How do you go about finding your real estate niche (your area of real estate expertise) if you don’t know anything about real estate? How can you become an expert when you have no clue where to start?
Mentoring isn’t a new trend, but I feel like it has come back in style recently. Mentoring is a relationship you develop with someone who is more knowledgeable in an area than you are. A mentor will help you learn about that particular subject and offer their advice. So in our case, we are looking for mentors that are real estate investors.
Why You Need a Mentor
- They will hold you accountable.
- You will avoid costly mistakes by listening to their advice.
- They can help you build your network.
- You will become a better investor, faster.
How to Find Potential Mentors
Real estate investors are everywhere! You probably just didn’t realize it, as most tend to keep a low profile. The following are great ways to find local investors that could become your mentor:
Local Real Estate Groups
You might not realize this, but there are usually several real estate investor groups in your area. You can check out these websites to see if you have a group in your area:
Unfortunately, you can’t find these groups in every area. However, you still might be able to find a group by searching for “State name landlord association” or even “county name state name landlord association”. Most of the members of these groups have quite a bit of experience in real estate and love to share their knowledge.
Local Small Business Owners
Often local small business owners become successful in their business, and then decide to buy real estate as a way to protect and grow their wealth. Do you have a favorite neighborhood restaurant that is locally owned? Ask the owner if they invest in real estate. You might be surprised that they often do. . One of my very first business mentors owned a pizza shop that he started when he was 18 years old. We met him when he was in his early 30’s; by that time he owned the entire plaza that the pizza shop was located in. I think he could relate to me and my husband as we were so young when we were first starting out. He is a dear friend of ours and I know that his wisdom in those early years helped us avoid several costly decisions.
Newspaper Classified Ads
If all else fails, you can go through your local newspaper’s classified ads and call the number that is listed in the ad. Tell the person a little about yourself and that you are interested in getting into real estate. Offer to buy them a cup of coffee to pick their brain.
What You Should Do
Once you find a potential mentor, you can ask them if they would be willing to let you interview them about what they do. Offer to buy them coffee or take them to lunch. Try to make it casual and fun.
Before you show up for your meeting, do a little homework to make the most of it. Research the local real estate industry and the person you’ll be meeting with (if you can) so you have a context for the experience. Come prepared with questions, but be ready to listen. It is very important that you are respectful of the investor’s time. If you tell them that the meeting will only take one hour, be sure to keep track of time, and end the meeting in one hour. You will not be able to gather all of the information you want from one meeting with an investor, but you should see it as a great start to a fruitful relationship.
What to Ask an Investor
Here are some sample questions that you can ask an investor:
- What made you want to go into real estate?
- Can you tell me about the first property you bought?
- How many properties do you currently have?
- What’s your favorite type of property to buy and why?
- What are some of your greatest challenges?
- How have you overcome those challenges?
- What are some characteristics of a successful investor?
- What other people do you work with on a regular basis to make you successful?
- What are some of your favorite books?
- Do you have any routines or habits that you think have gotten you to where you are today?
- What is something you wish you would have known when you were just starting out?
Building the Mentoring Relationship
At the end of the first meeting, you can ask the investor if they would be willing for you to follow them for a day so you can get a more in depth look at what a typical day is like for them. If they are willing, you should be prepared to help out where needed. If that goes well, you might want to ask if they would be interested in having coffee with you once a month. This is how a mentorship relationship starts. Don’t look at the relationship as a one-sided “What can he do for me”, but be willing to volunteer to help them as needed. You want to make sure that the investor would be gaining something from the experience as well. I’m sure that if you are helpful and polite, you will find a great real estate mentor who can help you on your path to success.