Investing in Real Estate while Active Duty

When people find out that I do real estate investing in addition to my “9-5” as an active duty Naval officer, they tend to be surprised. It can definitely be challenging at times, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. However, in order to reach my long-term goals, I know that investing in real estate in my free time is an absolute MUST. 

I know there are a lot of fellow military members out there who have similar goals, but they just don’t know how to get started or what it will take to achieve those goals. 

If you want to be successful in real estate while serving your country, starting with the right mindset is absolutely critical. There are also some practical steps you can take every day to make your goals become a reality.

Focus On Why

Having a strong ‘why’ is critical to achieving any goal, and real estate is no exception. Any journey worth taking will have significant obstacles along the way. Are you mentally strong enough to push through these obstacles and stay on the path to success? Your ‘why’ does not have to be limited to your business or personal life. I have strong ‘whys’ for both my personal life and for Honor and Equity.

For example, one of Honor and Equity’s long-term goals is to be able to provide free housing to veterans. I have no idea how H&E will achieve this, and it may take years to accomplish, but the only way H&E will not hit this goal is if I quit. When I hit obstacles, I just take a step back, take a deep breath, and think about how awesome it would be to help out veterans in need of a good home. It helps me re-focus on the big picture and on why I’m doing this. 

If you are married, I highly recommend working on your personal ‘why’ together with your spouse. My wife and I have a long-term goal to completely replace our W-2 income with passive income from real estate and businesses by the time we’re both out of the Navy. This goal will give us the freedom to live where we want, spend more time with friends and family, and only do work that gives us a strong sense of purpose. 

If you want to learn more about the value of a strong ‘why’, I go more in-depth in this article.

Your Network Determines Your Net Worth

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Real estate is a team sport. There are simply too many elements in real estate investing to reasonably expect to do them all by yourself. Some of these elements include finding deals, closing deals, financing, project management, improving and repairing properties, finding tenants, managing tenants, and bookkeeping. If you try to do all of these yourself, you will likely fail. 

If you are just getting started in real estate investing, the first thing I would do is join a mastermind group with a focus on real estate. In doing so, you will surround yourself with people much more experienced than you and will benefit from their experiences and wisdom. Real estate investors are highly motivated to help others! Don’t be afraid to ask for some advice. 

You should also consider partnering with someone you trust when you’re getting started. Make sure your skill sets complement each other. If you are more of a numbers guy/gal and enjoy analyzing the deals and figuring out the financing, then you should partner with someone who excels at managing a project, communicating with vendors, and perhaps finding the deals.  

Regardless of who you work with and what task you’re doing, make sure you are providing value to others. No one likes the person who only takes from others – be it time, money, or advice. I recommend adopting a generous mindset and focus on helping others however you can. It will come back to you!

Make the Most of the Time You Have

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Juggling a full-time job such as a military career with real estate investing on the side is demanding, however, my Navy job always takes priority over anything real estate-related. Managing my time effectively is crucial, and it’s always something I’m trying to improve upon. 

Something I have learned the hard way is: don’t try to do too much in one day or one week. The intensity of my work schedule ebbs and flows, so some weeks I have more free time to work on the business/real estate than other weeks. I’ve learned to adjust my weekly business goals to make them attainable based on my work schedule. The weeks I didn’t do this, I found myself overwhelmed and frustrated at the total workload. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so I have to constantly remind myself to adjust my weekly and daily goals to make them attainable and not overwhelming. 

If you want to succeed at anything, you must take consistent, daily action. I started using a daily planner to help me be more consistent. Last summer, I used Brandon Turner’s Intention Journal, and while I enjoyed it, I have since transitioned to the Panda Planner Venture Edition. It is reasonably priced ($13 on Amazon), and has sections to write down business-focused elements such as your core purpose, core values, and long-term goals, in addition to quarterly, weekly, and daily to-do lists. 

I wake up early every day (usually by 0530) to work on the business. This gives me a couple of hours each day to reply to emails, analyze properties, create content, or whatever I have prioritized for that day. 

I use my daily planner to track not only business items, but also use it to make sure I exercise and read every day, and I use the notes section in the back to write down ideas, meeting notes, and more. 

Bonus Tip: You Don’t Have to Live Where you Invest

This concept was first introduced to me by David Greene’s first book Long-Distance Real Estate Investing – one of my favorites. Once I realized that you don’t have to live where you invest, it opened my eyes to the endless opportunities available to investors. Most people believe they have to live in the same location they buy property. This is simply not true. Why do we feel the need to walk through a home before we buy it? Unless you’re a professional inspector or appraiser, this doesn’t add much value for a home you will never live in. People are uncomfortable buying a property they haven’t seen before, but are perfectly comfortable buying shares in a publicly-traded company they know almost nothing about.

If you are facing this mental hurdle, I challenge you to look past the emotional components of this limiting belief and try to think more logically about it. Read the aforementioned David Greene book, and connect with other investors who have overcome this mental hurdle. You’ll be glad you did!

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you’re interested in more real estate, personal finance, and investing insight, follow @honorandequity on Instagram and Facebook. If you want to connect, send me an email at doug@honorandequity.com!

What’s Holding You Back From Investing in Real Estate?

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Before I bought my first investment property in 2018, I thought real estate investing was only for the extremely wealthy. I envisioned a real estate investor as someone like Donald Trump buying massive apartments and office buildings next to skyscrapers in New York City and other large metropolitan areas.

It wasn’t until I started listening to the Bigger Pockets podcast that I realized normal people like myself were not only real estate investors, they were crushing it! I learned you didn’t have to be wealthy, you didn’t have to come from a real estate family, and you didn’t even have to live where you invest!

Millions of people have preconceived notions about what it takes to invest in real estate, just like I did. Combine those notions with a scarcity mindset, a desire to stay within your comfort zone, and the lack of a defined ‘why’, and it’s no wonder why more people aren’t real estate investors. 

But this doesn’t have to be you. You can invest in real estate. 

A limiting belief is a conviction or state of mind that keeps us from achieving something. What are some limiting beliefs that keep people from investing in real estate?

Limiting Belief #1: I Don’t Have A Lot of Money, So I Can’t Invest in Real Estate

If you talk to enough real estate investors or listen to real estate podcasts, you’ll hear stories of people that have created large portfolios and have become millionaires after starting their journey with almost nothing. They didn’t make excuses – they decided on a goal and took action to achieve it. 

Brandon Turner, an experienced investor and host of the Bigger Pockets real estate podcast, talks about three things that have to exist for a deal to work: 

  1. Capital (money)
  2. Knowledge
  3. Hustle

You don’t personally need to have all three – or even two – to get going on your first deal. You only need one. Maybe you don’t have the money or the knowledge, but you have the hustle and time to get out into neighborhoods and find deals. There are always real estate investors looking for great deals (myself included). If you can drive around a neighborhood and look for vacant properties with overgrown lawns, then you can get started in real estate investing. 

If you have some knowledge and some hustle but you just need some capital to get going, there are lots of people out there that want to invest in real estate but don’t have the time or desire to get started in real estate. If you present them a great deal and show them you can successfully turn the deal into a successful BRRRR/Flip, they will likely lend you the money you need to get the deal off the ground.

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Limiting Belief #2: My Market is Too Expensive, So I Can’t Invest in Real Estate

For those of you that have this mindset, open a new tab on your browser right now, go to amazon, and purchase “Long-Distance Real Estate Investing” by David Greene. This book opened my eyes to the concept of living where you want to live (or where the military tells you to live!) and investing where the numbers make sense. 

I live in San Diego and home prices here are ridiculous, so I invest in the Midwest and the South/Southeast where the home prices are a fraction of what they cost in Southern California. You can also get a much better return on your money because the homes cash flow so well! For example, one of my Milwaukee properties rents for $1250/month and my mortgage payment is $544! Its very difficult to find that much difference between rent and your mortgage payment in Southern California and other expensive markets. 

Limiting Belief #3: I Don’t Know How to Invest in Real Estate!

This is the worst excuse of them all because there is so much free information available to anyone with an internet connection. We all consume information differently, and thankfully there is a wealth of information across all formats. 

-Books! This is my favorite way to consume information. I wrote an article highlighting my favorite real estate books, which you can read here. I recently finished David Greene’s BRRRR book (Buy Rehab Rent Refinance Repeat) so it is not in that article, but it’s probably my favorite real estate book!

-Podcasts! This is my second favorite way to consume information. Bigger Pockets has a few fantastic podcasts all about real estate and personal finance. The original BP podcast is real estate focused as you would imagine, the new BP Rookie podcast is designed for beginners, and the BP Money podcast is more personal finance oriented. Check out the article I wrote about my favorite podcasts here

-YouTube! Historically, I’m not a big consumer of real estate/personal finance info via YouTube, but I have been watching a lot more videos recently. YouTube has fantastic content with experts who will walk you step by step through the ins and outs of all things real estate. Want to see how to analyze a deal? There are a thousand videos showing you how to do it. How does real estate financing work? There are experienced lenders with videos walking you through the whole process. 

In addition to books, podcasts, and YouTube, there are countless blog articles and forums not only with the information you’re seeking, but with people who are eager to help others get started in real estate (like myself). 

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So what’s keeping you from taking that first step and investing in real estate? Is it fear? Is it lack of knowledge? If you know you want to do it, but you just need someone to kick you in the ass and get you motivated, I highly recommend joining a mastermind group. If you are active duty, a reservist, or a veteran, check out the War Room real estate mastermind here. It’s a fantastic group of people all involved in real estate in some capacity. We hold each other accountable for our goals, bounce ideas off of each other, and do 2-3 webinars per month with speakers, Q&A sessions, and more. Reach out to me at doug@honorandequity to learn more!

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