(Read the written blog below or view the YouTube video above. Mike Jacobson and Harland Merriam talk about these eight tips in the video.)


Eight tips.

By Harland Merriam


What brings success in life? In particular, what brings success in real estate investing?

My partner, Mike Jacobson, and I have enjoyed much success in life, in our work, and in our real estate investing. We have worked hard, learned a lot, faced many challenges, achieved financial independence, made a difference in our worlds, and are having a good time.

What has helped us to be successful?  Reading books.  Observing other successful people.  Taking effective action by practicing some of the factors that lead to success.

You would like to be successful, too, wouldn’t you?  

It is frustrating when we are not making progress, or not getting wins.  Success may not come easily or quickly, but putting into practice some of the following will likely lead to your success.


Simon Sinek wrote a New York Times bestseller with the simple title, “Start With Why.”  He highlighted this important starting point for achieving success. Knowing your “why” will inspire you to succeed, leading you to be successful.

Why are you choosing to invest in real estate?  

Some are hoping to achieve enough passive cash flow to replace the income from their 9-to-5 jobs.  Some are using real estate to accelerate the growth of their net worth. 

Your why drives you.  

It is OK if you are simply doing real estate investing as a hobby.  It is fun.  It is intellectually stimulating.  If that is your “Why” then own it.  This can be a side hustle, a hobby.  

The starting place for success is getting in touch with your why.

Take a few moments right now to write down why you are involved in real estate.  

Is your why related to achieving more freedom?  Does it have to do with your family?  Are you looking for personal fulfillment?  What is your why?

Your why will give you energy.  It will empower you.  It will inspire you, especially when the going gets tough.


Now that your why is in place, how will you know you have success? 

What are you measuring?  What is the score you need to achieve?

It is one thing to dribble a basketball around and shoot it up in the air.  But, when you are in the game, you have to put points on the board by getting baskets. And you have to get more baskets than the opponent if you want to win or be successful.

Do the math.  Establish a dollar amount you are shooting for in passive income.  Set a goal for the net worth you need to achieve your why.  

One approach is to determine how many homes you need in your portfolio.  Know when you will have “enough”.  What will the score be when you have achieved success?  This is your long-term goal.

It may be a certain position at work.  It may be achieving financial independence.  It may be establishing the foundation to do the good work you envision.  It may be a dollar amount.

And set smaller goals, too.  Measure your progress along the way.  Set a series of objectives or mile-markers.  

On a trek to climb a 14,000-foot peak in Colorado, which would take about 9 hours out and back, my son and I set goals along the way – crossing a certain creek, making it to a fork in the trail, the first snow patch, the smaller hill between here and the peak.

Those little achievements add up and take us to our final goal.


We have seen many real estate investors that have no focus.  They get distracted.  They get into wholesaling single-family houses and then see something else, such as self-storage.  So they quit wholesaling, take a course in self-storage, and try to do it.  Then something else captures their attention like multifamily investments.

But they don’t stick with anything. They have no focus. They flit from one thing to the next and never get any traction, any momentum, any real skills in any one thing.

They never master anything.  Success eludes them.

Remember those little magnifying glasses we played with as children?  There were lots of dried leaves on the ground.  Even though the sun was out, nothing happened to the leaves. 

Until a little kid comes by with a magnifying glass.  Carefully focusing the rays of the sun down to a tiny pinpoint, you could set a leaf on fire.  I remember doing this, learning this lesson.

Gary Keller’s book, The One Thing, comes to mind here.  Keller built a very successful real estate empire.  In his book, he asks you and me, “What is the one thing that if we did that then all the other things would be so much easier or not needed at all.”

Focus your energies on one thing and look for success. There is power in focus.


Another key is putting systems in place.  This helps you be more efficient.  Systems make sure you are doing all the right things in the right order. 

For example, the pre-flight checklist for a pilot getting ready to fly an airplane.  The system, a checklist, is a list of items to check every single time the pilot prepares to fly the plane.  Walk around the plane.  Unleash the tie-downs.  Drain the water from the fuel lines.  Make sure control surfaces all move. 

Every single time.  Every single item on the checklist.  Not in your mind. Physically checked off.

In real estate, we need to have a system for determining the value of a property, a system for following up with sellers, a system for inspecting properties, a system for getting to a successful closing, a system for collecting rents, for reporting taxes, for communicating with your syndication partners, and more.

Being organized and having systems increases your efficiency and effectiveness.  Putting systems in place will set you up for success.


Real estate is a team sport.  In truth, so is all of life.

Even though some of us as real estate investors do a lot all by ourselves, we have many on our team.  For example:  attorneys, accountants, city inspectors, roofers, plumbers, electricians, banks, and investment partners.  The list is long.

Recognize this team aspect of real estate.  Build out your team.  Attract the best people to do their part well.

The better your team, the more likely you will be successful.

Can you imagine a quarterback in a football game making it through a series of downs without a team around him? The center, offensive line, running backs, and receivers are key to his success, maybe to even just staying alive.  

In addition, the coaches, trainers, and even the people who buy the tickets to the game are part of the quarterback’s team.  So many make the sport happen.

Same with real estate.  It is a team sport.

The sign in a school basketball gymnasium read, “Individuals play the game, but it takes a team to beat the odds.”

Who is on your team?


Mike Jacobson, my partner, remembers how his daughter wasn’t the best student when she was younger.  But she worked hard for her Bs, he says.  

She learned to persevere in the band, in her classes, and life.  She is now a very successful interior designer.  Her perseverance is paying off.

We have run up against many challenges in our real estate investing.  For example:  operating a large apartment complex we owned during COVID-19 in 2019 and 2020.  Or the big plumbing problems that surprised us.  Or other problems.

Successful people don’t let the speed bumps and the roadblocks stop them.  They find a way through or a way around.  They don’t quit.  Success is often just over the next hill, around the next bend.

Real estate investing takes hard work.  

HGTV makes it look like real estate investing is simple – find a house, buy it, and make money.  Flip a house in 30 minutes and make $30,000.  Repeat.

It is much harder than that.  Often it takes getting up early in the morning, going to workshops, and working late into the night.  Sleepless nights.

One nice thing about real estate investing for many is that it can be done PASSIVELY.  The hard work is still required, but some of the members of the team can be passive.

You can find partners who will do the hard work.  They get a good return on the investment of their time and expertise.  You can get a good return by investing your money with them as a passive investor.

We help people who want to be passive with their investing.  They still have to do their homework, check us out, put in the effort to understand enough to be wise with their investments.  But, they trust us to be diligent, to work hard, and to persevere.

Get in touch and we will help you see how you can do this.


Let’s go in a bit of a different direction that is associated with our success.  Namely, the enjoyment we receive when we are successful in what we do. 

For example, it brings a smile to our faces when we can help investors get a good return on their investment.  

We like having a positive impact on a community.  There is a measure of fulfillment we feel when we provide good, safe, clean, affordable housing to our working-class residents.

We celebrate being able to employ those who work with us – electricians, property managers, city employees, maintenance staff, and many more.

We smile when we realize the benefits we bring to a community or simply to the neighbors of properties we improve.

The joy, the pleasure, and the pride make it worth it.  Sure, the money we make from the work we do is important.  Also important is the realization of a job well done.  This gives an added purpose, and an additional incentive to be successful.


At half-time or during the time-outs in many sports, the coaches and the players pause, take a look at how things are going, and make adjustments for the rest of the game.

One of the keys to success is to learn and change as needed along the way.

We sold a large apartment complex this past summer and have been reflecting on and documenting the lessons we learned.

We learned a lot along the way and made course corrections while we owned the property. It is a good thing we did.  Those adjustments were a key part of our success. 

As we anticipate our next deal, we have become clear on the bigger lessons.  We are stronger, wiser, better prepared.  Those lessons will help us to be successful again.


More elements can help you be successful, beyond what we identified above. Look for them and put them into practice.  Observe others.  Read books.  Listen to podcasts.  Learn all you can about what has proven to lead to success in other people’s lives.

We have covered these eight: 

·       The importance of Why. 

·       Charting success with Clear Goals.

·       The Power of Focus

·       Building Efficiency with systems.

·       Teamwork.

·       Perseverance and Hard Work.

·       Finding Joy in Success.

·       Learning and Adapting.

You get to write your own success story. 

The journey may be challenging.  Success in real estate is achievable as you put these keys to success into practice, day after day.

Help Us Get to Know You Better

Join us at noon Eastern time on the third Wednesday of each month.  Join other multi-family investors.  Network and engage in conversations about how to be better investors.  We discuss opportunities and what we are doing in the current market. 

On Wednesday, January 17th, at 12:00 noon (Eastern) join a conversation with Lee Walsh, a good friend and mortgage broker, as we talk about the issues related to financing multifamily properties.  We will be on Zoom.  Here is the link: 


Meeting ID: 845 3219 0088

Passcode: 630439

Dial in by phone  +1 305 224 1968

Attune Investments provides a better return for our investors.  And we make a positive impact in people’s lives and in our world.

If you want to learn more about how others are investing with us then we invite you to join our club and request a conversation with us.  See below.

Through the power of a syndication partnership with other investors like you, working with managing partners who are experienced in managing apartment complexes, you can own multifamily assets.  

Or you can choose to loan money, get in with a clear return, and get out earlier.  

If you haven’t already subscribed to our BLOG, you can increase your knowledge and comfort with this asset class by subscribing now.  It’s free.  We publish an article every week.  SUBSCRIBE HERE And take one more step. Become a member of our ATTUNE INVESTORS CLUB in which you have more personal access to us.  JOIN HERE.

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