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How Do You Become a Successful Real Estate Investor?

how do you become a successful real estate investor true condos podcast

Andrew la Fleur has noticed over the years of working with hundreds of real estate investors that the most successful investors share certain characteristics. In this episode Andrew breaks down his top-8 characteristics of the most successful real estate investors and he contrasts these with the characteristics of those who fail at real estate investing (or more often than not, never even get started).

Click Here for Episode Transcript

Welcome to the True Condos podcast with Andrew la Fleur. He get to get the truth on the Toronto condo market and condo investing in Toronto.

Andrew la Fleur: How do you become a successful real estate investor? What separates those who are successful at real estate investing and who do really well and built big portfolios and are really excited and happy about it versus those who just continually fail at real estate investing. They lose money, they can’t seem to get off the ground. Their portfolio doesn’t seem to go anywhere, and they just don’t seem to be enjoying it.

Well, thank you very much for listening to this podcast. Once again, it’s Andrew la Fleur, and you’re listening to the True Condos podcast, and today we’re going to be talking about what I call the 8 characteristics of successful real estate investors. I like to always say, no one’s born a real estate investor. Everyone has to start somewhere. Every mogul who has 100 or 1,000 properties, they all started with zero, so they all had to take that first step, that first leap, acquire that first property, get that one under their belt, understand the game, understand the process, and continually learn and adapt as their portfolio grows, as the economies and as the opportunities change, as they constantly are.

You can’t stay the same in real estate investing. You can’t do the same tricks over and over. You have to adapt, you have to learn, you have to be constantly studying the game and being a student of the game. That is how you’re going to be successful, but let’s get more specifics. These are the 8 characteristics of successful real estate investors.

We’ll start with the first one, and the first characteristic is that they’re open-minded, open-minded. The most successful real estate investors, as I’ve seen in my years of working with many 100s of real estate investors, is that the successful ones are open to new ideas or open to new possibilities. They see opportunities where others may not. Now, in the contrast, those who are failures at real estate investing, who just can’t seem to figure it out, they’re set in their ways. They make quick judgments, and they just can’t see opportunities.

A concrete example would be, let’s say, a neighborhood like Regent Park, famous as one of the worst neighborhoods in Toronto, one of the worst neighborhoods in the country in terms of reputation. Now, the people who invested in Regent Park, at the earliest stages especially, have done very, very well. They had the vision. They were open-minded to the possibility of this neighborhood changing around.

Now, those who looked at it and simply said, this is Regent Park, it’s a horrible area, it’s a horrible place to invest, which is probably quite frankly most people at the time, the vast majority of people. They missed out on that opportunity. They couldn’t see beyond the surface. That’s number 1, open-minded.

Second characteristics of successful real estate investors is that they’re learning-focused. The successful investor is generally someone who is very curious. They’re teachable, they’re always wanting to learn new skills, gain new capabilities. They’re willing to invest … this is a big one … they’re willing to invest time and money into their own education, into the process of learning whether it’s about real estate or finance or any other subject really. They’re focused on learning, on growing. They’re constantly looking to increase their skills and their knowledge in the subject area.

On the other hand, those who are failures at real estate investing are highly skeptical. They’re always looking for shortcuts. They’re not willing to put in the work and the time required to become a master at real estate investing and generally is, from what I find, that they’re not willing to put in the work to become a master at anything in life, and they’re continually missing out on opportunities because of that.

The 3rd characteristics of a successful real estate investor is that they are self-starters, self-starters. Real estate investors are leaders. They don’t look for others. They don’t wait for others to go first. The most successful investors, they tend to act first, ask questions later mentality. They don’t look for validation externally. They’re not waiting for someone else to tell them, you should buy here or you should buy there, or this neighborhood is good, or this new opportunity should be explored. They go out and they find them, they seek them, and they take action themselves, and others follow behind.

Again, contrasting that with the biggest failures at real estate investing, they are completely reliant on external validation. They tend to be fearful. They tend to be jealous of others’ success. They tend to be very reactionary, so they’re just waiting for something to happen before they act, as opposed to, again, the successful investor, they make their own story, in a way. They act before they are told to. They take action before the market or the world tells them to. This is the classic things I constantly am hearing from would-be investors or people who don’t jump at an opportunity is, well, my cousin or my uncle or my lawyer or my accountant or my friend at the barber shop, or whatever it is, somebody told me that this was not a good investment, or I shouldn’t do this, and so I’m not going to do it.

Again, that’s not to say that it’s not the case, that there may be times where you need to listen to advice from other people, but so often, the advice that the unsuccessful investor or the would-be investor, the failure at investing, is taking this from people who’ve never invested in real estate. They’re getting bad advice, they’re getting advice from people who’ve never made a dime in real estate, and they’re taking that over the advice of people who’ve been very successful in real estate.

The 4th characteristic of the successful real estate investor is that they’re confident. The best definition of confidence that I know is self-trust. A successful real estate investor has a high degree of self-trust. They trust themself, they trust their own decisions. They trust their own judgment. They tend to make decisions very slowly, and they tend to change them very rarely, so they take a long time to make a decision, but once that decision is made, they rarely change their minds.

On the other hand again, the failures of real estate investing, they’re constantly second-guessing themselves. They’re constantly, again, looking to external sources to validate their decisions or to tell them what to do, and they generally make decisions very quickly, but they change their minds very frequently.

That’s 4 we’ve been through now, open-minded, they’re learning-focused, they’re self-starters, they’re confident, and number 5 is that they are trusting. Being a trusting person, I find … a side note here … but being a trusting person, I find in this era that we live in today’s day and ages, it’s almost a bad thing if you’re a trusting person. Whereas being a trusting person, normally, historically, looking dictionary-wise, what the word means, it’s a positive thing. It’s a very good thing to be trusting in others and to be trustworthy yourself, but there seems to be this connotation now that if you are a trusting person, if you actually believe what other people say, and somehow that is a bad thing, and somehow you are going to be misled constantly and your life is constantly in danger. It’s this fear mentality that everyone is out to hurt you at all times.

Now, obviously in life you need to be wise and you need to be prudent and you need to make smart decisions, and you need to understand the difference between truth and fiction, but what I’ve found, again, this is my observation on what I’ve observed about these more successful real estate investors that I’ve worked with, is that they are trusting people. They believe in the good in others. They’re willing to take chances. They’re willing to act without having 100% of the information available. They’re willing to act with most of the information as opposed to having every single little bit of the information, and they’re willing to trust the person on the other side of the deal, that things will work out well.

Contrasting that, again, with the people who are the failures at real estate investing, they think that everyone is out to scam them, everything is a scam, scam, scam, scam. They’re constantly thinking everything that looks good has got to be a scam, it’s too good to be true, and that strangers are never to be trusted, so if you don’t know this person, then you have to just assume they are trying to hurt you and they are trying to harm you. Again, this type of mentality, I find, is detrimental in the path to success in real estate investing.

Number 6 characteristic, positive outlook. The successful real estate investor has a positive outlook. They believe that the future, their future, is bigger than their past. They’re constantly moving forward, looking forward. They’re looking at others who have been successful and they say, well, if it worked for them, how can I copy that and how can I make it even better for me. How can I look at what other people have done in real estate and how can I emulate that and make it even better?

On the other hand, the failures of real estate investing, their past is bigger than their future, so their best days are behind them. They’re always looking at the glory days gone by. Very common thing you hear is, well, you can’t make money in real estate anymore. The good days are behind us. Oh well, sure, this guy made all this money in the last 5 years, but the next 5 years, it’s totally different. This time it’s different. We can’t do that anymore. That mentality is going to hold you back, and it’s going to stop you from acting. It’s going to constantly trip you up and you’re never going to take action if that is your mentality. It’s a, it worked for them, but it won’t work for me, mindset. It’s a scarcity mindset.

Number 7 characteristic of the successful real estate investor is that they’re future-thinking. They are willing to give up … this is a big one … willing to give up short-term gratification for long-term gains. This is huge. This is maybe the number one piece of advice to take from this is, you’ve got to understand … and I say this all the time, broken record here … but real estate is a long-term game. You have to be in this game for the long term if you ever want to be successful. If you’re thinking short-term, it’s just never going to work. It’s just proven.

Real estate wealth is created over the long term. That’s just a fact. If you’re in it for a quick fix or a get-rich-quick sort of scheme, then you’re going to be constantly disappointed, and just look somewhere else, because this is not the place to be if that’s what you’re mentality is. The successful real estate investors, they think very long-term, and they’re very patient with their investments and with their money. They’re very slow to turn course once they’ve started down it.

On the contrasting that, those who are failing at real estate investing, they rarely think beyond the next 12 to 24 months, so they just do not have a long-term perspective. They don’t have a long-term horizon, and they’re just thinking about, well, how can I make money this year, or how can I double my money in the next 2 years. It’s great when that sort of thing happens, but again, it’s extremely rare. It’s the exception rather than the rule. Wealth is built in real estate over the long term, and those who are failures at real estate are constantly sitting on the sidelines. They’re very impatient. They are seeking instant gratification, and this type of thing is just completely antithetical to real estate and to how real estate works.

Number 8, so just recap them. The number 1, open-minded; number 2, learning-focused; number 3, self-starter; number 4, confident; number 5, trusting; number 6, positive outlook; number 7, future-thinking; and the number 8 characteristic that I found of successful real estate investors is that they are logical, logical thinkers. They don’t let emotions dictate their decision-making, especially major decisions like investments. They tend to analyze success, analyze successful people and copy them, copy what they’re doing. They take an analytical approach to success, and it works.

On the other hand, those who are a failure at real estate investing, they tend to be driven, I find, by their fears. Their fears are seen to be motivating them, and that causes them to make harmful decisions, it causes them to have this short-term mentality. It causes them to look for quick fixes and instant gratification rather than delaying that gratification, the short-term for a much bigger return in the long run, and they tend to instead of where the successful people would look at someone’s success and say, how can I copy that and how can I make it better, the unsuccessful investor sees someone else’s success and they’re just jealous of that success, and they’re focused on that. Again, it’s fear-based and they’re worried about what they don’t have compared to other people as opposed to being grateful for what they do have, and moving forward to improve their own situation by copying those who’ve already done it.

Those are the 8 characteristics. This is a first draft, I just whipped this together here in the past hour or 2 as I was thinking about some of these things, so I’m hoping to write a little bit more of a formalized article about this. Hopefully you found this useful to you, and if you are this type of person, or more importantly, if you’d like to become this type of person with these characteristics, then I think we’re probably going to get along great, we’re going to get along fantastically, and I can show you how to make a lot of money by investing in real estate if you have these characteristics of the successful investor.

If you’re more like the person on the other side of the column, some of these characteristics I describe on the other side, well, we can still help you. We can still help you with your real estate investments, but quite frankly, we’re probably not going to get along that great, and it’s not going to be an enjoyable experience for you or for me and my team, so ultimately, it’s probably not going to work out, and real estate is probably not going to be a good fit for you.

Yeah, there you go. That’s the 8 characteristics. I hope you again enjoyed this little podcast and this format of a bit of an oral essay, if you will, on this topic. Thank you very much for listening to this show. Hope you have a great week, and until next time, we will talk to you later. Bye.

Recording: Thanks for listening to the True Condos podcast. Remember, your positive reviews make a big difference to the show. To learn more about condo investing, become a True Condo subscriber by visiting