A key part of our cure for fear of failure is to remember that property investing is not about emotion. When I first started I had limiting beliefs, fears that expressed themselves in ridiculous ways. I know it sounds silly but I found it extremely difficult and uncomfortable going into estate agents offices and registering my details. I felt extremely embarrassed when I had to explain that I had no property to sell because I am an investor.
So why was that? To be honest, when I first started, and especially before I had bought my first property, I felt like a bit of a fraud. And that is how I imagined others would see me. Perhaps I just didn’t feel like I was a “proper property investor”, or perhaps more likely I didn’t feel worthy of being treated like a property investor. After all, I had no job, no income, and very little savings, so why should any one take me seriously? Whatever the reason, looking back I can see that it was irrational. Why should the estate agent think anything other than I was a potential purchaser through whom they may be able to make their fee?
However, this fear of looking stupid caused some problems. I would find myself making excuses not to go into estate agents offices and this severely limited my search for suitable properties. I managed to overcome this when I realised that I was manifesting a classic fear of rejection. I was worried that the estate agent might reject my claim to be a property investor. I overcame this when I realised that there was no reason at all why an estate agent should reject me either as a person or as a potential buyer. And even if they did, why should I care what they thought?
By recognising and concentrating on the “why” I was able to push though my fears. My why was that unless I succeeded I would not be able to support my family and we’d probably lose our home. That is a pretty good motivation to succeed. But regardless of how I felt the truth was (and is) I am a property investor (obviously eight years on and with a portfolio comprising more than sixty properties even I am beginning to believe this!)
Putting it down on paper it’s hard to explain exactly why I should even have had this problem, but I’m sure that some of you will be able to relate to this.
Similarly, emotion can get in the way when we start by making good progress but then we then start talking ourselves out of taking it any further. It’s a bit like those cartoons where a character will run over the edge of a cliff and keep on running through thin air until they look down, and then they fall. This can happen in any activity, but especially property. Many new investors stop because they suddenly “come to” with a jolt and think “What am I doing and how did I get here? This project is too big for me”.
A good example is finding a decent property but then, instead of buying it, looking at all the reasons why we should not buy it. Often these reasons will reflect emotion and will not be based on investment criteria. A way around this is to remember that property investing should be, as far as possible, an objective process and whether you should proceed with a particular property or not should not depend upon how you feel.
Instead it should depend on whether it fits your strategy and plan and whether the numbers, after you’ve done your full due diligence and research, make sense. Some property experts argue that the numbers are the only things that count.
There’s the old property adage “don’t fall in love with the property, fall in love with the deal” (I think this was first attributed to Dolf de Roos). There is also the flip side to this which runs contrary to many investors desire to buy only property they feel “safe” with, often property that they themselves would chose to live in. I can understand the emotional disquiet at buying a property which makes us feel far from safe – perhaps a property we would not feel comfortable in, or perhaps a property in an area we have reservations about. But the starting point is to look at the numbers. I have to confess that on an emotional measure I would not have bought many of the properties in my portfolio, but as investments they have performed well.
Here’s to successful property investing.
Peter Jones B.Sc FRICS
Chartered Surveyor, Author & Property Investor