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How 5 Real Estate Investors Turned Mistakes Into Cash

People have always learned from their mistakes, and the world of real-estate investing is far from immune. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have made investment mistakes. I have asked some of the leading investors to confide their real estate mistakes (or “learning opportunities,” as I prefer to call them) and what they learned from them.

Experience is the Best Teacher

I think Jonathan Twombly, who provided an outstanding answer to this question, said it best: “The only way to gain experience is by making mistakes.” Of course, mistakes are not the ONLY way to learn, and you should never TRY to make mistakes. But the point he is trying to make is that if all of your real estate endeavors go off without a hitch, you may begin to feel like YOU are entirely responsible for that fact. In reality, if you’ve never made investment mistakes in real estate, not only have you probably been lucky, but a sticky situation WILL arise eventually. When it does, if you have this sense of infallibility, it may be your downfall.

Whereas if you have made and successfully overcome investment mistakes in the past, you have gained the experiential knowledge that will allow you to avoid making that same mistake again or, if you are faced with the same or similar issue, to navigate it successfully. In some cases, facing and overcoming an obstacle may be the best thing to ever happen to your real estate business, as it forces you to reevaluate what you have been doing and determine if you need to alter your approach or entire strategy!

That being said, here are the responses:

Not Promoting Your Business and Working with an Inexperienced Property Management Companies

Jonathan Twombly made two big real estate mistakes. The first was not promoting his real estate business early enough and aggressively enough. The market is saturated with real estate entrepreneurs, so branding and promoting of your business is a must if you want to stand out from your competitors. For promotional tips, here are 8 ways to promote your real estate brand.

Jonathan’s second big investment mistake early on in his real estate career was allowing the property management company to put a manager on his property who lacked experience with that asset type, which caused a ripple effect of problems for YEARS, even after they were fired, replaced, and long gone. Having one bad year, or even a few months, of management will negatively affect the operations for a long time. A large dip in occupancy results in a dip in revenue, which means you get behind on payables, investor returns, your returns, and liquidity. And to make matters even worse, when you have liquidity problems, if an unexpected maintenance or capex issue occurs, you may not have the liquidity or cash flow to cover it, which results in out-of-pocket expenses, capital calls, or even foreclosure!

In regards to the property management issue, this is overcome by properly screening the property management company prior to hiring them. Here are the best practices for interviewing and screening property management companies. In regards to the vacancy and liquidity issue, Jonathan always ensures that the cash flow on the property is high starting on day one and that he has a large reserve fund on hand to deal with unexpected issues.

Hiring the Wrong People

Ryan Gibson’s biggest real estate mistake was hiring the wrong people in general. He learned that good people are what make your business and the world go ‘round. For the best hiring practices, check out our blog category on building your real estate team.

Similarly, Micki McNie’s biggest investment mistake came when working with and trusting someone she didn’t know. She gave this person $40,000 to do a rehab without having looked at the house herself. As a result, she had a hard time selling the final product because this person didn’t prioritize the repairs and upgrades that actually attract buyers. Projects, like updating the mechanicals or installing new windows, were not performed. The lessons she learned were to always perform her own due diligence rather than trusting a partner, even an experience partner, to do it. Also, she learned to be much more cautious of new markets that she’s never worked in before. Another solution to the market problem is to use the ultimate guide to evaluating a target real estate market!

Using the Wrong Strategy for Your Goals

Jason Buzi is a prime example of someone who realized he was making investment mistakes, completely changed his business model, and benefited greatly as a result. In 2011, he and a friend wholesaled a property to a fix-and-flipper and made $12,5000. The buyers ended up rehabbing the property and netted $400,000. This deal made him realize that he was leaving MILLIONS of dollars on the table, so he started rehabbing properties himself in addition to his wholesaling. Based on this shift, he had his first seven figure year in 2013 and bought a personal residence worth over $1 million free and clear. If you are interested in learning how you can net over $1 million per year as a wholesaler, click here.

Lastly, Cheryl Oliphant’s biggest mistake was not buying based on positive cash flow but for appreciation only. She learned that buying for appreciation is not investing, it’s speculation. In fact, not buying for appreciation is one of the three fundamentals to thrive in ANY real estate market. Click here to learn the other two.

Learn from Real Estate Mistakes with My Help!

If you feel you’ve made an investment mistake, or you want to better avoid them in the future, take some time to read some of the best real estate investment books I’ve found so far. The actionable advice in these texts can help you guide your business strategy and your deals towards better success!

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