In a Nutshell: For many, the idea of becoming a real estate investor can sound both expensive and dauntingly complex. With the help of BiggerPockets.com, however, almost 800,000 members are proving anyone can become a successful real estate investor. BiggerPockets has created a community and informational center for real estate investors of all levels, providing extensive resources for beginners and a robust community for experienced investors and real estate professionals looking to network. Users can find hundreds of blogs on a variety of key topics, such as finding financing or how to screen potential tenants, as well as almost 3 million helpful forum posts from local pros and seasoned experts. And the BiggerPockets Podcast has had more than 33 million downloads, with over 230 episodes containing in-depth interviews with experienced investors sharing their stumbles and successes.
Every time I hear a story about a successful real estate investor quitting their day job to live off income properties, I feel inspired to start a real estate empire of my own. Unfortunately, for every story of the successful real estate investor making millions, there often are at least three more about those poor saps who tried their hand at real estate investing — and failed miserably.
“I believe that the biggest hurdle for many would-be real estate investors is a lack of comfort with their understanding of all the aspects of real estate investing,” said Scott Trench, VP of Operations for BiggerPockets, a networking and informational site for real estate investors. “People hear stories of others who have lost their shirts because of real estate investing mistakes, and so they feel uncomfortable diving in themselves.”
BiggerPockets was started in 2004 by Joshua Dorkin, a real estate investor who was frustrated by the lack of free, quality online resources for beginning investors. Since then, BiggerPockets has grown into an informational hub and social network with almost 800,000 members.
“Real estate investing is not a complex business. It’s not a business that ordinary people can’t be successful in — there are millions of American landlords out there. With sound, conservative financial management and consistency, I believe almost anyone can succeed in this business,” said Scott. “The core of our audience isn’t big-time commercial players; they’re not buying $5 million properties. Our users are trying to achieve financial freedom through real estate investing.”
Whether purchasing a handful of single-family homes or buying a batch of duplexes, BiggerPockets members are focusing on attainable investing goals to improve their lives — not gobbling up giant commercial complexes in an effort to take over the world. And they’re using BiggerPockets to learn how to begin and better their investing journeys, as well as meet others on the same path with wisdom to share.
“BiggerPockets members are using real estate, in one form or another, to achieve financial freedom. They invest to become entrepreneurs — and take control of their time,” Scott described. “And I think that’s one of the really powerful components of what we’re doing here at BiggerPockets; we’re helping people become confident that real estate investing is a tool they can use to improve their financial position.”
Learn the Skills to Invest in Any Market with Free Podcasts, Blogs & Guides
If the biggest hurdle for many new investors is a lack of confidence in their real estate knowledge, then the first step is obviously to improve that knowledge. BiggerPockets has a wide range of free educational resources, including more than 200 podcasts, detailed guides, and hundreds of blogs.
“Within the educational components of our website we cover all of the important real estate investment fundamentals,” said Scott. “You have to learn how to estimate income, how to estimate and track expenses, manage and maintain your property, and save up enough to obtain financing for your next property. Those are the kinds of things that we talk about on our blog and podcast, and they’re really the things that apply to investors in every market.”
New visitors looking for a foundational education can dive into the in-depth guides on topics like getting started, buying rentals, and how to flip houses. Or browse the BiggerPockets Blog for tips on specific topics, such as how to finance your purchase, market a rental property, or evict a non-paying tenant.
“With dozens of the real estate investing community’s top writers volunteering each week, The BiggerPockets Blog is the most influential real estate investing blog in the world today,” describes the site. “No matter what aspect of real estate investing you want to learn more about, the BiggerPockets Blog can be an invaluable source of information.”
Visual learners can start with BiggerPockets’s free online course, A Beginner’s Introduction to Real Estate Investing. Made up of 62 individual lessons, the course contains more than four hours of bite-sized videos covering all the basics of real estate investing, from how to find an investing mentor all the way through the different exit strategy options.
To take your video education to the next level, BiggerPockets’s regular webinars contain important tips and tricks, as well as case studies of successful investors. The live webinars are free for regular members to watch, and Pro members can access the archive of previous broadcasts.
The weekly BiggerPockets Podcast is also a great way to learn straight from the pros, with new episodes out every Thursday. Hosted by founder Joshua Dorkin and experienced investor Brandon Turner, the podcast features interviews with a variety of investors from different markets and backgrounds. Guests share their successes — and stumbles — in real estate investing to help listeners learn from their mistakes.
“Our podcast has around 2 million listeners per month, and it’s been downloaded more than 33 million times,” said Scott. “We have over 230 episodes, each about an hour and a half, with case studies and personal stories. And by listening to these episodes, our users become very familiar with which practices work — and which ones to avoid.”
Participate in a Robust Community of Real Estate Pros & Local Experts
In many ways, the popular BiggerPockets Podcast reflects what seems to be the overall idea behind much of BiggerPockets itself: the best way to learn the nuances of real estate investing is to ask those who have done it successfully. With more than a quarter million members from all aspects of real estate, the heart of BiggerPockets is very much in its community.
“An important way we help our users become successful is through the community. That’s how we help investors solve problems that are more specific or local in nature — things like, ‘Does this deal make sense?’ or ‘What do I charge for pet rent in Denver, CO?'” Scott explained. “Those are questions that we can’t answer economically on our blog, but our users are answering for themselves all the time within the realm of our community.”
The active forums contain almost 3 million posts, with hundreds of conversations occurring at any given time. Forums exist for general topics, like one dedicated to getting opinions on a prospective purchase, down through to sub-forums for individual cities or regions. Topics cover the real estate gamut, with users discussing local housing markets and city regulations as well as national topics.
Most importantly to many, members in the forums are also making important connections with professionals who know the area in which they’re investing, including local agents, lenders, and lawyers. And, as Scott himself knows, those connections can be priceless down the line. Before working for BiggerPockets, he was a member looking for help with his own real estate investing.
“You can make great connections here; my agent is someone I met on BiggerPockets, and I’ve met several local investors from whom I’ve learned and gotten help when I’ve run into problems,” he said. “Those kinds of connections are invaluable because no matter how much you’ve learned, there’s always going to be something specific to your investment property that you’re going to need help with.”
Calculate Your Cash Flow & More with a Comprehensive Suite of Helpful Tools
In addition to providing a variety of ways to learn about real estate investing and connect with experienced investors, BiggerPockets also gives members access to a range of tools to help them invest well. To start, the suite of calculators includes everything from a basic mortgage calculator to detailed property analyzers.
According to the site, “These tools were designed by real estate investors, for real estate investors with one goal in mind: to help you make more informed decisions so you can reach new levels of success. Whether you are a buy-and-hold investor, a house flipper, a wholesaler, or something totally different, the Property Analysis Calculators can help you avoid mistakes and estimate your returns through detailed but easy-to-use analysis.”
Another important resource for any budding real estate investor, of course, is the proper paperwork (and real estate always involves paperwork). The BiggerPockets FilePlace has hundreds of downloadable contracts, forms, and templates provided by experienced users. Here you can obtain things like an FHA inspection checklist, sample rental application form, or template for a lease agreement.
BiggerPockets even has resources to help you find that perfect first investment — or first investment partner. The BiggerPockets Marketplace is a great place to find or promote local real estate businesses as well as investment deals and opportunities. Find buyers or sellers, solicit partners, and swap leads with thousands of BiggerPockets members.
As BiggerPockets describes it, “The BiggerPockets Marketplace is the go-to destination on BiggerPockets if you are looking to advertise your wants or needs. Whether you are looking to buy a property, sell a property, get financing, advertise your business, look for partners, or in any other way promote your haves or needs, the Marketplace is the central location where business is done on BiggerPockets.”
Fill Your BiggerPockets with Real Estate Wisdom
Although the stories of families losing everything to bad real estate investments often seem to be a dime a dozen on the airwaves, the scores of modestly successful real estate investors rarely make the news.
That said, those investors are out there, right now, quietly turning hard work and savings into real estate income and financial freedom. And the proof is in the pockets — BiggerPockets, with its vast community of nearly 800,000 members, learning, connecting, and helping each other become better, more successful investors.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.