Del Walmsley, Founder, Lifestyles Unlimited

Lifestyles Unlimited founder Del Walmsley explains how to get started and why education matters in the competitive world of real estate investment.

Why should investors looking for additional income consider rental real estate?

It is the single most effective investment vehicle to create wealth and passive income. Most people can replace their current income in two to five years by building a rental real estate portfolio, all while working in their current profession.   

How can investors get started or improve their results in real estate investments?

There is no shortage of tools available to help investors succeed. Education is at the top of the list. No matter what the investment vehicle, educated investors make more money. Look for a program with a variety of learning tools: live classes, online webinars, an education portal for on-demand learning, radio shows and podcasts, and most importantly, experienced and successful mentors or coaches to provide an effective road map.

Why is education and mentoring important for new investors?

Simply put, you don’t know what you don’t know.  Learning something new is like going somewhere new. Education is the road map and mentoring is your guide along the way.  The journey is easier and more successful if you follow someone who’s been where you want to go. They help you avoid pitfalls and mistakes to take you places you cannot or would not go on your own. 

Name 3 things all investors should do. 

Follow my three rules of investing. First: Never lose money. You must not lose your principal. Second: You must have cash flow. Cash flow means money for retirement. Finally: You can’t get rich slow. Capital gains will help you build wealth quickly.

Mark Train once wrote, “Make your mark in New York and you are a made man.” If anyone knows this to be true, it’s Fredrik Eklund, one of Manhattan’s top real estate entrepreneurs with more than $5 billion in residential sales over the past decade. In 2011, he became a reality television superstar on “Million Dollar Listing: New York,” and later, a New York Times best-selling author with his book “The Sell: The Secrets of Selling Anything to Anyone.” We sat down with Eklund to talk about risk, his secret to boosting resale value, and why unflattering property photos don't have to be a deal-breaker.

Starting from the bottom

“Being in love with New York, I thought real estate would be a really great way to learn more about the city. But I made a mistake and tried to do it alone. I didn’t have any clients. I sat at my desk for the first six months waiting, reading as many articles as I could. My number one tip I’d give to a new agent is to identify the top agent or team in your local market and go work for that team. Work as an intern if you have to. Sit in the room and absorb the decades of experience. Six months can give you sixty years of experience.”

Finding beauty in the beast

“I look for the properties that have been on the market the longest and have the ugliest photos. If you’re going to invest, you want to find a property that’s been on the market for a long time, because that’s when you can really negotiate.”

Increasing a property’s value

“Find a property that you can turn around with little money. If a property is large, you can add some walls and increase the number of bedrooms, which will increase the value without costing very much. There are other properties where you can go in and repaint and update the furniture. You have to have a good eye so you don’t overspend.”

Market fluctuations

“You really have to give it time and not be too emotionally attached to a property. As a broker, you have to understand that the industry comes with many ups and downs. It’s a rollercoaster… you can’t just take the good parts of the market. You have to take the bad and turn the bad into an opportunity. I welcome a difficult market. [laughs] I’m not afraid of it.”

Resilience

“At the beginning of my career, I was very alone. I had left my family and I was working by myself on the other side of the world. The highs were high, and the lows were low. Now I have built a team and have a family and kids. You have to surround yourself with people that support you. The industry can be very stressful; there are a lot of surprises, and often, they’re bad surprises. You have to learn to pick yourself up and keep going. There’s a lot that you can’t control, but if you can manage to go to bed every night feeling like you worked your hardest and did all that you could, you’ll succeed.”