So we have a lot of people ask us how we got into real estate and what we actually do, how much time it takes, and lots of other questions. You are probably also thinking “I thought you said you were paying off all your debt”. The answer is yes, we are paying off ALL of our debt- including our business debt. Let me explain. Well, let me do a little background first.
My husband and I kind of fell into real estate. I bought my home in March 2009 and he bought his home in July 2007. This happened before we met. Fast forward a couple years, we met, fell in love, yada yada yada and we decided to live in the house I bought. So, we were trying to decide on what to do with the house he bought. After some consideration and talking to a few friends, we decided to rent it out. At that time, we knew a few people who were real estate investors so we started to pick their brains about what all was involved and tried to learn a bit more.
We casually talked after that about buying another investment property. To tell you the truth, I was scared to death. It was unfamiliar and a risk I was terrified to take. What if a roof needed fixed? What if the heat went out in a rental unit? What if the tub leaked from the upstairs and caused a leak in the main level? It was all so scary and risky. What would we do in this situation. Well, we moved forward. I warmed up to the idea of adding an additional investments and we bought our first investment property together in 2012. It is a single family home that we still own today. The market at that time wasn’t great and the house had been sitting on the market for awhile so we got a great deal. An invaluable piece of advice we got from other investors was screen your tenants. That was exactly what we did and we still have those original tenants who are amazing people. Our first investment went well so we decided to invest again in 2013 and bought a duplex this time. It was a foreclosed property that needed a bit of work. We were able to get the property for a very decent price and did the needed renovation to one side. There was already a tenant in one side of the property which made it nice because we only had to fix up one side at a time. So we fixed up the one side and we were able to rent it pretty quickly.
Moving forward to 2014-October to be exact. We made the decision at the end of that month that we would become debt free. We had medical bills from my oldest son’s surgery, car payments, house payments, school loans and all of the other monthly bills like gas, electric, cell phones, groceries, etc. (Feels like a never ending list right?) My husband and I talked about holding off on investing any further until ALL of our debt was paid off but we ultimately wanted to keep going with our real estate business. Let me tell you we prayed about it and prayed about it and prayed about it some more. We asked God to tell us what He wanted us to do. We kind of just prayed for months. Then in May 2015, we found another property literally 2 minutes from our house with land. The property is in a great school system and would allow us to build several other rental units if we wanted to in the future. This property was a duplex with one side vacant and the other side with a tenant who wanted to stay. The side that was vacant needed A LOT of work. I was afraid we weren’t up to the challenge at that particular time in our lives. We had 2 small children, my husband travels for work and life was just busy in general. Well, we put in an offer on the duplex and it was turned down. We countered and it was turned down again. We decided to completely walk away and we both were fine with that. We were totally willing to give it up. I feel like God was testing us to see if we were truly listening to him. We could have gone higher on our offer but we didn’t think the property justified going higher so we backed off. My husband called me a couple days later while I was at work and told me that the seller reconsidered and accepted our offer. We decided to move forward. With all the back and forth, we were supposed to close on this property the second week of July. We faced another curveball at that time. I lost my job on July 7th, 2015. Never thought that would happen. But who really thinks they will lose their job, right? So, here we were, me at home with the kids actively searching for other jobs, and my husband working. Here is the thing though… If we had not decided to start paying off our debt and had medical bills, car payments, debt on credit cards… things would have been a lot worse. Instead, we were ok. We made it through during this hard time because we got a lot of our debt paid off. We were able to handle the unthinkable because we made a very hard decision in October 2014. We did not close on the new property until October 2015. Trust me on this. I prayed about this to see if this was really the direction God was leading us. Did he really want us to have another property? After praying like crazy, we decided to close on the property. We created a renovation budget and got busy. We finished the renovation ahead of schedule and got it rented out.
So what does this real estate thing have to do with finances and freedom and paying off debt? Here is what I think of it. We have personal debt and we have business debt. The business debt is our future. We plan to someday retire and do real estate full time because it is something we both enjoy doing together. I feel that real estate would allow us to have the time freedom that we desire sooner if we continue to grow our business now. We analyze every investment to see if it would work out in our long term business plan. If it doesn’t, then we move on. My advice would be that if you see your future as different than what your present is now, then take intentional and well thought out steps towards achieving what you want for the future. What is it that you love to do? Is it something that is feasible to start now or is it something that can happen in a year? What steps do you need to take to start making your dream a reality?
Greg and I dream about coaching our kids sports teams, traveling when we want, being involved in our community, and pretty much doing what we want when we want. That is freedom to us. We have years before that will happen but we take intentional steps each day because it means that much to us. So, that is the really long answer to how we got started in real estate and why. I have more real estate stories so stay tuned!!!
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