate investing as a business
Contrary to popular belief, real estate investing is not like the stock market. It is not a passive investment. It is an active investment. Whether a novice investor’s intentions are to flip or to own rentals, they sometimes think owning real estate is going to be a lot easier than it is. While the profit potential in real estate is usually much greater than owning a stock, it inherently requires more effort than most passive types of investments. Whether you’re wholesaling, rehabbing, or landlording, real estate requires your time and constant attention. In this way, it’s more like a business than an investment. For example, you must be disciplined about your business. You need to set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. You need to set policies and procedures and adhere to them. You need to set goals and do whatever you can to achieve them. Not everyone has that level of discipline without a boss telling them what to do. When you run your own business, you are the boss. You must be willing to make sacrifices to succeed. For you this might mean that you need to turn off the television and read your home-study courses. It might mean that instead of spending money on new clothes, you invest that money in your business. Or it might mean that instead of going to the park on Saturday you search the MLS, look at properties, and familiarize yourself with your target neighborhoods.