Real Estate Investors 10 Commandments

To become a successful Investor (or successful anything) you only need to make a mistake to really learn what does and does not work.  Look at Thomas Edison, Kernel Sanders or any other successful person who has tried, failed and then eventually made huge success by persevering. Mistakes however tend to be discouraging and perhaps costly. I know I have made my share of them. Do not let mistakes stall you however as they are the best most remembered lessons you will ever encounter. I have however also been able to avoid many mistakes.

The more interactions you have with real estate investors such as belonging to investment clubs allows you to learn from the mistakes of others. While these lessons do not set as concretely in your mind as making them yourself they are less costly to you and you indeed can avoid many of these costly mistakes by learning what others have done that did not serve them so well. I am not sure who to credit this quote to but it is a quote I have heard and lived by for many years. “I would rather learn from peoples mistakes than their successes. Everyone wants to share their success but it is learning their failures where lessons are taught.

Learn from the mistakes of others

Studies have proven that trying to learn from successes hinders education. while learning from failures triggers emotions and these emotions become deeper embraced within our minds making them more valuable learning techniques.

Having made my own mistakes and studying the outcomes and the events that led up to un welcomed outcomes is what made motivated me to start “ How to buy U.S. Real Estate. The great thing is, you do not have to personally experience all these painful expensive mistakes yourselves. You simply want to study the mistakes of others, learn from them and avoid them yourself.

To that note I would like to share the 10 commandments that I now live by when investing to build a real estate portfolio.


1. Begin with the end in mind

Education is the key to success and studying the mistakes of others will fast track that education. Perhaps the first and possibly largest mistake investors make is right out of the gate. They do not have a clearly defined investment strategy. They decide to invest and set out to buy a property. They know they want cash flow and that is about the extent of their plan. I have found the most successful investors have a 5, 10 and even a 20 year strategy plan of what they want to accomplish and how they plan to do so. How they will continue to raise cash for down payment money. Determine how they will create the reserves for security of the properties and when they will leverage to buy more. Beginning with the end in mind will allow you to safely and strategically accomplish those goals.

2. Thou shalt build a power team

We all know that team is the acronym for T.E.A.M (together everyone accomplishes more). you want to build a network of real estate professionals who know your overall investment portfolio objectives and help you to not only buy the best investments, but to keep the maximum profits from those investments while reducing your liabilities. Realtors, accountants, attorneys, tradesmen, and property managers, Portfolio managers, etc.  These professionals are all important people to have on your power team. They will all work diligently to help you build your portfolio.

3. Invest in sustainable property

Just as not all properties are created, equal neither are the market conditions. You can find many properties to buy in any city U.S.A. You can also find many people who will teach you how. Perhaps the most important attribute that no one ever discusses is sustainable returns. Smart investors always invest in markets that are safe, with local economic stability and growth. They then buy properties within the sweet spot of the market to insure further sustainability.

4. Invest in low risk investments

Many investors found themselves in trouble by speculating, assuming prices would go up and they could sell for a profit. Investments that cannot create cash flow from renting the property (should you have to resort to this as a backup plan) are considered high risk investments and should be avoided. Always put your properties through the low risk test

5. Invest in properties with immediate cash flow

Savvy investors always make sure that the day a property is purchased there is income being generated. Buying a performing asset is the true meaning of investing. Buying a property and hoping to rent it out for X and hoping expenses will be X is more speculation and is subject to unforeseen challenges. From the day you take ownership of the property until the day you get it tenanted is negative cash flow with speculative outcome, this should be avoided unless you have experience in or have enough upside to absorb these hidden expenses.

6. protect your investments and liability exposure

Often I hear people say they will buy a property in their own name and the insurance will protect their liability interest. Have you ever made an insurance claim? They try everything possible to avoid making payments. Yes, you want and need insurance, but to protect the assets you already own and to truly build an investment portfolio, it is only prident to have an LLC or a trust or some sort of other entity to shelter your assets. Talking with an attorney and an accountant as to what is best for you and your situation is important. As we have plenty of readers from outside the U.S. it is important to talk with a tax person that is efficient in foreign tax law as not all countries recognize the American LLC (which is a prominent entity utilized here in the U.S. )

7. Always have an exit strategy (or two) in place before making a purchase

Often the expression is, "you make your money going in". This is because as we know in real estate investing you want to know your exit strategy going into the deal. Perhaps a backup exit strategy as well. You then realize the financial gain when you exercise that strategy. Those who purchase for speculation only to hope for a higher sale price often are disappointed when things do not work out; unfortunately hope is not a strategy!

8. Diversify for safety

Buying multiple properties in one location may expose you more than you care to be exposed, should that particular market falter. (Example, I have a client who had all their investments in Florida, When hurricane Irma came was forecasted to come directly down the center of the state they rapidly understood what too much concentration in one area for investing could mean, fortunately they faired fine but it was a nail biting experience)You can safeguard your investment portfolio by investing in various emerging markets.

9. Focus and stop chasing shiny objects

Every day I see great people miss opportunity after opportunity because they are so busy chasing the latest and greatest investment craze. Here is where I suggest you make sure you understand and take heed to number 1 (above) and begin with the end in mind, or begin as you plan to proceed. Know what you want to invest in, due your proper diligence and get informed and invest. I have worked with the shiny object chasers for years who watched our market cycles rotate and watched many people make great cash flow and equity growth while they did no investing at all because they were too busy trying to make sure they were chasing the best investments. Create your investment plan now!

10. Thou shalt duplicate the process

When you invest with purpose and diligence it is easy to make money in real estate investing. Once you make a few purchases you will get into your investing groove. You will see what works for you and what does not. You then simply repeat the process to build a strong and dynamic real estate investing portfolio worth owning.

Do not judge those who have made mistakes, I have certainly made my fair share, they were the best learning lessons anyone could ever ask for. Thank them for sharing the knowledge with you so you can avoid the same mistake. Create systems for yourself and duplicate over and over until you get your desired portfolio built.

Happy investing


Karin RosarneComment