My Secret Weapon for Real Estate Investing Success

Real Estate Investing Success

We are just about to lift conditions on a beautiful 4 bedroom 2 bathroom home sitting on a quarter acre lot in Nanaimo. The home has nice high end finishings throughout including heated floors in the main bathroom and kitchen, beautiful hardwood floors and crown mouldings. It’s lovely. It’s so nice, in fact, that our home inspector said “You paid WHAT for this place??”

He was shocked at the price we purchased this home!

In the past we were able to find deals that cash flowed. We even picked up properties for under market value. But I would not say that we were identifying and negotiating deals that were significantly under their market value like this one. And the reason we’re able to find smoking deals like this one is because of my new secret success weapon. It’s a weapon we’ve deployed in the last 18 months and it’s resulted in an enormous change in our business.

The weapon is so deceptively simply I hesitate to even share it with you …

The weapon is focus! Or as our 12 Months to $1 Million club members hear us prattle on about week after week, it’s about BEING AN AREA EXPERT.

It’s not about chasing deals all over the countryside –it’s about finding an area that has good market fundamentals and that you can spend time and energy getting to know fairly easily.

When we share this with people at club meetings, in group coaching calls or even with friends they exclaim how much work that is. And I am certainly not going to try and convince you that it’s not work because it is. It takes a few hours invested weekly over at least three or four months before you can really begin to call yourself an area expert. It takes market watching, researching the sales stats, open house visiting, viewings, conversations and drive by’s. And most of all it takes some patience.

Here’s the thing that I think most people are missing though … and that is the fact that the deals you’ll find in Arizona, Florida or the East Coast of Canada might be cheaper and have slightly better cash flow than the deals you’ll find closer to home … but the question I ask you is: WILL YOU FIND THE BEST DEALS?

I can say with 100% confidence we’re finding deals that fit perfectly within our investment plan – they deliver us monthly cash flow, our partners 15% – 20% annual ROI on their money, and they build our wealth. I can also say that we are finding the absolute best deals in our market area given the strategies we use.

Are there other deals? Yes. Are the deals we find the only deals? Heck no!

But when we can buy a large home in great condition, on a large lot, and have real estate professionals telling us how impressed they are with our purchases (and the prices we get them for!), we know our secret weapon has been launched and is hitting it’s target.

So –what can you do  to launch your own secret weapon? Ditch the deal chasing … settle into shopping in an area nearby where there are jobs, schools, transportation options, recreational amenities and more people moving in than are moving out. With that selected, get even more specific and:

  1. Pick a property type. For example, we focus on homes that are a minimum of 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom. We do not deal in ranchers unless they are over 1500 square feet. Homes must have a usable back yard. Ideally not older than 1970 although we will make exceptions for homes in great condition. Depending on where you want to invest you may want to focus on condos, townhouses or smaller homes. The safest property type to go with are homes that fall into the starter homes category. Every area has a home type that is considered a starter family home – find that home type and price range and focus on it. There is always a market for starter homes – in good times and bad. They are the most liquid homes in any area.
  2. Pick a smaller area or two within your city of focus. This is the game changer. It’s pretty difficult to become an expert in an entire city very quickly. Different pockets of a city attract different people for different reasons. With different features, amenities and home owners you find the price points are different. Thus, to truly be able to spot a smoking deal you have to be intimate with a smaller area. You want to spend time focused on a pocket or two of a city that amounts to about 12 – 20 blocks max. That is it. It seems like you’re limiting yourself but really you are simplifying. When you cut out the clutter you can spot the really good deals and act quickly before everyone else wakes up to the price point (which is what happened to this home we’re about to get firm on … Julie saw the price drop and said it’s time to move on that one. Sure enough we saw it, put in our offer, and all of a sudden it’s getting shown like crazy but we had moved quickly to lock it up before anyone else did).
  3. Spend time getting to know the properties that fit your criteria in your sub market. We probably went overboard as we physically viewed nearly 100 properties in the last six months. Online we probably looked at 5x’s that number. But we know the market very well now. There are very few real estate agents that know the market as well as we do now. And that is how we can spot deals that are on MLS and worth $40,000 more than we’re buying them for – without putting any money into them. Instant equity thanks to this secret weapon.
  4. The final ingredient isknowing which strategy to use in your target area. Some areas that we focus on won’t cashflow well as a regular Buy N Hold but they will work beautifully as Rent to Own’s. And in another area, a Buy N Hold strategy is perfect because the prices are 10-20% lower but rents are only 5-10% lower than higher end areas. So when you are picking 2 or 3 locations within your target city/market to specialize in, know what strategy will work there. And how do you know what strategy will work in your chosen area(s)? Well, that’s a whole other article, but simply said, you’ll know because you’ll have done your research on rent rates in that area, how many For Rent signs you see there, the type of people that live in the area (are they blue collar, white collar, immigrants, students, etc.), and the property types in the area (multi-units, single family homes, starter homes, luxury homes). Knowing the answers to all of those categories/questions will help to define which strategy is best used there.

This weapon is simple but it’s deceptive in it’s simplicity. The hard part is not getting distracted when someone starts telling you about a hot deal they found in another market or the deals you’re hearing about in US sunny states. The really hard part is staying focused. Trust me – I know! But now that I know how powerful my secret weapon is I am finding it so much easier to turn away from the juicy sounding commercial deal someone sends me or the fix and flip potential of a deal in a different market. I remind myself that I can work less and make more just sticking to what I know and know very well. Plus my wife not so gently tells me to stay focused … that helps too.

Published November 18th, 2010

How to Think Like a Successful Real Estate Investor


Success Focused You are what you think you areGo ahead and eat that new mini Blizzard at Dairy Queen or indulge in an extra piece of fish when you go out for fish and chips because you aren’t REALLY what you eat. What you eat will determine whether you have energy or not. And it will determine whether your pants fit or not. But you aren’t actually going to turn into a cookie dough Blizzard or a batter coated piece of halibut.

But if you THINK you are going to be a successful real estate investor and you focus your thoughts on that then you probably will become a successful real estate investor. If you THINK you are going to be the kind of boss that gives yourself Tuesday afternoons off to go to the Spa then you have a good chance of becoming that boss to yourself.

Now I am not about to say that all you have to do is think it. I hope you’ve been around the Rev N You scene to know that I believe the missing piece to your success is almost always ACTION. Think whatever the heck you want – if you just sit on the couch watching CSI reruns you aren’t going to be anything different than what you were when you sat down.

The only thing holding you back from being 20 times more successful than we’ve been is YOU. You are standing in your own way right now. All you have to do is get out of your way.

The life you are living today is thanks to the thoughts you have had so far in your life. If it’s not quite the life you want then it all begins with a change in thought and a change in focus.

Now, if you’re sitting there thinking, that’s great Julie how can I think I am a successful real estate investor when I don’t have any money to invest or how can I can think about being a successful real estate investor when I have no idea where to start? Or, I already am a real estate investor but the bank has stopped loaning me money so I can’t get any more properties.

If one of those thoughts are similar to the ones you’re having then here’s what I suggest:

  • Change your focus: Instead of thinking that you don’t have money or the banks won’t loan you any more money figure out how you can get money to do your deals. Stop thinking about all the things you can’t do and focus your attention on the things you CAN do. For example, you CAN find joint venture partners with down payment money and you CAN find private lenders to loan you the money you need for financing and you CAN find creative ways to buy property that require less money down or have seller financing or no financing requirements at all. We’re going to be rolling out a program in August to help you find, present and sign up joint venture partners which is our primary strategy for finding money for down payments and getting financing. Or, if you just want to learn how to get private money we highly recommend the program we used to become private money magnets- the Private Money Blueprint.
  • Take Action: You kind of do have to ‘fake it until you make it’ but it’s not so much that you have to be phony about it. Rather I’m suggesting you act like a successful real estate investor would act in a given situation. Successful real estate investors are typically great problem solvers who hustle until a deal is done. When confronted with an obstacle they see an opportunity. So until you feel confident and knowledgeable enough to be that way make yourself pretend to be that way. A little thing like lack of funds wouldn’t hold a successful real estate investor back so it won’t hold you back either – when you’ve made the bold and unwavering commitment to become one.

Comfort ZoneListen, this is uncomfortable. It sounds easy but it’s not. Your comfort zone is a powerful place and it tries to pull you back every chance it gets. You have to be conscious of the pull of the comfort zone and always fight it. Because the comfort zone is clever with the excuses that sound like real reasons to not do what needs to be done to become the person you want to be.

Your comfort zone fills you with fear and makes it seem like what has to be done is way harder than continuing to live the life that doesn’t satisfy you. But when you feel that pull simply go back, change your focus and take action. Bit by bit your old comfort zone will fade into a new comfort zone – one which is hopefully closer to the one in which your ideal life exists.

You are what you think you are – so start feeding your brain great thoughts!


Published July 28th, 2010

Image 2 Credit:Christopher Bernard Istock Photo

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