best real estate investors

It's critically important for real estate investors like us to have the skills and personal attributes that will help us succeed in the business world. Unfortunately, we aren't born with the wisdom and experience that we need to reach our full potential—it just doesn't work that way! We have to invest a lot of time and effort to learn these things, and it usually takes a long time for us to get there.

The investors who have made it to the top can usually point to some specific skills and personal attributes that have helped them get where they are. As a real estate blogger, I've been fortunate enough to talk with several of these investors and get their input on this exact subject. I recently reached out to some of these friends and acquaintances and asked them about the skills and attributes that they have found to be most instrumental in their success.

Specifically, this is what I asked them:

  • What is the #1 most important skill or personal attribute that has contributed to your success as a real estate investor?
  • Why has this been so important to your success?
  • How did you learn to get so good at it?

As you’ll see, there were some differing opinions in the responses we received, but there was also a common theme that I think you'll find interesting. Here they are (in no particular order):

Ken McElroy


Ken McElroy“I  surrounded myself with mentors (for free) in all aspects of my life, my business career is no exception. I knew I wanted to buy commercial real estate but just like everyone else, I didn't know where to start and thought I needed a lot of money to begin. I started to meet with people for coffee or lunch to ask them specific questions on things I wanted to learn more about.  Over time, I learned a lot and built a team. I started small and made small mistakes, then had a track record and was able to gain the confidence of larger investors. It is a process.

My first mistake as a young man was thinking I didn't need any help. As a result, I stayed small. Once I learned the power of leveraging people and relationships I started to move to my goals much quicker. Also, I NEVER was focused on the money I was making but rather I was focused on the performance of the properties that I bought. I focused on the cash flow and the returns for the investors. The money came eventually because it always will if the properties are bought right and managed well.”

Follow Ken on Twitter or learn more at or

David Lindahl


David Lindahl“The number one skill that has contributed to my success as an investor is the ability to take action. I went nine months before I did my first deal because of fear… “Did I analyze the deal correctly, will I be able to get the money to fund it, can I really manage this deal, can I get good management to manage the tenants, what if I can’t pay the mortgage…” I had a lot of questions going on in my head and finally, my mentor told me to TAKE ACTION and answer all of your questions during the due diligence period. If you get the wrong answer or can't get an answer to a key question, then walk away from the deal.

After that “tough love,” I shortly closed on my first deal, within three months I had three more and by the end of that first year, I had eleven deals!

Yes, I did walk away from a couple but taking action on that first deal opened the door of confidence!

Taking action has been the key to my success, Albert Einstein said “nothing happens until someone takes an action.” You can have all the skill, all the knowledge but without action, you've got nothing. So now I plan every day around key action steps that need to be taken to reach my top three priorities.”

Follow David on Twitter or learn more at

Claude Diamond


Claude Diamond“Sales is the million-dollar skill; without it, you are doomed to fail regardless of how much money you spend on gurus, seminars, marketing, etc. Most investors, while well-intentioned, do not have a G.U.T.S. Sales Method. The ability to qualify the prospect in three minutes or less, get upfront money information, and commitment before going to the property. When you have a system that allows you to convert all cold calls to warm, then you have all the prospects you will ever need. The power of persuasion is the difference between doing one or two deals and becoming financially free while having fun on the way to the bank.

Max, my Millionaire Mentor. Working with someone who has achieved financial success honestly is the shortcut to success; there is no substitute. I know, I've tried everything. I make real calls with my mentees just like Max did with me. Practice and reality make a great investor.”

Follow Claude on Twitter or learn more at

Brandon Turner


Brandon Turner“I believe creativity is the #1 attribute that has contributed to my success. Real estate investing educators, myself included, love to teach “how to” do things—and those are great for seeing the big picture. However, the simple fact is, every single real estate deal is different. Nothing perfectly fits within an easy “how-to” instruction. The only way through any deal is creativity. It's creativity that has helped me navigate through every deal and not simply give up when something blocked my way. Creativity doesn't come from a book or from birth—it comes from a decision to be persistent and an unwavering commitment to success.”

Follow Brandon on Twitter or learn more at

Kent Clothier


Kent Clothier“Transparency.  Believing in yourself and your abilities to persevere enough to just be open, honest, and willing to fall down in order to achieve success.  This is liberating and allows you to be more forthright and more willing to take calculated risks.  You are going to fall down, but when you realize that you can get back up and that it's just part of the process—you will be willing to push harder. Which, in turn, means you will achieve much more than you ever planned. Being transparent in the process also allows you to surround yourself that support your dream and vision. You attract the people to you that you need—because you're being open, honest, and vulnerable. Versus putting on a “show” and attracting the “posers” and leaches.

Failing is part of trying. When you learn this, you have the freedom to reach higher and achieve whatever you want. It's important to fear REGRET—more than you fear FAILURE.  You've got one shot. You will die and you will wish for more time. Why not go for it right now. Why wait? Learning that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain creates the environment for great things—daily.”

Follow Kent on Twitter or learn more at

Steve Cook


Steve Cook“The one thing that has helped me to be successful has been having a sincere desire to see everyone that I work with or surround myself with to be successful. As an example, Flipping Homes became the website that it became because I focused on building the forum into the best REI forum on the internet. I focused on one thing, servicing people through a free forum. Giving back with no expectation of getting anything for it, and giving my all. As a result, the website grew.  I didn't have to sell my courses, I didn't have to sell my events, I got to the point where I didn't have to look for deals any longer. All of it just came to me because I had the best real estate investing forum on the internet. But most of all, I can not deny God's hand in my success. I've been willing to talk about things that others avoid. I've been willing to share the Gospel in places where you are discouraged from talking about faith, and in spite of the many mistakes I have made, God has blessed everything I have done.”

Learn more about Steve at

Danny Johnson


Danny Johnson“I'd say my most important personal attribute is being persistent. Without being persistent and hell-bent on getting that first deal, second deal, 100th deal, etc. I would have given up before I ever really started. I would have given up before I had a chance to see how easy it really can be once you decide to not give up no matter how many little and big challenges are put in your way. Looking at every bump in the road as a challenge that allows us to grow and show what we are made of is the best way to succeed.

I froze on my first motivated seller phone call (wife ended up taking it) and I didn't know what the heck I was looking for or doing during my first several meetings with sellers. That didn't stop me and it allowed me to learn and grow. Those moments allowed me to learn so much more than reading about what to do. That's where the real education was.

The fear didn't stop me. Don't let the fear stop you.”

Follow Danny on Twitter or learn more at

Karen Rittenhouse


Karen Rittenhouse“The ability to stay focused. We coach and train real estate investors, and the reason we have so many success stories is because we keep our students focused. I've seen many start in this business, get discouraged when things don't go the way they expect or progress fast enough, only to get off-track by following the next shiny object that comes along. It's sad to see someone involved with real estate investing for years end up selling energy drinks or jumping into a multi-level marketing venture hoping that will be a faster way to success.

We have created tremendous long-term wealth and amazing income in only eight short years. What other industry can you do that in (unless you're going to develop Facebook)?

Make a decision to get involved and stick to it. Learn something new and make new contacts every day. Every year, you'll be further along than the year before if you just stay focused.”

Follow Karen on Twitter or learn more at

Ron LeGrand


Ron LeGrand“Finally learned how to buy and sell houses correctly without using any money or credit and eliminate risk. This freed me up to buy with no limits or outside interference and costly entanglements.

Doing it wrong will suck up your time and life and can easily take you out. Removing risk and mistakes are the only steps to success. I got good by first being bad and not stopping until I became good. There is no other way. The key is to outlive your mistakes.”

Follow Ron on Twitter or learn more at or

Phil Pustejovsky


Phil Pustejovsky“Following the advice of Proverbs. Following the wisdom of Proverbs is crucial to business success. It was written by the wealthiest man in history. And its lessons are as applicable when you first get started as when you lead your respective field. Prayer, my mentor, experience (aka doing the opposite of what Proverbs advises), repetition.”

Follow Phil on Twitter or learn more at


Chris Clothier


Chris Clothier“My ability to surround myself and LISTEN to some really quality people. Many of us have a tendency to think we have the answers or believe we know how to get things done. The truth, however, is that even the best leaders and the most productive business people including real estate professionals often have advisors, confidants, and role models who mentor them to success.

I learned to surround myself with really quality people from my older brother Kent Clothier, Jr. and my dad Kent Clothier, Sr. Watching them and how they operated—always learning, reading, asking questions of others, and taking the time to learn. It taught me to be patient and to develop my own way of seeking advice and learning from others.”

Follow Chris on Twitter or learn more at

Cory Boatright


Cory Boatright“I would have to say empathy.

When you can put yourself in the place emotionally and mentally as much as possible as your customer/client, your perspective changes and you're able to clearly see the best possible solution to their challenge.
I recommend to all my students to read a book called: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” – Dale Carnegie. This book goes into great detail about a technique called “mirror and modeling.” This is a fantastic empathy exercise and I use this same technique in nearly everything I do in life.”

Follow Cory on Twitter

Sharon Vornholt


Sharon Vornholt“I believe there are a couple of things you must possess at your core if you are to be successful over the long haul. The first would be determination.

You have to be willing to do whatever it takes, and that isn’t always easy. Many times I would be listening to a webinar, reading some type of real estate investing book or listening to a recorded seminar when my friends or family were relaxing in front of the TV. Ask yourself, “What are you willing to give to succeed?”

The second thing I would say is that you have to learn to really step outside of your comfort zone on a regular basis.

I’m certain that this is what ultimately sets successful people apart from all the others. As the saying goes, “You have to be willing to feel the fear and do it anyway.” I always say yes to the opportunity and then figure out the details later; not that doing that hasn’t caused me a fair amount of stress at times. You will never be ready or have all of the details so get used to it. That’s what successful people do.

 It takes an iron-clad commitment to do whatever needs to be done. And when you get so discouraged you want to quit, you need to find a way to get past it. You need a support system to “talk you down off the ledge” when you want to throw in the towel. That could be family or friends, but most likely it will be another business person, an accountability partner or your mastermind group. Make sure you have a support system. I think some of us are born with a level of drive that makes us more suited to stick it out and do whatever it takes. But I am positive that anyone that wants this type of success can do it if they just decide there will be no going back.”

Follow Sharon on Twitter or learn more at

Brian Burke


Brian Burke“An unwillingness to give up. Many people think that real estate investing is a get-rich-quick strategy. The reality is that success in this business builds over time and there are ups and downs along the way.  Many beginners give up early in the game because they can’t find a deal or can’t find an investor. They might have given up just one phone call before a breakthrough. Some seasoned investors give up after getting tired of dealing with tenants, or after losing money on an investment. The next investment they would have done might have been a home run! To reach success, you have to be unwilling to give up and keep working toward your goals.

I didn’t come from a wealthy family. When I started, I had no assets and no money and was working a low-paying job. It was difficult to get started without money and connections, and if I wasn’t tenacious enough I would have accepted one of the many opportunities to quit. I’ve done a lot of real estate deals in my career and volume and longevity inevitably brings a challenge.  I’ve had my share of challenges that could have easily taken me out of the game, but I believe that the harder you are knocked down, the higher you rise up. Some may dismiss that as an old wives' tale, but when faced with challenges I’ve always kept that perspective, and even after taking some hits, I bounced back better than I was before.”

Learn more about Brian's company at

Now it's your turn.

I’d love to hear your answers to these questions in the comments section below.

(And if you’re new here, you can connect with me on Twitter or Facebook. Be sure to come back again soon and let me know how I can help you!)

What do you think is the most important skill or personal attribute for success for real estate investors?

About the author

Seth Williams is the Founder of - an online community that offers real-world guidance for real estate investors.

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