Last week we had the pleasure of sitting down with BP, one of our12 Months to $1 Million members who lives just a little north of where we are doing most of our investing right now. We held a rent to own information session for prospective tenant buyers and we invited him to sit in on it – on the condition that he pretended to be a prospective tenant!
After the information session we reviewed a deal BP had found through some ads he ran on Craigslist. The deal was complicated. A couple had gotten in over their heads with a second mortgage on their property and now owe more than the property is worth today. And, now they are falling behind on the payments. BP was trying to figure out how he could help them. He wanted to put together a deal that would get them out of their mess, and obviously, make him a few dollars too.
When we broke down the deal, looked up comparables, and ran through the options I said simply to BP:
“There might be a deal here but best case scenario is you can get the property with about $10,000 in equity AND that is after you do a lot of work convincing the first and second mortgage holders of what you want to do. Then you’re still going to have to do some work to make the property rentable. It’s not worth your time and effort.“
It wasn’t what BP wanted to hear but it was the bottom line.
I know there are courses out there that say they will teach you how to make money off properties that are underwater … and it can be done … but the reality is that the techniques that allow you to do this only work in a few specific situations. In all the other cases you’ll end up spending an enormous amount of your time for very little return. And that is what I want to talk about today.
What is your time worth?What is your ROT – Return on Time?
As real estate investors we talk a lot about return on equity or return on investment but we rarely talk about return on time. Yet the absolute most scarce resource we are all dealing with is time.
You can make more money. You can build more equity. You can’t make more time.
When you spend time you have literally spent it. You will NEVER GET IT BACK!
When you spend a dollar the reality is you can make another dollar.
So how are you spending your time?? Are you running around chasing a bunch of different deals or are you laser focused on one area to find the best deal for the least amount of time and effort?
A mistake we made in our early days was investing in a couple of properties here and there. We bought a property in Nanaimo, then we bought a couple of properties in Toronto, a couple in Niagara Falls, a few more in Nanaimo, then a few more in Toronto. We were not focused on any one market or even any one property type. We bought single family homes, a six-plex, a four-plex, new construction condos, condos, duplexes and so on … basically if it looked like it had cash flow we bought it. And for the most part we did ok… but when we decided to get really serious about real estate investing the first thing we did was focus.
The thing we have realized is that you can invest half the time and accomplish twice the amount when you have laser-like focus. And you can put systems in place and a team in place that enables you to do less and less work with each and every deal.
So with every deal we do this year we’re going to be turning more and more of the things we don’t add value to, over to someone that is going to do as good or a better job than we would and bit by bit we’re going to be able to buy more and more properties with less and less effort. Where we once would do the painting ourselves we have now found a great team of painters to do that work for us. Where we hauled away the renovation garbage on the latest property, we’re hiring a disposal company for the next one. Each of these things will cost us a little more money, but they will save us hours and hours of time. And that time, we have realized, will get us further if we spend it on other areas in our investment business like deal finding and deal making.
The big things you can do to improve your return on time are:
- Figure out what important things you do that could be better done by someone else. For example, we were handling the bookkeeping for all our properties. Dave is actually pretty meticulous at bookkeeping but he doesn’t add any value to the process. And he spends dozens of hours on it that would be much better spent working with our joint venture partners and finding private lenders for our deals. So this year we’ve hired an accountant and a bookkeeper that specializes in doing the books for real estate investors with joint venture partners. Now someone else is preparing our books and our statements for our partners.
- Allocate time every day to focus on the one thing that is most important to accomplish. Thanks to Tim Ferriss’s book the 4 Hour Work Week ,I became a little obsessed with controlling my email usage. I used to be totally addicted to email. After reading that book I realized what a waste of time it was. Today, I only respond to emails at set times every day. I don’t get into email conversations. If something can’t be answered in a simple email I address it over the phone or in a meeting. And the biggest thing is that I always start my day off doing the most important thing I have to do that day … and that important thing is almost never writing email.
- Treat your time like the scarce resource that it is. If you always remember that your time is being spent and can’t be made back you’re going to be less likely to waste 3 hours in front of the t.v. watching stupid show after stupid show. I am not saying I avoid t.v. totally. I actually have a handful of shows I really love. My week isn’t complete until I have seen Jack Bauer save the world again. And I am always charmed by the spy action of Chuck. Entourage always makes me laugh and feel pretty happy about my own life, and of course I also get swept up in the latest vampire craze with an affection for True Blood and Vampire Diaries. But here’s the thing … I derive an enormous amount of pleasure and relaxation from these shows and I only watch them on my own time, when I want R&R time. I don’t watch anything else. I never mindlessly channel surf.I know that a minute spent surfing stupid t.v. shows is a minute I will never get back. And I respect that.
So … quit wasting time. Figure out what’s important to you and go do it. Right now! Time is passing you by!! And the only way to increase your return on your time is to maximize the value of what you spend each minute doing.
And if you have questions you know where to find us! We always write back … it just takes us some time!
Published on May 10th, 2010