It used to be that real estate investing was the domain of late night TV infomercials showing often ugly men surrounded by babes riding in a Maserati, promising that you too could get rich by applying his easy formula for real estate wealth.
These days, if you look through the show listings on network and cable TV, you can probably find between three and seven shows at any one time that feature home improvement, real estate investing, remodeling, buying and selling, or some combination.
There are shows that follow investors who specialize in racing to the courthouse steps to bid on hot properties up for auction. There are shows that follow complete neophytes as they attempt their first renovation under pressure. There are shows that cover remodeling pros as they turn ugly ducklings into golden geese. There are shows that follow home inspectors as they tear apart what looked on the surface like a finished home. There are shows that rebuild homes for people in need. And on it goes.
The big attraction to these shows is a combination of two thing: astronomical profits and creativity. People love to vicariously experience making a lot of money. And people love to see houses being remodeled, probably because we all live in houses and have ideas about what would look good.
Those of us who are born entrepreneurs take it one step further and start imagining ourselves doing the creating and realizing the profits.
These shows have made and lost fortunes a few times over by convincing viewers that they too can do the wondrous things seen on television. But these shows rarely (with some exceptions) show how hard the work and the profits may actually be.
The cameras don’t always show the blood, sweat, and tears, and the shows seldom follow or mention the countless complete and total failures that occur along the way. Failures don’t make good TV because there is no “big reveal” at the end.
The cameras don’t catch the nightmares as $50,000 in unexpected expenses are discovered and families go deep in debt as their dreams of quick riches go up in termites.
All I’m saying is that things are not always as rosy as they may appear to be on the television shows. TV condenses hours, days, even weeks of work into a 1 hour show. On the high-budget remodel shows, if you could see behind the scenes, you’d see a small army of expert support staff getting things done. You probably don’t have that support staff. On the investor shows, the costs are seldom explained or considered. You probably don’t have the deep pockets that those investors do.
You must invest within your means. You must find more easily fixed homes with fewer problems and perhaps lower profits to start. You must consider alternative investment approaches, like profit sharing with the owners so that you’re not so deeply out of pocket.
Yet, it will be harder for you to find these easy deals, precisely because of the TV shows. Home shows have made competition for flippable houses fiercer as more people jump on the flipping bandwagon.
The early bird in this business gets the worm, so you have to be diligent in finding the right home. Don’t jump on the first thing that comes along. Find the right investment for you. You may have to let some deals go because you just don’t have the resources at the moment.
Don’t let the potential challenges turn you away… just let them inform you so that you invest in real estate wisely. Real estate really is one of the only ways for an ordinary person to make a large sum of money fairly quickly and legally. So let yourself be excited and motivated, but be smart about your fix and flip knowledge and resources.