1. Strategizing “On The Fly”

Today’s most prolific real estate investors aren’t those that got lucky on their first few deals, nor are they the ones that simply “go with the flow.” While it’s true that some investors have struck it rich by blindly investing as they go, they are certainly the exception — not the rule. More often than not, heading into an investment without a plan is a recipe for disaster, and something just about every professional investor would advise against. In fact, you could argue that the single, biggest mistake an investor can make is going into a deal without a plan. Nothing, as far as I am aware of, can increase your exposure to risk than an inherent ignorance of what lies ahead.

The greatest investors of our time know it, and so should you: nothing is more valuable to a real estate entrepreneur than the ability to formulate and stick to a plan. I, myself, am a huge proponent of not only plans, but systemizing them in a way that can literally make success habitual. A plan that can be systemized is a plan that can be repeated; you would be wise to remember that.

I maintain that those with the right systems and the foresight to plan ahead are the most well equipped to find success in the real estate industry. It’s worth noting, however, that nothing comes before the plan. Before you attempt anything, be sure to have an idea of what it is you want to accomplish.

As Andy Heller, an Atlanta-based real estate investor so eloquently puts it, “first, you find the plan,” he says. “Then you find the house to fit the plan. Pick your investment model, and then go find property to match that. Don’t find the strategy after you find the home.”

Those that neglect to plan open themselves up to too many variables that are out of their control. And when you aren’t in control of the situation, risk isn’t a possibility, but rather an inevitability.

2. Assuming You Will “Get Rich Quick”

Far too many people unfamiliar with the industry have confused real estate with the idea that you can get rich quick. And while it’s entirely possible to hit a home-run on your first deal, know this: real estate is more of a long-term investment opportunity. Again, you can get rich relatively quick, but that shouldn’t be your objective — nor should it be expected. Those that strike it big right out of the gate are the exception, not the rule.

Those who assume they will get rich quick are making a dire mistake. It’s exactly that kind of thinking that leads to irrational decision making. When you are only focused on the present, you are ignoring the industry’s long-term potential. In dedicating all of your time and energy to the immediate task at hand, you are neglecting what is to come. Don’t, I repeat, do not sacrifice the lucrative potential of a career in real estate by assuming you can have it all in a matter of months, or even weeks. Such a thought process is, well, shortsighted.

Real estate is a numbers game — not a “get rich quick game.” To be successful as a real estate investor, you must be able to find, acquire and close multiple deals. Not only that, but you need to be able to do them in succession — one after another. Those with the get rich quick mentality ignore the fact that once they complete a deal they will start over at square one. However, those with the foresight to turn real estate into a long-term investment opportunity will most likely have systems in place that bring them their next deal by the time their first one is completed.

3. Refusing A Helping Hand

We have all heard it before: real estate is a people business — it always has been and always will be. Nothing, for that matter, is more valuable to today’s real estate professionals than the relationships they build with those around them. The people you align yourself with are, quite literally, the universal key to success. That said, the more you can do to build a working rapport with just about everyone you come into contact with on a professional level, the better. I am living proof that relationships can — and will — elevate your real estate career to the next level, but I digress. Relationships aren’t going to form themselves. You need to put in a significant amount of time and effort if you are to expect anything in return.

I am convinced that a selfless approach is the best way to foster a healthy relationship. The recipient of your generosity is more likely to reciprocate their appreciation in a way that could potentially help your own endeavors. After all, what are strong relationships, if not affiliations founded on a mutual respect for one another?

What many new investors fail to realize, however, is that it is just as important to be selfless as it is to willingly accept a helping hand. If for nothing else, receiving help from a likeminded individual opens the lines of communication; it’s networking in its simplest form. To the dismay of many, simply saying yes is just as powerful of a relationship builder as putting in the legwork to network in the first place. Consequently, saying no (and you must learn to say no sometimes) eliminates the possibility of developing a working rapport. At the very least, you will never know what sort of opportunity you passed up by refusing a helping hand. Remember, you miss one hundred of the shots you don’t take. Don’t let the networking opportunity that come to you pass you by.

Those investors that can avoid making critical mistakes will find themselves ahead of the curve, but it’s important to note that not all mistakes are so blatantly obvious. In fact, some of the biggest mistakes real estate investors make in today’s market are nothing more than slight mental adjustments. If you want to get ahead, and stay ahead, you have to be “right in the head.” Learn to avoid these three mental mistakes and you could be in line for a prospers career in real estate.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.