Jennifer and her husband, David, approached me as I was leaving the City of Chicago’s Department of Buildings downtown the other day. I was checking on the status of a renovation permit and they were trying to get information on how to apply for one. Needless to say, they were a bit flustered. They were just starting careers in real estate investing and were initially excited to have already bought their first house. But, after being embarrassed by city officials for not having all their ducks in a row, they realized they needed some expert advice on buying, renovating, and selling houses. They asked me if I knew other private real estate investors in Chicago who might be willing to help them out.
I told the couple I was sorry they’d gotten embarrassed and that even the best of us have been there. So, they were in pretty good company. I also gave them a few ideas on where to find local real estate investors that they can connect with, get advice from, and build a network around so that minor misunderstandings don’t turn into extensive financial hold-ups again. Once upon a time, more seasoned investors helped me reduce my learning curve, so I was happy to do the same for them.
Finding Private Real Estate Investors in Chicago
The point of having other private real estate investors in your network—particularly those who’ve been successfully flipping houses in Chicago for years—is that, collectively, they bring a level of experience and expertise to the table that helps you up your investing game. Without them, you could spend years learning the ropes the hard way and make some pretty serious mistakes too, like buying a money pit that sinks your returns. You want people around you who’ve ‘been there, done that’ because flipping houses is a good business to be in—when you know what you’re doing. And, it can lead to a great career if you’ve got a place to turn to for advice, guidance, and support as you build your portfolio and your real estate investing company. Here are some options for finding other private real estate investors in Chicago:
Real Estate Investing Clubs
Joining a real estate investing club can connect you with other investors who share the same goals as you do. Because the experience of members runs the gamut from new kids on the block to old hats like me, you’re likely to meet people who can help you reach your goals. Many real estate investing clubs throughout Illinois host monthly meetings, workshops, and regular networking opportunities. Some even have online portals where you can review the events you missed or catch up with your fellow members. So, there can be plenty of chances to meet, greet, and learn from other investors.
Unfortunately, there is almost always a fee to join a club and, until you pay, you won’t know if you’re getting more or less than your money’s worth. And, you’ll still be responsible for building your own network. So, it could take a while depending on how active and social the group is. Also, the more experienced investors don’t always have time to spend with newbies since they’re busy running their own successful business. This could make your chances of finding a mentor at a club slim-to-none or, at least, too time-consuming.
Real Estate Investing Classes
Even if you’ve got some training under your belt and have already started investing in real estate, like Jennifer and David, taking one or more classes can put you in touch with private real estate investors who want to advance their careers too. Real estate investing classes in Chicago seem to be everywhere and the topics that are covered can vary. So, you don’t necessarily have to cover material you might already know. Instead, you can take a course in a speciality—like, buying short sales or REOs—and hobnob with your teacher, as well as your classmates, to glean as much as you can from everyone around you.
However, when you compare how much you might get out of a class with how much you will have to put in, you’ll often come up short. Most of the students in real estate investing classes will be other newbies. Many will be less experienced than you are and some won’t have even bought a property yet. So it’s possible you won’t learn as much as you want to outside of the class material. In addition, the instructors may have too much on their plates teaching the courses and fighting off your fellow classmates who also want to network. They may, however, offer you the ‘opportunity’ for one-on-one mentorship after the course ends—at a steep price. Then, there is the investment of money and time—neither of which should really be necessary if your initial real estate investor training was a comprehensive program like the one offered by HomeVestors® to their franchisees.
Meetup groups, which are usually free to join, are a more cost-effective way to mingle with local private real estate investors who gather to gab about business. There are several Chicago real estate investor clubs and associations that host Meetup groups—and that you may have to join for a fee—but, they’re not the only ones. A quick search online reveals that Chicago investors meet up regularly to help each other with topics ranging from wholesaling to multi-family investing. If you don’t happen to see a topic that you’re interested in, or the Meetup occurs when you’re not available, you can create your own. Investing-related Meetups have grown in popularity over the years and it’s easy to see why. They offer you the chance to connect with peers and potential mentors, for free, who have the same interest as you do: growing your professional network while you grow your real estate portfolio.
But, when you take a second look at some of the Meetup groups offered around town, you’ll find that they don’t appear to be well-attended. So, you run the risk of not meeting anyone who’s qualified enough to answer your questions or address your concerns, let alone become a real estate investing mentor. And, because anyone can start a Meetup, you’re rolling the dice by joining these groups. Investing in real estate already comes with inherent risks. There’s no need to increase them taking a gamble on where you get your advice.
Obviously, there’s some value to be found from joining clubs, taking classes, and going to Meetups that shouldn’t be overlooked. I found my real estate investing career path after leaving an event hosted by a local club. But, it was because I ran into another investor who took the time to give me some direction, much like I did for Jennifer and David. I gave the couple the same valuable advice that I got many years ago: the largest network of real estate investing pros can be found with a real estate investing franchise.
A Network of Pros Are Only Phone Call Away
Luckily, just like Jennifer and David, the mistakes I made as a new investor were relatively minor compared to what others have to try to bounce back from. More often than not, I was just embarrassed because I didn’t file the right paperwork with the city or because I spent too much time researching renovation trends that weren’t right for the area where I was investing.
But, early on, I knew I needed to get some help if I wanted to keep my missteps small—or not make them at all. So, I heeded some good advice and joined a great network of real estate investing professionals. I became an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee. From the moment I opened my franchise, I had access to a seasoned Development Agent and a regional team of experienced franchisees who answered my calls for help when I needed them. They never made me feel embarrassed about it either.
If you’re ready to feel confident about investing, get a network of professional real estate investors to help. Join Jennifer, David, and me by calling HomeVestors today!
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