My Real Estate Investment Journey

As I reflect on my own personal real estate investment journey, there are three things that I have found true:

  1. I have not always known what I was doing (and sometimes still don’t)
  2. Investing is not always as glamorous as it sounds
  3. I have not regretted a single day! 

A little bit of background…

I remember the real estate journey of my father, a gym teacher who later turned school principal. He was always in pursuit of self-development, personal growth and financial freedom. Also a great entrepreneur, he owned several apartment buildings when I was little, performing most of the property management and maintenance himself. I fondly remember playing in those front yards while he did building repairs during his summer school months off! I never thought twice back then about how his endeavors to buy and ultimately sell those properties for a profit. Who knew this might someday lead me into a similar path of investing?

Instead, I felt that I had to study hard, get a good education and then join that rat race like everyone else – which I did! I had a successful corporate career which fed and housed my family well. The extent of my “investing” only came from my bi-weekly contributions to the company’s 401(k) program. I was satisfied to slowly build that retirement stockpile.  

Life happens

Life happens and so did a divorce which ended up taking a good chunk of this savings. I was sad, I was devastated, I was angry. Most of all though, I was resolved to take my fate into my own hands. I decided to have a “Plan B” just in case my corporate job went away (which they often do without warning) and I obtained my real estate license. It was after almost 2 years with my real estate license before I decided to turn my Plan B into Plan A. I left the very stable, but poke-my-eyes-out-over-the-politics corporate job and I joined the other 20,000+ active real estate agents in Colorado (yes, there really are that many!). Midlife crisis? Maybe. But, grateful to have such supportive family and friends that reinforced what I saw my dad do and what he always taught me… I knew I could do it!

One vision that has been a constant fuel to my real estate career is that I never again wanted to have all my eggs in just one basket. Yes, I came to this industry to help people and I seriously LOVE this part of my job. Nothing feels better to me than to be appreciated after helping someone make one of the most difficult decisions in their life. But real estate – especially in Denver – has its ups and downs, rounds and abouts, ins and outs. I knew that I needed to insulate myself as much as I could from cyclical and seasonal market effects. With a hidden spark in my soul from my dad, and watching my more modern-day mentors, I started focusing again on my future by investing my own money in real estate.  Diversifying my financial portfolio in this way has been not only one of the smartest decisions I have made, but it has enriched my life beyond belief.

Real estate investment truly is a journey

I know that I am fortunate when I can say that I now own multiple properties. These have built up equity and provide a steady passive income.  I’ve also been able to “flip”: purchase and sell properties for a decent cash payout after remodeling. Perhaps my greatest investment joy so far is an on-going project for my own personal use; a life-long dream that is actually coming true.

I earnestly wish, however, that I could say all of my investments have been easy… but alas, they have not! I have had a fair share of issues with timeshares, which then required me to look for ways to exit the deal with the help of professionals (like lawyers found at timeshare exit companies). Besides this, I have also had tenants to evict, other tenants who have simply abandoned a property, contractors who skipped out on jobs half done, and the true joy of replacing a septic system.

To be honest, each one of these experiences (among many others) have been incredibly frustrating, painful, and sometimes quite smelly(!) They have also been invaluable lessons. They continue to motivate me to focus on the long game. Investing in real estate is not a get rich quick strategy. It takes planning, patience, experience, an appetite for trial, and an acceptance for error.  As a wise Dolly Parton once said, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” 

Being the best darn real estate agent that I can be still tops my life’s priorities. Investing in real estate has broadened my sense of purpose in how I can help others. Don’t underestimate how impactful new resources, tools, and a friendly sounding board can be if you are so inclined to get started or continue your own journey. I am here to help!  

What’s next on my real estate investment journey? I’m thinking a cute little beach house to use for a short term rental is on the horizon. I know my dad would like it…