beginners success–how to succeed - Posted by Ronald * Starr(in No CA)
Posted by Ronald * Starr(in No CA) on April 03, 2003 at 22:02:30:
You are making a mistake. You are trying to do investing in a way that does not suit you. Probably because you have read stuff from other people about finding the “Motivated sellers” or desperate sellers.
If you have read this forum for months, haven’t you read my post for beginners yet? I reposted it last Sunday, along with a couple of other posts to help beginners. Put “beginners success” into the search engine on this main board forum of the CREONLINE.COM web site. Oh dear, I tried that and the new one does not come up. I guess the archive is not updated for recent posts which are off the board.
If you do the search I suggested above, you will end up with the last version from Sept of 2002. And I have got changes in the version. Not promising “improvements” note, but certainly changes.
Ok. I’m going to reprint all three of them right here for you.
But before I do. If you don’t want to make cold calls, don’t do it. There are a lot of other ways to go. You said you had success with more conventional ways of doing rehab deals. Try that where you are now. Or figure out what works where you are.
Anyway, as promised, here they are:
My Advice For the Beginning
Real Estate Investor:
How to Become Successful
By Ronald Starr
First, recognize that it will probably take several years of real estate investing before you will reach your personal financial goal. I assume you want to have enough income from your investments to not have to work for money. I estimate it will take about 10-15 years, if you work part-time at it while having ?a day job.? If you get to a point where you can do it full time, it may take a few years less.
Some people have other suggestions about how to get started. They often say, ?Just do it.? Go out and start trying and learn as you go. Maybe that will work for you. My opinion is that it is better to know more before you start paying out your money. You might try to avoid mistakes by reading many books before you start?I did?and I suggest that. Understand that you will still make your own mistakes?I did, anyway. However, by knowing more about what you are doing, you will probably avoid a lot of the more common mistakes.
YES FOR SUCCESS! The secret to success is persistence. If you want to reach a goal, you have to keep going until you reach it. Financial independence with real estate means you have to keep going for years. Thus, while you want an investing approach that makes you money, you also want an investing approach that makes you happy as you go along. If you do not get emotional rewards, you will probably stop before you are successful.
YES FOR SUCCESS:
Y----You---------------Enuff said about that
E----Environment-----Where you invest, and when
S----Strategy-----------How you extract money from the environment
The strategy you employ has to suit you. My strategy could be completely wrong for you, unless you are a lot like me. If it is comfortable, you will continue with it. If it is not comfortable, you will chaff and will want to quit. And might quit, long before you get to your financial goal.
The strategy has to work in the environment in which you invest. Here is a strategy: buy 200-acre farms and subdivide them down into 5-acre ?ranchettes? which you sell to homebuilders or people who will live on them. Now, try using this strategy in San Francisco or Manhattan. Not going to work. What might work in San Francisco is to build a 15-story condominium complex and sell the condos to the owner-occupants. But, would you expect success if you were to build another 15-story complex 12 miles east of Winnemucca, NV? I don?t think so. Maybe 5-acre ranchettes there? Possibly.
If you are not doing too well with your investment program, you can change the strategy, or you can move it to a different environment, where you expect it to perform better.
USE YOUR RESOURCES. Your strategy has to give you a competitive advantage, as the economists say. Investing in real estate is competitive. If there is a good deal to be bought, there will be several people interested in buying it. You need to develop an approach that takes advantage of your strengths, and hopefully requires few activities at which you are weak. You need a strategy that uses the resources you have.
What are the resources you can bring to bear on real estate investing? They will vary from person to person. They include such factors as: amount of cash you have saved, how good is your credit rating, amount of income you have, particularly that above what you need for living expenses. How much time do you have, and in what part of the week, month, or year? Resources include the contacts you have?people you can call on for advice, money, help, or encouragement. Your knowledge is important?what you know about the environment in which you invest, the market value of properties, what your customers want, either renters or buyers. What experiences can you bring to bear? How about repair skills, decorating skills, salesmanship ability, imagination, guts, cautious evaluation? Maybe you have local political connections. Or your best friend is a person with a backhoe and a bulldozer?good for preparing sloping vacant lots to be resold to builders. All these can be part of your resources.
Your resources are unique to you and are your ?powers? to get things done that will get you what you want, such as making profits in real estate.
Go with your personality, tastes, beliefs, values, interests, and passions. Do not get involved with approaches that irritate you or make you feel grumpy. For instance, suppose you think landlords are scum-sipping rip-off artists. Do not become a rental property owner. There is no law that you must. Instead, consider rehabilitating rundown properties and selling them to poor people with special government loans.
As an example, I like helping people. I like to invest in lower-income areas, helping people have a clean, nice, safe, comfortable house in which to live. I rent properties to them. When I sell some property, I am happy that I am able to help a first-time homeowner get into a part of the American Dream. Some other people like to find rundown homes in higher-income areas. They spiff them up to be beautiful and then make a profit selling for much more than they paid for the properties. That does not interest me. The buyers of those properties could buy many different properties. They don?t need me. And I don?t need them.
I also like to do research. I do not like to negotiate. I buy bargain properties at auctions, usually delinquent property tax auctions. I do not have a real estate agent to show me properties and to assure me that the property is in good condition. I have to do research on the location of the property, the condition of the property, the liens and loans against the property, the market value in the area, how much it will cost to fix up the property, and much more. My negotiating is raising my hand at a public auction and saying ?Four thousand and one.? Then ?four thousand and three.? Easy negotiating for me.
STUDY REAL ESTATE INVESTING. One thing I consider important is that you know how real estate works. What is the importance of different types of deeds? How do you know what loan is the first loan and what does that imply? And there is so much more you can learn. After over 20 years of real estate investing, I am still learning. It is not boring being in real estate.
I think you should expect to spend about six months to 18 months studying about real estate, real estate investing, and the real estate market where you plan to invest ? the environment, as I put it. As you study, notice the different types of approaches that different people use or advocate. Ask yourself ?how does this fit me?? Imagine the different steps of the process, the activities that have to be taken. With what kinds of people will you be engaged? In what neighborhoods will you be investing? How well will you be able to accomplish that particular strategy of investing? What might prevent you from enjoying it? Being successful at it? Does it use your best skills? Does it have requirements that you lack or that do not fit you? What psychic rewards might you get out of it?
If you are considering becoming an investor in long-term rentals, as I am, I suggest you read a couple of books on property management. This may give you some notion of what you will face and you can consider if it is to your taste. If you plan to rent properties, learn to calculate expenses of owning them?they will be worse than you imagine. Figure out what kinds of properties will provide you with profit if you own them. Learn about taxes, especially income taxes and how real estate can help you. Plan to learn about the laws related to the approach that you take. If you are doing rentals, know the ?landlord-tenant? law for your state.
How do you learn about real estate? I suggest you take classes at community colleges near you. There are probably classes for people who want to apply for a real estate license.
READ BOOKS. Read books on real estate investing. Most RE books are mediocre. A few are good. Almost none are excellent. But, you can still learn if you read them. Start at the public library and borrowing books from friends, neighbors, coworkers, relatives, etc. Buy used books, audiotapes, and videotapes at bookstores or online at such sources as e-bay and half.com. I consistently pay less than 1/2 original price for the materials I buy there. Some is terrible, just like many real estate books. But some are good.
Talk to other, more experienced investors. See if there is a local real estate investors group that meets once or twice a month. Read newspaper articles and columns about real estate. If your local paper does not have nationally syndicated real estate columnists, find one that does, even if it is not nearby. Get a subscription to the Sunday edition mailed to your home.
Go on the Internet to see what you can learn there. There are many different sites devoted to real estate investing and to real estate for sale or rent.
While you study these things, learn about the area in which you want to invest. What are the different neighborhoods like? Where are there vacant, run-down properties if you want to do fixer-uppers? What are the trends of prices and where are people moving to or moving away from? What kinds of properties make good rentals in your area? What are the prospects of making money by buying low and then selling high, not carrying rentals?
THE 100-HOUSE RULE. I like Bill Greene?s suggestion from his “Think Like a Tycoon” book–look at 100 houses properties similar to those you plan to buy before you make a single offer. If you want to learn many different types of houses and neighborhoods, you may have to look at many more than 100 houses. However, knowledge from one neighborhood will help you quickly understand others. The idea is to learn market values and what the competition is like?either rentals or other properties against which you will be competing for buyers. When I started out investing seriously, I did this and my knowledge of values increased greatly over a few months of time. Study the multiple listing service properties and the newspaper advertisements for properties. Read realtor.com listings for your area. See them and then follow up to find out for what they sold.
Meanwhile, get your finances lined up. If you have a poor credit report, start cleaning it up. Pay off outstanding debt and put explanations into the credit file. Get erroneous information removed. Cut down your expenses. The media are supported by advertisers who want you to spend, spend, and spend some more. Resist the urge of consumer spending. Save money for investing. Yes, it is definitely possible to buy properties with no cash out of your pocket?I have done it. However, you have more opportunities for profit if you are prepared to pay cash or at least make a down payment. This is increasing your resources with which to operate?don?t fritter away your power.
Depending upon your investment approach, you may want to get an equity line of credit secured by your home. Or you may want to ask banks for unsecured personal lines of credit. You may want to stop throwing away all those credit card solicitations and actually apply for some. Naturally, try to get those with good terms. But sometimes it is possible to make so much money with just one property transaction that you will be willing to use high-priced money to enable you to get into the deal. Use high-priced money for properties you plan to resell soon, not for long-term holding.
MENTORS? Some people talk about getting a ?mentor,? an experienced real estate investor to personally train you in real estate investing. If you can find somebody who is willing to spend time helping you, fine, go ahead and give it a try. But, my view is that you don?t need a mentor to work in real estate investing. Probably very few investors have ever had a mentor. Do what I call ?self-mentoring? work out the very personal approach that you take to investing. Do get to know lots of different local investors so you can get help with the ?nuts and bolts? of investing: referrals for good attorneys, cleaning people, repair people, learn where to get carpets and plumbing supplies, discover the good escrow and title companies, and all the other services and goods that you will need to be successful. Ask about difficulties you have and individual problems of people you know. These days beginners have a resource I didn?t when I started: the on-line real estate forums, including CREONLINE.COM where you can ask questions and often get answers from experts. I don’t think you need a "mentor."
Try to understand the approaches that different investors have and their thinking about different aspects of investing. Ask what they like and don?t like, what works for them and what doesn?t. Then you can borrow some of their ideas and approaches in formulating your own direction. But you probably will not find a formula that somebody else uses that will suit you to a tee. Mix and match. Take a little bit from here and a little bit from there. Make them into a coherent program that will generate money for you.
MAKE YOUR CAT FAT. There are many, many different ways to make money with real estate. With a little imagination, you may even create a new way to do so that nobody else thought of. But, most of these ways can be put into three categories, which you can as ?CAT.? C is for CASHFLOW. This means you get more money in from a property than you spend owning it. A is for APPRECIATION. Over time, property values tend to go up, the amount and rate varying with locale, the economy, and market conditions. Held long enough, most properties will go up unless everybody is moving away for the town or you do not maintain the properties. T points at TAX SAVINGS, or tax benefits, which means that you may reduce the amount of taxes that you pay on your other income, non-real estate income. This is over and above the tax write-offs for your investment properties that reduce your taxable income from the properties. Some people mistakenly add to this list of categories ?pay down? or ?amortization? on the loan. This is actually a sub-category of cash flow. It is the ?forced savings? aspect.
Before buying properties, ask yourself which benefit you want to maximize. In general, you can?t make all three categories big with any one property. You might make one big, one moderate-sized and the other one small. In fact the three benefits tend to be antagonistic?increase one and you reduce one or both of the others. For example, big loans on properties?high leverage?helps increase the return from appreciation. They also appreciate the amount of property you can depreciate?producing more tax benefit. However, the bigger loans reduces the cash flow because of higher loan payments. In areas where properties appreciate greatly, such as Coastal CA where I live, people pay higher prices, hoping for potential appreciation and so suffer with negative cash flow.
So choose the investment strategy and the property which fits your top goal–C, A, or T. For instance, when I buy bargain properties at tax sales, I get very little tax benefit. If I want tax benefit, I will buy a house at market value, but getting financing terms that allow me to get a break-even or slightly positive cash flow. I can also speculate on appreciation with this type of property. Appreciation is irrelevant for the bargain buys; the profit is built-in upon purchase.
Some people advocate getting a “team” together before starting–attorneys, CPAs, loan brokers, maybe real estate agents. I don’t think that is necessary. I would certainly suggest that you do not delay your investment actions until you get a “team” together. I advocate learning a lot about the local real estate laws and the federal tax laws as related to real estate investing. Then you can be your own team in part. People make a lot of mistakes by not consulting with attorneys. They sell properties and have to pay terrible taxes?unnecessarily?because they do not understand and consult accountants. So, do not hesitate to call upon professionals when needed. When you run into problems that a professional can help with, find one. One–not a team, in my opinion.
To be successful in real estate investing, in my opinion, you need both movement and guidance. You have to be active: get out and actually invest in properties to make a profit. Go and do it. But don?t do it blindly. Learn a lot before you start making deals so that you don?t make too many mistakes and so you have a strategy that will fit you and the environment in which you invest. To get to your financial goal you need action moving forward and knowledge guiding you away from the cliffs. So knowledge is good, but some people get stuck in the learning phase. You will never know everything about real estate investing; so get started even when you don?t feel you know it all.
THE TWO BIG MISTAKES. There are two major mistakes that can lead to real estate investment failure, I think. One is doing nothing ? there is no profit in that. The other is rushing out too soon and making expensive mistakes. I once read a magazine article about a couple in Chicago that bought, as their first investment, a run-down apartment complex in a very poor neighborhood in Chicago. I forget the title of the article, but it should have been ?How we lost a million dollars with no money down.? They did not know how to manage rental properties at all and this property was an extremely difficult one to operate. They made many mistakes, lost the building in foreclosure, and lost all the money they had invested.
So, become active, yes. But do it with caution. There is a lot of money to be made with real estate. Because real estate can cost a lot, there are a lot of ways to lose a lot of money with real estate. The sellers and real estate agents selling a property are not always honest about that property. Nobody will look out for your interest as well as you do. Learn enough to be realistic about properties and how investing works.
Expect to spend about 10 to 20 hours a week studying real estate during your learning months. Even though that sounds like a lot, believe me, there is a lot to learn. If you thought it would be easy to get rich, I disagree with you. However, it is possible to get rich with real estate. An average individual can do it. It is, I feel, easier than most other businesses in which you could invest your time and money. And, because you can tailor your investment program to fit you, your chances for success are high. Also, real estate is a “forgiving” investment. You can make mistakes, possibly a lot of them, and still make a profit from a property. I’ve made some very serious errors. And still my wealth and property holdings build up.
IT?S A BUSINESS. Real estate investing is an entrepreneurial activity. If you have no previous business experience, you may have to learn a different way of functioning. That can take time. I think that most people find that the biggest cause of difficulty in real estate investing is not the properties, sellers, renters, buyers, real estate licensees, lenders, or the government. No, it turns out to be THEMSELVES! They have old self-images, views of the world, mistaken notions, and ways of dealing with problems that don?t work well in real estate investing. One of your most difficult tasks will be to be realistic about yourself and real estate investing while maintaining your enthusiasm and image of where you can go with it. You may need to constantly ask yourself ?what am I am doing that is slowing me down? What can I do to get over the rough spots, solve the problems?? Employ often these questions: ?what is stopping me? What am I waiting for that I need for success??
Just recognize real estate is a business. It will take time and effort. Some people might say it takes that four-letter word ?work,? however, if you have a program that fits you and gives you enjoyment, you can convert that word into another four-letter word: ?play.? Many people treat real estate investing as a game and play it to win not only money but also freedom to lead the life they want. It can do that for you.
Good Investing********Ron Starr
WHY IT MIGHT TAKE
MONTHS FOR YOU TO
LEARN THE REAL ESTATE
Suggestions on What to Learn
By Ronald Starr
Some people seem to think that reading two real estate investing books, attending one exciting seminar on real estate and reading 700 posts on the CREONLINE.COM website is all they need before starting to buy properties. And, perhaps for a very few people that may work. But, I think that most people should expect to spend several months studying real estate investing and their local marketplace before they start making offers on properties. In ?My Advice for the Beginner Real Estate Investor: How to Become Successful? I suggest to expect to spend at least 6 months learning the ropes, and perhaps longer.
People seem to disbelieve me. ?Oh Ron, why should it take so long?? Well, okay, here is my answer to that question.
Here is a list of questions which you might want to be able to answer and some things that I feel it is good for you to know, as a budding real estate entrepreneur before you start buying or making offers on properties. You don?t have to know everything on this list. Depending upon one?s investment approach or locale where one invests, this list may be incomplete. It may also have items you don?t really need to know much about to get started. Different investment approaches require different knowledge. But as you read it over, ask yourself ?Gee, do I really want to start buying without knowing that??
I have grouped them into categories for convenience. Some items could easily be put under two or three different headings.
Figuring out a personal strategy for investing
Learning about the mathematical basics of real estate investing: the numbers to consider, such as gross rent multiplier, cash on cash, return on investment, return on equity, net operating income, cap rates and perhaps more such as mortgage constant and debt coverage ratio
Should you consider getting a real estate license or a broker?s license?
Should you consider working as a real estate licensee for commissions?
What are some other investments than residential property and what are their characteristics?
With so many different ways to invest in real estate how can I figure out what way to start off for myself?
How does one actually make money with real estate?
If I want to become a full-time investor should I do something different from those who will do it full time while keeping their ?day jobs??
Should I expect to invest differently at the beginning and years later?
Knowing where to get or knowing how to find out lien information against a person and the person?s property
Knowing how to find out how the owner of a property is and how to contact that person
What are property taxes in different nearby jurisdictions?
What transfer taxes are charged in nearby jurisdictions?
What a foreclosure is and something of the basic process in your state
How the assessor?s office determines assessed value and whether that has some consistent relationship to actual market values and if so what
Where to find the documents you will be using to carry out your purchase/acquisition program?leases, options, sales contracts, rental contracts, and more
How real estate agents and brokers get compensated for their time and effort
What ethical principals real estate licensees are supposed to adhere to
Where to go to complain about poor treatment by real estate licensees and what sort of complaints might be considered serious
Finding out the rental property rental rates for different types of properties in different nearby locations
Learning how to quickly get or pull comparable property sales for a particular property being offered by sale
Learning the prices of houses and small rental properties in the different neighborhoods of your area
Knowing how to calculate an offering price for a rundown property
Knowing what types of properties are selling fast and which ones slowly in the area
How to advertise for motivated sellers of properties
Learning how to tell if a property owner is eager to sell or is very determined to get what s/he wants or full market value or more
Are there any ways to systematically look for bargain buys?
CLOSING ON A PURCHASE
Does one do escrows the same in every state? What are the differences between the East and the West?
What is the purpose of an escrow?
Are there times one might not use an escrow? When?
Knowing what to expect in the way of closing costs when buying properties or selling them
How to calculate estimated expenses for a rental property
How to advertise for renters of properties
What are your rights if you own a property and are leasing it out?
What are the pros and costs of leasing out a property vs. doing a month-to-month rental?
What is the section 8 housing assistance program and when might it make sense to use it?
How do you screen rental applicants?
When is it time to get rid of a not too good, not too bad renter?
Are there any legal restrictions on who I can refuse to rent to?
Knowing what is required to make a contract legally enforceable in court
Knowing what is required on a deed to make it legally recorder able
Understanding the importance of the order of priority of different loans and liens
The landlord-tenant laws for your state and local area
What are easements and what do they mean to the property buyer/owner?
What are some of the ways to take title to a property and what are the ramifications of using different entities to do so?
Should you have different entities doing your property management than hold title to?own–your properties?
What sorts of things can you do to reduce the risk of being sued?
What can you do to reduce the chance of losing should you be sued?
Knowing about ?standard loans? such as those from conventional lenders
Knowing how to calculate loan payments for an amortized loan or at least where to go to get that information
Different ways to structure purchases to reduce the amount of cash to acquire the properties
How much it may cost for conventional loan fees
How long it might take to get a loan approved from a conventional lender and go through the escrow process
How does one find money sources other than institutional lenders?
What financing options make the most sense for long-term holding properties, for quick-turn over properties?
ABV ; How do my credit scores affect the types of loans I can get for real estate investing?
How to advertise for buyers of properties
What do prospective house buyers look for when they are looking for their new home?
What investors are looking for when they look at an investment property to buy
TAXES, TAXATION, AND THE LIKE
The income tax aspects of rental property ownership?both federal and state, possibly even local
What are 1031 exchanges, what they do, when to use them, how to set them up, how they work
If there are any ways to reduce taxes when rapidly buying and selling properties for a profit
OTHER, MISCELLANEOUS, HARD TO CLASSIFY
What kinds of insurance to get and what they might cost
How much it may cost for various real estate services:
private building inspectors fees
cost for a certificate of occupancy in the local building department
How to negotiate with a property owner
How to negotiate in general?with suppliers, workers, authorities, neighbors, etc
What are your rights if you are leasing a property
What are paper, notes, mortgages, contracts for deed, and how does one figure the rate of return on them?
What is the effect of selling a note to somebody else ?with recourse? or ?without recourse??
What about paying down loans early, is that a good idea or why not?what are the considerations?
How does one find investors to whom to resell good deal properties?
Gee, is there anything else I should know about real estate investing?
Well, as I said, some may not be necessary for everybody. But all of these seem important to me. And I am sure you will be thinking of things to add to this list that are important to you. I encourage you to do. Then study up so you know what you are doing before you start paying out your hard-earned money for investment real estate.
Good InvestingRon Starr*******
Sorry, I can’t find the third one on my computer right now. The search function seems to not be working properly. Sorry about that. At least you got two out of three.
Good Investing********Ron Starr****************