PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - Willow Tufano became a real estate investor this year, at the tender age of 14. She partnered up with her Realtor mother Shannon and the two purchased a short sale in January 2012 for $12,000. They split the cost to purchase the property and the renovations. Once completed, they leased it out. In October 2012, they purchased a second property together for $17,500 with the same funding arrangement. Although they don't live in Port Charlotte, FL, they invest there because, "Port Charlotte is where the better deals are," says Shannon.
Where did Willow Tufano get the money to buy the properties and what prompted her to get into real estate investing?
It all began when she noticed someone giving away some furniture on the side of the road. She offered to the owner to allow her to sell it and she would split whatever was earned from the sale. The owner told her she could keep whatever she made, and so Willow did. That started a entrepreneurial venture that included her claiming free stuff on Craigslist, in abandoned homes, on the side of the road and even leftover yard sale items. Then selling those items at her own yard sales or on Craigslist.
She began to pile up the money, not saving up for anything in particular, just sticking it in the bank.
Her mother had dragged her around to properties for years but real estate had always been boring to Willow. Then she watched her mom buy a run-down property, fix it up and sell it for a profit. The now economically minded Willow saw the potential and decided to give it a try. In January 2012, Willow poured the profits from her free junk flipping business into her first real estate deal.
Now at age 15, Willow Tufano has done more real estate deals than many of the people reading this article. And if you fall into that category and want to be a real estate investor but haven't done your first deal yet, perhaps you could take some lessons from Willow.
- Lesson # 1 - Get a Mentor: Willow's mentor and partner is her mother, Shannon Moore. And kudos to Shannon for teaching Willow how to be self sufficient and eventually financially independent. No man or woman is an island. Everyone has mentors. Get one.
- Lesson # 2 - Do Deals You Can Handle: You may not live in an area where you can buy a $12,000 single family home like Willow, but when you use the right paperwork and you structure the deals correctly, you don't need large amounts of money (or any money at all in some cases) to acquire real estate. But don't go after deals you can't afford or handle. Oftentimes banked owned properties that are listed on the MLS with an agent require significant cash, credit, or both. If you don't have cash, good credit or the ability to qualify for an investor bank loan, don't go after foreclosures. Go after For Sale By Owners and structure creative financing terms (like you learn in this video, "How to Buy Real Real Estate without Cash or Credit"). Do deals that you can handle.
- Lesson # 3 - Just Do It: Legally, Willow can't own real property until she is age 18. But that didn't stop her. She overcame that obstacle and became a real estate investor anyway. What's holding you back? Time? Money? Fear? Whatever it is, you can overcome it. You may be thinking, well that's easy for Willow because she has no responsibilities, no kids, no job, no alimony, no child support. Think about it. She was 14. You have far more advantages in getting started than she does. When I was first getting started, I went homeless. No matter where you are, you don't have an excuse. You can do it. Just do it.
Although Willow Tufano has invested most of her money into real estate, she still carves out a few bucks to treat herself to some toys. She purchased an Xbox for $200 and later traded it up for a brand new $1,200 stand-up paddleboard. When asked if her friends ever ask her how she makes her money or how to invest in real estate, she quickly responds, "None of my friends have ever asked me that. Some people want me to buy them things, but none of them ask to learn learn how to make their own money."
Unfortunately, I've found the same thing to be true in my life.
What does Willow Tufano plan to do in the future? Her goal is to own 10 single family home rentals free and clear by her 18th birthday. Then, she wants to trade up to some commercial real estate like on Monopoly, 4 green houses for 1 red hotel. As far as a career, Willow says, "I'm going to keep investing. Hopefully that will be the only thing I have to do to have a good income."
If you have kids, or grandkids, or nieces or nephews, make sure you forward this article to them. Share this with your social networks. Entrepreneurship is one of the reasons why this country is so great. Spread the message.
You're heard my thoughts on the matter, what are your thoughts on Willow Tufano?