As a full-Time Real Estate Investor, when I moved my business (and family) from Michigan to North Carolina, we did not know a single person in the Greater Charlotte Area. So, how did I go about finding people to play key parts in my business, from title company (Michigan’s equivalent of NC’s closing attorney), insurance, Realtors, Hard Money Lenders, home inspectors, and many more? How did I learn the vital differences between NC and MI real estate law to ensure that I could continue to do business in a legal and ethical way even though the rules were not the same? I used my trusty research assistant, Google; to find the local REIA, and soon thereafter joined the Metrolina Real Estate Investors Association (www.MetrolinaREIA.com).
A REIA brings together people around a common interest- real estate investing. Not all attorneys close real estate transactions, and fewer still will close the type of creative, intricate transactions many of us do on a daily basis. Not all Realtors will work with Investors, many prefer not to. At the REIA, I found top-quality professionals from every area that supports Investing, all of whom had joined the association precisely because they sought out and prized the ability to work with folks in my profession.
The REIA provides many other important functions, like putting on seminars on everything from specific creative real estate techniques, changes in the local market, and changes to local, state, and federal laws. The Metrolina REIA even has a legislative advocacy arm to give Investors a collective voice and ensure that our interests are not being “steamrollered”, either deliberately or accidentally, in the wake of economic turbulence and unprecedented change.
I joined our local REIA back in Michigan shortly after getting started buying and selling houses in 2004. Since then I have sat in different seats, from the back of the room, learning and hoping that one day I’d be able to apply the things I was learning about, to the podium, sharing with other Investors some methods and techniques I had applied that had worked well, and some that had not.
One of the most common questions I am asked by people not in the business, upon first meeting them, is “How can I get started in Real Estate Investing?”. The answer is invariably “Join your local REIA”, as it far and away the best place to network, learn, and build your team of support professionals.
Lou Gimbutis is director of education at the Metrolina Real Estate Investors Association, which provides education, mentoring, and networking for real estate investing in the Charlotte region. He can be contacted at lou@MetrolinaREIA.org. For more information, visit www.MetrolinaREIA.org.