Questions & Answers
With Dave Lindahl...

What inspired you to become involved in real estate investing?
I had heard of rich investors, of course. But one day I saw an interview with Harry Helmsley in New York. He started out broke and ended up buying the Empire State Building. He did it through apartments. He said he loved the idea of other people (tenants) paying HIS mortgage! That sounded really good to me.

What were your initial goals?
My original goal was to eat! I was a starving landscaper in the Boston area, with no work during the long winters. So my goals at first were pretty basic: food and shelter.

If there is one important thing that you would want people to know about your site, what is it?
I do what I teach. I didn’t start out with any “leg up”, but instead I was broke, in a tough town. So the principles I discuss in my materials are geared toward other people in the same boat: overworked, out of time, no money and lousy credit, and no real estate experience. (If that sounds like you, you’re qualified! You do need a good attitude of being open minded, and of taking action, though; see below.)

If there is a valuable piece of advice to share on the best way to get started in real estate investing, what is it?
I know it sounds simple, but most profound truths are simple...the best way to get started is to surround yourself with people that are doing what you want to do, and just begin in even the smallest way, if you have no time. The greatest monuments were built a brick at a time, and so can your real estate fortune.

What is the most important quality someone needs to be successful in real estate?
That’s easy! It’s the habit of taking ACTION. All the knowledge, skills, attitude, and opportunity in the world are useless if you don’t put the whole thing IN GEAR and take action. Sure, massive action is nice, but even tiny, regular action is going to do the trick over time.

How did you discover your ability to be successful in real estate investing?
It happened when I noticed that if I followed certain steps in the right order, I could find good properties, finance and negotiate deals, increase the value of the properties, and sell them for a profit. If I took shortcuts, or listened to “armchair quarterbacks”, I lost money. So I became a fanatic about following proven, easy steps.

What drives your interest in real estate investing?
First, it’s the phenomenal power of real estate to create wealth.

Second, it’s the freedom that comes when you combine the wealth-building of real estate with the time-saving of systems. Systems allow me to make more money without working harder.

Third, it’s the ever-changing real estate markets. No two markets are identical, so that keeps it interesting. Fortunately, they’re similar enough that when you figure out how to invest in ANY type of market (and that’s what I show my students), you can profit from all phases of the real estate cycle. That’s when it gets really interesting, and profitable.

If you were to reflect back on the moment that you felt you had attained the success you were reaching for, when would that be?
It was when I sat down to do my taxes one year. The previous year, my brother had joked to me that I qualified for food stamps! He thought that was real funny, but I wasn’t laughing. But within one single year, real estate had turned that whole sad situation around! I wasn’t on “easy street” yet (that would take a total of just over four years to go from dead flat broke, to able to retire), but I do remember that when I sat down at tax time after that first full year of real estate, I felt GOOD about doing my taxes! My investing partner said “Dave, can you believe how much we owe in taxes!” And I said “Yeah, but can you believe the way bigger number we earned!” What a great feeling.

Where/how did you gain your knowledge as an investor?
Part of my education was through the “school of hard knocks”. You can’t do more than 560 deals and not experience just about every situation.

But I also have to say that I learned a lot at real estate investing clubs; that is, when I figured out how to stay away from the “naysayers” and the “it can’t be done’ers”, and started hanging around the quiet, rich investors who were making a killing from apartment investing done the RIGHT way.

What do you like best about what you do?
I love the freedom that real estate gave me, even after a very few deals: To do what I want, when I want, where I want, and with whom I want!

But I also get enormous satisfaction from freeing others from their jobs, and their financial worries. Not a week goes by when I don’t get testimonials from around the country and even other countries, about how my students have quit their jobs and become wealthy through apartments.

What were your initial fears when starting out?
I was afraid of speaking with sellers and of negotiating deals. Then I was worried about how to find financing for deals. This is on top of being told that real estate was a “scam”, and that I was destined to lose my shirt if I tried investing.

How did you get started with apartment buildings?
Actually, the first deals I did were apartments! I didn’t start out doing single-family homes, the way most people do. I credit apartments for the fact that I’ve been able to build wealth much faster than if I had done just single-families. I started out doing small rehabs of three-family apartments that banks had repossessed. After I did a few of those, I began to see the patterns and create systems to do them faster, and for more profit. The rest is history!

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