Life lessons learned flipping houses - Do not sell out

27 Life Lessons Learned Flipping Houses For 10 Years Straight

Danny Johnson / 22 comments

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Well, it’s been about a decade now that Melissa and I have been flipping houses. We’ve been reflecting on some of the old stories and things that have happened to us.

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There are a lot of lessons in all of our experiences and a lot pertain to life in general as well as house flipping. It’s incredibly powerful to reflect on the trials and tribulations as well as the successes and really try to understand the lessons that can be gleaned. We quickly forget things that we don’t consciously try to retain. Am I rambling?

I’ve been looking forward to writing this and hope I am able to convey what we’ve learned in a meaningful way.

These are 27 of the life lessons that I’ve learned over the last decade flipping houses.

  • Waiting for things to happen for you is complete and utter CRAP

It seems like a lot of people do this and wonder why some people are so ‘lucky’. It just drives me crazy.
We can’t just sit around waiting for all the stars align and have the things we want to just magically work out and appear for us. We’ve got to be proactive by first realizing what those things are and setting out the get them. Take life by the horns, don’t let it run you down.

  • Expecting to succeed overnight is unrealistic

Take your time. Don’t get discouraged. You have to build on small successes day in and day out. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are big achievements. Just work on hammering out small accomplishments and before you know it you will have climbed your own mountain.

  • Flipping houses just to get rich is a terrible idea

More money will never solve your problems. You have to find a way to be happy with where you’re at or where you’re headed. Be happy with what you’ve got and the progress you are making. Pat yourself on the back when nobody else does.

I implore you to find out what you really want so that you can let the desire to get it pull you through the tough times and uncertainty that are inevitable when you are doing what you are doing to change your life and grow.

  • Who you think is your competition can actually help you

I used to think every other investor in town was just my competition. They were just out to get the deals before me and out hustle me. That was good motivation to work harder but I soon found out that things are much better when you work with other investors. We should help each other achieve our goals and compliment each other.

It turns out that other investors actually have different investment strategies, criteria and areas they work. Seems like it should have been obvious, but I didn’t think I could actually benefit from working with them.

Now I have a great network of investor friends that I share ideas with and sell leads and deals that I don’t want to. Don’t be a hermit like I was.

  • Nobody knows everything, so don’t sweat it

When doing something new, the biggest fear is screwing up royally.

Guess what? You will.

Maybe not royally, but you will make mistakes. Everyone does because we can’t know everything.

I’ve screwed up countless times while flipping houses and I still do. Just recently I miscalculated the cost of a foundation repair by $5,000. It didn’t matter though because I had learned to buy right and I still made an awesome profit.

Don’t avoid taking action because you don’t feel you know everything you think you need to know.

  • Know-it-alls have a hard time learning. Shut up and learn something.

Another one of my pet peeves is when people cut you off when you are telling them something because they think they already know it. It’s obvious they don’t and that is why you are sharing with them, but they don’t want you to know they don’t know. Maybe they’ve even convinced themselves that the know enough to still get by.

This seems to happen a lot with people that spend a lot of time in school but have little real world experience.

No matter how educated you are, there is always someone that has something to share that you do not know or at least fully understand.

I’m sure people could care less whether you know something anyway. Be a better listener, please…for your own sake. (this includes me by the way)

  • You’re not going to be an expert before you get started

I’m thoroughly convinced that getting started and taking action is the only way to learn, I mean REALLY learn, what you need to make it in this business or any other endeavor.

Recently, someone mentioned that what determines how successful you are in doing something, depends upon how long it takes you to implement what you’ve learned. So if you learn something and then wait a couple months to try and use it, which happens when you just hop from topic to topic trying to learn everything, you’re likely not going to remember much of it.

This one also relates to getting off our duff and just taking some action.

  • Make sure your priorities are right

As Jim Rohn said, “What good is a mansion on the hill without anyone to share it with?”

Powerful.

Keep a good balance. Don’t neglect the other things in your life that are important to you in pursuit of something. By keeping a good balance you will be able to progress much faster and be able to be happy with whatever level you are at.

Make sure to work equally hard on your body, mind and spirit.

  • Be fair. Don’t take more just because you can.

This one specifically relates to working with contractors and other investors for me.

There are times when we could beat up contractors and get them to accept lower prices. And there are times we can pressure investors to buy at inflated prices.

Both situations, if you were to do those things, would benefit you ONLY in the short term. Long term, you are doing some serious damage.

In any transaction, both sides need to come out feeling like they got a good shake. Don’t be short-sighted.

  • Have others do what is below your pay scale

Very early on I learned a very valuable lesson. Home Depot taught me it.

I used to pick up materials for contractors. Hours were wasted with me wondering aisles looking for things that I’d never bought before. Things that were not described clearly enough to be able to select from the 100 variations available.

One of the best days of my investing career was when I sold my truck. I’ve not missed it.

There are other things that we find ourselves doing that we think are saving us money but are actually doing the opposite. The way to figure out whether you’re better off having someone else do it, is to determine how much your time is worth. If you can have someone else do it equally well as you for less that it would cost you, have someone else do it.

I’ll admit I still struggle with this. I’m working on it.

  • We only grow outside our comfort zone

If you are not uncomfortable, you are not growing. If you are trying to make a change and are not uncomfortable, you are doing the wrong things. You’re avoiding the important things that will really bring that change. Don’t lie to yourself.

Another favorite quote of mine from Jim Rohn is, “Don’t kid yourself. You can kid the marketplace. You can kid your family. You can kid your neighbor. But, for heaven’s sake, don’t kid yourself.”

  • You can’t please everyone, so stop wasting energy on it

There will be people that receive your marketing material and get very angry. Just let it slide. It’s their problem they are upset for just getting a letter. There must be far greater problems in their life.

This also pertains to being too ‘buddy buddy’ with contractors. Sometimes you have to be firm otherwise some will try to see just how much they can get away with. People will respect you more if they know that you are not a pushover trying to have everyone like you.

This is paramount if you are a landlord.

  • You will make mistakes and they will be your greatest teacher

Don’t fear mistakes. You will make them and they have the ability to teach you lessons you won’t forget.

Heck, if you’re not making mistakes, your not trying hard enough.

  • Make decisions quickly and deal with the results with conviction

We can quickly be paralyzed by analysis. The dreaded ‘analysis paralysis’ most new investors face is something that even experienced investors struggle with.

The key is to learn how to trust your gut in certain situations and making the decision. If your instinct is that the deal is not there but you are trying to rationalize how it might be a deal, stop wasting your time and work on getting the next lead.

If your decision is wrong, make note of it and learn so that next time you will be in a much better position to make a quick decision.

When we waste time and energy trying to ‘figure out all angles’, other people that make quick decisions are stealing the deal.

  • You can’t ‘think away’ fear. Only action removes fear.

Figuring out all possible results and making contingency plans will not make your fear go away.

The only thing that extinguishes fear is action. Get out there and do it and everything will be illuminated and the fear will go away. Maybe not immediately, but the fear will subside as you gain experience. Putting off taking action will only grow your fear.

Pick a choice.

  • Ask the right questions

This is one of my favorites from Tony Robbins.

In any given situation, you have the opportunity to ask the right questions. Most people ask themselves the wrong questions.

The wrong questions are questions like, ‘Why does this always happen to me?’, ‘How come I didn’t get a raise?’, ‘How does he get all of the deals?’

The right questions are questions like, ‘What can I do to make sure this won’t happen again?’, ‘How can I increase my likelihood of getting a raise?’, ‘How can I get all of the deals?’

The difference is strikingly obvious. This is really, really powerful and is something that should be consciously thought of when considering a problem.

  • You’re not running a charity, you’re running a business

There are a lot of people that will ask you to give them a break, because they need one. If they don’t deserve one, it’s a problem.

Don’t let other people make their problem, your problem.

If you really want to help them, do it personally. Don’t do it by giving them another draw for their work before it is deserved, or a break on the rent for another month, or any other reason that would be a bad business decision.

I used to give in and help and it ALWAYS ended up being a bad decision. Don’t make that mistake no matter how tempting.

  • The only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday

This also goes along with figuring out what you really want. You should never do things where your sole intention is to beat someone else.

Healthy competition is good for motivation, but don’t allow it to be your main reason. It’ll never result in happiness. There will always be someone better than you.

  • If you’re not embarrassed about your offer, you’re offering too much

This is a great lesson for negotiating. If you’re thrilled to make your offer, you’re offering too much. Simple as that.

You should be ashamed… by your offer.

You can be thrilled by it once it’s accepted.

  • Don’t go rolling through a war zone driving a fancy car, wearing lots of jewelry

This is a Ron LeGrand favorite of mine. Listening to old LeGrand CD’s drove my kids crazy as we were driving around town.

  • If who you interview smells like alcohol, don’t hire them

Had to laugh about this one, but it’s something that a lot of investors I know have experienced.

It’s strange because the ones that smell like alcohol are usually the ones that are always talking about how they gave up the drink years ago, even though you never asked anything remotely related to that topic.

  • If somebody talks your ear off about how great they are, they are the furthest from it

This happens a lot with contractors. If they are talking non-stop they may just be nervous. But, if they are talking a big game constantly about how they are the best in town, they are most likely not.

This goes for deals as well. If an investor is trying to sell you on a deal and the deal doesn’t speak for itself and they have to convince you it’s a no-brainer, run away.

It really is a no-brainer. You’d have to not have a brain to buy it.

  • How you deal with problems determines how far you will go

If you start in the downward spiral immediately when a problem occurs, you’re going to have a rough time accomplishing much.

Successful people immediately work on solutions rather than getting all upset about the problem.

  • If it smells terrible, there is a lot of money to be made

Houses that smell like urine (whether animal or human doesn’t matter), feces, mildew, smoke, etc. are usually going to be great deals. I’ll leave it at that.

  • Don’t waste your time with people that have no problem wasting yours

Your time is more valuable than wasting it on people that are constantly demanding things from you. There are probably people in your life that would probably do wonders for you if they just disappeared.

  • What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve

This one is from Napoleon Hill folks. If you have not read “Think and Grow Rich”, you should stop everything and immediately buy it.

You can achieve anything if you REALLY believe you can achieve it. Read the book. You won’t be disappointed.

  • You get out of it, what you put into it

This one is a favorite of my father-in-law.

If you barely put forth any effort, your results will be minimal.

If you put your whole heart and soul into something, you will be rewarded with amazing results.

There ya go. 27 lesson learned that I’m glad to have given new thought to.

I’m sure you’ve got some lessons that you’ve learned over the course of your life. Would you be willing to share? Leave your life lessons in the comments below to allow all of us to gain more from this post.

Thanks for sharing!

While you’re at it, if you thoroughly enjoyed this, please pass it on by hitting the ‘like’ or ‘tweet’ button above on the left. Thanks.

Danny

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22 awesome responses to “27 Life Lessons Learned Flipping Houses For 10 Years Straight”

  1. Kurt S on

    WRT Item or lesson 13: Pappy haD a favorite cliche: Experience is the Dearest teacher ’cause only a Fool will fail to learn from her.” Put that one up there with Murphy’s Law.
    Thanks for laying things out. I’ll be watching for the next blog post too.

  2. Leila on

    really enjoying your blog Danny. we are new to this, and have alot of passion for it, and your blog is on the top of our list 🙂

  3. Regina on

    All that you say is so true. One can easily get bogged down with their internal doubts and fears that one-time good intentions can soon dwindle and die. We all need support to encourage us to keep trying and moving forward. Thank you for your continued support.

  4. Louis on

    Danny,
    Great post! This is good for all endeavors that someone is trying to achieve. I’ve seen people have paralysis of the analysis even in the little things in life. Like you said just gotto go and take action.

  5. Scott McLain on

    I too have been flipping for over 10 years now and have been a hard money lender for the last 6. Thanks so much for the post Danny, it’s full of genuine and good advice. Congrats on the wisdom and for sharing! I’d love to meet with you some day and share war stories…later.

  6. @buyhousescheap on

    Thanks for sharing your lessons Danny, awesome content as always. Would you mind incorporating some of your deal break downs like you use to on some future post? Really got a lot from the previous format.

  7. Brady Mullikin on

    Thanks for doing all of this Danny. I have been a big fan for some time now.

    #22 is a fact. My father warned me about a contractor who was all talk. I ignored and moved forward. He was right. The guy had to let his mouth do his selling and the final product was a you described….poor. I listen to my father now.

    -Brady in Milwaukee

  8. Dave Tower on

    #3 is the big one for me and I suspect so many other people that are letting life happen to them.

    I wish someone made me understand this when I was 18. Anyone who doesn’t know what they really want should make it their life’s priority to figure it out. Only then can you make goals and only then can they be achieved.

  9. Harry on

    Not a single lesson about honesty and integrity. You almost hit it with “fairness”, but it’s not the same thing.

  10. Kristin Ward on

    Most helpful. I especially like number 27. Too many people go into this not understand the amount of work that is often needed.

  11. Matt on

    This is the same things I feel day to day, it’s like talking to myself reading this! I have flipped, held, rented, short sold, etc, and I never wrote any of the “lessons”, just internalized them as the years went by. I too tried to make people happy, but ended up losing my own stuff instead. Have to be tough and consistent, the second you start doing charity, it’s you that you are stealing from! Yes be fair, I pay my guys alot, so they will always come work when I need them. Yes, doing a so-so deal is 100 times better than the great deal never done! YES! if the offer doesn’t offend you and everyone else, then it’s too high! Yes in harder areas, don’t blast your stereo and advertise your value, use the old beater truck(like mine) no one will give you a second look! I still can’t give up the truck, maybe that’s why I’m still trying to make it big!
    Anyways, good info,