Should You Do Real Estate Full-Time?

Many self-acclaimed real estate gurus state that everyone should quit their jobs and immediately jump into full time real estate investing. They often claim incredible results from students with little experience. We would like to caution that life-changing decisions are not usually simple and that full time investing is not for everyone. Let’s discuss some pros and cons of full-time versus part-time investing.The Full-Time InvestorEntering into the real estate profession on a full-time basis offers several advantages over a part-time commitment. Being successful requires you to develop knowledge in many aspects of real estate, and more time focused on real estate leads to greater knowledge. The more your learn, the more you earn, since you do not need to rely on as many professional services or partners for help. You also learn to recognize a deal (or a dud) faster, which gives you more time to do more business or spend with your family.As a full-time investor, you work your own hours. When we say “full-time,” that may mean as little as twenty hours per week if you are good at finding deals. The rest of your time can be spent pursuing other vocations or hobbies. Or, if you are so inspired, you can work forty or more hours and use the extra cash flow to buy rental properties or diversify your holdings in the stock market. The point is that you need to satisfy your cash flow needs before you can start “investing” your money.One final point you should consider is whether you want to be “self-employed.” If you have always worked for someone else, being your own boss sounds very attractive. In some, respects, this isn’t quite the truth. Being your own boss means being an accountant, bookkeeper, stock clerk, receptionist and office manager all-in-one. You have to do deal with tax returns, payroll, office supplies, customer service, bills and all the other hassles that come with a business. You don’t have friends to chat with at the water cooler. You don’t have paid health insurance, a company car and a 401(k). You take your problems home with you every night. Sound like fun? It is, once you learn how to master your time and run your business. Being the master of your own life and career is well worth the other hassles of dealing with your own business.The Part-Time InvestorThe part-time investor holds a “regular job.” This may be by choice or for the time being until his real estate ventures are bringing in enough cash to quit his job. If it is the latter reason, don’t quit your job because the real estate “guru” told you so. Quit your job when it is not worth the income that it brings you. In other words, if you are making more money per hour flipping properties on the side, you are at the point that where your regular job is costing you money. Only then, is it time to quit!One of the advantages of starting out part-time is that you can maintain cash flow while learning the business. It may take weeks or possibly months to find your first deal. That same deal may take several months to turn around, especially if you decide to fix it and sell it retail. Think twice before telling your boss you’re leaving; you will have plenty of time to make the career switch once you have real estate experience. You may, on the other hand, like your occupation. If so, continue to work at it, and invest in real estate on the side.The best case scenario, if you are married, is to have one spouse work a regular job. The other spouse work the real estate business for creating wealth, retirement income and a nice college fund for the children. Of course, in today’s market, you could be laid off due to unforeseen circumstances. If you earn additional income flipping houses and invest the proceeds into rental properties, you will be covered if your main income is lost. This is especially the case for married women that often forego a career and raise a family, only to find themselves divorced with no means of making a living. We don’t want to sound cynical about marriage, but with a fifty-percent divorce rate in America, it never hurts to have a system for making money.Someone with a full time job tends to have little free time to focus on real estate. A part-timer should learn most of the same skills as a full timer. Thus, the key disadvantage to flipping properties on a part-time basis is that it takes sacrifice to learn the business. Something has to give; television, lazy weekends, meaningless hobbies and even some family activities must be compromised. As with any education, time spent learning about real estate will bring its own rewards, especially if the people in your life understand your goals and your plan to achieve those goals. If you are married, make sure your spouse reads this material with you and participates in the fun process of making money.Treat Real Estate as a BusinessPeople are lured to real estate because of the quick buck that it promises. Don’t hold your breath, you won’t get rich quick. An “overnight sensation” usually takes about five years. More than ninety percent of the people who take a real estate seminar quit after three months. Real estate investing should be treated with the seriousness of a career. It takes months, even years for a business to cultivate customers and have a life of its own. You need to treat it like any other business.

So You Want to Start Your Own Real Estate Business, Huh?

First, allow me to say congratulations on deciding to be your own boss. It is one of the toughest and scariest, yet rewarding decisions an individual can make. You are about to venture on an incredible, life-long journey filled with limitless possibilities. However, make sure you are properly prepared, or else the outcome may be devastating.The main purpose of this article is to serve as a detailed checklist for preparing, creating and structuring your own real estate business. I will also explain the advantages of detailed planning and management, and the pitfalls for failure to do so. First things first: what’s the name of your new company? What type of business entity will you form? A sole proprietorship is the quickest and easiest; however, it may lack the necessary asset and liability protection warranted by your business model. My personal favorite has always been the Limited Liability Company (LLC). It’s quick, inexpensive, and provides individual shelter.In addition, in which state will you register to do business? Are there any state and/or local licensing requirements? All of these questions should already be answered in your business plan. Some of you may be thinking, “I am going to buy foreclosed properties, rehab them, and sell them for a profit. What further explanation or planning do I need?” Well, if this is your mindset, stick to your full-time job. I recommend going online (Google it) and downloading a business plan template to assist you with development.In addition to your business plan, you better have projected financial statements, including a cash flow forecast, projected income statement, and anticipated balance sheet. There are numerous advantages of generating these statements. Clearly depicting your yearly operating expenses allows you to recognize the number of real estate transactions you need to successfully complete in order to break even and/or realize a profit. Taking the time and effort to implement these tasks will help you overcome some of the major impediments when starting your real estate business.The biggest recurring mistake I’ve seen amateur entrepreneurs make is quitting their full-time job even before completing their very first real estate deal! Undercapitalization is one of the biggest oversights when starting a new business. If you do decide to quit your full-time job, make sure you have enough of a monetary cushion to cover your living expenses for twelve months. Ideally, you want to have a surplus in your bank account in order to fund your business (i.e. – entity formation fees, licensing, marketing expenses).Finally, will you be self-employed or a business owner? No, they are not the same thing! Being self-employed means when you stop working, your business stops working. If you are not marketing for leads or answering phones, then no one is. Being a business owner (hiring and maintaining employees) allows the freedom and independence that entice people to start their own businesses in the first place. Most amateurs quit their full-time job expecting to start and sustain their own business profitably, while playing golf or going to the beach four days a week. WRONG! The transition from self-employment to business ownership is the hardest obstacle to overcome. It took me almost a year of interviewing hundreds of job applicants, working fourteen hour days, pulling all-nighters, and sacrificing my personal and social life to successfully build and develop each of my businesses to the point where they could all run on “Auto-Pilot.”Remember, a business is only as strong as its weakest link.I hope that what I have shared with you has been of great value. These observations and opinions are my own and stem from what I have learned and experienced over the last five years by way of educational literature, private entrepreneurship meet-up groups, numerous real networking events, and, by far the most crucial and valuable means, trial and error. Still there is so much to discuss and write considering that this topic, in itself, serves as the basis for three hundred page bibles! At the very least, herein lies the grounds and basic framework for preparing to start your own real estate business including obstacles to anticipate.