July 31, 2018
Joe Fairless

What is Possible in 9 Years as a Real Estate Investor?

“To whom it may concern” is how my letter started out.

It was 9 years ago and I had finally, after 10 long months of looking for my first investment property, found a deal. It was a 4-bed, 2-bath single family residence in Duncanville, Texas. The purchase price was $76,000. The rent was $1,050. The property didn’t really need any repairs. The puppy was going to cash flow and I was going to get my first investment property. Heck yeah!

Well…that was until the lender had their say. Apparently, in 2009, a bunch of lenders were feeling the burn of loose or nonexistent underwriting guidelines from years prior and were looking to correct those mistakes. Good for them. They should. But, it was bad for me at the time because they were asking me why on earth would I want to buy an investment property if I didn’t *gasp* own my primary residence?

Pretty simple, actually. I lived in NYC. Places cost too much. After all, I started out making $30,000 as a junior project manager so how the heck could I have afforded to buy a NYC apt?!

So, on September 25, 2009 I wrote a letter to the lender and told them the situation. Here it is:

To whom it may concern,

I am a resident of New York City and am looking to purchase an investment property in Duncanville, Texas. I have lived in New York City since June 2005 but am originally from Texas. I went to elementary, middle and high school in the DFW area and graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in Advertising.

My mom, brother, sister, dad, niece and nephew all still live in the DFW area and I visit them as often as I can and usually spend Christmas in DFW. My family, particularly my sister and dad both of the whom have professional real estate experience, has been instrumental in helping me identify the income-producing property I currently have under contract and am looking to close on. Additionally, I already have had conversations with XYZ Property Management (edited this part because the management company was TERRIBLE – that’s another story) office in Duncanville and am planning on utilizing them to manage the property.

Although I’m not sure when, I do plan on eventually moving back to Texas and specifically to the DFW area. Under normal circumstances, I would own my primary residence; however, I live and work in Manhattan where the cost of real estate is prohibitive.

If you would like any further information, please call me directly at XXX.XXX.XXXX.


Joe Fairless

Fortunately, it worked! They approved me for the loan and I was the proud owner of this, ahem, beauty!

street view of a single-family home

I still have this house today. Speaking of today, I just got done signing the loan guarantor docs on a 400+ unit apartment building worth over $30M that my company is closing on tomorrow. It will put our portfolio at 4,169 units and worth over $350,000,000.

I have documented most of the lessons learned after I close each project and you can read the lessons learned here:

Closed on 250-units in Houston, TX…2 Lessons Learned

Closed on 155-units in Houston, TX…3 Lessons Learned

6 Ways to Creatively Get into the Multifamily Syndication Business

Investor Analysis After Closing on a 296-unit Apartment…2 Lessons Learned

Closed on a 200+ Unit Multifamily Syndication…1 Simple Lesson

I Just Reached Over $100,000,000 in Apartment Communities…Lesson Learned

How to Find Deals in a Hot Market

How to Find Private Money Regardless of Where You Live

The purpose of this is to simply say that whatever you’re looking to do in real estate, it is possible. I went from making a $30,000 salary with $20,000 in student loans after college to being a multi-millionaire.

If you have big, audacious goals then good for you. It’s possible. Others before you have accomplished it (or something similar) so you can too. It’s possible.

Here are 9 beliefs that I’ve lived by through my 9-year journey:

  1. Nothing in life has meaning until I decide to give it meaning.
  2. Challenges are a gift. Life happens for me, not to me.
  3. Help enough people get what they want and I’ll get everything I want.
  4. Richest people in the world build networks. Everyone else looks for work.
  5. The secret to living is giving.
  6. Work harder on yourself than you do your job.
  7. Best way to get out of a funk is to move and be grateful.
  8. Have perspective by remembering that I will die.
  9. Be proud of who I am when nobody is looking.

Here are 9 habits that have helped me be consistent with my progress:

  1. Immediately think of one thing I’m grateful for when I wake up.
  2. Drink a liter of water with a scoop of wheatgrass in the morning
  3. Do cardio and weights (not just cardio)
  4. Volunteer at least once a month
  5. Think about life in terms of # of experiences remaining, not years remaining
  6. Journal my thoughts, feelings and whatever else comes in my head daily
  7. Always have a vision board prominently displayed everywhere (wall in office, phone, computer background)
  8. B.R. (always be readin’)
  9. Be incredibly responsive to my clients and my investors. And even more responsive to my wife!

What about you? Comment below: Do you have any beliefs or habits that have helped you achieve success? If so, what are they? Would love to learn about them so I can see about incorporating into my life/routine as well.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.

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