14-Year-Old Real Estate Investor, Today a Few Houses, Tomorrow…

A girl named Willow [Florida Teen Buys Second Home] is now an inspiration to real estate investors all over the country. In January 2012, at the tender age of 14, she purchased her first property, a short sale in Port Charlotte, FL, for only $12,000.
Willow’s Realtor mother, Shannon, took title to the property (since Willow is a minor) and split the cost to purchase the property and the renovations. Once the rehab work was complete, they rented it out. In October 2012, they purchased a second property together for $17,500 with the same funding arrangement.
Where did Willow get the money and why did she want to get into real estate investing?

Willow’s goal is to own 10 houses free and clear by her 18th birthday.

It began when she noticed someone giving away some furniture on the side of the road. She offered to sell it and split the proceeds, but the owner told her she could keep whatever she made.
That started an entrepreneurial venture that included her claiming free stuff on Craigslist, in abandoned homes, on the side of the road–even leftover yard sale items. She then sold those items at her own yard sales or on Craigslist.
She began to rack up the money, not saving up for anything in particular, just putting it in the bank.
Her mother is a real estate agent, so Willow was used to being around real estate, but she was bored by it. Then she watched her mom buy a run-down property, rehab it, and sell it for a profit.
A light went off inside Willow’s head, and she wanted in on the next deal. 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. If that’s you, I’m sure that comment didn’t feel very good. But it’s true, and if you want to be a real estate investor but haven’t done your first deal yet, perhaps you will take some lessons from Willow…

Lesson 1 – Get a Mentor

Willow’s mentor is her mom, Shannon. 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 house 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.
For example, bank-owned properties listed on the MLS with an agent often 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. Do deals that you can handle.

 Lesson 3 – Just Do It

Legally, Willow can’t own real estate 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 has invested most of her money into real estate, she still allocates a few bucks to treating herself to some toys. She purchased an Xbox for $200 and later traded it up for a brand new $1,200 stand-up paddle board.

When asked if her friends 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 how to make their own money.”

Unfortunately, I’ve found the same thing to be true in my life.
What are Willow’s future plans? Her goal is to own 10 houses free and clear by her 18th birthday. Then, she wants to trade up to some commercial real estate like she learned playing 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.”
Fortunately, I’ve found in my life that you can make all the money you’ll ever need investing in real estate.
If you have kids, or grandkids, or nieces and 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’ve read my thoughts on the matter. What are your thoughts on this story?

By Phil Pustejovsky

Real estate mentor, investor and author passionate about changing lives through the power of creative real estate investing.