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The Education of a Real Estate Investor

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Today's Article: "The Education of a Real Estate Investor"


What do you think of when you hear the word education? Do you think of the fundamentals, like the ABC’s? Do images of the hallowed halls of your alma mater come to mind? What about practical education? Did you need a certain degree or even certification for your current profession? Any or all of these things are reasonable interpretations of what it means to be educated in today’s society. That said, how does education apply to real estate?

Real estate investing, for as valuable commodity as the product is, is a profession that doesn’t require a degree to get started. Sure, policy makers when it comes to real estate interest rates and such have a finance background. Sure, some of your team members have a solid educational background (CPA’s and attorneys come to mind) but most were not trained in real estate specific areas. What about realtors and mortgage brokers? Basically, it works like this. You take a training course over a few weekends, pass a test, and you can be licensed to either broker real estate or issue mortgages. Not exactly the pinnacle of educational scrutiny, now is it?

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not scoffing at the training certifications for these professions because you, as a real estate investor, need even less formal education to do what you do. There is no requisite certificate or degree that stipulates you are able to invest in real estate. All you need is the desire, right? Oh, I wish it were just that simple. If you think about it, part of the animosity faced by real estate investors from other professionals in the field may be due to just that. We’re out there making offers, working deals (at least if we’re doing what we’re supposed to) without any sort of training. From the standpoint of the critics, it’s just a step shy of real estate anarchy! I of course don’t see it that way and yet I find it useful to see things from an alternative perspective from time to time.

Although informal and absent professional credentials or certificates, education for the professional real estate investor is available and can take any number of forms. Many investors to their credit and benefit take advantage of several of the education options available to them. Some of the most common forms of real estate investor education include:

  • Books and/or audio materials
  • Attending meetings at a local Real Estate Investor Association (REIA)
  • Seminars
  • Personal coaching/mentoring
  • Experience (aka the School of Hard Knocks)

Let’s take a moment to explore books/audio material. In posts to follow, we will go through each of the forms I listed previously. Again, while no one educational outlet can ever promise to deliver everything you need to be successful, every little bit helps and can help build your arsenal of knowledge.

Books and/or Audio Materials

Never underestimate the power of a good read. I heard someone say that once and I have no doubt there is truth to the statement. As an investor, however, you must look at books (or their audio equivalents) as resources, rather than your primary source of education. Just to rehash, books can provide you with the following: Basic real estate knowledge, inspiration, a financial vocabulary, an overview of real estate techniques and examples of how to interact with clients.

The list could be longer but my point here is that books are a basic type of resource, giving you so-called ‘literacy’ in your craft. They may also be your source of inspiration. Perhaps it was a book that first gave you the idea to become a real estate investor and, if so, that’s great, because for me it was a book that originally sparked my intrigue with this business. What books do not and cannot give you however, are real world experience and they should never be a substitute for going out, interacting with other investors, building a professional team, and simply working the business.

I’ve seen many an investor who had an impressive real estate “library”, full of books, home study courses, and even audio and video materials. Sure, it looks impressive, but the real validation of a real estate investor comes from actually doing deals. I’m in no way discouraging you from acquiring reading materials, as these will all help you educate yourself in some way and build the confidence in your ability to step out of your comfort zone to succeed.

What you want to avoid is the tendency to keep acquiring more books, looking for that proverbial ‘golden nugget,’ when your fear of taking action is what is actually holding you back. This may not apply to you, but if it does, take a more rounded approach to your education, get out there and start physically working the business, and it will be easier to cross that hurdle into success.


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