“I’ve once flipped 20 properties in a single month.”
The words slipped from the man’s mouth so quickly and easily, that at first I had a hard time focusing on the number. TWENTY PROPERTIES.
We were standing in an off market property. Our interests peaked by the charming woodwork of the interior and low level of renovations needed to make a speedy turn-over. The man next to us, the one wholesaling the property, spoke with gusto as he rambled on about past works.
He had flipped twenty properties in a single month. Managed solely by himself. It simply wasn’t clicking for me. Does. Not. Compute.
For nearly an hour he went, hands gesturing this way and that way as he continued his monologue — He was doing so good, had so many investments under him for such a young age, everything was stardust and unicorns, and those unicorns were farting out dollar bills.
Until he found himself drowning. His voiced had lowered a tiny bit towards the end as he neared the finale of his tale. From the fires of flipping he found himself rising from the ashes into wholesaling. It was easier. Less stress. He could spend more time at home. Focus on acquisitions instead of turnover profit.
And here we were. Story time ending with an anticlimax halt.
We never ended up purchasing that property. The numbers simply didn’t make sense for us. But what he had said to us loomed over me. I have heard this same story before, numerous times by numerous people over the years. It’s a reoccurring theme you hear when you meet up with other flippers and investors. They all seem to remark on the moment they “fizzled.”
It’s so easy to get caught up in the allure of flipping that it consumes all of your time.
When does a job become a passion? A passion become an obsession? An obsession becomes an addiction?
Enterpuneriship is a romantic idea.
The reality of most “romantic ideas” tend to be; however, not so pretty. Television and movies tend to depict entrepreneurs as young, robust individuals in clean linen shirts, driving nice cars and strutting into a glass lined office with confidence.
That, my friends, is simply not the case. At least not for most of us.
When it comes to entrepreneurship in the real estate market, the reality is even less rosy. There is nothing ‘romantic’ about crawling into a basement infested with termites and questionable black water. Nor is there anything ‘alluring’ about your heart racing as you try to negotiate a bidding war while calming down your investor who’s about ready to run with the funds. There is especially nothing glamourious about fighting an inspector on something you both know is pointless.
Flipping is dirty. In more ways than one.
Property flipping is also very lucrative if you work hard, play your cards right and ride out the waves of bumpy markets. But at what point does working hard turn into something more?
The problem with flipping, or really ANY startup/business, is that it is so incredibly easy to get caught up. Like the stock market, each day is an up and down; unpredictable and requiring constant vigilance. Houses come in ‘off market’ and often dispersed to hundreds of flippers to fight over. Each year more and more people join the ranks in an effort to cash in their big pay day, so what was once an even market has become a straight up war zone of veteran flippers and novice who think it all works “like those TV shows.” Everyone is fighting for their piece of the crumbled cookie.
In the constant race to the next payday, people lose track of the day to day. This is true for practically any business. The days are long, the weekends are all booked and forget holidays if you have deadlines. In the dream of becoming established you exchange your freedom.
We have worked from 6am to midnight. We have seen our weekends eaten up by projects and sacrificed time as a couple and with family or friends in the pursuit of finishing a property. Our story is not unique.
The key is to know WHEN to back down. How do we know when enough is enough? Or when to take a break? A job is a job and unfortunately this particular situation isn’t exclusive to flipping only. As wonderful as the thought of financial independence is, it often comes with a trade off. The magic balance here is being able to LIVE while still trying to SURVIVE.
What exactly does this mean?
It means you need to be able to still enjoy the payoff of these endeavors. If you’re finding yourself losing sleep consistently, your health starting to fail and your time being eaten up completely by the work itself; then it’s time to step back.
There will ALWAYS be another house. There will ALWAYS be another opportunity to make a profit. The key is to work SMARTER and not HARDER. It’s difficult to pull yourself out of the fire, but to simply through yourself back into it as soon as you’re out isn’t going to help you from being burned. We have only one life. A very short, very dramatic existence that literally every second of every day gets shorter and shorter. In our pursuit to be able to retire early, or to pursue a passion, or really anything; we forget this fact. We push it aside and say “tomorrow I will do that thing with my family.” The reality is we don’t know if we have a tomorrow. And every day you burn away is one less day to spend with the people who bring you joy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to stop doing what you’ve found to bring you bring financial safety or what’s become your main source of income. I’m not saying to stop everything and go run away into the woods to live off of moss and chant to the trees. I’m simply saying that we need to take a step back, reevaluate the amount of time and energy spent on these things and see if the sacrifice is worth it. Often the amount of time sacrificed is not.
What is the point of busting your ass off if you never actually enjoy the opportunities that it could bring? Take a moment to let yourself reset, to rewind, to LIVE.
It’s hard. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. There is a thrill to the finding the next property. Reward in watching it transform from rubble to a real home. In the same breath, it’s very hard to pay attention to your time. Before you know it, several months have passed and you’ve missed out on so much outside of that house.
Know when to step back. Know when to say “I’m taking a few months off, I need a break.” Breath. Don’t overcrowd your life with the constant pursuit of more, because doing so will only make you blind to the already present.
Live, don’t just survive.