One day I woke up and called my sister. “April,” I say, “I am going to be a real estate investor.” Its 1999. My sister is 19 and completely outta flips to give that Saturday morning at 7am. I was 21 and knew this was my life path. Obviously, I was met with far less enthusiasm than I had anticipated. Does she even hear me?
I later realized that saying “I am going to be a real estate investor” in 1999 was like saying I am going to be an astronaut back then. There was no reality tv about flipping houses…I’m not even sure that there was reality tv at all.
Information was more difficult to come by. I went to the library and looked up real estate books. So you under 30’s peeps are like “Woah, wait what? You went where?” Yep a real-life library; full of books and sh!t.
What did I find? Some stuff on conventional real estate, a little about investing but not nearly enough. Of course, I had no idea that I had no idea and plugged ahead. You don’t know what you don’t know. By 2000 I was chugging along putting ads in the newspaper, canvasing neighborhoods with flyers, highlighting the map book on the streets I hit…No, this is not a history lesson. This is really how we did stuff.
I learned bits and pieces from others I met along the way but mostly it was just trial and error. I did not know another real estate investor and neither did anyone I knew. It wasn’t until later when the internet was more available and people were creating groups about mutual interest that I found a meet up group dedicated to real estate investing. This was maybe 2003 or 2004.
Before public record was available online I physically went into neighborhoods looking for homes. I would drive or walk the streets of flip rich areas looking for the ones that needed me. The worse the property, the more I loved them. Then I would go look them up at the courthouse and personally hand write a letter to the registered owner
One beautiful early summer day I was strolling through the streets of Petersburg, VA. For those of you unfamiliar with this area, it is ranked the #1 least desirable city in Virginia. The crime is high and the employment is low. One of every three people will not graduate high school. There is a heavy population of drug addicts, dealers and those trying to make enough money for the next fix in any way imaginable. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really nice parts of Petersburg as well. I was not in one of those parts.
Guess what? I can get a house cheap so I’m there!!! I see this dilapidated building that is absolutely, hideously, beautiful. It’s a mess!!! I break in through the back and immediately notice a dog carcass in what appears to be a partially occupied living room. There is a possibility that someone is living here with a dead dog.
I walk around the corner to the hall where there is a giant hole in the floor and water actually moving in the basement. I have no idea why the water is moving. The more I know about the mechanics of houses the less I understand this. Was there a sump pump working in this abandoned wretch of a building? I am sure there is no power so that is not likely. Was it rats or snakes? Lochness? Who knows? I am just glad I didn’t go solve that mystery. Based on the choices I’m hoping for Nessie.
Any person who has any common sense about them would look at this house and see there is no value here. Just walk away, right? Canine carcass, Nessie living in the basement which is exposed thanks to a giant firiggin hole in the floor. Not this gal. I go up the stairs.
Up. The. Stairs.
I know that I have to navigate around the sea monster in the floor and possibly trip over a decaying body if I had to make a quick exit. Don’t care. Still going up there.
It smells worse than one could imagine. A strong, hot, odor of feces, urine, and metal hit me in the face. Now, at this point I am half expecting to find a slaughter house full of dead bodies but rationalize….this is good now, pay attention….if there were bodies here the dog would not have starved to death.
Perfectly reasonable deduction Charity, you should keep looking.
Suddenly a man appears in the doorway with his shirt wrapped around his head, his eyes wild and yellow, and his lips dry and chalky. I realize the smell of human excrement is him as his pants appear to be soiled and have been for longer than I would like to imagine. He is 3 feet away and is looking at me like I am the other white meat and I am what’s for dinner.
*** The guy above is not the dude in the house. It is Dave Chappelle. FYI
I realize that I cannot out run this guy, I’ll fall in the loch or end up face down beside poor ole fluffy. I am going to have to use the only weapon I have…
I take a deep breath, look him dead in the eye, and say “Oh my goodness. I am so sorry.” I apologized and scooted out as calmly as possible.
I am pretty sure that my parents stopped calling me for about a year just because they didn’t want to hear the newest level of crap I had stumbled into.
Back to the meet up group in 2003ish…. a couple of weeks later I attended my very first Real Estate Networking Group. Guess what I found out? There is a company that finds vacant homes and their owners for you. They just send you a list. Do you have any idea the benefit of that knowledge!!???
1. Networking groups are a perfect place to find like minds, great ideas, what works and what works better.
Guess what else you can find?
2. The people you are looking for who are looking for you. Hard money lenders, attorneys, accountants, other investors!!!These professionals are there to meet you and become part of your team.
3. Deals are in that room!!! Are you a flipper? Maybe Johnny is a wholesaler. You can use each other. Are you interested in creative financing? Maybe Sally is about to let a deal walk because she can’t find the solution. Find your networking groups and go.
4. It’s fun AF. No group is more entertaining than a bunch of people thinking outside of the box. Make it your social time while you build the foundation for the future you want. You are still making sacrifices while enjoying a few libations and fellow entrepreneurs.
The free exchange of information is priceless. It is also important to grow a sense of comradery in an industry where we tend to work solo most of the time. This keeps us grounded when our heads are too far in the clouds, but also lifts us up when we feel discouraged. This motley group of misfit entrepreneurs become your colleagues and you theirs. Embrace it.
Happy Investing My Real Estate Junkies!!!!
I was born an entrepreneur. I am pretty certain that I was peddling passies in the hospital when the nurses left the room.All of the other kids in the neighborhood were riding bikes and playing with dolls I was selling jewelry out of a catalogue and creating a back yard consignment shop. At 21 I became a real estate investor and fell in love. This was/is/ and always will be my passion. I have been madly in love with flipping, holding, and writing offers on real estate that seem crazy for 18 years. Ladies and gents I am willing to share the love of my life with you. Maybe its polyamory maybe its jut because I can’t shut up about it. Either way I will be sharing every mistake I ever made and the lesson that came from it. I love questions. Please ask away!!!