I know the posts that fire people up: The success posts that begin, “I quit my job and closed my first deal!” or “Finally reached our passive income goal!” I, too, get fired up reading those stories.
But today, I want to write about a different kind of success. A success that comes from overcoming obstacles and finding creative ways to get involved in real estate investing.
In 2014, I set out on a journey that had all the makings of a classic boondoggle.
I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going.
I wasn’t exactly sure how I was getting there.
And I didn’t really have anyone to help me find my way.
But what I did have, if not a specific goal, was a clear vision of what I wanted. It included greater financial freedom, greater location independence, more time to spend with my family and loved ones, and the ability to contribute and help others.
My vision was to become a real estate investor. I wanted to someday syndicate deals like one of my role models, Rich Dad advisor, Ken McElroy, and help educate others in the process.
Only I had a few obstacles in the way.
- I knew nothing about real estate investing other than what I had read in Rich Dad, Poor Dad many years before.
- I was over 40, which isn’t necessarily old, but seems ancient compared to the many 20-somethings who dominate BiggerPockets and other investor sites.
- I live in Korea, 7,000 miles away from the areas I wanted to invest in.
Fortunately, I had a few things going for me:
- 15 years of business and entrepreneurial experience having started two English institutes in Korea
- Work ethic and drive
- And most helpful of all - my secret weapon - BiggerPockets and it's awesome community
It was through BiggerPockets that the complex world of real estate investing began to slowly reveal itself to me, and I started to connect with key people who would help me make my first investment.
I met @John Van Uytven through BiggerPockets, who had the brilliant idea of throwing our regular coffeeshop meetings on meetup.com to see who else wanted to join us out here in Korea.
And little-by-little, inch-by-inch, that meeting has grown and grown into a full-fledged meetup.
I still remember @Joshua Dorkin, BiggerPockets CEO, agreeing to speak at our meetup and wanting to Skype to work out the details. All my mind could think was: The. Joshua. Dorkin.
The founder of BiggerPockets was giving me 20 minutes of his day? During the call, I was so nervous about taking up too much of his time that I accidentally hung up on him while he was in mid-sentence saying goodbye.
And while, thanks to the hard work of Max and Kelly, local Jacksonville experts, as well my other real estate investing partner and meetup co-organizer, @Benjamin Hauser, I was able to make my first investment - a JV purchase of an SFR that closed at the end of 2014 - I am also really proud of my "non-investing" successes. Helping to organize a community of investors here in Korea through the Seoul Real Estate Investing Meetup.
Here are some of our victories:
- From 3 to 223 Members
- Virtual guests that include a murderer’s row of who’s who on BiggerPockets: @Brandon Turner, @Ali Boone, @Engelo Rumora, @Matt Faircloth (who now all have international speaking experience!)
- Gaining the use of the entire 2nd floor of the Young Samsung Life Café, located in Hongdae (a very trendy and busy area)
Also, I've been personally able help a few of our members overcome obstacles to out-of-country investing.
This month, we were really fortunate that on Memorial Day weekend, DeRosa Group founder and syndicator, Matt Faircloth agreed to join us for a live question-and-answer session. (Thank you to @Elizabeth Faircloth for helping to set this all up.)
Matt was able to give us so many actionable tips and was a great sport despite the late hour on his end (past midnight) and technical difficulties on our end.
During the question-and-answer session, we asked Matt, what enabled him to persevere in the beginning when he was just starting out and go from being a part-time house hacker to a full time real estate syndicator. This was his response:
Afterwards, we had fellow meetup co-organizer, Ben Hauser, give a very informative speech on modular home building (factory built, premanufactured homes) and what he learned about land development from his research into BluHomes. He covered costs, challenges, opportunities as well as shared demographic information on a potential investment area for him - Seattle, Washington. (H/t to @Brandon Hall for his article on CAFR that helped Ben dig into the demographics of Seattle).
I just want to end by saying that from my experiences, I feel like success in real estate doesn’t have to come down to a door count, especially in the beginning.
To other new investors - your first foray into real estate might not be a flip or rental property or house hacking. It might be, as Al Williamson mentions in this article, about getting involved in your community and just helping to improve the neighborhood (and in the process, networking with other community leaders and investors - see comments). It might be starting a BiggerPockets member’s blog. Or it might be helping to start a meetup in your community.
If you make success only about a door count, you’re letting a lot of potential valuable and enriching experiences slip by.
And as real estate investors, we’re all about creating value, not leaving it behind.
Thanks, BiggerPockets, for all your support in helping us grow our community in Korea.
And now for some pictures:
Thanks again to the Young Samsung Life Café in Hongdae for the use of their main showroom.