Can you create a successful real estate business without enjoying the work itself? Investors weigh in.
I think it’s fairly safe to say that most people are drawn to real estate investing for the financial opportunities it brings. The idea of closing even a few profitable deals each year is exciting. Add to that the fact that it’s open to anyone willing to work hard, and it becomes even more appealing.
But what if you’re looking to do it for longer than 1 year? What if you want to be around for more than a few flips? What if you want to make investing your full time business? What if you want to really scale your business and go after it?
One things for sure: investing is a tough and competitive business. So the question is: do you need to love real estate, or be passionate about it, to make a successful career of it?
I work with a lot of investors, and I’ve seen them give this advice. And having attempted to start my own side-hustles in the past, I can attest that enjoying what you’re doing is pretty important if you’re going to make it through the long and difficult dip of launching your business.
In this article, I’ll make the case for how the answer to the question “do you have to love real estate to be a successful investor?” is probably “yes, but only part of it.” You’ll hear from a handful of both established and newer investors, and what their take on this question is.
First of all, it’s really important that you like helping people.
I think in many professions you find two types of people (broadly speaking):
Type 1: they love the job for what it provides; for the impact it has on people’s lives.
Type 2: they love the job because they love the work itself.
In my mind, an example of Type 1 might be a nurse. Do they enjoy the process of changing bedpans? Is that their passion? Probably not. But they do it because they love to see people smile and get well, and what the role of nursing provides.
An example of Type 2 might be a surgeon, who truly enjoys the work itself. They enjoy the challenge, and the pressure. They enjoy what they do. Human biology interests them. Yes, they enjoy seeing people get well, but they got into it for more than that – they enjoy the work itself.
Finally, there’s probably a blend of the two.
An architect, for example, might really enjoy the work of designing a sound, safe, beautiful structure. They love working alone. They love angles and the mechanics of it. But they also love seeing people enjoy the finished product.
I think real estate investors can fall into any of those camps. Some of them just love the work itself. They love the idea of how money works, the thrill of the hunt for a good deal, and yet not really have much regard for the people they’re buying from.
Others may not enjoy the work as much, or the actual process of flipping a home (perhaps they find it daunting, stressful, or just kind of boring), but they love how they’re able to use that to help homeowners in tough spots.
Anthony is the founder of Sell As Is Now, and he falls in that second camp, saying “I don't think you need to like real estate to work in it, but I think you need to put people first. If you are just in it for the money, you will not go far.”
Elizabeth, who runs Cornerstone Home Buyers, agrees, “The real estate business is ultimately a people business. We have found that success in this business also comes from having the heart and compassion to help others, not just about the money. If you just see as a quick way to make money, then you may not last in the business very long. You also must be willing to work harder and longer than you may have ever done before.”
For these investors, it’s not so much the love of real estate, but the love of people that matters most. So if you’re interested in getting into REI because of a desire to help people, you’re probably headed in a good direction.
But if you’re not at least interested in real estate, you may not make it.
For some investors, caring for people and a desire to help them can drive most of their work ethic and perseverance.
However, it would be one-sided to say that you don’t need to have any interest in it. “To be successful in real estate investing, you have to have a passion for it.” says Rhen, COO at Irby Home Buyers, “you'll have to work hundreds of times harder than you ever thought possible, to truly build something great. To do that without getting burnt out, you must have a true passion for the business.”
Xavier runs Fast Cash 4 House and he agrees, “I think it's important to like real estate, because there are going to be moments where it's very tough and challenging. You must have something else that drives and motivates you to overcome the challenges.” For Xavier (and many other proven investors) that thing that motivates or drives them, is a love of real estate. An interest in real estate for the sake of real estate.
This is like my example of a surgeon. It’s someone who just loves analyzing properties, spotting a good deal, and the thrill of the hunt. To put it shortly: they love the work itself.
One downside to this is that some investors wired this way can come across as robots, who simply see homeowners as numbers and dollars, the same way a surgeon can just see people as an operation. To be clear, this doesn't mean everyone who nerds out on real estate is a feelingless robot. It just might be the side you fall off on if this is you.
Being an investor requires juggling marketing, sales, finances, and some construction knowledge, at all times. For some people that might seem overwhelming, but for others, it’s what keeps the job fun and interesting.
Take Jesse, for example, who started AJX Homes. He believes that it’s crucial for aspiring investors to love real estate the same way he does, saying “it's not a job, it's more like a hobby. If it wasn't for all the fires I have to put out, or needing to problem solve constantly, it wouldn't be a fun business to run.”
So even if you’re not a people-person, and you’re really in it for the profit it can make you, you still need to love the mechanics of it: the day to day operations, or compiling a team, or putting out fires, or solving problems. Because if you don’t, you won’t put in the time you need to be successful.
Jay runs We Buy Carolina, and says, “it's very important that you enjoy being a Real Estate investor. It takes lots of time and effort to create a large enough deal funnel to make it a viable business. If you don't enjoy real estate investing, you won't do all the things necessary to generate leads and run a successful business.”
One thing’s for sure: if you’re only in it for the money, you’re not going to go far.
So far we’ve seen that depending on how you’re wired, you might have a good career in investing if 1) you really love helping people, or 2) you really love the mechanics of buying and selling homes (or, a love of real estate). Both of those serve as motivation to help you persevere when things are hard and endurance is called for.
But in all my time working with investors, there’s one type of motivation that investors warn will never lead to success: love of money.
Time and again I’ve heard it, and if you do any reading or learning from entrepreneurs in other industries, they’ll say the same. Going after the money is the quickest way to not get it.
That’s exactly what Beau, the owner of Beau Buys, warns aspiring investors, “you don't have to absolutely love real estate to have a real estate business but I find that people who are just in it for the money get washed out pretty quickly when they discover how difficult the industry is to succeed in.”
Teresa, who runs We Buy Sun Coast with her husband, agrees, “In order to be successful you must believe in your product or your customers will see through you.”
So, is it important that you actually enjoy real estate, to be a successful investor? Yes, but there are lots of parts to be enjoyed.
The general consensus when listening to investors is “yeah, you’ve got to enjoy this.” But here’s the thing…
You don’t have to love everything about it.
I’d venture to say that nobody loves everything about their job, even if it’s their dream job. And when it comes to real estate, it seems that there are a lot of aspects to enjoy.
You might enjoy helping people: getting to talk with people in tough situations, showing compassion, hearing their stories, and seeing their faces light up when you offer some solutions they hadn’t thought of yet. That may be enough to push through all the difficulties of the industry.
You might enjoy working on and flipping homes. You love finding a good deal. You prefer to work by yourself, or with a small team. And while you don’t dislike people, the thing that moves you most is the process of flipping a home and squeezing the most profit possible out of it.
Or, you might enjoy creating systems and processes, and putting together an effective team, so you can challenge yourself to flip the most homes possible. You aren’t in love with construction, or even talking to people, you just love the industry and scaling a really profitable business.
And finally, you might enjoy a hobby that keeps you on your feet: taking calls, meeting homeowners, putting out fires, problem solving – you enjoy the work.
The important point is that you enjoy some part of it. One thing is unanimous among established investors: it’s a hard, uphill climb. So make sure that you can take enjoyment in what you’re doing so you can make it to the top. Oh, and if you’re new around here, join the community or check out more articles from pros who can help you get there!