Many self-acclaimed real estate gurus state that everyone should quit their jobs and immediately jump into full time real estate investing. They often claim incredible results from students with little experience. We would like to caution that life-changing decisions are not usually simple and that full time investing is not for everyone. Let’s discuss some pros and cons of full-time versus part-time investing.The Full-Time InvestorEntering into the real estate profession on a full-time basis offers several advantages over a part-time commitment. Being successful requires you to develop knowledge in many aspects of real estate, and more time focused on real estate leads to greater knowledge. The more your learn, the more you earn, since you do not need to rely on as many professional services or partners for help. You also learn to recognize a deal (or a dud) faster, which gives you more time to do more business or spend with your family.As a full-time investor, you work your own hours. When we say “full-time,” that may mean as little as twenty hours per week if you are good at finding deals. The rest of your time can be spent pursuing other vocations or hobbies. Or, if you are so inspired, you can work forty or more hours and use the extra cash flow to buy rental properties or diversify your holdings in the stock market. The point is that you need to satisfy your cash flow needs before you can start “investing” your money.One final point you should consider is whether you want to be “self-employed.” If you have always worked for someone else, being your own boss sounds very attractive. In some, respects, this isn’t quite the truth. Being your own boss means being an accountant, bookkeeper, stock clerk, receptionist and office manager all-in-one. You have to do deal with tax returns, payroll, office supplies, customer service, bills and all the other hassles that come with a business. You don’t have friends to chat with at the water cooler. You don’t have paid health insurance, a company car and a 401(k). You take your problems home with you every night. Sound like fun? It is, once you learn how to master your time and run your business. Being the master of your own life and career is well worth the other hassles of dealing with your own business.The Part-Time InvestorThe part-time investor holds a “regular job.” This may be by choice or for the time being until his real estate ventures are bringing in enough cash to quit his job. If it is the latter reason, don’t quit your job because the real estate “guru” told you so. Quit your job when it is not worth the income that it brings you. In other words, if you are making more money per hour flipping properties on the side, you are at the point that where your regular job is costing you money. Only then, is it time to quit!One of the advantages of starting out part-time is that you can maintain cash flow while learning the business. It may take weeks or possibly months to find your first deal. That same deal may take several months to turn around, especially if you decide to fix it and sell it retail. Think twice before telling your boss you’re leaving; you will have plenty of time to make the career switch once you have real estate experience. You may, on the other hand, like your occupation. If so, continue to work at it, and invest in real estate on the side.The best case scenario, if you are married, is to have one spouse work a regular job. The other spouse work the real estate business for creating wealth, retirement income and a nice college fund for the children. Of course, in today’s market, you could be laid off due to unforeseen circumstances. If you earn additional income flipping houses and invest the proceeds into rental properties, you will be covered if your main income is lost. This is especially the case for married women that often forego a career and raise a family, only to find themselves divorced with no means of making a living. We don’t want to sound cynical about marriage, but with a fifty-percent divorce rate in America, it never hurts to have a system for making money.Someone with a full time job tends to have little free time to focus on real estate. A part-timer should learn most of the same skills as a full timer. Thus, the key disadvantage to flipping properties on a part-time basis is that it takes sacrifice to learn the business. Something has to give; television, lazy weekends, meaningless hobbies and even some family activities must be compromised. As with any education, time spent learning about real estate will bring its own rewards, especially if the people in your life understand your goals and your plan to achieve those goals. If you are married, make sure your spouse reads this material with you and participates in the fun process of making money.Treat Real Estate as a BusinessPeople are lured to real estate because of the quick buck that it promises. Don’t hold your breath, you won’t get rich quick. An “overnight sensation” usually takes about five years. More than ninety percent of the people who take a real estate seminar quit after three months. Real estate investing should be treated with the seriousness of a career. It takes months, even years for a business to cultivate customers and have a life of its own. You need to treat it like any other business.
As a part of my job I meet, call and work with lots of real estate professionals. And in the many years I’ve been doing that I have come across what I believe to be a number of of the reasons a few of those real estate professionals are not doing as well in the business as they would like to.The following is just my top five, there’s a lot more, so please read them and let me know not only what you think and please feel free to know of any you think I should have included.1. Not answering your cell phone because the number shown is blocked or unknown.Some of the reasons given by real estate professionals for doing this are:a) If it’s important they’ll leave a message
b) Only telemarketers and other unwanted people block their number so I don’t like wasting my time talking to them.
c) I don’t like to waste my cell minutes so this way I can screen the calls and return them at my office on a land line.The reality:a) A lot of prospects have blocked or unknown numbers because they don’t want them being displayed on yours or anyone’s phone
b) Not every prospect will leave a message for you to call them back. Some will call another real estate professional who will answer their phone
c) If you’re really serious about being in this business then your cell bill is one of the costs of being in that business. Don’t cut back on one of the main ways prospects can get a hold of you.2. Letting all calls to their office number go to voice mail, when they are at their desk, so they can screen them before returning the call.Some of the reasons given by real estate professionals for doing this are:a) When I’m at the office I am usually very busy and just don’t have time to talk with someone on the phone so I let it go voice mail and call them back at a more convenient time.
b) I don’t’ have the time to answer a bunch of questions about available listings or other stuff over the phone. Besides most of those types of calls are just from people too lazy to check out our websiteThe reality:a) As with your cell phone, your office phone is one of your tools for sales. Every call you let go to voice mail could be a possible future client who if they can’t reach you will start looking for someone who will answer their phone and talk to them
b) It takes less than two (2) minutes speaking with a prospect to determine if they are serious about buying or selling. That is not a waste of your time, doing assessments of prospects is a part of being successful real estate professional.
c) Voice mail should only be used when you are away from your desk, then all calls should be transferred to your cell, or you are in meeting, which I think is the only truly valid reason for using voice mail in the first place.3. Not putting your email address on your business cardsSome of the reasons given by real estate professionals for doing this are:a) I don’t want to get spammed
b) I like to give my email address out to prospects or clients in person, that way I know who has it
c) I don’t like to use email because its to impersonalThe reality:a) You will get spammed no matter what you do this is why you should have a good spam filter on your email account.
b) Only giving out your email address verbally is a really dumb way to do it. Why you ask, because people can misspell it, which means their emails to you will bounce so they will most likely think your email address is no longer working therefore having it on your business card makes it unlikely that will happen. Besides why have an email address if you don’t use it.
c) Email is no longer considered impersonal, most everyone in the world uses it and most expects you to use it to keep in touch with them instead of having to call all the time.4. Having a cute or strange email addressSome of the reasons given by real estate professionals for doing this are:a) I’ve had that email address for a long time and everybody knows it
b) I think having unique email address helps me stand out from the crowd
c) The email address I wanted was taken so this one was the next best oneThe reality:a) No matter how long you’ve had the email address “[email protected]” it doesn’t sound or look professional. Remember to prospects and clients alike perception IS reality. Get a professional email address even if it’s just your name.
b) An email address like “[email protected]” may be unique but again it sounds like some teenager came up with it. My apologies if your teenager did but its still looks unprofessional
c) Even if the email address you wanted was taken you should not just settle on any name find one that gives an air of professionalism, name alone can be your best email address and advertisement. “[email protected]” or “[email protected]”. I hope you get the idea5. Not using your companies websiteSome of the reasons given by real estate professionals for doing this are:a) I have my own website and I want to build up myself as a brand by using it
b) I don’t like the way the company website looks and they won’t change it
c) I don’t know anything about websites
d) I don’t think there that effective in generating business.The reality:a) Even if you have your own website, which I believe is a great thing to have as part of your overall marketing strategy, but if your company has a website they prompt and you can have your own page(s) on it with a separate address, not taking advantage of it is like throwing away free money
b) So you don’t like your company’s website design, layout or whatever, if they are allowing you to have a free page with a separate address forget your own artistic feelings and use it to promote your business.
c) You don’t have to know anything about websites or how they work to use them. Most company’s which have websites have someone who can help you set up yours. Even if they don’t you can hire a professional web designer for a reasonable cost
d) If still are under the misconception the internet is not important to business marketing you must have been born in the dark ages. The latest report as published in Inman News states that businesses using the internet for marketing have increased 42% since 2008 and in 2011 4 of 5 businesses with at least 100 employees will have a presence on the internet.Remember please let me know what you think especially if you are a real estate professional, and even if you’re not, plus tell me about any you think should have been included.