I have a saying: 'experience is learning from our own mistakes, whereas wisdom is learning from other people's mistakes'.
In our property education we need both experience & wisdom.
Experience as a part of our Property Education
Experience is actually pretty straightforward - it is the 'doing' part of our property investing. There is lots to get experienced in from researching locations and strategies, settling on a property, running the numbers, viewings, offers and purchasing properties, finding tenants and / or dealing with letting agents, wading through the rules, regulations and laws that we need to adhere to, etc., etc....you get the picture right?
There is one problem with experience as the means of our property education...it all takes time. We cannot easily short-circuit our property education through experience, as it depends on time and to some extent volume, or as I prefer to call it 'deal velocity. If we were to invest in a single buy-to-let property then our experience would be limited to our 'doing' activities related to that property. We would buy it only once, perhaps finance it a few times and let it out a little more often than that...but still it all takes time. By increasing the number of deals we do...our deal velocity, we can at least accelerate our experience part of the property education journey by repeating the same steps more frequently. Two properties means twice the experience, three properties means three times the experience and so on. Therefore, simply by doing more deals we gain greater experience and so develop our property education and investing knowledge.
So perhaps one thing to consider is how many deals we are doing...our deal velocity. I know of some property investors that do dozens of deals per year and some that review their portfolios on a regular basis to trim away some of the lesser performing assets in order to free up capital to do even more deals. Both of these are examples of deal velocity. I would encourage aspiring property investors to think about deal velocity as one aspect of our property education through hands on investing.
So, experience can be said to be the 'Yin' of our property education...and so, wisdom can therefore be the 'Yang'. Wisdom is complimentary to experience in our property education.
Wisdom as a part of our Property Education
Wisdom can be difficult to define. I have given my own definition of it above with my saying and in truth it is not a true definition, more a means of considering different facets of our property education. Here are some further definitions of wisdom:
We can see that wisdom is more than experience, although experience can also play a part in it. Wisdom is equally more than just knowledge, although knowledge also play a part in it too...
As for gaining wisdom as a part of our property education we can at least start by looking at gaining knowledge and understanding. There are several ways in which we can increase our property knowledge and understanding beyond pure experience. Here are some of the key low / no cost ways to do this:
- Books and magazines
- Property websites and blogs
- Online property forums and communities
- New media (webinars, audio-learning & video)
- Networking with property people
- Getting a job in the industry (a hybrid of experience and knowledge)
Taking each of these facets in turn and looking at wisdom from the point of 'someone else's mistakes, we can consider how they could form a part of our 'property education diet'.
1. Books & magazines
I like books and usually have one or two on the go at the same time - I have subscriptions to Kindle Unlimited and Audilbe, so that I have at least one each of digital and audio books to 'read' each month. In addition, I still buy the odd paperback book which I carry around with me or have next to the bed and pick up when I can. My reading discipline can be a little haphazard but at least with three different reading formats I know that I will get some good knowledge along the way. I previously commented on my top five property books and this could be a useful place to start. Equally, if you subscribe to our mailing list (big box on the right) you will get the Property Investor Toolkit absolutely free. Within the Toolkit is a section on reading, with an extended book-list to work your way through.
Suggested action: why not set a reading goal...one book per month, one per week, you decide what works for you. Subscribe to our mailing list for the free Property Investor Toolkit.
2. Property websites and blogs
Congratulations! Simply by reading this post (and maybe one or two others here), you are able to learn through some of my mistakes, experience and insights 🙂 Not only that but now that I have added in some guest blogs from others far 'wiser' than me, you also get to see a wider array of different perspectives from different industry players too. Of course, this website is not the only one out there, here are a few more that I like to read from time-to-time: Rental Refurb, DIY Property Investor or Landlord Life, which all offer a real-life perspective into property education by real-life property investors. Many of the property forums also have blogs, which are well worth a read as well but as I will cover this shortly, I will resist name-checking them again here. In addition to these blogs, I have found The Telegraph and This is Money to have excellent coverage related to property investing.
Suggested action: I would suggest signing up to the RSS feeds or mailing lists of these and other property websites that you favour to get additional current insights (don't forget this site!)
3. Online property forums and communities
There are a number of property communities out there that allow property investors to exchange views, tips and contacts among other things. Being 'plugged in' to one or two communities is an essential part of developing greater knowledge and understanding and several of these forums even have sections dedicated to mistakes and lessons learnt. I would however urge some degree of caution here, on a couple of levels. First, not every contributor on a forum is even an investor and even if they are they may not be suitably qualified to dish out advice. So, take everything with a pinch of salt and adopt the 'supermarket approach' i.e. walk the aisles and only take what you need! The other aspect with forums is that they can totally consume your time, so take care in how many you participate in and to what extent too. These are my personal favourite property forums: Property Tribes, Property 118, The Property Hub. Each has their own style and personality, so check out what you think of them before settling on any one in particular. There are several communities on Facebook also but I often find it difficult to wade through all the randomised 'ticker-style' posts myself and Facebook is a definite time-thief to be avoided in my view.
Suggested action: check out these forums and consider joining one or two...I am a member of all three but most active on The Property Hub and more recently having relocated my password Property Tribes also.
4. New media (webinars, audio & video)
I guess audio and video are not really new but I hope you follow my drift here. When I started my quest for more property education I became something of a property freebie junkie in all honesty. This was not necessarily a bad thing but I could have been a bit smarter upon reflection. For example, lots of property people will offer webinars in various subjects and these typically last for around 60-90 minutes, which is a fair chunk of time when you have 3-4 per week in the calendar as I did. I always picked something up from these events but the time-to-knowledge ratio was not always great, partly because I was so thirsty for knowledge that I was picking it up in various other places as well. The other consideration is that several webinar providers also offer property education and training and so beware of the upsell onto a paid-for course. Again, I have no problem with that either as long as a) the content on the free course has some genuine value and b) that the organiser is transparent as to their intentions. I am not going to give any specific recommendations here but it is an area worth looking into with one word of caution: due diligence! I would encourage you to look into the people behind the webinars to check them out before blindly following their advice into some sort of illegal or fraudulent scam, as has sometimes happened.
Among audio and video we can include podcasts and YouTube video channels as information sources. Video carries a similar 'health warning' as webinars above. However, one new media that has captured my imagination over the past year or so is that of podcasts. Podcasts are audio-based learning shows, often backed up by show notes / blog posts with the content or transcript and resource links mentioned within. My current must-listen to property podcasts are: The Property Investor, The Property Podcast & The Bigger Pockets Podcast, the first two weekly podcasts are easily digestible in around 30 mins duration, whereas Bigger Pockets tends to be an hour listen and so less frequent given my time limitations.
Suggested action: check out the recommended podcasts and also do some research on property-related webinars and video channels to see which ones catch your attention
5. Networking & property people
I recently saw a comment from a forum poster that if you want to know how a successful person did what they did then offer to buy them lunch or dinner and ask them! In principle this is a great idea but in all honesty I think Lord Sugar has enough on his plate (get it) to accept such invitations. Perhaps on a smaller level this could work but if nothing else there is absolutely no harm at all in rubbing shoulders with fellow property investors both in person and in some of the online communities mentioned. Here is where you might find some suitable places to meet fellow property investors:
- Online networks (subscription): PIN Academy, Progressive Property
- Offline networks: PIN meetings, PPN meetings. You can find a list of these meetings at Your Property Network
Suggested action: visit the event listings link above and check out your local property networking meeting(s); consider attending 1-2 per month and speak to fellow investors about their experiences and maybe have a coffee & a chat to follow up...or dinner at The Ritz if you prefer 😉
6. Getting a job in the industry
If you did try the 'buy a successful person dinner' idea and it didn't quite work out, then fear not as perhaps you could actually get a job with them instead! Or if not a job working directly for a big name property investor, perhaps simply a job in the industry to increase your deal velocity 'by proxy'. For example, if you worked for a letting agent, do you think you would get to see more than one investment property and tenant? Yes, you should see hundreds. Damien Fogg, who recently wrote a guest blog about property valuations here on The Property Voice, took this step by not only working for a letting agent but also becoming a fully qualified chartered building surveyor with RICS. Now that is dedication to the cause but he does know a thing or two about assessing properties and dealing with tenants as a result!
Suggested action: well you could give up the day job and retrain as Damien Fogg did but there is possibly a less drastic course here - visit a letting agent that you are already or could use in the future and ask to be walked through their systems and records as a part of your due diligence in using them.
There are of course some other ways to gain wisdon and fast track your property education, including formal training and education programmes or mentoring / coaching. Today's article will not go into these (it's long enough!) , suffice to say that they exist and can be of benefit in addition to the lower cost facets of property education as outlined above and will be addressed in a future post no doubt.
In conclusion however, we can hopefully see that experience (or 'doing') can be complemented by wisdom (or 'understanding') the different aspects of property investment to accelerate our property education. Experience will happen anyway...as long as we actually take some action. However, wisdom requires a little more effort, which is why I spent some time on this piece today and included a number of links / references and crucially some action steps to consider following. There are many routes we can take in our property education beyond diving in at the deep end as highlighted but dive into the deep end at some stage we certainly must...but it might be useful to watch a few people swim before we attempt to do it our own way wouldn't you agree?
The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing. Socrates