Podcast 28 What are the Biggest Mistakes I Have Made in Real Estate?

On this episode of the Invest Four More Real Estate Podcast I am going to talk about my history as an agent, investor and some challenging situations I have had to overcome. I became an agent right after college in 2001 and although it was nice working with my father, it also presented some challenges and may have stunted my growth in some areas. As an agent, a fix and flipper and a rental property owner I have run into some unique situations and some very frustrating situations as well. Some of those were my fault and some completely out of my control. On this episode I discuss some of the more memorable mistakes and situations I have been in like buying a meth houses that then burned down, having flips involved in lawsuits for over a year, hiring mistakes and trying to complete the rehab on a flip myself.

What was the biggest mistake I ever made?

It is hard to pinpoint the biggest mistake I have ever made, but I think not buying rentals properties sooner was one of the biggest. I have lost money on fix and flips, I have hired horrible contractors who cost me a ton of money, but I could get over those problems. I can’t go back in time and buy more rentals! I am happy that I have 16 and that is more than I thought I would have at this time when I first started, but I would be much better off if I had bought more sooner. I also never took advantage of low money down options as an investor. By the time I learned about a hard money refinance into a conventional loan, I already had 10 mortgages and could not take advantage of that technique. I bought my first personal residence at market value in 2002 and did not sell it until 2009. I could have been buying properties as an owner occupant and turning them into rentals that whole time with very little money.

On the plus side I did not know as much about rentals back then and what a good rental property was. If I had bought a lot of rentals before the real estate crash, I may not be in as good of shape now if I didn’t buy for cash flow. Had I bought for cash flow and bought great deals, I would be in better shape now even with the real estate crash.

What mistakes or situations have I run into flipping houses?

I flipped houses with my dad since I first got my license. I took over the business in 2013 and really ramped things up since then. My dad and I ran into a number of situations with our flips.

  • We bought a house at the trustee sale that turned out to be a meth house. When the owner was in jail one of his buddies set the house on fire and it was a total loss. Our insurance covered it, but not before we were interviewed by the police and the insurance company did their own investigation to make sure we did not set the fire!
  • We bought another house at the Public Trustee where the previous sued the bank right before the sale. The house was tied up in a frivolous lawsuit for a year, before the lawsuit was thrown out and we could sell the house.
  • We overpaid for houses and lost money once we realized the inside of the home was not quite as nice as we imagined it to be.
  • Back in 2006 I thought it would be a good idea to complete the rehab on a flip myself. I thought it was an even better idea to pick a 100-year-old house that need a complete remodel. Long story short, it took me 6 months to do the work, I had to bring in a contractor to finish and I lost money on the house. I learned to never do the work again myself!

Doing too much busy work

Speaking of doing all the work myself on a flip, I still find myself doing too much busy work. I pride myself in delegating and maximizing my time, but once in a while I get stuck doing little things that I know someone else could do better and faster than me. It also took me a while to embrace delegating tasks and feeling comfortable letting go of control of everything. I have to spend time training my staff and making sure they know what to do, or I can get into trouble. But if I train people right, check up on them once in a while and pick the right people it makes my life so much easier!

Programs mentioned in this episode

I have a couple coaching programs available for investors looking to avoid the mistakes I have made or learn from the success I have found. The Complete Blueprint for Successful Real Estate Investing is an awesome program that comes with conference calls with me and email coaching. Shoot me an email for a discount code at Mark@investfourmore.com. You can also email me about another mentorship/mastermind program I just started.

If you liked this episode, be sure to leave us a review!




[0:00:58] MF: Hi everyone, it’s Mark Ferguson with Invest Four More. Welcome to another episode of the Invest Four More Real Estate Podcast. Today, I’m going to talk about my history as an agent, an investor and some of the biggest mistakes, biggest losses I’ve had as an agent or investor, how I learned from them, how I change things from what I learned and then if those really affected me in a bad way or if it’s actually a good thing that help me achieve more and get farther faster because I made those mistakes.


Because I think learning from actions is probably the best way you can possibly learn to do something. Especially if you lose money, it engrains in your head never to do that again, that’s for sure, it’s much easier than reading a book or hearing stories about what other people are doing, if you do it yourself, boy will that teach you a lesson. So I’d like to get started right away, get going, I’ve got a lot of information to cover, should be pretty entertaining I hope for you guys. The first thing, I’ll give you a little bit of history about how I got started.


I got a degree in finance from the University of Colorado at Boulder and I graduated in 2001. Couldn’t really find a job that I wanted so I went to work part time for my father who had been a real estate agent since 1978. As I worked part time, I realize real estate was pretty fun especially because he flipped houses occasionally and I really like the flipping side of it.


So I ended up getting my license, becoming a real estate agent and to be honest, the first five years of my career, I didn’t do very good as an agent. I didn’t sell many houses, I didn’t really build up a network of contacts or people. I like the flipping side but the agent side were just kind of, you know, I didn’t really put my all into it, I didn’t focus on it obviously, didn’t do very well for me because of that.


So some of the things I really learned starting out working with my father which I might add, many people think that was an absolute huge advantage to get into the real estate business and it was as far as learning to flip but it’s also kind of a crutch where I didn’t have to do it all on my own, I had someone I could kind of rely on, work with and I knew if something went bad, it wasn’t the end of the world.


Where if I would have gone out on my own right away, didn’t have any help and have someone else there. I think I would have been much more successful much faster than actually working with someone like my father. He was awesome, did a great job helping me out but at the same time, it didn’t push me like it would have if it was on my own, if I knew, I failed miserably, there was no one to blame but me and no one there to help me out.


So in those first five years, I really focused on online leads as an agent, I focused on internet, on email, I didn’t want to call people and it did not work well for me, I was trying to follow in my father’s footsteps how he sold real estate but at the same time I wasn’t willing to constantly call people, constantly follow up with people which is what you really need to do to be a successful agent.


So I love the flipping side, I love doing that, we had a lot of success on that side but when I really became successful as an agent was when I found the world of REO, HUD homes and listing foreclosures. That’s really when I started to go out on my own, I started to set goals, really started to plan my life and career and things just took off as soon as I did that. I remember, I kind of accidentally set some goals, I was annoyed because I wasn’t making as much money as I thought I should, I didn’t think our team structure was setup right.


I was kind of blaming everybody else for why I wasn’t making as much money as I thought I should. I wrote down this long list of what I would have to do, how many houses I’d have to sell, all these things I’d have to do to be as successful as I wanted to be on the team structure, I was trying to prove that the team structure wasn’t fair to me which was very near sighted, it wasn’t a good attitude to have at all. I came up with this absurd number but I’d have to sell a hundred houses to make what I thought was really good money and be really successful which at the time just seemed absolutely crazy to me.


I wrote that down and shortly after doing that kind of accidental goal list and this business plan that I thought was absurd, I started to get into REO and HUD and the way that happened was, a BPO company randomly called me, Broker Price Opinion Company and asked me if I want to do a BPO. I had no idea what a BPO was, no clue. I’m like, “What are you talking about?” And they say, “It’s a broker price opinion, you drive by a property, do a short report, pull up some comps and we’ll pay you $50 for it.”


I was like, “Alright, I got plenty of time right now, so I could try this out.” Back then it was 2006 or 7 I think, they faxed me all the instructions, they didn’t email it to me, it was faxed. Got the instructions due to report, sent it in and they sent me my check a couple of weeks later. I’m like, “Wow, that wasn’t too bad, it didn’t take me a lot of time.” So I really started researching BPO’s and the REO world. And after researching it, I thought, “Man, this is the business for me, it’s all done through mostly email, it’s task oriented, I don’t have to call people all the time.”


Really just blew my mind. I’m like, “This is what I’m going to do,” and then in the back of my head I thought, “Hey, I’m an investor too, we’re buying flips. So maybe I can just buy some of the bank’s properties directly as an investor too and do even better.” Now after getting into the REO and BPO business, I realized, that was a huge conflict of interest and you can’t buy your own REO listings but at the time it seemed like a good idea.


So if you’re thinking of becoming an REO agent, HUD agent and thinking it will be a good source of deals for yourself, it is not. It is actually the opposite because I’m not allowed to buy any HUD homes, I’m not allowed to buy any REO’s from certain banks, even if I’m not the listing agent, this just flat out not allowed because they figure it’s a conflict of interest.


But moving on, I started calling banks, got way out of my comfort zone just called up banks, cold called them, asked them, “How do I start listing properties for you? How do I get into this business?” And a few of them told me, some places to sign up to management companies that used to sell their REO’s. I started signing up with every company I could and within a year, I think I had sold 15 REO properties that first year and my second year I sold 50 and the third year I sold over a hundred REO and HUD homes.


My crazy plan that I thought was absolutely absurd, ended up becoming true and working out. The thing I learned about that, always set goals, always make a detailed plan, if you don’t have a plan, if you just wing it, it’s really, really tough to become successful. I don’t think you should over plan, I don’t think you have to have every single detail planned out before you start something but you do need to have an idea of what you want to do.


If you’re in sales, how many sales you want to make, how much money you want to make, you’ve got to have some kind of idea of where you want to go if you want to get there. If you’re just winging it, just floating in the wind, you’re never going to be very successful. So I learned that goals, making a plan and focus helped me tremendously become successful.


While I was doing the REO side, our flipping business declined a lot because I was not spending time on the flips, there were times I was working 12 hour days trying to handle all the REO work, it was a ton of work doing the BPO’s, the inspections, I was doing almost all of it myself. At some point, I realized I had to hire some help, hire an assistant, things got much easier and later on after I built that business up, got it kind of, you know, some assistance in place where they can handle the busy work, then I started focusing on the flipping, on rental properties later on.


That’s another thing I learned too was if you try and do too many things at once, it’s very hard to succeed at any of them. People see me flipping houses, they see me running a real estate team, they see me with rental properties, they see me writing a blog and all of a sudden, they want to do all those things at once from the very beginning and it does not work that way, it’s going to be almost impossible to succeed if you start four different businesses at once.


How I build up my business and my success was building one business at a time, once that business became successful, you put systems in place, hire staff, delegate tasks so that you have more time. Once you have more time, then you can focus on another business or another investing opportunity. So when I was trying to do flips and being a real estate agent at the same time, kind of just not focusing on either one, neither one of them did, was really successful like I wanted them to be.


Alright, moving on to some other losses, mistakes I learned about. When my father and I were buying flips in the beginning, I’d say 90% of our properties, we bought from the public trustee, the foreclosure sale at the court house steps. When you buy those properties, many times you can’t see inside of them, you don’t have tile commitments, you don’t know if you’re buying a first, second lean, many different things come with buying to court house steps, it’s a very risky proposition.


You have to have cash right away to buy those properties. For the most part, we did very well buying those properties but once in a while, we ran into some issues, some problems. I’m going to talk about a couple of those problems and things we learned along the way buying from the public trustee. The first one we did, which was not our fault, we had absolutely no way to foresee this happening.


We bought a house that appeared vacant, we always drive by, look at the houses first, we could peek in the windows, totally vacant, ended up buying at the trustee sale, open up the house, get it re-keyed, it’s vacant, open the garage and boom, there’s a brand new BMW in the garage. We’re sitting there thinking, “Alright, that’s kind of cool but at the same time why is there a BMW in the garage? This is not a good thing, you can’t just take a free car you find. There’s got to be a reason it’s here, it’s probably not a reason that is good for us.”


We did some research, found the previous owners, we realized after talking to them that that car was theirs and they thought they still own the home even though it was sold into foreclosure sale. After doing some more digging, an attorney or a paralegal had convinced them that the foreclosure was done wrong and if they sued the bank, they would get the house for free.


All their debts would be wiped off even though they hadn’t made payments for over a year and they would get this house for free. Long story short, the filed a lawsuit against the bank like the day before the foreclosure sale, it never showed up on the title documents that we pulled, it was never recorded till after the sale, we had no way of knowing what was happening.


They sued the bank, they went to court, there was absolutely nothing for this lawsuit to stand on, completely frivolous but it took over a year for the court to even look at it. As soon as they looked at it, the judge said, this is worthless and threw it out immediately. But it took a year for them just to look at it and that entire time we had to sit on this house, hold it and we couldn’t work on it, we couldn’t do anything, we had to wait for the court to look at it.


To speed the process up, we hired our own attorneys because the bank did not care, they had already sold the house, the foreclosure sale, they had no motivation for this lawsuit to go quickly or move forward, we had to hire our own attorneys, to try to make the process move forward quicker and that cost us money. In the end, we got the house, we sold it but I think we ended up losing some money on it because of this lawsuit that came up.


Not really mistake, not really something we could have prevented but it’s just a lesson we learned about the trustee sale that nothing is guaranteed there. You never know what’s going to happen and you have to be very careful when buying from the courthouse steps. Another fun story we had happened to us was a house we bought at the trustee sale, this house is occupied and after we bought, well yeah we purchased the home, went to the occupant, we always offer cash for keys, we say, “Hey, if you move out by such and such date, we’ll give you a few thousand dollars. If it’s clean and good shape.”


We try not to evict people, try and make a smooth transaction, we did that, came to an agreement. We noticed a few things after we bought the house, actually before too I think. At that time we didn’t think about it. One, there are cameras all over the outside of the house, security cameras. Now I know if I see that, the first thing that pops into my head is drug house. It doesn’t mean that it’s a drug house but that’s the first thing that pops into my head.


We noticed that when we went to the house to sign documents, we noticed it smelled weird we thought it was just cigarette smoke but this was about 2003, it was a long time ago. Long story short, a few weeks later, we look in the newspaper and the headline is, meth house busted. And I was like, “Oh that’s crazy, there haven’t been too many meth houses,” and we didn’t even really know what meth was at the time, barely.


Looked into it a little more and we realize, “That’s our house that we had bought.” What happened was, the owner went to a gas station, filled his car up with gas, took off without paying, there’s a cop like right there in the gas station, he followed the guy home, the guy walked into his house, left his door wide open, never shut his door, the cop walked up, walked into the house because it was an open door, caught them cooking meth right there in the house.


Not only were they smoking meth, doing meth, it was a meth lab. The story gets even better. The guy goes to jail, we didn’t know how to deal with this, we never dealt with a meth lab, we were just learning about how dangerous it was, I don’t even think even the government and other agencies new how dangerous it was back then. The guy went to jail, he had the nerve to call us and asked if he still got his money, and I’m like, “No, you did not get your money.”


Then, a week later, we looked in the newspaper again and there is a house that had burned down and yes, it was that same house. It turns out the friend of the owner broke into the house, I don’t know if he’s looking for drugs or what and for some reason he lit a bed on fire in the basement, it spread to the upstairs, the entire house caught on fire, had to be torn down.


After that happened, we were interviewed by the police, they thought that maybe we had set the fire because we knew it was a meth house and that was — wanted to collect insurance money. They realized very quickly that wasn’t the case, they caught the guy who did it. Six months later, the insurance company paid us, we got the house rebuilt, because it was a brand new house, we were able to charge a little more than neighborhood prices and I think we made a little money on that deal but it taught us a lot about what to look for when you’re buying houses.


Video cameras, every time I see video cameras now I think, “Oh I wonder if it’s a drug house?” When you walk into a house and you can smell something weird, it’s kind of a chemically pungent smell, “This might be a meth house, I probably should not be in this house, I need to leave.” Smells kind of like cigarette smoke but more chemically, it’s really hard to describe.


We learned a lot about meth houses, about the legal process and getting interviewed by police. It’s a situation where it’s hard to avoid but knowing what I know now, a lot of red flags would have been set off after talking to the people, after going in the house, smelling it, all of those things. Something I could watch out for at a later time. One more mistake that we made at the trustee sale, this is definitely on our hands, we could have made some huge differences.


There’s a more expensive home, a house that we were bidding around $200,000 for the trustee sale. We had not seen the inside of it but the outside look nice. We assumed the inside would be pretty nice as well. We had a bottom dollar of I think it was 190 we were going to bid. We’ll bid 190, that’s all the higher we can go, assuming the house is in average condition, maybe needs updating, we’ll be okay.


What ended up happening is, we hadn’t bought a property for a while, got to the sale and people were bidding it up, we thought we’d go a little higher. I ended up bidding 200,000 for it, still thought we’d be okay, once we talked to the people, got into the house, it was not nice at all inside. They smoked inside, they had not kept it up, public record said the basement was finished and it was not finished, it was unfinished. That was a weird situation. We ended up losing money on that deal because we paid too much, it needed too much work and we didn’t stick to our price.


We learned, come up with a price when you’re bidding at auction, do not let emotions get in the way of what you’re bidding, don’t let other bidders get in your head, be firm with what you want to pay. It’s much better not to get a deal than to get a deal you lose money on. Not only does it tie up if you lose money but it ties up your financing, ties up your contractors, it’s a much bigger loss than just the dollar amount you lose. It’s time is opportunities by other property, we learned to always stick to our bidding amount we come up with before the sale.


Alright, those are most of my trustee sales. After doing that for about eight years of 90% of our properties being bought at the trustee, we switched to buying from the MLS. We kind of transitioned, we didn’t just switch right away. Now I took over the business in 2013 from my dad, I run everything now, everything I buy almost is from MLS. A few things I’ll buy off market from auction sites but I don’t even go to the trustee sale anymore. I can get almost as good a deal from the MLS and it’s so much less riskier than buying from the trustee sale, you get title, work, you get title commitment, you can usually see the property. There’s a few times you buy auction properties when they’re occupied, you can’t see them but it’s just been so much better and so much nicer buying from the MLS.


Alright, moving on to the next subject. 2010, I started buying rental properties. I bought my first one in December of 2010, however, I had wanted to buy rentals for years before that and I knew that was the best way to build passive income, the best way to really build for my future. Flipping is nice but once you flip a house, it’s done making you money, that’s it, it’s more of a job than an investment. The same with being a real estate agent unless you can set up your team with agents to sell houses for you.


And so I think one of the mistakes I made was I procrastinated for a very long time buying rentals. I did not work hard to save money for a very long time. It was just very tough to get that mental toughness to just make yourself do it. Give yourself a deadline, “I’m going to buy a property by this, I’m going to do it and just go for it.” When I bought my rental property even though I’ve been in the real estate business for almost 10 years, they don’t teach you anything about rental properties as a real estate agent. It’s completely different than flipping houses.


So I really had to learn from scratch what I was doing. My dad had owned some rentals but they weren’t great cash flowing properties. So I learned everything from scratch, did a ton of research and figured out what I wanted to buy and when property came up, I’m just like, “Hey, I got to do it, I got to buy it,” I bought that property and once I bought that first one, it just kind of — a light clicked in my head, a sense of relief came over me like I was really building for my future, I had gotten started and it made everything else so much easier.


Take some time to build up money and cash flow to buy more but I just wish I would have bought rentals much sooner. Even if prices were a little higher, I would have bought them the right way with cash flow, I would have been just fine. I know many investors around here who made it through the housing crisis just fine with their rental properties because they had plenty of cash flow, they didn’t over leverage them and yeah, that’s one thing I still I wish I would have bought rentals so much sooner.


That’s something I learned, I can’t change the past and one thing too I never did was I bought a personal house for myself in 2002, I didn’t even buy it below market value really. I paid full market value for it, I didn’t take advantage of what I know now as far as buying below market value as an owner, occupant. I can put so much less money down, making repairs to the house and then either selling it or turning it into a rental after a year. You can live there for a year, satisfy your owner occupant period, then rent it out.


Or, if you want to sell it, you can live there two years and if you sell it for a big profit, in most cases you won’t pay any income taxes on that property. There are many things I could have done with my own personal house using owner occupant status to make a lot more money, to get started quicker on the investing side. Again, they don’t teach you anything about that stuff as a real estate agent, they only teach you how not to break laws, a little tiny bit about how to sell houses but nothing on the investing side.


If you’re looking to get some help, some tips on getting started, my complete blueprint has a ton of information on that, on getting started with less money down on using those owner occupant rules to your advantage. Alright, I’ve got 16 rentals now, I’m definitely trying to make up for lost ground and my goal for next year is to buy at least 10 more. I’ve got some plans in place to make that happen which I’ll be sharing on a blog here in the next couple of months but that’s my goal.


Alright, moving on to another subject, I’ve got a lot to cover I told you. In May of 2015, hired one of my contractors to be a project manager, handle all my flips from my rehabs and my flips on my rental properties. I did that because I was doing almost all of that work myself, I was getting behind, properties weren’t being fixed quick enough, I was not keeping tabs on my contractors well enough. Things were slipping through the cracks.


So I thought, “If I hire someone else to do this, they can do all that, take that off my plate, I can focus on other things and the flipping business will run even better.” The person I handled was a contractor I had used before and he also had corporate experience managing. 30, 40 people, I thought it was a perfect fit, really cool guy, really liked the guy. We had some lunch meetings, I light up my plan, told him exactly how I wanted things to go.


We agreed on a salary, he became a full time employee, had a bunch of properties to work through, some rehabs, I thought things would be awesome. Fast forward to December now, 2015 and things have not worked out how I planned. Properties were getting done even slower, costs are even higher than they were before. It’s just not been a good fit and part of that is my fault.


Whenever you hire someone, whenever you bring someone on to your team, it takes a lot of hands on training, a lot of hand holding just to show them exactly what you need exactly what you want done. You can’t assume people can read your mind, you can’t assume they know everything you know. I think the biggest mistake I made was, I thought I laid out things well in the beginning for what I wanted, how I want things to work but I didn’t have follow up meetings weekly or biweekly or twice a week meetings to just make sure everything’s on track, make sure we have the same thing to hit.


I kind of let him do his own thing, figure out things himself and I hoped with his experience that it’d work out well and he knew what I wanted. I really wanted, I had a vision in my head of using multiple subcontractors for different tasks and properties, moving them from property to property, getting things done very fast that way. Instead, we kind of used the one contractor or a couple of guys working on a house from start to finish doing everything. That process just takes so long unless you have a massive crew working and where we’re at now is the same, using one or two guys for each house.


Don’t have many guys on our team at all, I have house that’s sitting, that need rehab, that have been there for months and it’s just not what I envisioned. Part of that is my fault, part of it is maybe the project manager, it wasn’t a good fit for him. So my lesson was, I really have to set things up, keep tabs, put a system in place for how I want things run before I just hire someone to do it. You have to make sure you have a clear vision, a clear idea of tasks, of what has to be done, you can’t just hire someone and hope they’ll figure out themselves.


Coming in to 2016, I’m working on building a new plan, getting specific systems in place, meetings in place and a new complete revamp of my rehab process to hopefully speed things up. I have 10 flips going right now, only four of them are close to being done, a couple of them are done and then six are being worked on. It’s going to be a long time until those are done unless something changes.


Definitely going to make huge changes, that’s one thing too, you can’t be afraid to change things up if they don’t work. Can’t be afraid to talk to people, can’t be afraid to hurt feelings because it’s your business, it’s your livelihood and you need to have people working for you that are on the same page, know what you want and you have to be clear on what you want too, you can’t just assume they will know what you want.


Alright. Another problem, speaking of 10 flips, that I had the end of last year, then end of 2014, I had 10 flips at that time too. I had so much money tied up in those properties that I did not have much money left over to buy rentals and invest in rentals. I think that’s one reason I fell short of my goals in 2014 for buying rental properties and the same exact thing that’s happening in 2015. I’ve got 10 flips again, I had 11 last week and its tied up all my money again and I thought I could do it, I thought I could handle that many properties because I hired the contract manager and that was probably another mistake with buying too many properties and putting too many things on his plate at one time.


I should have ramped up slowly, made sure its systems were in placed first before I went crazy. Definitely focusing on selling properties right now, getting them ready to close and not buying a ton of properties at the moment. Alright, another really good lesson I learned, this is back in 2006, piggy backing off the flipping side and hiring, delegating work. I was working with my father at that time, I wasn’t doing a ton of real estate work. On occasion I would do some painting, repair work, light fixtures, all types of different things and the flips to make some extra money.


So I decided it would be a really good idea to buy a flip myself, do all the work myself to save money, make a huge profit and learn the entire process of rehabbing. I will say one thing, I learned a lot about rehabbing, I learned way too much by rehabbing. I wish I could forget. I think that project took me six months to finish, I was working so hard on manual labor, on doing repairs that I sold almost nothing as far as an agent.


Made almost no money on that side, we didn’t buy any more flips because I was focusing on working manual labor and not on the big picture items, buying more properties. And in the end, it took me so long to do everything, our market started to decline more. I think I lost money on that deal. Not only did I waste six months of my life. I didn’t make any money on it but I did learn a lot of things. That’s one thing you know, even though it seems like a total waste of time, a total failure, it still teaches you a lesson, maybe something more expensive lesson that you want it to be but it teaches you something you can learn for the future.


The things I learned from that process for one, I don’t ever want to do the work on flips again myself. I can hire people to do it, I can hire contractors to do it, it’s a better use of my time to have them do the work because I can focus on acquisitions, I can focus on big picture of my business, not the day to day tasks.


The contractors will work faster. I am one guy, I had my friend helping me for a little bit but if I would have hired a crew of contractors who knew what they were doing and had experience, they would have had it done probably in a month, maybe a little longer. If I would have made money on the job even though I would have paid them more money, we would have had less holding cost, less carrying cost, the market price probably would have been better and let’s face it, they would have done a better job rehabbing it than I would have because they had more experience. They weren’t learning as they go.


But that really kind of opened my eyes to a lot of things about how I need to run my business, look at the big picture, don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to other people and the less I do busy work, the less I’m working inside the business, the better I do and the more money I make. I’m thinking about big picture, I’m thinking about ideas, I’m thinking about how to improve things, not stressing about getting work done. Too many people get stuck inside their business whether it’s flipping, whether it’s being an agent, whether it’s the Mom and Pop Store, whatever it is.


Someone who starts their own business, they feel like they have to do all the work themselves to save money, they feel like if they don’t do the work themselves, it won’t be done right. Ultimately, the business does not do well because they’re not focusing on the big picture, they’re not focusing on making money on seeing where their profits and losses are, they’re not seeing where all the expenses are coming in. They’re focusing on doing day to day tasks.


They feel like, just because they’re working and spending their time at the job that it’s going to be successful. But when you get in to business and you see some success, you realize it’s not because you’re the one doing the busy work and you’re the one inside the business doing the books or serving customers or whatever it is, or doing the manual labor on a flip is because you’re outside the business, you are seeing how everything’s running, you’re seeing where there’s weak points, where there’s strong points, you’re seeing where you’re making more money, less money.


You’re looking at the big picture and you’re letting other people do the busy work, the task inside the business and by paying them and freeing up your own time, you will be much more successful and make much more money than getting stuck inside your business yourself. That was a big lesson I learned and really helped me turn my career around. I think I made $28,000 a year where I flip myself. It was a tough year, that was not fun.


I learned a lot and things obviously have turned around since then and been a lot more successful once I started thinking about big picture, goal setting, planning and not just working. All right, that is everything I have right now for this episode, there’s obviously been many more mistakes I’ve made, many more lessons I’ve learned along the way, those are some of the biggest ones I want to talk about for right now.


Another one I will say is I took Jack Canfield coaching after I became very successful in REO and started buying rental properties. That really opened up my eyes to not limiting myself, what I thought I could achieve, what I believe I could achieve. As many of you know, I have a Lamborghini Diablo right now that I bought about a year and a half ago. If you would have asked me three or four years ago if I would ever own a Lamborghini I would have laughed at you and said, “Yeah right. That’s not for me, that’s not for people like me. That’s for super rich people, maybe when I’m like 60 I’ll be able to afford one.”


I’m 36 now by the way, and after taking the coaching, I just realized that I was hurting myself so much by not believing I could achieve those things. One thing I knew that would really help my business was by taking over everything from my father. He ran the real estate team, he handled a lot of the flipping side, the finance side and not only was I paying him a huge portion of my commissions, a huge portion of the flip profits went to him, I had no control over what we were doing.


There were many properties I wanted to buy that he didn’t want to buy. Many things I want to do in our real estate business, many people I wanted to hire that he didn’t want to do. He’s much more conservative than I am. So doing the coaching really convinced me, I remember the first time my coach said, “Hey, what would make the biggest difference in your life right now if something changed?” I thought, “If I ran the business myself, that would make the biggest change.”


I immediately said, “But, that’s impossible, I couldn’t do that, that’s too much work.” As soon as I said that, I realized, “Oh wow, I just really killed any chances I had of taking over the business by saying that,” and it really put a seed in my head about what I needed to do, what would have to happen for me to really take over. It was a long process but over time, things worked out where my really good friends started to work for me who had corporate background, talked to my father about the business. I was really stressed about that.


“What’s he going to think if I say I want to buy him out and take over?” And when I finally talked to him, he’s like, “You know I’ve been waiting for you to ask me that for years. I don’t want to do it anymore, I’m so glad you said that, I really want out.” So everything worked out so well but it was so scary and such a huge massive thing that I didn’t even want to think about it or try to undertake it a couple of years before that because it just seemed impossible.


But I learned, even if something seems big and impossible and huge, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it if you just take it step by step, you believe you can do it, you plan it out and you just work through the process of doing it. There’s obviously some hiccups, some hard parts and legal structure, some accounting structure that took a lot of time. But we did it, we got through it all and we’re both much happier after doing that. So I guess that was another lesson.


Jack Canfield was an awesome coaching programming and speaking of some coaching programs, some of you may have seen some emails come through if you’re on my email list.

Seen some webinars I’m doing, I am creating a new mentorship mastermind coaching program. It’s not a beginning level, “how to get started in real estate” type of program, it is high level, how to build your business bigger, better, badder as fast as possible based of what I’ve learned even Jack Canfield coaching, I’m doing time management, just anything I can help people with, that’s my focus. It’s very hands on, I spent a lot of time on it. If you’re interested, I’ve got a link to some more information in the article for this podcast. Please check it out.


You can always email me too, Mark@investfourmore.com. If you don’t know how to spell Invest Four More, it’s InvestF-o-u-rM-o-r-e.com. One final thing, everyone always ask me, what in the world is Invest Four More mean, even investors and I completely understand because I don’t expect people to know that. I came up with that name as a play on words for getting more than four mortgages. When I first started the blog in 2013, I figured out how to get multiple more years with my portfolio lender, I want to tell people how to get more than four mortgages, it wasn’t impossible.


Invest Four More, the number spelled out, is a play I’m getting more than four mortgages with rental properties. All right, cool. Thank you guys very much for listening and if you made it all the way through, I appreciate it. I would love some feedback on the podcast, leave a comment, shoot me an email, if you prefer these kind of one on one solo projects for me or if you like the guest format better.


I really appreciate all the support I’ve been getting lately and yeah, I will talk to you guys next week, thanks a lot.




  1. Chad January 7, 2016
    • Mark Ferguson January 7, 2016
  2. Michelle Y. December 24, 2015
  3. Donna December 23, 2015
    • Mark Ferguson December 28, 2015

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