It’s Dangerous to Go Alone! Why Relationships are the Key to Success

key to success
Image courtesy of nongpimmy.

Read time: 2 minutes

I wanted to stress the importance of relationships and having a “team” when it comes to success in any field. Working in real estate, I have connections with bankers, title companies, appraisers, inspectors, other realtors, investors, landlords, construction workers, electricians, HVAC guys, and more. Still looking for a god damn reliable and reasonably priced plumber in this town though! Without these people, it would be very difficult to achieve success in this field alone; the same goes for other fields as well.

One big issue when it comes to real estate is CASH CASH CASH. I have several people I could turn to right now who have 6 figures they’d be willing to invest/partner in the right deal. I also have a reliable banker where I get my loans. So far, I am still a “small-timer” dealing with houses with purchase prices less than 50k. I am eventually looking to move up to bigger deals and commercial real estate as my portfolio grows. Without capital to fund my deals, I wouldn’t have most of the houses I have.

Another person who has been a huge impact in my life is my mentor. He is actually an old Boy Scout leader of mine, and we reconnected after I “stole” a house from him we both made offers on. This man literally saved me from making a $70,000 mistake. I owe him a lot and he keeps me grounded from making rash decisions. I was even moved up to “partner” after going in on a deal with him recently.

Do you have a mentor or someone you can go to for advice? Do you have a “team” of people helping you to achieve success in your field? While you can grind your way to the “top”, it is much, much easier to have a support system and connections in your journey to success.

TAN: There are many ways to connect with people who can help you achieve success.

  • One of the best ways is to take successful people out to lunch. While Ramit talks in regard to entrepreneurship, the same could apply to successful people in your field or higher ups. If you are a SUPER CHEAPSKATE like me, just take them out to coffee and pick their brains. Definitely be prepared with relevant, insightful questions and don’t waste their time and DON’T ARGUE WITH ANYTHING THEY SAY, EVEN IF YOU DISAGREE.
  • I have a good friend who is working for FREE for a very successful entrepreneur and gaining INVALUABLE information and skills that I know will make him successful. Look for ways you can “intern”, moonlight, apprentice, or even volunteer to achieve valuable skills and connections in relevant fields.
  • Check out for relevant interest or networking groups. Similarly, you could become active in your local chamber of commerce and network, although I haven’t had much luck personally.


Here’s to 2013

Read time: <2 minutes

I haven’t updated in awhile because I feel as if I haven’t had much to say.  I will instead give a quick update of what’s going on in my life and hopefully a few insights as well.

I still have not sold the damn yellow house!  Now I know what they mean when they say real estate is illiquid, and the importance of having a decent cash reserve for anything that might come up with the houses.  I have lowered the price to basically my bottom dollar.  I do have someone looking at it tomorrow, so we’ll see how it goes.

I have a lot on my plate after acquiring 3 new houses with my partner.  We definitely have our work cut out for us, but I think we found some good deals.  One of them we will attempt to flip and the other two we will rent out.

I have read some great books recently that I have added to my books section.  Conversations with God is an amazing book for Christians or atheists alike!  It basically spells out exactly what I currently believe in, and I am very happy to be more firm on my beliefs when, recently, I didn’t really know what I believed in.

Another great book I just finished was Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.  It has some amazing ways to relate to people and get them to connect with you.  This book should be required reading for just about everyone.

I have a bunch of books in the pipeline and there is such a neverending supply of great books out there!

One more thing I have been getting into is frequent flyer miles.  There are some great credit card bonuses out there where you can earn some serious miles.  I recently acquired the starwoods rewards american express card and will have acquired close to 40k miles after a few months.  This is basically good for an international flight during off-peak times.  I also just applied (literally like 10 min ago) for two citicards with american airlines.  If you have good credit and are responsible with the cards, you can spend on normal things with them, like gas, groceries, eating out, whatever, and get a lot of miles and get some “free” plane tickets to anywhere in the world.  This is much better than the few hundred bucks in cash back I would have received.   This article by Maneesh and this site have been helpful in learning about this.  There are also countless forums and other sites with great info.

On a more personal note, my aunt has had cancer for quite awhile and finally sought traditional, medical treatment.  Today we found out that they will be unable to operate because there are too many spots, more than they thought.  She is quite hopeful and has been doing holistic treatment this whole time, but I am definitely concerned.

I am going to Beer and Pancakes again in February and am looking forward to it!  I have many goals I want to achieve this year and things are looking good.  Here’s to 2013.  Let’s make it the best year yet!

Lessons from a Local Landlord: Security Deposits and Big Egos

Read time: 2 minutes 30 seconds

This is the first story in a series of articles I plan on writing detailing my experiences as a landlord and the lessons learned in this crazy journey so far and in the years to come. I am going to try my absolute hardest to tell the stories from an unbiased, objective point of view.

A former tenant of mine gave me notice by text message on September 6th that he was moving out at the end of the month. I informed him that he signed a lease until the end of January of the next year, and he was technically obligated to fulfill the terms of the lease, but I would do my best to find a tenant to take his place and get him off the hook, since he had been a good tenant. I immediately posted ads on craigslist and zillow and informed some local realtors that I had an opening as of October 1. I had some interest and arranged for two showings on Friday the 14th. I informed the tenant and did the showings, and everything was ok so far. Before I left on Friday, I informed him that there was going to be a showing the next day, Saturday, in the morning sometime, but I wasn’t 100% sure of the time because they were going to get back to me that afternoon to confirm. He told me to let him know when it was. This is where I dropped the ball in that I did not inform him of the exact time it was to be Saturday morning.

Saturday morning comes around and I do the showing and think everything is fine. The tenant called me that evening, very pissed off, saying I didn’t have permission to show the house since I didn’t get back to him and he wanted his security deposit back immediately. I was very shocked and told him that I was trying my best to help him out in such a hurry, I was sorry I forgot to get back to him on the exact time, and that he was the one that was screwing me over by breaking his lease. I told him to give me his forwarding address and we ended the call.

Needless to say, I was pretty pissed off. Yes, I forgot to get back to him on an exact time, but him issuing threats and demands to me when I was just trying to help him out really, really got to me. I decided when he moved out that I was going to deduct as much as possible from the SD, simply because he was a dick to me.

After he moved out, he actually left the place in great condition. There were only a few things I could find that I could technically deduct. One of the blinds is warped where I’m assuming he had a lamp and didn’t realize it messed up the blinds. He left a huge bald spot in the lawn where he made a makeshift patio with stepping stones, as you can see in the photo. He also left his dryer there which I could deduct the cost of removal. The trash can I bought for the property was also gone, which I could deduct.

Before going through with my plan, I talked with my mentor who basically set me straight. He advised that I return his entire deposit, since I had found a renter and the tenant had left the place in good condition. After hearing this, I realized his words rang true. Yeah, I was pissed off because he threatened me when I was trying to help him out, but it just wasn’t worth it.

I ended up returning the entire deposit, even handwriting a note that apologized for the miscommunication in the showing time. It was a great feeling. I was able to let go of all the negativity, hatred, and anger that would have followed me for the rest of my life. I was able to let go of my ego and take back my happiness. All things considered, it was not worth a few bucks just to get back at someone that I felt had “done me wrong” when I was doing my best to help him.

This situation helped me to control my ego and not take things so personally. It helped me get over my need to get back at people. I was able to let go, with love. I hope this story has been some insight into landlording, and I am trying my best to be the best landlord possible. Hopefully I never have a true tenant “horror story” but I realize it will just be another lesson learned in this crazy journey. And don’t worry, you’ll definitely hear about it if it happens! :p

Always Get it in Writing

Read time: 90 seconds

I wanted to share a recent experience that makes me want to emphasize how important is it to “always get it in writing”.  I have been in the process of purchasing a mobile home park over the last month.  I had originally tentatively agreed  to buy it for 100k with a portion of it to be seller-financed.  I was supposed to meet with the guy, and he ended up passing away unexpectedly.  I was now in talks with his widow.  She was not interested in seller-financing so we negotiated a price of 75k.  I tentatively agreed on that price.  One of the homes ended up being sold and moved out and there was a zoning issue.  We both met with the zoning coordinator who assured us that homes could be moved in and out, just no new lots could be created.  After all that we tentatively agreed on a price of 70k and she’d throw in a fixer-upper house and a small lot.  We set the time to sign the contract with the banker at 2pm last Monday.  I talked with my mentor about everything and he told me to make sure I got what the zoning director said in writing.  Needless to say, I called the zoning director at noon on the day we were supposed to sign and asked to get everything in writing.  She said she could not get it in writing because she was looking into it further.  I postponed the signing.  I got a call from her this morning and she said she talked with the city attorney and some other people and the ruling was that homes could not be moved into the park because of the zoning!

I was literally 2 hours away from signing this thing, but the fact that you cannot move homes in makes it a dying park.  It will just slowly die off and there is no future income potential.  I would have been pretty screwed.

Also, the fact that I only gave verbal offers and she tentatively accepted them shows that the seller should have gotten it in writing as well, since I would have been locked in and the park would have been my problem!  This is why people typically put down some sort of earnest money when buying real estate so the seller gets some compensation if the buyer backs out.

The moral of the story is to always get it in writing!  Even on a napkin at a lunch meeting, get something in writing if you want to guarantee it will go through.  Verbal agreements and promises mean nothing, signed documents hold up in court.  Remember to DYODD and to always get it in writing!

Fund your Freedom

Image: Michal Marcol /

Read time: 90 seconds

What are you doing right now to fund your freedom? While some of you may be maxing out your 401k or IRA, a lot of people I know personally seem to not worry too much about the future. While traditional methods like I just mentioned are better than nothing, I would highly recommend that people take measures to fund their freedom now to get out of the rat race!

It is surprising to me how many people are willing to sacrifice an amazing future, just to get by in the present. Does watching American Idol truly make you happy? Why are you willing to blow your money on stupid shit you don’t need, while being a slave to the system and the 9 to 5? Do you want to be able to take as many vacations as you want, do the things you want, and truly be free? Why are you sacrificing an amazing life by giving in to “instant gratification” having an entitlement mindset, and thinking you deserve the good things in life now, but are not willing to put in the hard work?

Most people prostitute themselves Monday-Friday only for the freedom of a weekend. How many times do we hear TGIF? Or how Mondays suck so much? If you want to be free from the system, you have to start doing the hard work, now, to live the good life!

If I told you I made 50k a year would you consider me rich? What if I told you I don’t have to work at all? Does that put a new spin on things? I am currently trying to hit my goal of 50k a year through my real estate endeavors and now my ecommerce and online businesses. These endeavors will fund my freedom. I am also willing to sacrifice things like shopping, driving a nice car, and other things most people feel they “need” in order to achieve my personal freedom from “the man” and the system. Time is our most valuable resource.

TAN: You must start looking into the methods that will help you achieve your personal freedom. The key here is that you must learn something new and be able to apply the knowledge. You cannot expect to sit back and win the lottery. Learn a useful skill and offer your services, learn how to start a website and make money online, learn how to save money – all of these things will help you to fund your freedom. Basically, if you’re sitting around doing nothing in your free time, you are wasting precious time that could be used to create for yourself a better future and an amazing life. You must be able to create value in some way, then the money will take care of itself. Invest in yourself now; I guarantee it will pay off in terms of a better life! 🙂