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If It Was Easy We Would All Be Millionaires or Get Up, Get Ready, Go to Work

By Dick Pexton

About a year ago, I was invited to attend a meeting of a fairly new real estate investment group. The room was set up with tables in a “U” shape, and I took a seat away from the crowd against the far wall, and waited for something to happen. When the room was almost full, a young lady left her seat and walked around the inside of the “U,” introducing herself to each person with a handshake and a business card. I thought, “Why didn’t I think of that?” After she returned to her seat, I walked over and said, “I only have two business cards with me, but this one is especially for you.” That’s how I met Carolyn Anderson.

Carolyn was a Realtor, but her interest was in investing. She had been researching areas all over the country that were likely to show better-than-average growth and appreciation, where properties were still selling at prices people could afford. After selecting an area on which to focus, the hard work began. Her kitchen became her home office. Maps and papers were spread everywhere, and she had a phone and a laptop within reach at all times. Using zillow.com, craigslist.com, and other resources to locate realtors or For Sale By Owners (FSBOs), Carolyn picked up the phone and started “dialing for dollars.” Her question for sellers was, “Will you consider accepting an offer with nothing down from someone with no credit?” She was told no at least a hundred times before she changed her question to, “Would you consider providing owner financing to a buyer who places five percent down?”

She called the same list again, then called at least 200 other owners or realtors and some interesting things began to happen. She had to educate a lot of people, including Realtors, about owner-assisted financing, but she eventually found 47 owners who were willing to look at an offer such as she described. She put 14 of these properties under contract, subject to her inspection. All of her offers had assignment clauses in them. Carolyn hadn’t seen any of the properties in person. In fact, she had never visited the communities in which she was making offers.

After the Thanksgiving holiday, she traveled to the area and began her inspections. She spent three days renegotiating twelve of the offers, and was successful in lowering the purchase price of five or six of them. Of those five or six properties, Carolyn ended up owning two, the founder of the investment club bought two or three, and the remainder were wholesaled or assigned to other members of the club.

Carolyn worked from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for three weeks making those phone calls. Sometimes she was tired. Sometimes she was afraid. Sometimes she even cried. But she stuck with it. Now she has a network of Realtors, property managers, and bird dogs who call her. When I asked her how she does it all, her response was, “Every day, I get up, get ready, and go to work.” This simple answer contains valuable keys for success.

While I realize we all can’t cut out a three-week period to work full time on nothing but launching our investing careers, we can do something each day that moves us closer to fulfilling our goals. Our goals should be the driving force that pushes us to succeed.

When I was in college, I managed the men’s department of a local J. C. Penny store. I was married with two children, and had another on the way. Our second child was in the hospital several weeks at a time over a period of two years. The quarter he passed away, I was carrying 18 credit hours, maintaining a 3.75 grade point average. I was doing better than I had ever done. Despite being totally devastated by this personal tragedy, for the sake of my family’s future, I simply could not afford to lose my focus. I somehow managed to remain determined and committed to growth and self-improvement.

Each year at J.C. Penny, there was a week during which we had to take a moment every 15 minutes to record how we had spent our time. As you might imagine, I became very aware of the value of time. Later in life, I became very aware of the time value of money. Both of these bits of knowledge have served me well. Time-value awareness helps me to plan effectively so that each aspect of life—family, social, recreational, physical, and financial—is served. An awareness of the time value involved with money awareness helps me to get busy now, not later, at building my real estate portfolio and managing my investments.

I encourage you to have a planning meeting with yourself for a few minutes every morning or evening. Plan your activities, write them down, and prioritize them. Assign each task a value: A, B, C, D. Break them down further: A1, A2, A3, A4, B1, B2, B3, B4. Accomplish as much as possible on A1, then move to A2, and continue to work your way down your list. Don’t be tempted to skip ahead to the easier 2s, 3s, and 4s, as this will almost certainly keep you from obtaining wealth. Have a special meeting with your spouse, significant other, or your partners, and set some long-term, intermediate, and short-term goals. Make them reasonable and attainable, and give yourself a small reward when you achieve one of these goals. As you consistently perform tasks like picking up the phone and talking to a seller, your confidence will grow and you will become more skilled and will be able to do more in less time. You will learn to collapse time frames, which is an important concept to master. Why look at five houses a week with your Realtor when by planning and taking a more efficient route you could look at ten? Why make one offer a week when you could make two, or three, or four?

Do keep in mind, however, that pursuing wealth through real estate can become an addiction that monopolizes all of your time and energy. I strongly recommend that you guard against this tendency.

Now you are on a roll. Life is good. Enjoy it.

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