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Earning the best credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards is fun and exciting. And without a doubt, I can say that learning the ins and outs of the system has changed my life for the better. But at some point, many readers will want to take their financial education to the next level. And one way to do this is to enter into the world of real estate investing.
It’s a vast area with many different niches and can be very overwhelming for a newcomer. There’s just so much to learn out there and the stakes are much higher than merely signing up for rewards credit cards. However, there is one source that can absolutely get you up to speed on how to become a skilled and knowledgable real estate investor and it’s BiggerPockets.
I recently held a Q&A session with Craig Curelop, BiggerPockets finance manager and a financial analyst, investor, and avid traveler, who shed some interesting light on BiggerPockets. If you’ve never heard of BiggerPockets or you just don’t know much about them, check out the interview below which will help give you a sense of everything that BiggerPockets has to offer.
BiggerPockets Q&A Session
Q: What exactly is BiggerPockets?
A: BiggerPockets is the world’s largest resource for real estate investors. We act as a social network where users can connect with investors in the community as well as provide loads of free information in the form of podcasts, webinars, forums, etc. In addition to the free forms of content, we also sell books.
Q: Who is the typical BiggerPockets user?
The typical BiggerPockets user is a middle class to upper middle class American looking to invest in real estate to build wealth. Many of our members do so in order to achieve what has been dubbed, “Financial Independence.” If you haven’t heard of that concept of Financial Independence is the idea that your passive income (perhaps from real estate) exceeds your living expenses such that work becomes optional.
Q: Ah yes, financial independence is a huge movement these days. Is there a sizable group of F.I.R.E folks “financial independence, retire early” at BiggerPockets? It seems like the forums could be a breeding ground for those folks.
A: Yes – I would say that most people in the community are investing in real estate for financial independence. Not just because they love real estate. They love real estate because it provides financial independence. They aren’t in it for a second job to flip houses. Q: What role can BiggerPockets play for someone looking to get into real estate investing for the first time?
A: BiggerPockets takes people who are not ready, willing, and able to buy real estate and turns them into people who are ready, willing, and able to buy real estate. The first step in learning anything is education. We provide anyone with the education to get into real estate investing of any kind. From purchasing and renting out a single family to investing in large apartment complexes, strip malls, etc.
Once they feel comfortable and are ready to purchase a deal, BiggerPockets can recommend lenders, agents, and they can search for deals in our marketplace. The lenders, agents, and marketplace is a nascent part of our business, but we plan to focus on growing that aspect of the business in the next 12-24 months.
Q: It seems like the community is a very important part of BiggerPockets. Can you talk about how big this community is and the specific ways that people benefit from this community?
A: The community is what makes it extremely difficult to replicate what BiggerPockets has created. We have almost 1.4 million members. We are very strict in monitoring the forums to make sure that there is no sales pitches or marketing of any kind.
It is folks asking questions and knowledgeable folks answering them. Without the community, BiggerPockets is nothing. Those in the community are very much loyal to the BiggerPockets brand. While the podcasts, webinars, and books are great for learning broad information on real estate investing, there are always specific instances that come up. The forums are a great way to ask your specific question and have it answered relatively quickly.
Q: That’s a huge community so I’m willing to bet there are a lot of true experts hanging out in the forums. Are the forums a place where people get responses from real experts in the field? For example, I think of all the tax questions that come up with real estate investing — are there a lot of professionals like CPAs out there offering “unofficial” tax advice? Is that something welcomed on BiggerPockets or more of a moderating liability?
A: Yes, there is a lot of that. All of our users know that any advice given on the forums should be taken with a grain of salt. There are CPAs offering tax advice, but typically not for the individual. They educate the masses on how to structure their business to take advantage of certain aspects of the tax code.
Much of this advice is free and anyone who seeks advice knows that in order to get the best possible answer for their own situation, they should contact their personal CPA, lawyers, etc. We do not moderate for this exactly unless it is clearly wrong.
Q: Are there any recent trends that BiggerPockets users are focusing on that you’ve noticed? Maybe an area of real estate or a particular type of investing (flipping, etc.)?
A: Real estate always works in cycles. I have not noticed any trends outside of normal activity. It depends on what you do. If you flip houses, you will be interested in our flip houses information. If you house hack or buy and hold, you will be interested in the buy and hold information. Most people on our site are interested in holding real estate as an investment. I would say most of our members are interested in buy & hold of any kind.
Q: You’ve got a lot going on at BiggerPockets – blogs, forums, podcasts, videos, etc. In terms of value offered, how do some of these platforms differ from each other? In other words, can users get something different out of each one?
A: Much of the information from all of these formats is repetitive. It just is a matter of how the user likes to consume information. The only big difference, as I mentioned earlier, is that if you have a question that is specific to your situation, it would be best to post to the forums.
Q: So it sounds like a solid plan of action for a newbie would be to dive into the educational materials on BiggerPockets and then utilize the forums to fill in any knowledge gaps. And then, perhaps now or over the next couple of years, utilize the lenders, agents, and marketplace found on BiggerPockets to take action.
Everybody is obviously going to be a little different, but how long would you estimate it would take the average “reasonably motivated” BiggerPockets newcomer to get up to speed on how to spot a good real estate deal. Is this something one could theoretically accomplish in a few weeks or is it more of a long-term goal where newbies might take six months to a year to get their feet wet?
A: I would say it takes about six months to a year of educating before the person get comfortable. As a personal example, I started listening to BiggerPockets and getting into this whole thing in July of 2016. I listened to the podcasts, watched webinars, and was on the site almost every day. I felt comfortable enough to purchase something by January 2017.
In June of 2017, I closed on my first property. Everyone has different comfort levels as to when they decide to take action. Some people are the “fire, ready, aim” type and others like to take their time to make sure all of their “I”s are dotted and “T”s are crossed. I would say I am in the middle of that. So six months to a year seems about right.
So that’s it. If you’re interested in real estate investing, I can’t recommend BiggerPockets enough. It’s full of free information and resources to get you started and as you can tell, it’s made up of a huge community that will likely be able to guide you in the right direction based on your goals.
Personally, I would start with some of their YouTube videos and then head to the forums or even pick up some of their literature which is highly regarded. I plan on checking out the podcast and perhaps some of the webinars soon as well.
Either way you go, BiggerPockets might end up being a key to your future success in real estate investing in the future. They key is to be patient and take your time. Give yourself up to a year to get up to speed and by that time you might be ready to start jumping on some great deals and begin your real estate investment future.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.