How to Achieve Success in Real Estate (Steps 1-3)

Mar 05, 2020

In my opinion, to get good at something, you have to become obsessed. I’m talking the Michael Phelps or Tom Bradys of the world. They did not just have a distant inkling to swim or play football. I think everyone will agree with me that both of these gold medal/hall of fame athletes were obsessed with their respective trades. Here is an inspiring quote about Phelps dedication to be the best:

 “Phelps trained six hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for almost two decades. He never once missed a day of practice — not Sundays, not birthdays, nor holidays like Christmas — unless injured. He wanted to be the best and he made it happen through sheer hard work.”

 The same rules apply to business and real estate investing. You can not simply go through the motions, dabble in real estate and expect to achieve massive success. In what world is that possible?  

Here are three quantifiable steps to help dreamers become doers in the world of real estate investing:

1. Read these three books.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

The Book on Rental Property Investing by Brandon Turner

The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller

2. Determine the market you want to invest in and your criteria.

You do not have to reinvent the wheel. A lot of people get stuck in this stage because it is intimidating trying to analyze a market when you have never done it before. I chose my market because of the proximity to a military base (consistent renters) and because I heard Publix was building a new massive store right down the road. If you are stuck and unsure where to begin your real estate investing journey, join the ADPI Facebook Group and ask what areas other like-minded veterans and active duty members are investing. I guarantee you will get a quick response--because veterans love helping other veterans--and there are plenty of real estate deals to go around. 

 Here is an example using my criteria: Single-family and small multifamily properties (1-4 units) in Southeast North Carolina (Wilmington, Jacksonville, Fayetteville) that are value add and provide 12% cash on cash returns. This does not need to be complex, but writing out your criteria will help give you the left and right lateral limits and help narrow down your search.

3. Connect with the following people in that location:

  • Real Estate Agent

    • In my opinion, the best way to find a good agent is word of mouth. You can also contact local real estate investors in your desired market and ask for references. Rockstars know rockstars--that's why ADPI connects you with trusted real estate agents that are experienced with investing. Investors love referring others to their real estate agent. It is their way of giving back to their agent and throwing more business their way.
  • Lender

    Look for a lender with whom you can build a strong relationship. Often it is difficult to get financing for investment properties from larger nationwide banks. It is ideal if you can connect with a lender who is willing to hustle for you. 
  • Property Manager 

    Good property managers are a dime a dozen, so make sure you ask the following questions during your interview:
    • What are your fees?
    • How long have you been managing properties?
    • Can you give me three investors that you work with that I can speak to as a reference?
  • Home Inspector

    From my experience, most home inspectors are just okay.  They show up, check the boxes they need to, and are out. Look for the highest rated home inspectors in your target market on google. Call a few and ask them the following questions:
    • Do you have any construction experience?
    • Do you invest in real estate?
    • Can you give me three investors that you work with that I can speak to as a reference?
  • Contractor/Handyman

    • Recently we have had good luck finding reliable contractors on the app Takl. It is a new app where you post a job that needs to be completed and contractors bid on the job. It is a review-based system where the higher the reviews--the more business they receive. We have been able to find reliable folks with good rates. Also, most real estate agents have a preferred vendor list that should include reliable contractors.

 These folks will help you build your empire! Take the time to interview and research each team member so that you don’t lose deals and opportunities due to someone else’s incompetence. Spend the time to vet each member of your team and remember, they all work for you! 

 These three starter tips are great because they do not require money. Okay, maybe a few bucks for each book but your return on that investment will be astronomical--trust me! As I strive to become the best at what I do in the real estate investing world, I constantly look back to some of the greats of their professions. Success does not come from luck, chance, or Netflix--it comes from a constant, unrelenting passion for knowledge and growth. Most people in our country are stuck because it is much easier and more comfortable to settle for mediocrity. I encourage you to be like Tom Brady and Michael Phelps--put in the hard work and take action daily so that you can achieve your goals. Crush these three steps and stay tuned for Steps 4-6!


Sean McDonnell is a Real Estate Agent and Investor around Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He served as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps for 7 years and is now in the real estate business full time. His hobbies are travelling with his wife, son, and German shepherd pup, CrossFit, reading, and surfing. You can follow his real estate investing progress and successes at:

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