Staying Organized as a Beginning Real Estate Investor

As a beginning real estate investor, organization is key. I once wrote a book on staying organized as a real estate investor, and a lot of the things I did then have changed. However, I still keep a phone record, especially when I have a house for sale, a house for rent, or when I want to buy something. I used to keep it in a spiral notebook the kind high school kids use and I kept it right next to the phone. I made an entry of the date and the beginning of the day. I never wrote down the time a phone call came in, but I did them in order so I could pretty much tell you what time of day.

Those phone records have come in handy so many times when I’ve needed to reach someone because what I thought was going to happen didn’t happen and now I needed a new buyer, a new tenant, or maybe other circumstances changed and I was able to get right back to the people who were interested in what you had to offer or had something to sell that I might be willing to buy. That’s my biggest tip: create a phone record and keep it next to the phone. Keep it somewhere everyone in your office knows where it is, if you’re not in your office you can call back and someone can get a phone number from that phone record quickly and easily for you.

The other thing I keep doing is keeping things in folders, each project is in a different folder and those folders are moved from time to time as projects progress.

I also keep a daily timer and on that daily timer I have phone numbers of key people. We should all have our equipment: Our Title Company; Our Mortgage Company and a Loan Agent; a surveyor; an Appreciate; a home inspector; a very good real estate agent… the list goes on.

I hope your list contains some of your real estate investor friends and if you don’t have any then there is a Nareia cruise. [Nareia stands for National Real Estate Investors of America] which will leave Fort Lauderdale on February 7, 2009 and return on the 14th. That might be a good place to meet some. Another good place to meet other real estate investors is your local club. Find a club that has people who are excited about investing in real estate. They can be your allies when you are stumped. And I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been stumped at least once or twice.

I’ve found that sometimes just talking about a situation with friends gets ideas flowing.

Just saying it out loud helps. Eventually, the right idea comes to my mind or the mind of my friends. And then that feeling of puzzlement disappears. That is also part of your team. Keep those phone numbers handy.

In the trunk of my car I keep a few things, mostly a few empty black garbage bags. If I’m going to a house that a tenant just moved out of, I usually need at least one. While I’m there looking at things, I might as well leave a garbage bag for someone else to fill.

I keep my digital camera with me, be it buying, selling and fixing all stages of things. It’s just a good record. I don’t have to write much. It’s a good way to stay organized. Download that on your computer. You can then print the photos you need and place them in the appropriate files.

Now I still keep a three-ring binder for every piece of property I own. Inside the three ring binder there are dividers.

The first section is how I got the house and all the paperwork associated with it.

The second section has to do with repairs and any other information about the water heater, the dishwasher, etc, etc. including the paint I used on that house.

The third section is my outlet… either where I sold it or rented it and if I have rented it and turned it into a rental I would keep all my leases there. If I sold it then I have my closing statement. It makes it really nice if you need to evict a tenant. You have everything you need in a three ring binder. You could just take the folder to court or an IRS audit, it’s all there: where you paid for the property, the repairs; and how much he made when he sold it… one property at a time.

They sit on the shelf very well. I keep the address of the properties in this folder. You could also keep an extra set of keys in there. Today the Title Company put the information on a CD and those CD holders fit those three ring binders quite nicely.

Then your time comes and that is the most important aspect of management. Every day you should write: What is your purpose for that day; what is your goal for that day. Doing this allows you to keep that in perspective. It can be a motivation to make sure it gets done.

Always separate the important from the urgent. I get a ton of emails every day, most of them are not important, but they all say they are urgent. Sometimes your family will try to interfere and there are times when you need to let them. Are important. There are other times when your family’s requests are not as serious and could be temporarily put on hold.

What Oprah has to say on any given day may seem important to Oprah, but it may not be that important to what you’re doing. Remember… it could be a football game that might be important for that team to make the playoffs, but maybe not that important to your business. I’ll just say that you need to do the things you need to do, do them first, and then let other things happen.

Take some time to relax and enjoy. There is no point in earning a lot of money and not enjoying every day. Gratitude will take you a long way to success. Paying attention to other people’s needs, but staying focused. If I have a big project, I like to use a milestone chart. I know the day I want to end and the day I want to start.

For me, my team has been known to start work on a house I want to rehab the same day I meet for closing. The money is already in the Title Company and I know it’s going to close and I let my team get to work. They have been instructed as to the things I need to do first. Not all of you would take that risk and not all of you should. For me, I understand the time value of money and it makes sense to get things done as quickly as possible.

To the rest of you, manage your time well. Everyone is given the same amount of time each day. There are some shortcuts and you will learn them as you go and your office will work differently than everyone else’s. That is the way it should be. It’s your office and it’s your personality. But, make it as efficient as you can.

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