Getting started in a real estate business can be overwhelming and challenging. Inexperienced real estate investors are encouraged to work with a real estate mentor to help cultivate their skills to become successful. We spoke with the experts who shared the important characteristics of a real estate mentor that new investors should look for.
Here are the top 25 things new investors need in a real estate mentor:
1. A Clear Understanding of Your Financial Situation & Goals
Andrew Undem, Owner & Managing Partner, SURE Group of Re/Max Sails
Real estate investors need someone who fully and clearly understands their financial situation and goals. Good real estate mentors will help a real estate investor decide on the best financing options for the properties (e.g., cash versus hard money loan versus mortgage). They help the investors analyze the rate of return after expenses. Buy-and-hold investors need to find mentors who can help them find out how to ensure and protect cash flow. Fix-and-flippers should find mentors who can help them assess the after repair value (ARV) of the property and what is needed in the renovation. In general, good mentors will encourage action while keeping a steady hand and unemotionally helping their students proceed with caution.
2. A Deep Working Knowledge of Analytics
Dan Bartell, Principal, Bartell & Co Real Estate
New investors in commercial real estate should make sure their mentor has a deep working knowledge of analytics, like vacancy and absorption (current and historical), so that they can truly help educate them about the marketplace and how to successfully invest. They should be very comfortable with analysis, and be aligned with the latest analyst software. Your mentor should also have experience negotiating a wide variety of transactions.
3. Willingness to Spend Time to Mentor You
Ernie Rafailides, Managing Member, Bayview Management, LLC
One of the most important things new investors need in a real estate mentor is the latter’s willingness to spend time for mentoring. Does the potential mentor have the time that you need to mentor you so you’ll learn the ropes of real estate investing? Make sure to work with a mentor who can make time for you, especially when you call or ask for a meeting. A good mentor will make himself available and ask nothing in return.
4. Knowledge About Real Estate Tax Laws
Antonio T. Smith, Jr., Owner, ATS Jr Companies
New real estate investors who are looking for a real estate mentor should find someone who has sufficient knowledge about real estate tax laws to help you take advantage of today’s tax laws. There is nothing worse than making large profits and spending 30 percent more in taxes than what should have been paid.
5. A Solid Track Record
Leon Goldfeld, Co-Founder, Yoreevo
A good real estate mentor doesn’t only have great ideas—he/she should have evidence to show that these ideas have worked in the past. Although the past performance may not repeat itself, it’s better than having no information at all. Focus on how the mentor performed in the recession and other less favorable market conditions. It’s easier to make money when the rising tide raises all ships. However, the investors that make it through downturns without losing their shirt do well in the long term.
6. Visionary Leadership Experience
Diane Ramirez, Chairman & CEO, Halstead
Real estate mentors should possess visionary leadership—recognizing the need to continuously evolve and remaining at the forefront of innovation. A visionary leader applies what he teaches. He knows how to look over the hill, not just at what’s in front, in order to be innovative from both a marketing, technology, and sales standpoint.
7. Mutual Interest
Wilson McDowell, Managing Director & Principal, Cite Partners
Choosing a good mentor has to happen organically. There has to be a mutual interest in one another and trust. There has to be mutual friendship and the mentor has to have an interest in the success of the mentee—this helps them to work comfortably together. A good mentor unselfishly shares his experiences with the mentee. However, the mentee should take that information and apply it to their situation. Guidance, friendship, and honesty are all things a mentee should expect from a mentor.
8. Positivity and Encouragement
Drew Ludlow, Realtor, Giving Tree Realty
Navigating the world of real estate can be daunting and overwhelming for the newbie investor. Look for a mentor who will bring a positive and encouraging outlook rather than a defeatist attitude. There are many potholes and curveballs along the way that can cause discouragement, anxiety, and feelings of failure. Maintaining a supportive and motivating attitude is essential in order to stay focused and to overcome obstacles. If you are intimidated and can’t ask simple questions for fear of rejection, it is time to find another mentor.
9. Ethical & Committed to Serving Others
Vickey Barron, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, Compass
It’s imperative to seek out a mentor who is ethical and always acts in the best interests of their clients. The best mentors are in it for the long term, not just an easy commission. Access to a real estate mentor who thinks outside the box will go a long way in developing your career. Finding someone you admire with this skill set will catalyze the development of your authentic strategy and approach to selling real estate effectively and ethically.
10. Is an Active Real Estate Investor & Not Just Earning from Mentoring
Eric Sztanyo, Founder, Team Sztanyo – Keller Williams Realty
For investors, one thing to look out for is a mentor whose primary business model is just mentoring. In that situation, the mentor is incentivized to give you less insight and charge for more and deeper information. There are a lot of business models like this where you pay for an initial level of instruction, but then are sold a much higher rate to be in the “inner circle.” Rather, if you can find a mentor whose main job is doing real estate and who allows you to peek in (all the better if you can provide value), this is a much more ideal situation.
11. Has a Passion to Educate Others
Brandon Wheeler, Real Estate Investor & Founder, Gulf Beach Weddings
A good real estate mentor is likely humble but very successful. He should love to educate others on their path to success and unselfishly share tips. To become a successful investor, you should realize when you need to ask for insight and when you can make a decision on your own. You need to find someone who has a passion to educate you—and you should have an equal passion to learn—to hedge your chances for success.
Spike Spencer, Founder, Fair Winds Investment Group
Teaching someone takes time. You have to be sure that you and your mentor will mesh. If your mentor is simply someone trying to take your money, then you will end up with a lot of unanswered questions, frustration, and anger. Not to mention, probably no deals to show for it, or a bad deal, because you were not fully informed. Know exactly what your classes, training, or mentorship program includes, and make sure you’re working with someone who has the virtue of patience.
13. Time-Tested Experience
Robert Taylor, Owner, The Real Estate Solutions Guy
Look for a mentor who actually owns several investment properties and who has been investing for several years. It’s best to find mentors who have been investing in real estate regularly for at least 10 years. When you start in real estate investing, you may discover that there was an entire industry of people who work as mentors for hire. These mentors may have very little genuine experience in real estate. Some mentors are just mentors-for-hire, even for a very well-known real estate guru, but had never bought a house themselves before becoming coaches.
Bruce Ailion, Realtor & Attorney, RE/MAX Town and Country
A new investor needs an honest real estate mentor—one who offers genuine advice and is acting out of a spirit of giving. Many new investors are brutalized and savaged by the sharks and gurus they meet—offering them promises of wealth and lining their pockets while picking theirs. Good deals are stolen. They are sold over-priced, poorly located, shoddily-repaired homes. The typical new investor does not meet people who tell them the truth and offer real guidance or support. You should be careful who you work with, and make sure you only work with honest mentors.
15. Find a Mentor Whom You Can Also Help
John McNaughton, Associate Broker, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Brokers
A mentor can save you from making big mistakes, but a good one can be hard to find. Find someone in the industry who you respect, and discover how to solve a problem they have or add value to what they are doing. Do some homework to identify benefits you can provide your mentor in return for their advice. This is a great way to work together and learn from each other.
16. Neighborhood Knowledge & Insights
Daniela Andreevska, Marketing Director, Mashvisor
As anyone in the real estate business knows, location is a key determinant of success in this industry. The more you know about your specific location, the higher your chances for success are. Thus, beginner real estate investors should look for mentors with experience in their neighborhood in particular. Such a mentor will be able to provide you with specific insights into the neighborhood, which will help you find the most profitable deals.
17. Has an Updated Knowledge of the Current Technology
Alina Trigub, Managing Member, SAMO Financial
Choose a real estate mentor who stays current on the latest trends in technology. A good mentor knows how to leverage different tactics to mentor their students by catering to each student individually, rather than throwing a one-size-fits-all package at all students.
18. Versatility in Their Investment Experience
Eddie Wilson, CEO, Think Realty
Good real estate mentors are versatile. They have broad experience with multiple investment types. This is important because when the market changes, so should your investing strategy. Good mentors know how to read the market and should have extensive experience with buy-and-holds, fix-and-flips, multifamily and commercial so your investment business doesn’t become derailed during market shifts. A savvy real estate mentor can help you weather—and succeed in—any market.
The Miami Dade Real Estate Investors Association recommends working with a real estate mentor who actually knows how to teach what they know. Simply because a person is good at something doesn’t necessarily mean he is also good at teaching his craft. Find a mentor who has the ability to communicate his knowledge effectively using a structured educational system.
According to Sage Advice, one of the most important characteristics of a good real estate mentor is being an active listener. You should find someone who is genuinely interested in what you have to say and values the opinion of others. Find someone who knows how to ask enlightening questions to keep your brain working.
ActiveRain recommends finding a real estate mentor who can bring you a balance approach. Although his experience is important, your experience and real estate goals may be different than his. Work with a mentor who is data-dependent and at the same time has experience with working in communities to see your vision just as you do.
Sea Coast Real Estate Academy says that one of the most important characteristics of a real estate mentor is being goal-oriented and motivated, so make sure to work with someone who can inspire you to be better in your field. These qualities will motivate you to bring in more leads and close more deals, leaving you with positive feelings about doing your job.
According to Realvolve, effective real estate mentors focus on giving instructions rather than praising or criticizing their mentees. While it is a great to boost your self-esteem from time to time, what you actually need in a real estate mentor is a model who would encourage you to constantly improve and do better than your best.
The Best Real Estate Writer suggests finding a real estate mentor who believes the value of accountability is necessary to help you become the best agent you can be. After all, the biggest difference between top-producing agents and average agents is that the top-producers have someone and/or a system in place to keep them accountable for their goals and their results.
According to Realtors Land Institute, it’s important to work with a real estate mentor who is not going to be a direct competitor or sees you as a threat to their business. Hiring a direct competitor as a mentor may cause a conflict of interest, and he may not teach you everything he knows. It’s best to find someone who doesn’t work in your area.
A real estate mentor is someone who offers you advice when needed and who will coach and guide you as you learn the ropes of real estate investing. Find someone with whom you can build a successful, long-term mentoring relationship. Also, check the above list of characteristics of a real estate mentor and use it as a guide to find the right mentor for you.