Introducing MustKnowInvesting’s first contributor, Wil Christenson!
(Check out the Become a Contributor page for more information)
Dusty and I have known Wil both personally and professionally going on 5 years, and he never ceases to amaze us. Wil started investing back in 2003 without cash, credit or connections. His first investment was a small package deal that he ended up renovating and making over $150K in profit (not a bad intro into real estate investing). He is a hands on kind of guy and has done many of his own rehabs himself.
His expertise lies in evaluating, planning and managing renovations for maximum resale, appeal, and profit.
I had a chance to sit down with Wil recently and ask him a few questions.
Patrick: How did you first get interested in real estate investing?
Wil: I was really more interested in passive cash flow than any one particular industry. I had experimented on the internet a little and built a couple websites. I also had a completely different business idea that required a large chunk of capital. I was searching for every way possible to put together the funds necessary to get started.
As fate would have it, I was watching late night TV the next week (something I almost never do) when an infomercial came on touting a course for real estate investing. I thought it looked like a good way to generate a passive income and large amounts of cash. I ordered the program, devoured it as soon as it arrived, and immediately took action.
I found my first two properties within a month of finishing the course. These were low-income properties both of which needed extensive renovations. As a side note, I do NOT recommend beginning investors starting this way. After the renovations, these properties were producing over $1000 per month cash flow. I sold them two years later for $150,000 in profit.
Patrick: What would you attribute your successes to most?
Wil: I attribute my successes to three things. The first two happened pretty much simultaneously. The third one came along afterward but has contributed as much or more to my ongoing success.
First, I found people who had already succeeded and did exactly what they told me to do. Starting with the first real estate course I bought off that late night infomercial and continuing to other gurus, seminars and local investors who were gracious enough to help and advise.
Second, I took action in spite of my fears. There is a well-known book by Susan Jeffers, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.” That’s exactly what I did. To get my real estate investing career jump started, I talked to every seller I could find. I called sellers from classified ads, I drove neighborhoods and knocked on doors, and talked to the owners of every run down house in sight. Was I scared? You bet. But it got easier with every conversation.
Third was my commitment to personal development. This grew out of the relationships I had formed with a unique group of investors in my local area and a dedication to learning whatever was necessary to achieve my goals.
Patrick: Where do you see the biggest opportunities in today’s market?
Wil: With the change in buyer confidence and the changing environment of the mortgage industry, sellers are having a harder time finding qualified buyers. This has lead to some of the best buying conditions in years. Therefore, I recommend buying and holding as many properties as you can get right now.
As always, don’t over extend yourself, minimize your risks, and use other people’s money as much as possible to leverage the number of properties you can buy. I have to qualify the last part of that last statement; there are many ways to use other people’s money, some more risky than others, so know what you’re doing whenever you leverage yourself.
Patrick: What is the biggest mistake that you’ve ever made as an investor?
Wil: Relying too much on someone else’s information instead of doing my own research. This is dangerous, and, coupled with speculation, it is deadly. A mistake here could take you out of the real estate game permanently. Always know your market and your exit strategy.
Patrick: What one piece of advice would you give to beginning real estate investors who want to get started but haven’t taken that first step?
Wil: Find someone who is a successful real estate investor that is willing to give you a plan. Then get the plan and follow that plan precisely.
Everyone, please be sure to give Wil a very warm and sincere MustKnowInvesting welcome!