Last week I turned 30 years old.
For many people, it's a depressing birthday filled with constant reminders that one is getting old. But for me, it was a joyful milestone and a day of reflection, allowing myself to look back at how epic my 20s were, reflect on the mistakes I made along the way, and respect the journey I have been on -- and it all started in a bowling alley with seven simple words:
"Why don't you just buy a house?"
I had never met the woman who said those words to me, but knew she was a local real estate agent, so it was pretty much her job to say that. However, as I sat down and started thinking about the idea, my 21-year-old self realized that she was right. It would actually be cheaper for me to own a house than to rent one. Sure, there were the facts that:
- I was just 21 years old and looked 12.
- I knew nothing about real estate, construction or money.
- I had no savings.
- I made just over minimum wage at a terrible job.
Rather than letting all those things dictate whether I'd succeed, I just jumped in with both feet.
My first home was a single-family house I got on sale due to the fact that it smelled like something my dog occasionally brings in from outside (you don't want to know). However, with some good, old fashioned sweat equity and a home improvement book I picked up on my very first trip ever to a hardware story, I was off to the races.
I lived in the home for just a year before realizing that I could sell it and make some good money, so I did. The new buyers received a fixed-up, gorgeous home and I made $20,000.
Since that day, I've been buying real estate, mostly rental properties with the occasional "flip." At 27 years old, I was able to leave my terrible desk job and "retire" on the small cash flow provided by the rental properties. Today I've acquired a total of 42 rental units, spread out over about a dozen different properties (ranging from single-family houses to my 24 unit apartment building).
The following are four thoughts I had about my journey to inspire others who are looking to build wealth through real estate, whether they are 20 or 60.