In 2007 I made less than $30,000 the entire year. In 2014 I had two real estate businesses that made well over $100,000 and I have two more businesses that are on track to make over $100,000 in 2015 or 2016. It was not easy to build multiple income streams of over $100,000. It was a combination of hard work, attitude change, goal setting and delegation that has brought me success. The rate at which success came once I changed how I did business was shocking and awesome.
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Why did I make less than $30,000 in 2007?
When I made less than $30,000 in 2007 I was trying to sell houses as a real estate agent and flip houses with my father. I loved flipping houses, but was less excited about selling houses as a real state agent. I did not like cold calling, holding open houses, talking on the phone or many of the other tasks it takes to be a successful agent. I wanted things to happen for me, without stepping out of my comfort zone. It was no surprise that I did not find much success and I did not make much money as an agent. It is pretty rare to find success if you aren’t willing to step out of your comfort zone and take chances.
The biggest mistake I made that year was fixing up one of our flips myself. I replaced windows, doors, a kitchen, baths, flooring and fixtures. I worked very hard to fix up this house and it took me six months to finish. I learned a lot about construction during this process, but I also learned to never fix up a house myself again!
While I was busy fixing up this house, we were not buying more flips and I was not selling any houses as an agent. I didn’t have time to do anything else and it was not fun doing manual labor every day. Even though I thought working on this house myself would save me money, it cost me much more money in opportunities lost. The really sad part was we lost money on this house, because of a declining market and it took me so long to repair it.
Luckily I did not let this experience ruin my outlook on real estate. I actually used it as a positive to teach me what not to do in the future. I decided to stop doing any repairs on flips, because it was not worth my time. I also decided to focus on how I could make more money, not just hope I things would eventually change without me doing something different. When I decided doing the work on a flip would save me money, I never made a plan or wrote out the numbers. I just assumed by doing manual labor myself I would come out ahead.
One of the changes I made was I wrote down a plan on how I could make $100,000 as a real estate agent. I set some goals and then I magically found the world of REO.
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How was I able to go from $30,000 a year to over $100,000 a year?
A REO agent works with banks to sell foreclosures. I knew there were a lot of foreclosures in our market at the time and that I would be awesome at selling REOs. Most of the work with REOs is done through email and you don’t have to be on the phone all day or show houses to buyers. Of course getting in with the banks would take me completely out of my comfort zone. I had no idea how to get REO listings so I started calling banks to see how I could list their foreclosures. This was not easy for me, but it worked! A couple of banks told me what asset management companies they used and told me I needed to sign up with them. I signed up with a couple of asset management companies (actually all I could find!) and I started to get broker price opinion (BPO) assignments.
After getting some BPO’s I got my first REO assignment a few months after cold calling those banks. I could not believe it and I had to read the email about four times to make sure I read it right. I had no idea what I was doing, but I read all the instructions as carefully as possible and completed all the tasks asked of me. Looking back, I really wish I would have done some research or found some help on how to work with banks. But I managed to sell houses, I kept getting more assignments and I started working with more and more banks.
Two years later I was working with about 10 banks and asset management companies. I was making over $100,000 a year from just the real estate side alone! While working on my REO career I did not do many flips with my father. I was focused on REO like a hawk and that hurt the flipping business. But I didn’t care because I was making more than I ever had before and I had created it all myself.
I created the REO and BPO started kit to help real estate agents get listings from banks. You can check it out here.
How did I create a second $100,000 a year real estate business?
My REO career continued to take off and a few years after starting REO I was selling over 100 houses a year and making a lot of money. I was also working 60, 70 or 80 hours a week and I knew I could not continue like that, or at least I did not want to. I hired my first assistant in 2010 and delegated many of the tasks I did not like doing or that were not that important. I was scared to delegate any important tasks in the beginning, because I did not want anything getting screwed up. When I hired an assistant I had so much more time! I was able to look at the big picture of my business and see that I had completely ignored flipping for a couple of years.
I was still working with my father and I started to focus on buying flips again. Focus is a key word, because when I was halfway trying to sell houses and halfway trying to flip it did not work out so well. I was lucky I had a partner to help me flip in the beginning, but I had to give up a huge percentage of the profits. I was responsible for finding most our flips, determining what to repair and selling them. I only got 30 percent of the profit, but I was buying a lot of houses and I did not need to use my own money to do it. We averaged over $30,000 a flip so we had to flip about 10 houses a year for me to make $100,000, but I did it.
When we had more success with the flips I let my assistant do more of the REO work and I focused on building the flipping business. I wrote out a plan for how many flips we could do, how much money we would need and we started looking for more ways to buy properties.
Did I really start two $100,000 real estate businesses?
As you can see I had two sources of income over $100,000, but were they businesses I had started? That could be debated, because my father owned both businesses at the time. I also was responsible for the majority of sales on the real estate side and most of the work on the flip side. Things went well with both businesses for many years, but I knew something had to change. In 2013 I approached my father with an idea and later that year bought him out of both businesses. I paid him enough to be able to retire and I took over the real estate team and fix and flip business.
After buying out my father I now had complete control and 100 percent ownership of two business that each made well over $100,000 a year. It was very stressful and a huge process, but well worth it. I have since built those businesses up even more and now have 9 people on my real estate team and flipped 12 houses in 2014. I started two more businesses on my own and they are both close to making $100,000 a year.
How will I make over $100,000 a year with rental properties?
Ironically the two businesses I started are very connected. I bought my first rental property in 2010 and have since bought 15 with a 16th under contract. I started Invest Four More (this blog you are reading) in March of 2013 to chronicle my rental properties and offer advice on buying rental properties. Over the years I have made about $500 a month in positive cash flow on each rental property. In 2014 I made almost $70,000 on my rentals, which equaled almost exactly $500 a month. I own 15 rental properties now, but one of those is a turn-key rental I bought with my IRA. I only count 14 of those rentals as producing income, since the turn-key income is going to my IRA and I can’t touch it for a very long time! With 14 rentals I am making about $7,000 a month or $84,000 a year. I just need three more properties to make over $100,000 a year with my rentals and I have one under contract now. I don’t plan to stop there with a goal to buy 100 rental properties by 2023.
The great thing about the rental properties is they produce money every month with almost no work from me. That steady income gave me the confidence to buy my Lamborghini.
How will I make over $100,000 a year with a real estate blog?
The other business that will make $100,000 soon is my blog Invest Four More. I don’t talk much about the money the site makes, but it does very well and I have worked very hard on it. In fact, I spend more time on the blog than I do any other business. The blog makes money with products I sell at the shop, affiliate programs, eBooks, referrals and some advertising. Over the last few months I have had revenues over five figures for the blog. However, I am putting a lot of money back into the site.
When I started the blog I had no idea if it would ever make money or how it would make money. I had never blogged before or written any kind of article or paper since college. After I started researching real estate online, I found real estate guru’s charging huge amounts of money and other sites condemning any and every real estate person trying to sell education. I understood the reason the real estate guru’s charged so much, because their time is worth a lot. I also saw the viewpoint from the anti-gurus who thought they were a rip off. I see decent gurus and those that are out to make money and screw people over.
When I decided to create products for the site I was in a bit of a conundrum. I had read a lot of information about how all real estate gurus are bad and a ripoff. At the same time I was spending more time on the blog than anything of my other businesses and if I was to continue writing I had to make some money at it. I am also a very competitive person and setting goals and striving to reach those goals is fun for me. I decided that products I created could help people be more successful as real estate agents or real estate investors. This also allowed me to give special attention to people who bought the products. There are a lot of people who email me and a few who manage to find my phone number (there is a reason my phone number is not listed on the site). I try my best to respond to all emails and comments, but I can’t give detailed advice to everyone (there aren’t enough hours).
When I created products I made them as good as they could be, with access to me and as affordable as possible. I still have almost 400 free articles on the site for people who can’t or don’t want to get personalized help. If you are interested in either of my big products that come with conference calls and coaching you can find them here:
The key to building a successful blog has been writing and writing a lot. I write all the articles myself, except for a few guest blogs. I edit most of the articles myself (as many of you are aware I am not amazing at grammar), I create videos, I do the podcast and I there are many other behind the scenes things we are always testing and trying. The traffic is close to 300,000 views a month and that is almost all from writing a lot of articles.
What will my focus be for the future of my real estate businesses?
Going forward I have many goals and visions for my businesses.
- Real estate team: I have a team manager, six licensed agents, a few assistants and the team runs by itself for the most part. My main job is to handle REO listings, but there are so few in Colorado right now that it is not time-consuming.
- Fix and flip Business: I hired a contractor to be my full-time rehab manager a couple of months ago. This has freed up so much time and gotten my rehab schedules back on track. This one hire should allow me to flip more houses and make more money. I also have the option of starting a contracting business in the future with him, which could be another $100,000 plus business.
- Rental Properties: I plan to keep buying rental properties and keep increasing my monthly cash flow. It takes sacrifice to spend so much money on the rentals, but it is really starting to pay off now.
- Invest Four More: This is where I see myself spending the majority of my time in the future. I love to write, I love to interact with other investors and I love to try to help them succeed. The world of internet marketing is fascinating and there is so much to learn. In fact this year I am going to a blogging conference instead of a REO conference. The biggest problem from the blog from a business perspective is I have to keep writing and it won’t run by itself. But, I don’t mind the writing at least for now.
Creating multiple income streams and businesses was not easy. It did not work well when I started out trying to build multiple businesses at once. What really worked was when I focused on one business, build it up and then move on to another idea after the first business was sustainable. You have to make sure the people you hire are doing their job and the business you aren’t focusing on stays strong. It does not good to start business after business if the first business fail and stop making money after you change focus.