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Guest Post: How a Successful Real Estate Investor Bounced Back From Bankruptcy

Home » Blog » 34 Weeks Flipping Houses » Guest Post: How a Successful Real Estate Investor Bounced Back From Bankruptcy

This post is a guest post from Nick Ruiz.

So here is my story wrapped up in nutshell…

I started to buy and sell properties when I was 19 years old and built a multi-million dollar net worth by my mid 20s with almost 70 properties. I flipped, wholesaled, and held lots of properties. I had employees and full time crews going around the clock.

Then in 2008 when the big mortgage and real estate crash came, I was forced into bankruptcy because of a perfect storm of events.

I was way over-leveraged on some inner city properties that bled me to death.

BOOM! I was clobbered down to the bottom. I have a family to support and it was extremely painful mentally and emotionally. My pride was destroyed and I was embarrassed because I was supposed to be Nick, the young, successful hot shot entrepreneur and now I was a failure (my thoughts at the time).

First off, bankruptcy was the absolute BEST thing that has happened to me for my personal life, and for my entrepreneurial life for so many reasons. I am 10 times as wise and sharp as I once was, and see things now with much more clarity.

See, when you get stripped down to nothing, you face extreme adversity which, in turn, really flexes your adversity “muscles” to their limits. This is a great thing because now, I can handle any situation, no matter how extreme…and I can proceed with intelligence and a sharp decision making mind, instead of reacting out of emotion if a major pipe bursts or one of my properties gets vandalized and stripped of all of the copper.

They are all solvable problems as long as the solver is sharp and decisive and not someone who reacts with tons of emotion and fear.

Sorry for going off on a little tangent there, but I really want you to know that whatever tough time you are going through, you have to realize that it is simply putting another adversity “notch” in your belt of wisdom.

What I Would Do If I Had to Start Over – I did have to start over!

So, when I’m interviewed on podcasts, a popular question the interviewer always asks me is, “Nick, if you had to do it all over again and start at zero in real estate, what would you do?”

I am always glad that they ask that because that is not just a fun theory to think of…in my life that was a real scenario.

What DID I do to quickly bounce back as a financially independent real estate entrepreneur?

The first thing I did was exaust all of my contacts.

Now you may be thinking, “Nick, I am just starting out and don’t have any contacts. What about me?”

Well, I’m more of a “tough love” kind of guy and my answer is “GET SOME”. Sorry to be so blunt, but guess what, I didn’t come out of the womb with a network of contacts and friends in the real estate biz, I made them and nurtured them.

Before I proceed with how to “get some contacts”, I just want to say this…URGENCY is the boss of success. I firmly believe this and have lived it personally. I see it with others that I observe in the world as well.

When I was stripped of everything in bankruptcy, I had no choice but to HUSTLE at the highest level to get my family’s financial life back on track to fast success.

People take the most action in life with the most urgency, when they HAVE TO…The problem with many people reading this post right now and wondering why they aren’t quite at where they are at in the real estate business is that they still don’t have that extreme urgency to create success.

You get your paycheck on Fridays and want to do some deals on the side. You say you hate your job and want to be your own self made real estate entrepreneur, but you’re still watching your favorite shows at night and going out on the weekends.

Time flies faster than you know…Cut that stuff out for a year, hustle your brains out, and you’ll see massive results. I promise. But you have to get urgent and that can be hard when you don’t HAVE to.

Now, back to getting contacts.

Call local probate attorneys (or stop in with doughnuts if you really want to stand out) and tell them how you can help them. Tell them (or their secretary who is currently enjoying that custard filled, beautiful chocolate doughnut) that you can help them and their clients out by paying a fair cash price with no contingencies.

It does work and some of my best deals have been from probate attorneys referring me deals. As soon as you show them that you can do one successfully, they will start to refer more of them to you. Now you’ll really be in the money. TRUST ME!

Another place for immediately connecting with contacts that can help you is your local real estate groups. I won’t go much into this because I’m sure you know that you can find buyers, seller, realtors, lenders, insurance brokers, and more to help you get a quicker start in your real estate business. The attorney thing is sweet though and you should really add it to your arsenal because it is VERY low competition in most areas.

The Next Thing I did was Hound the Right People for Money so I could Rehab and Flip a Deal ASAP!

But Nick, I don’t know anyone who would lend me money. My answer – “FIND THEM”. Start with your local RE group and let people know what you are trying to do. Talk to other professionals that you know (accountant, lawyer, doctor, dentist, friends, etc.) People with money laying around are always looking to get a great return.

Even if you’re super new, you make have to split the deal 50/50 with the money man. Who cares? You just want to get a deal under your belt. It’s the cost of being a beginner. You do all the work and they put up the money – 50/50. It may seem unfair, but you won’t need to do this very long as you build a track record of doing profitable deals consistently.

LISTEN, anything is possible with the right sense of urgency. PERIOD! I’ve come up from nothing TWICE so you definitely can too.

So, After Hounding Attorneys and then Hounding People for Money, I did a profitable deal.

Once that first deal was under my belt, I invested some of the profits into my favorite form of marketing (direct mail), got more wholesale and rehab deals, and was quickly on my way to a full “bounce back” and financial independence again.

WOW! What a journey, but the lessons learned were priceless and I love sharing it with awesome up and coming entrepreneurs like you 🙂

You really can do this…Even if you already have a few deals under your belt, I hope this post will push you back into that extreme URGENCY position where you start to hammer out actions that may be way outside of your comfort zone to get you to the next level.

Remember, this business is, conceptually, very simple. One of the biggest mistakes I see newer people make is staying up at night worrying about all of these complicated formulas and ratios that they are learning from the big gurus. The reason these gurus put out these “secret” formulas that “nobody else knows” is to justify their $15,000 boot camp prices.

The only thing you should put the majority of your time into in the beginning is FINDING HOME RUN DEALS! You will work through each step from there with ease when you have a great deal to start with.

I’d love to hear some of your thoughts in the comments below…

This is a guest post from Nick Ruiz. He is a TWICE self-made real estate entrepreneur that came up from scratch in his late teens and AGAIN from bankruptcy after the crash…He blogs about his journey and strategies for real estate entrepreneurship at

You say, “I want to sell my house fast.”
I say, “We buy houses for cash, in San Antonio.”


Comments (17)

  • Justin Williams

    Thanks for such a great post Nick and Danny! This really resonates, and I’m going to share it with my audience as well!

    • Danny Johnson

      Thanks, Justin. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to your guest post.

      • Justin Williams

        Working on it now! Should have it to you by tomorrow at the latest.

  • Leila McCauley

    Inspiring story and a great tip on the probate lawyers, Thanks Danny!

    • Danny Johnson

      Thanks, Leila. Nick really provided a great post.


    Im actually in the process of recruiting probate attorneys (I got the idea from a mentor of mine a couple weeks back)… great ideas though… I hadnt thought about docs and lawyers and such for money though… ill start looking there too… any other ideas on getting deals (other than Craigslist)?

    thanks for sharing…


  • Nick Ruiz

    Thanks guys for the kind words…Yeah, sometimes the story seems a little surreal when I tell it. Wealth is truly a mindset and internal perspective more than the result of external circumstances.

  • Steve

    Great post. I would have to say I did lose my motivation for this business after going on several appointments to make offers on homes with no success. This just boils down to whether you really want to be successful at this or just continue doing the same thing, getting the same results.
    Danny, thank you for sending me this email. Really needed this right now…

  • Nikia

    Wow!! I loved this story and the tips! It seems as if the words were screaming directly at me! Thank you so much for this!!

    • Nick Ruiz

      Nikia, I was screaming at you, LOL!

      You’re welcome. Go get your hustle on… 🙂 🙂

  • Gabe Sanders

    Good to hear a story where you stuck to it and made it work out in the end.

    • Nick Ruiz

      Hey Gabe,

      Yeah, it wasn’t easy (especially when I was in the eye of the storm), but it was necessary and it got me to where I am today. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel if you’re willing to search hard enough 🙂

      Cheers brother…

  • Jim

    Wow Nick, tremendous story.

    What exactly did you say to the probate attorneys to get wholesaling deals from them?

  • Geoff

    Hi Nick,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences and tips. I definitely like the tip of speaking with and building a relationship with local probate attorneys. You are right on 50/50 split with helpful investors. After a few successful sales, it will keep on growing.

  • Wendell Higgs

    Great to see this has revived a monster inside of me. I am buying bandit signs and more stamps and getting back to basics

  • Freddie

    Thanks Nick great motivational story

  • Geoff Clark

    Thanks for the tips and the story of starting over again. I like your definition of urgency as it is very easy to kick back and relax instead of getting my hustle on to succeed.

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