Why Do Would-be Real Estate Investors Fail?

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Let's face it, there's tons of real estate investing information out there.  But of all the people you've seen at seminars lapping up the words of wisdom from the real estate gurus, or the people you see at Barnes and Noble skulking around til 11 PM reading all the real estate investing books they can get their hands on (A charge of which I am guilty!), how many do you think actually succeed in their real estate investing businesses?

I don't have exact figures, but based on my experience as a real estate investing information provider and coach, I would guess it's close to only 1-2% of people who want to be real estate investors get into the business and stay in the business and make it profitable.

Those figures are so disappointing.

Why is it so hard? Why do so many would-be investors fail before they begin?  And why do others, who are able to take the first steps of their real estate investing career successfully, still fail to meet their goals long-term?

I realized the deck was stacked against me as I begin as a real estate investing student at a seminar a few years ago.  I bought all the real estate investing courses, signed up for private coaching, and watched as many of the people around me fell by the wayside.  There were many times I wanted to quit, myself.  You probably have your own story of struggle in your real estate investing career.

It's the million dollar question.  Here are the conclusions I've been able to come up with.

Why Do Real Estate Investors Fail In Spite of Great Real Estate Investing Information?

1) The Myth of Get Rich Quick - Why do would-be real estate investors fail?

Just because there are real estate investment strategies, such as flipping homes, that can be implemented quickly (60-90 days), that doesn't mean that it is easy to find deals, negotiate them and close them in the first month or two after you start your real estate investing career.  In my experience, most people need to take a little time to become familiar with the real estate markets in their area, real estate terminology and strategies, and then get started implementing so they can practice finding and negotiating with motivated sellers. 

Even with a good deal closed, you might only walk away with $5,000 or so from a flip.  With a subject to or lease option deal, the property may take years to "ripen" in your portfolio before you are able to sell it for a significant profit.  The biggest money I've seen people make quickly is coming from rehabs and short sale negotiations.  Pursuing these types of deals can verge onto a full time job.  They do work, and work quickly, but they take a lot of time to implement.

2) The Myth of No Money Down

So many times, I have heard students come on coaching calls with me and say, "I just lost my job, so I am really motivated to make this work quickly."  or "My goal is to flip one house a month every month because I need some cash for start up capital."  These sentiments are probably being perpetuated by the gurus out there who encourage people to think that real estate investing is a no-capital-required business.  Even after you get the formula down, it can take years before a paper-profit becomes cash-in-hand if you own rental property or do lease/options.

The exception proves the rule and I'm sure it's true that some people during some periods of time are able to make "thousands" quickly, when they need it most. For example, I know folks who get a lot of free deals off of craigslist or calling through the newspaper.  However, for the vast majority of real estate investors, some money is required for marketing to find motivated sellers if they want to keep their deal pipeline reasonably full.  In addition to marketing to find motivated sellers, deals take money for due diligence, legal fees, inspections, and so forth.  If you plan to hold property as a landlord, the costs escalate even more steeply.  If I had to put my finger on one major reason for lack of success in this business, besides false expectations, I would list lack of funding right at the top.

3) The TRUTH in "It doesn't work where I live." 

There's a cliche in the real estate guru field that speakers like to joke about.  It's that a lot of students like to say, "Your strategies won't work where I live."  Guru's play it off as a joke, like the person is making an excuse for not getting started in their investing, because they "can't." 

The truth of the matter is, there is a LOT of variation in the performance of real estate markets across the country.  In some areas, like the South and Midwest, property values are relatively stable and properties cash flow well.  In other areas, Southern California, Florida, and Las Vegas come to mind, property values fluctuate wildly and you can make a fortune or lose your shirt on the changing tides of appreciation. 

It's very important to understand real estate market cycles and where your market fits within the current phase of the market.  You implement to take strategies that work in your marketplace if you want to be successful locally.  Otherwise, you need to do what I've done and learn to invest where it makes sense, without being constrained feeling a need to invest where you live.  There are pros and cons to each strategy.  However, my point is that it's not right for the gurus to mock people who raise this objection.  It's a valid concern raised by thinking investors, even if it doesn't help sell the guru's real estate investing courses.

So, I've raised a lot of concerns about the mis-information being circulated in the real estate investing industry.  Have I disappointed you too much?  I are you "off" of investing now?  If you are good - if you can be talked out of it that easily, I'm glad I got you out BEFORE you invested any more of your precious time and money pursuing a strategy that doesn't appeal to you.

If not, even better. it is certainly possible to take a realistic approach to real estate investing and make it work for you.  You can grow your net worth to millions, but it does take time and perseverance.  I hope you're willing to stick it out.