Truth & Lies

There’s something that always irks me when I read other real estate blogs and forums on the web. For some reason, a lot of people just don’t take part-time real estate investors seriously.

It’s almost as if there’s this unspoken set of rules and assumptions, and they usually come across like this:

“If you’re not a FULL-TIME INVESTOR, you must not be good enough to make a living from what you do.”

“Part-time investors are just playing with a hobby. Full-time investors are the real heroes.”

“Want me to take you seriously? Stop being a coward and quit your job already.

Of course, nobody will ever say it this to your face (unless they’re really mean), but the attitude is out there. Have you encountered it too? I’ve sensed this sentiment from a number of people and it bothers me.

I’ve actually heard these comments from a lot of non-real-estate people too. Unless I can tell someone about one of my BIG recent success stories (the kind where I’ve made more with one deal than my entire year’s salary), they dismiss me almost immediately… as if my part-time real estate business is some pathetic attempt at making myself feel special.

I remember back when I started telling my friends that I was buying and selling vacant land on the side, most of them just didn’t get it. Many of them responded with the same kind of non-verbal (but still obvious) skepticism about what I was doing.

Without so much as saying the words, this was the kind of vibe I would get from them:

“Oh, that’s cute! It’ll be good for you to get this out of your system.”

“How sweet…  that sounds like a happy little phase you’re in.”

“Okay, whatever. Just don’t ask me for money.”

Have you ever felt like people were just writing you off? Isn’t it frustrating??

Knowing What Matters

When you or I try to pursue any kind of dream on a part-time basis, there’s something inherent about our culture that causes people to dismiss out ambitions. And to be fair – it is an understandable bias.

Ever had a friend or family member get wrapped up in an MLM business and try repeatedly to get you to join their “down line”? We all know someone who got really excited and hyped-up about the latest fad business opportunity and most of us know how this pattern plays out. 99% of these “businesses” are just a flash in the pan – people quickly become disillusioned and throw in the towel.

So why would the people look at our part-time real estate venture and think any different? Especially when a new investor is still in the learning phase and they haven’t closed their first deal yet – what do they really have to show for themselves? Why should anyone take them seriously??

Cuban2First off – I shouldn’t have to tell you that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about your part-time business. People can dismiss your ambitions all day long, but as long as YOU know it’s a legitimate pursuit, the opinions of a few nay-sayers shouldn’t phase you (unless of course, they raise an objection that you truly can’t answer for yourself…  then you probably have some homework to do).

If you know what it’s going to take – then the rest of it is up to you. As long as you’re going to follow through on what needs to be done, it’s only a matter of time until you prove them all wrong.

Myths About Full-Time Investing

For some reason, there is a BIG negative stigma that the entrepreneurial community has towards jobs. A lot of us talk about our J.O.B. as though it’s a curse on our life. Like it’s one giant obstacle holding us back from everything great we want to accomplish. So let’s start by dispelling some myths…

What does it really mean to be a full-time real estate investor?

Make no mistake about it – a full-time real estate investor is someone who is working. Full-time

It’s a person who has managed to replace their old set of responsibilities (aka – their J.O.B.) with a new, larger, more complicated, significantly more stressful set of responsibilities.

In essence, they’ve created another J.O.B. for themselves, replacing one problem with another. For most people, being a full-time entrepreneur probably does offer a bit more psychological freedom, but it also comes with a much greater set of responsibilities and a HUGE potential penalty for failure.

I know several investors who have tried to be courageous and take this leap of faith, only to find that it was a leap of stupidity. They simply weren’t ready to shoulder the financial burden that comes with a real estate investing business. They ended up on the brink of financial disaster, with no other option than to crawl back to a day job with a deep sense of shame and personal failure.

Now don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with jumping into real estate investing with both feet. I think it’s a wonderful thing that is definitely appropriate for some people in some situations (depending on the nature of their business), but there are FAR too many people who do it for the wrong reasons, and they do it FAR before they’re ready to deal with the consequences.

So before we go further, let’s get a few things straight:

  • Being a full-time investor doesn’t mean you’re successful.
  • Being a full-time investor doesn’t mean you’re rich.
  • Being a full-time investor doesn’t mean you’re financially free.

In the same way that owning a nice car doesn’t make you wealthy, being a full-time investor doesn’t offer ANY conclusive evidence that you’re a successful business owner.

When someone touts their status as a full-time investor and you start feeling jealous, remember that you cannot judge a book by its cover. A person’s employment status (or lack thereof) is only the tip of the iceberg of what’s really going on in their financial life.

Part-Time Investing: The Smart Alternative

The problem is – a lot of people get duped into the idea that quitting their job is a prerequisite to success, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with staying employed while you build up your real estate business. In fact, I’d argue that in most cases, it’s foolish to do it any other way.

Phil Pustejovsky has some great insights on this subject. He put out a video several months ago that did a great job of addressing several facets of this issue:

As Phil explains – a J.O.B. is a GREAT asset to have as you’re building up your real estate business.

When you have a job, you have a safety net that allows you to support yourself without relying on your next deal to pay your bills. This kind of built-in financial structure will give you the room you need to be patient and negotiate on deals without compromising on your price (whether you’re buying or selling). When you keep this significant source of income in your life, it will be MUCH easier for you to avoid making stupid decisions out of desperation.

A job will give you sustainability and “staying power” while you’re between deals, allowing you to focus on building your dream WITHOUT laying everything on the line in the process.

“In almost all cases, it’s a TERRIBLE idea to quit your job until you’re making more money from real estate than you are from your job.” – Phil Pustejovsky

Yep. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Time Management Is Everything

Some investors have this idea that part-time investing doesn’t allow enough time to pursue their business. If you fall into this camp, chances are more-than-likely that your real problems have more to do with time-management than anything.

Let me hit you with some facts:

  • For my entire investing career, I’ve been working a full-time job that consumes anywhere from 45 – 60 hours per week.
  • I have a wife, daughter, friends and a family – all of whom consume significant portions of my time on an ongoing basis.
  • I’ve been operating my land investing business for over 6 years, which requires several man-hours each month (and I’ve been able to drastically reduce a lot of this busywork over the years).
  • I own a growing and profitable portfolio of rental properties (and I’ve outsourced the management of these properties to other people who are far more competent than I am).
  • I’ve managed to keep up with this blog almost every week for over 2 years.

I’m sure you’re a busy person, but don’t talk to me about how you’re short on time. I am walking proof that you can accomplish HUGE financial goals without quitting your day job. It’s called “prioritizing” and knowing how to get things done.

The beauty of part-time investing is that it allows you to dip your toe in the water and use it as your testing ground.

41nu9G4BrXL._SL250_What if you find out you’re a terrible real estate investor? What if this business just isn’t meant for you? What if you end up failing miserably? Isn’t it far better to figure this out before you quit your job?

“Quitting a job doesn’t jump-start a dream because dreams take planning, purpose, and progress to succeed. That stuff has to happen before you quit your day job.” – Jon Acuff

What Full-Time Investing Really Means

Running a business is a huge responsibility.

Seriously – it’s a big deal.

As a full-time investor, you’re going to deal with a lot more stress than any 9-5 job will ever bring you, so if you want to take the plunge and quit your job, you’ll be far better served to pace yourself and make sure you’re betting on a sure thing before you take that leap of faith.

For most people, the decision to quit their job is a major riskbut it really shouldn’t be this way!

If you leave your job without a plan, without a secondary source of income and without any proof that you know what you’re doing – you’re going to regret it. It’s just that simple.

Leaving your job shouldn’t be a big financial and psychological jump. It should be a natural walk into the next phase of your life.

Don’t lose sight of what you can still accomplish as a part-time investor.

A job is a gift. Even if you hate what you’re doing right now and even if you don’t feel like it’s your life’s true calling, it’s still a golden opportunity to get your bearings and figure out what you’re doing. Use it to build a sustainable business and get your house in order before you make the transition into early retirement.

“I know sometimes it’s scary to think that you might do the wrong thing. It’s terrifying to imagine wasting your “one shot”. But let me assure you, nothing you do will be wasted. Every decision you make, every path you take, has the ability to contribute something you need to succeed at your dream.” – Jon Acuff

Unknown1Can you get there? Absolutely…   but like all good things, it isn’t going to come fast or easy.

Just speaking for myself, I don’t ever plan to become a full-time real estate investor. That’s not why I’m in this business.

I’m in this business to create passive income (i.e. – dependable paychecks that will last a lifetime, regardless of whether I continue to work for them).

This is my end gamewhich means full-time investing just isn’t in the cards for me. Not because I can’t do it, but because I’m choosing not to do it. I already know I can get the job done on a part-time basis, so why take the unnecessary risk of leaving my job prematurely?

If you’re someone who has already made the transition to full-time investing through real estate investing or some other business endeavor. Good for you. Keep at it! If you’re enjoying your life and love what you do, then full-time investing probably suits you well (and you certainly don’t need any advice from me on this subject).

If you’re tempted to quit your job simply because you can’t stand it (and it’s easier in the short-term to make the emotional leap into a business that isn’t ready to sustain you), don’t do it. Be patient and fight the long fight. Your time will come soon enough…   and when it does, it will be even sweeter because you’ll be ready for it.

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About the author

Seth Williams is a land investor and residential income property owner, with hundreds of closed transactions and nearly a decade of experience in the commercial real estate banking industry. He is also the Founder of - a real estate investing blog that offers real world guidance for part-time real estate investors.

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  1. Mark Podolsky says:

    This is one of my favorite blog posts as I’m always afraid when someone tells me they want to quit their job to go full time into real estate investing. I worked at a job I loathed for 18 months and invested part-time for 18 months and didn’t quit until my part-time land investing business exceeded my full-time job income this with a new born baby and a lucrative investment banking job… Even then I was scared to death and made sure I always had a years worth of income saved “just in case”… Would love to have you back on the podcast Seth to discuss this issue with my listeners! Let me know your availability…

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks Mark! I appreciate the comment and hearing your insights on this. It sounds like you definitely went about quitting your job the right way, it’s good to hear your example.

      This would be a great topic to talk about on your podcast! I’m dealing with some voice issues right now (getting over some bad bronchitis), but maybe we could do it sometime in the next month?

  2. Phil Pustejovsky says:

    You shared some great wisdom in that post.
    If this post prevents even one person from quitting their job impulsively to jump into real estate investing full time before they should, you’ve succeeded.
    The principal about being patient in negotiations only gets more pronounced as the deals get bigger.
    When you’re negotiating a multi-million dollar deal and you need it to close to feed yourself, all the other participants sense it, like sharks smelling blood, and they pounce on the broke person in the deal and rip them apart. Or what we call getting carved out of a deal.
    But when you can authentically be OK with the deal falling apart, magically, you maintain control and the deal seems to come together in the end.
    Johnny Carson is recognized for once saying, “Once you can pay your bills, money is the most over-rated thing there is.”
    As that pertains to real estate, I would say this, “Once you already have your bills paid, then you can be a true real estate investor because you don’t need a deal to close to feed yourself.”

    1. Seth Williams says:

      That’s brilliant Phil, and that’s a great Johnny Carson quote too.

      Thanks again for taking the time to make this video – you did a fantastic job of addressing a MAJOR dilemma that most real estate investors will have to deal with head-on at one point or another. Keep up the good work!

  3. Luis says:

    This is a very good post Seth. I thought I was the only one with this problem. My wife thinks I’m wasting my time because I haven’t closed a deal yet. I keep telling her that it takes time to find a motivated seller. Not everyone wants to sell their land for pennies on the dollar. I know if I keep mailing out offers I will succeed in real estate.

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Hang in there Luis – I know that for most people, those early stages can be the hardest. It’s not always easy to believe in a system until you can see it work in real life.

      You know – you might want to check out this article at some point, it might offer some worthwhile insights on your situation.

  4. Harry Asnien says:

    As everyone else has said so far, this is a great post. One additional benefit of having a separate job while you’re starting to invest is that your salary can be your initial capital to start purchasing deals. Having a stash of cash to buy land deals is convenient, and having a steady job and down payment on the ready so you can get a conventional loan for an investment property may not be required (if you use creative finance) but it sure makes life easier.

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks so much Harry, I’m glad you liked it! I couldn’t agree more on your assessment – the salary from your day job is a serious benefit to have in your back pocket. Logically speaking, you should try to hang onto this until your income from real estate is so high that your salary starts to pale in comparison (and for most people, this doesn’t happen fast).

  5. vikas says:

    Thanks a lot for your list and your blog!Such a nice collection.

    1. Seth Williams says:

      You bet Vikas! Thanks for checking it out.

  6. Patricia Hinojos says:

    “What comes easy, won’t last. What lasts, won’t come easy.”
    Powerful statement! I am going to remind myself that every day!

    1. Seth Williams says:

      That is a great one, isn’t it Patricia? I try to remind myself of this all the time.

  7. Charles Knighton II, MSRE says:

    I’m actually more involved in helping people avoid being scammed in real estate related activities, and investing in real estate is a side business, but here’s what I think I know many people who work their real estate business part time including myself and I consider myself to be a professional. I do not worry about those that do not understand the work I put into my businesses and the passion behind it. I allow it to speak for itself. I started part-time and kept my fulltime job because when I started, real estate did not make me enough to handle my financial obligations. Working it on the side was responsible to me. I would love to hear more on this topic and what others thoughts are on this.

    Charles Knighton II, MSRE
    President- The REI Consumer

    1. Seth Williams says:

      That’s great Charles – thanks for sharing your insights. I have to agree with you on the responsibility aspect of it. Not that it’s impossible, but by and large, most people aren’t going to be able to pull the plug on their day job until they’ve put A LOT of time and effort into their real estate gig.

  8. Jody Kriss says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing .Amazing list of top real estate blogs and like a who’s who list of people to network with. Some new to me but many familiar faces, all seem to provide a ton of valuable content. I am very fortunate to be connected to so many of them.

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks for the comment Jody! Glad you found the content helpful.

  9. Mo says:

    Hey Seth I just wanted to ask I’m a 17-year-old in high school I’m going to be a senior next year. I want to know what path should I take to become a real estate investor since I’m planning on attending college what should I do after I graduate

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Hi Mo… that’s a great question, but there probably isn’t one right answer to that. Personally – I went to college and got a job that I worked for almost a decade before I was finally free to work in my business full time, but this definitely isn’t the only way to get to that point (in some cases, college could actually slow you down… though I don’t think it can ever really hurt you).

      I’d suggest that you read as many books and blogs about your ideal real estate investing path as possible (this is where most investors get their initial education from), start saving up a small slush fund of cash to work with (I had about $3K when I got started) and when you’re ready, don’t be afraid to start pursuing deals… even if you sell the leads to another investor (so you don’t have to buy them yourself), this kind of experience can go a LONG way to anyone who is starting out.

      Best of luck, and let me know how it goes!

  10. Bruce says:

    Is it realistic to Work for a Real Estate Investor Part Time to aid that Person or Group in Building their Business? Also at the same time learning the Ins & Outs of the Business.

    My Intention is to Aid & Assist the Investor for the next Year or Two to Enable them to be more Profitable &/or Efficient

    If so, Can Someone point me in the Right Direction as to Whom I may talk to or Partner with to start the Process?

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Hi Bruce – I suppose it just depends on the real estate investor and what responsibilities you would be handling for them. I suppose some would certainly make this feasible, especially if they put you in charge of an important and crucial aspect of their business.

      From the investor’s perspective, you’d just want to be sure you’re bringing a substantial amount of value to the table. Their priority is to get help, not to educate you… but if you can regularly show how much you’re improving their operation, they’ll be much more likely to put you in charge of more important projects, which will help you learn a lot more along the way.

      Best of luck!

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