What I Would do Different in Real Estate, Goal Setting and Investing if I Was 22 Again

What I would do if I was 22 againLinkedIn had a very cool idea for contributors to their site; what would you do different if you were 22 again?  When I was 22, I was just out of college and starting my real estate career.  I worked on fix and flips with my father and sold houses as a real estate agent.  It was a huge help being able to learn from my father, but it took me a long time to find my niche.  I tried to do exactly what he did for a long time and I did okay, but I did not have any passion for traditional real estate.  I preferred working on fix and flips and finding great deals on houses over trying to sell houses to people I did not know.  Once I found my niche, created my plan, started making goals and thinking about what I wanted to accomplish, my career and real estate investing took off.  If I had started planning and thinking about what I really wanted in life when I was 22, instead of just letting life happen I may be retired now at 35!  #IfIWere22

Continue Reading Below

What I didn’t know at age 22 that I know now about goals and planning

When I was 22, I was interested in having fun and I assumed I would find a way to make a lot of money.  The problem was I never made a plan or thought about exactly how I would make a lot of money.  I thought I would stumble upon some awesome idea or something would happen to me to make me a lot of money; whether it be in real estate or something else.  If you never have a plan to get what you want, the chances of ever getting what you want are extremely slim.  We can’t wait for something to happen to us, we have to make things happen for ourselves.

I was also afraid to set goals when I was younger.  In the back of my mind I thought if I set goals then I might not reach them.  I didn’t want to be a failure and not reach those goals, so I took the easy way out and did not create any goals.  I told myself that I didn’t need goals, because I could succeed without them and all those people saying you have to have goals to succeed don’t know what they are talking about.  In fact, it was me that had no idea what I was talking about and I was making excuses.  In 2007 I started unknowingly making goals for my real estate business.  I got tired of doing okay,but not being able to save any money.  I planned out how many real estate deals I would have to do to make the money I wanted to make.  After I started thinking about how many deals I needed, I became frustrated because it seemed like such a huge number.  After I figured out how many deals I needed to make the type of money I wanted to make ($100,000 a year), a funny thing happened; I discovered the REO world and I reached that goal in less than two years.

How setting goals helped me find my niche in real estate and become a REO agent

A short while after I wrote out how many deals I would have to do to reach my monetary goals, a BPO (broker price opinion) company called and asked if I could do a BPO for them.  I had no idea what a BPO was, but I quickly researched it and I agreed.  A BPO is a valuation performed by a real estate agent that typically gives a value to a bank for a distressed property, refinance or to remove mortgage insurance.  After doing the BPO I did more research and found that BPOs can lead to REO listings and being a REO listing agent seemed like the career I wanted in real estate.  REO agents don’t deal with typical buyers and sellers, they deal with banks and the good REO agents sell a lot of houses.  Fast forward a couple of years, and I was selling well over 100 houses a year, completing almost 1,000 BPOs a year and I was able to save enough money to start investing in rental properties.

It may seem random that I someone called me out of the blue to complete a BPO and that lead to my REO career.  However, after seeing how many houses I had to sell to reach my financial goals, I started thinking about how I could sell that many houses.  I started looking into different marketing techniques, I started researching different facets of real estate.  Instead of letting things happen, I started to make them happen and when that BPO opportunity came along I jumped on it.  In the past, I may have told the company “sorry I don’t do BPOs” and never thought about it again.

How do I set goals and plan now?

I have over 100 goals that I keep track of and review constantly.  The goals remind me of what I want in life and help me keep focused and give me a better chance to accomplish everything I want to accomplish.  My goals range from huge goals like my plan to purchase 100 rental properties, to small goals like doing nice things for my wife (on second thought that is not a small goal).  I also choose a couple of breakthrough goals to focus on at any given time.  Breakthrough goals are the goals that would make the biggest difference in my life now and help me achieve much more than I otherwise would.  I take my break-through goals and I write down what I need to accomplish them, who I need help from to accomplish them and how long it will take me to accomplish them. I then write out a plan for what steps I will take to accomplish that goal.  It is amazing how quickly I achieve my break-through goals when I focus on them.  Here is an article that details some of my goals I set for 2014.

How I would buy real estate and invest differently if I was 22

When I was 23 I bought a house, but I didn’t think a lot about the process.  I knew buying a house was supposed to be a good investment and I wanted to buy the most expensive house I could afford.  I was not married, I did not have a lot of expenses and I ended up buying a $185,000 house.  The house was not that great of a deal, because the real estate market was very strong and there were few foreclosures.  I always made my payments on that house until the day I sold it 7 years after I bought it.  I also put about $20,000 of work into the house to update it and keep up on maintenance.  I ended up selling the house for less than I bought it for thanks to a declining market and paying top dollar for the house when I bought it.  That was not a very good investment!

When I buy houses now, I always buy houses below market value.  I buy foreclosures, short sales, estate sales or regular sales that are cheap for one reason or another.  The second house I bought was a foreclosure and I ended up selling it three years later and making almost $100,000 profit.  I also started to invest in rental properties after I bought my second house, which I should have done much sooner.  I own ten rental properties now and they are making me over $5,000 a month in income after expenses.  I bought my first rental after I was 30 and if I would have started when I was 22 I may be retired now!

rental property #1

My first rental

How I would start investing in rental properties if I were 22

If I were 22 again, I would use a completely different strategy than I do now to buy rental properties.  For most investors it takes at least 20% down to purchase investment property and that makes it tough to buy rental properties.  If you can buy a rental property as an owner occupant to begin with and then rent the home out after a year, you can buy an investment property with much less money.  If I could do it all over again, I would buy a house that would make a great rental and was a great deal at the same time.  I would live in the house for a year and fix it up while I lived there.  After the one year was up (most banks require an owner occupant to live in a house at least a year), I would rent out the house.  I would then buy another house that would be a great rental and repeat the process over and over.  With no wife or kids, it is not too difficult to buy houses frequently and move every year.  Now that I have a wife and twins, this would be a very unpleasant experience.

Being an entrepreneur is the way to make a lot of money

I never joined the corporate world, but I have a lot of friends who did.  I am extremely happy I never joined the corporate world for a few reasons.

  • I never liked people telling me what to do, so I do not get along with bosses very well.
  • I don’t like working a regular schedule all the time; I like taking time off to being able to watch my kids activities during the day or go on vacation.
  • I like having control of my work and what is going on in my life.
  • I like having the ability to create a business and make a lot of money while doing it.

When I started out in real estate, I was not much of an entrepreneur.  I followed my fathers footsteps and did what he did to make money in real estate.  It worked out okay, but I did not have control of the business and I was not creating anything.  It took me a long time, but I took over the business and bought out my father in 2013.  I now control everything; our real estate team of 9, a fix and flip business that completes 10-15 flips a year, InvestFourMore which is a blog I created about real estate and my own REO listing business.  After taking over, I took another huge step in my real estate career.  Having complete control is an awesome thing and my business has taken off.

Ferguson Team Many people wonder how I can handle so many things at once, but the great thing about being an entrepreneur is you don’t do it all yourself.  Once you build a foundation and start having success, you can hire people to help with the business.  The bigger team you have, the less work you have to do yourself and the more time you can spend with your family, while still making a great living.  If I was 22 again, I would start on my own and create my business as soon as possible.


There are many things I would do differently if I was 22 again, but I can’t go back in time and I am perfectly happy where I am now.  I continue to build a business, look for new opportunities, have as much fun as possible and spend as much time with my family as I can.  If you are 22, 32, 42, 52, 62, 72 or older you will get as much out of life as you are willing to put into it.  You don’t have to be young to create a business, start making goals or start living the life you always wanted.  If you don’t ever plan or set those goals, it will be very tough to live the life you want.


  1. David July 4, 2014
  2. Sean Webking June 23, 2014
    • Mark Ferguson June 23, 2014
    • Mark Ferguson June 2, 2014
  3. Tyson May 29, 2014
  4. Chris May 29, 2014
    • Mark Ferguson May 29, 2014

Add Comment