For years, I was working towards my own startup. I always had various side-projects and learned a lot from these side-projects. But at the same time, all these projects were failures.
I never paid much attention to real estate investing. I had some friends who bought rental properties or got into flipping houses. It seemed so much more work and riskier. I can create a new startup for just a few dollars and a few weeks of my time, so why pay attention to real estate.
Now 15 years later, I see some of those friends have 10s of such properties. They are probably not making enough money from those properties to quit their day jobs yet. But in a few years when their mortgages are paid off, they can start getting nice rental income.
On other hand, most of my friends were working on side-projects and none of us have anything to show for it. We all are very dependent on our day jobs. Some of us have 401Ks but not enough to retire on it anytime soon.
These observations led me to think about real estate. After thinking about this for a while, I am thinking at this stage in my life, I should get into real estate investing. Here are some of pros and cons of real estate and startups.
- Leverage. It adds risk but let’s say value of your rental property goes down, you will still charge rent.
- Physical labor. Some people may consider it negative but as a programmer who spend 8 hours sitting at desk, I cherish physical activities right now. It should be fun to fix some stuff.
- Discovering your city. Ever since I started to think about real estate, I have been driving to new neighborhoods to check them out. We usually stop by parks in the neighborhood. Have a fun family outing.
- And that brings me to the most important pro of real estate, you can spend time with your family. Finding houses and fixing them could be fun family activities. Since becoming father, this is how I think about everything.
- It is possible that you may not be able to charge enough rent to cover your expenses. If economy really crashes and then you cannot find a renter would be really bad.
- Bad tenets.
- Start company with remote first ideology so that you can work from anywhere.
- Rewards are huge.
- If nothing else, you learn skills that you can apply at your day job.
- Really hard to focus after day job on another programing project.
- Takes a lot more time commitment. Although I can work from home, mentally I will have to focus on projects. So cannot really engage with my son.
- Chances of success are a lot lower even if you build a great product.
Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash
In order to get real estate license in Texas, you are required to take 6 courses, each about 30 hours of work. These courses are:
- Principles of Real Estate 1
- Principles of Real Estate 2
- Law of Agency
- Law of Contracts
- Real Estate Finance
- Promulgated Contracts
I have taken Principles of Real Estate 1 & 2, and today I will take final exam for Law of Agency.
These courses are actually very informative. In fact, I think anyone buying or selling their home would benefit from these courses.
While real estate agent is supposed to educate their clients on their rights and duties, ours did not do that good of a job. There is option period to get out of the contract. Clients can fire their agent if they feel agent is not doing a good job. Of course, if they end up buying a house that the agent had shown them, then they still owe him commission.
But most importantly we had no idea about fiduciary duties. We treated our agent like a used cars salesman and assumed that he was only looking out for his commission. Legally, Real Estate agents are required to place their clients interests above their own. And if they don’t, law is usually on client’s side. In fact, being a real estate agent exposes you to constant threat of lawsuits. So agents are incentivized to look after their client’s interests. Had we known this, we would have had more open and honest discussions with our agent.
Anyways, I am taking these courses with Aceable Agent. I like their phone app, it makes really easy to study anywhere, anytime. Other schools didn’t mention anything about their apps, though Champions school seems to be highly recommended too.
I have been programmer for over 15 years. I dreamed about my own startup or at least simple enough side projects. But having a day job where I am programming or dealing with technical issues leave me with no desire to sit in front of computer at home.
Also I enjoy programming when I am deeply focused or in the zone. But in an office environment that is rarely achieved. There are constant interruptions.
Earlier this year, I decided to start swing trading and buying options. It was a bit different from programming. I subscribed to paper version of Barron’s, so I am not doing my research on screen. Since Barron’s is a weekly paper, I would skim through over weekend. Place my trades in the evenings or whenever and they are executed when market opens.
The problem started when I installed Yahoo Finance and various app on my phone to constantly track stock movements. And then I mostly lost money trading stocks.
I made some money trading options, in fact, I made enough money in options to recover my losses in swing trading. I continue to trade options and leave TastyTrade play in background but rate of return on it is barely above buy and hold strategies.
So this bring me to Real Estate.
It seems Real Estate investing might be a good side project for the evenings. The way I see is that first step is to drive around and look for neighborhoods where you want to buy a property. Sure there will be some online searches too. Once you find a property, then comes the fun part. I am thinking about flipping properties. So there will be some work done to property after purchase. Of course, we will need to hire professionals but I can do some work on it too. It would be nice break from sitting.
Well hard part might be making actual profit.
Then I am also working on getting real estate license, so that I can save money on commision. But I can also help people find new homes or apartments. Again this means going out to meet clients and showing them various homes. This probably will serve dual purposes as I will get to learn more about real estate market and be able to find neighborhoods to buy properties in.