Let’s face it. 2020 has completely transformed the way in which we do most things. As we embrace doing more from home, and assume more responsibilities while at home such as homeschooling, many of us are re-thinking the way we earn income. Over the years I have come to love the phrase, “work smarter, not harder.”

As an aerospace engineer by trade, while I was working for companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, I became curious about how I could leverage my income. As I began my research into the world of investments I was floored at how accessible investing in commercial real estate was – and the fact that I did not need be a millionaire to do so was completely opposite of what I thought. This is where I began my journey which would eventually allow me to arrive at my job optional status.

Job optional by definition means you earn enough passive income to meet or exceed your day job earnings. I knew my magic number (aka my monthly cash flow needed) and was intent on achieving it. For me, in a few short years, I arrived at job optional status which opened my eyes to a whole new way of living. I had more time to do things I loved, raise my children, and channel my entrepreneurial skills to create new companies I was passionate about.

I began creating wealth through apartment investing. Others may choose to build a portfolio through investing in single family homes. Some will invest solely, others may want to explore joint ventures, or even become part of a syndicate which is a highly attractive way to get into a sizeable property as an investor.

In a world that has made us question everything, if you are looking to become job optional through multi-family investing, here are the 12 steps I suggest to position you for the journey:

1. ASSESS – Take a long look in the mirror and be honest with yourself: where are you at mentally, financially, and emotionally? Do you have the right mindset to embrace something new and the learning curve that comes along with it? Also, define your magic number so that you have a financial goal to work towards.
2. EXPLORE OPTIONS – You’ll need to understand the different type of multi-family properties that exist (class A, B, C properties are all different from one another). You’ll also need to understand what terms like CAP rate, GRM, NOI mean and how they impact investment strategy.
3. ACCESS EDUCATIONAL EVENTS- Attending seminars and workshops can be very helpful in getting a crash course on the basics. While some educational seminars are expensive, there are a free resources that can help jump start your journey.
4. NETWORK - Search for local real estate investing groups to join so that you can connect and network with other like-minded individuals. As they say, “build your net worth by building your network.”
5. PARTNER UP – Most people starting off are positioned best when they go in with others on a property. Grow your money faster, together. Consider your entire sphere of influence and identify who you think would be a good partner to align with.
6. MENTOR – Consider working with a mentor which can help you avoid common pitfalls and expedite your progress towards your goals.
7. NARROW YOUR SCOPE – Once you’ve learned the industry basics, explored options, and networked, you’ll have a better idea of what type of multi-family property you want to invest in.
8. SEARCH – Begin looking for the types of properties you want to invest in by searching online listing services such as Loopnet or call a broker to partner with them to find the properties.
9. LENDER RESEARCH – It’s important to understand that there are many types of lending options to help you close the gap on your property purchase including hard money lenders, private angel investors, and institutional/conventional lenders. The general rule of thumb is that multi-family property down payments are around 25% - 30% of the total purchase price.
10. ANALYZE – Filter down the properties you are interested in investing in and consider their return. Never invest just to break even. Make sure there’s enough profit margin to cover unexpected expenses, repairs, paying a property manager and the investors.
11. OFFER – Once you start making offers on properties, remember that is when the negotiation process begins. Remain non-emotional and stick to a purchase price that makes dollars and sense for your goals.
12. EXIT STRATEGY – It’s essential to define your exit strategy, whether it’s selling in a certain number of years or refinancing, cashing out, or doing a 1031 exchange to trade up.

The process of becoming job optional has been liberating. It’s allowed me to live my life by design and fueled my creative inspirations. I no longer live to work. The freedom and flexibility it provides me with daily, along with the stable financial support has made me challenge the working status quo – as many individuals are now in our complex 2020 environment.