Valerian's Journal

Valerian's Journal


I live in Sonoma County, California - one of the most desired U.S. locations to live. About five years ago, I had $25,000 in my savings account, a long-term steady job that paid a decent middle-class wage, and excellent credit. I thought that was enough to buy a house, but no - it was not. Even if I put all of my money toward a down payment (which I was not comfortable doing, because then I'd be broke with no emergency funds), I still could not afford a house in the market at that time. At that time, condos were going for at least $300K, and houses for no less than $450K in the older neighborhoods! The good homes were at least $600K. It was a crazy high market! And despite my $25K, steady job, and excellent credit score - I could only qualify for a loan of $200K (not even enough to buy a run-down condo). So instead of a home, I "invested" my $25K in a college education, for a Bachelor's Degree in Organizational Behavior, to aid in my career advancement in Human Resources. Well, that did me no good apparently because I currently do not have a job...nor a car, a house, and definitely not $25K back in my bank account. I am practically broke, and am struggling to find employment that suits my needs (full-time, $20+/hr, medical benefits, close to home).

Anyway, so with no job, no money, and all the time in the world right now... NOW seems like the right time to become a REI using Dean's books and the help of others who are doing the same. Dean says I can do this with no money, and that is what I am counting on.

I am here, and ready to become a REI! So please, please help me if you have any advice, tips, or contacts in my area. Especially if you are a REI in my area, or even just in California, I would LOVE to hear your words of advice!

P.S. While I know I need to at least get a foot in the door with a few closed deals first (so I can earn some money to expand my efforts), I would love to be able to "green" my properties in the future. I care about the future of the world. But also, I know that saving money on utilities and breathing clean air is important to people, so greening some homes could mean a lot to renters and buyers as well.

Well, there's my initial thoughts. Hopefully I'll get those books soon. In the meantime, I welcome all advice to get me started! Thanks!



I am new to this, and appreciate any advice and assistance! My goal is to own a home of my own, a few rental properties for monthly income, and to fix-up and re-sell as many properties as possible. If I can "green" these properties, that's even better! Thank you.

Books Not Here Yet, But Researching Big Time!

Ok, the books aren't here yet (ordered on 4/13/09...six days ago). I've looked for a "Contact Us" number or email to ask about this - PLUS I wanted to make sure I'd be getting the Student Success Secrets booklet Dean advertised on TV, because when you order online (rather than from the infomercial) it doesn't say you're going to get that. But I want it. Smiling

Anyway, I hope the books get here soon because I can't wait to start!!!

In the meantime, I've been researching online for hours a day - related topics such as LLCs, bird dogging, state foreclosure laws, watching and reading Dean's resources, browsing the forms and documents (which I do not at all understand yet...again, can't wait until I get the books, or someone coaches me on it), reading other REI websites to learn tips and advice, and even watched a few episodes online of "Flip This House" on

One website suggested that my "network" consist of:

Real Estate Professionals

While another website said the "network" should consist of:

Real Estate Agent
Title Company
Home Inspector
Real Estate Lawyer

I've noticed on both lists that "contractors" is plural... so I need to research more about that. Do I need multiple contractors at hand? For example, to ensure that I can get one at the drop-of-a-dime to help me flip a house? Hmmm.... How is this accomplished without violating working relationships? Curious.

Will keep researching. And hoping that someone on this site will volunteer to be a coach for me! That would be nice - especially someone from California, where I'd like to start (because this is where I live). I'm also interested in New Mexico (family there, too), and anywhere up North (Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Canada, Alaska). But for starters, stick close to home? I'd love advice on this!




I am new to this, and appreciate any advice and assistance! My goal is to own a home of my own, a few rental properties for monthly income, and to fix-up and re-sell as many properties as possible. If I can "green" these properties, that's even better! Thank you.

I am not a coach

Valerian,I notice you do not have a house,I have heard...Lease/Option is
one of the best ways...To do no money down!If you are just starting out
always keep it simple, For right now.The green thing will come when you are
ready for that...Anyway making a house true green,Does not come cheap!
Try to find a lease/option with terms that work for you,And remember you can
always bring other people in to help pay the rent until you can sell that
puppy...And make yourself a nice profit!
The books will come.


Success Will Come

Hi, Valerian,

You're getting a good head start on the books by browsing this site and getting oriented. I used to be in Southern Calif. and know how that market is now, as we still have a rental house and apartments there.

In your predicament, I would recommend concentrating on bird dog activities. It takes no money or good credit, and your duty would be to find good deals for an investor, and let the investor make the offers and all the rest. You need only to have a written contract about your fee so you don't get stiffed (it does happen sometimes).

Bear in mind that your job would be to filter the listings (REOs would be easiest to deal with, as most are already priced to sell) and identify the bargains, knowing the type of properties that the investor is looking for. You save him/her the time and effort to locate the best prospects by getting all the info about the properties, and that is what justifies your fee. You may find that you are not alone in searching for good deals, as buyers there may even be offering more than the askings, so speed is important.

As a Bird Dog, you would need only a list of buyers and a good BD contract, rather than the lists of people you mentioned; they can come later, once you get more experienced and have a few BD fees accumulated to do your own deals. But you can also be alert for a seller - or landlord - who would lease with an option to purchase (at a bargain price) rather than spend your rent money with nothing to show for it.

Given your circumstances, is it possible you would be relocating? The other states you listed may (no, would!) have areas that would be more affordable to deal in. Absentee investing can be hazardous, even more so without money. Keep learning and reading, as this is the time to start.


My books arrived - and Thank You!

My books arrived the other day - yay! My boyfriend and I have been reading them, so hopefully I'll start to sound like I know what I'm talking about soon.

randdee813 - thank you for the advice on lease/options! I will hopefully get to learning about that soon. And nope - I don't own a house at all. (Not yet!!! Hopefully soon!)

cactusbob - thank you too, and for the PM also. Bird dogging does sound like something I'll need to start with, considering my situation. I will probably have questions soon.

My credit score is very good (excellent, at one point in time...maybe still?) but without a job and insignificant savings, I have no money of my own to invest. This is why Dean's program was initially enticing.

Thanks a ton!

In the meantime, will be reading and researching more.



I am new to this, and appreciate any advice and assistance! My goal is to own a home of my own, a few rental properties for monthly income, and to fix-up and re-sell as many properties as possible. If I can "green" these properties, that's even better! Thank you.


I should make it clear that I want to remain positive in my goal of learning, and becoming successful in, Real Estate Investing. I was, and still am, interested in the Academy - I just wanted a bit of time to think it over, considering the whammy-bammy huge price of it, and also considering we haven't even finished reading the books yet (maybe we'll feel comfortable enough with the books alone...we simply don't know yet, so wanted more time). I have heard nothing but good things about the Academy, and that is why I was so shocked to have a negative experience during the initial phone interview. I did not anticipate that, and I hope it will be resolved. I just wanted my questions answered; some time to think it over; and to feel respected and valued. That's not much to ask. My boyfriend and I were discussing earlier a goal plan for this week, including getting together a Network list, and visiting the courthouse for Notice of Defaults in our area... so it's not like we're not "serious" about doing this, and it's not like we aren't ready to "take action." We are.

I suppose a good resolution would be the next phone call going positively, with respectable treatment, less pressure, actual answers to my questions, and more time allowed to decide, if needed.

Anyway - positive thinking! And success moving forward!



I am new to this, and appreciate any advice and assistance! My goal is to own a home of my own, a few rental properties for monthly income, and to fix-up and re-sell as many properties as possible. If I can "green" these properties, that's even better! Thank you.

Don't despair!


You are obviously a determined person. You really want this to work. I can see that in your postings. Don't despair, take it one step at a time.

I'm not a coach; I am only a fellow student, but one who can shed some light on the subject for you.

Look, if you want quick results with no money down then simply call every investor you can find reference to ( look in the paper, google on line in your zip code, watch for signs that say "we buy") and ask if you can be a birddog for them. What is it they are looking for? What area are they looking in? How can I best help you? Do you have any other birddogs? Can I talk to them? I hope you get the idea. Find several investors and get to know them and their needs. Ask them what you can do for them? To them you are free help. Simply do what they say, find a deal, reread Dean's info on assignment and IEE, use your new found investor friends to get help when you get stuck. Also use Dean's forums. Then download the contracts, tie up a property and pass it off to an investor. I believe you can do that right now without any further education. I further believe that this is what Dean is talking about when he says you can make money within 30 days. It is my belief that he's not saying that you are going to know it all in a week, then find a property in distress in a week, buy it with someone elses money within a week, and close within 30 days and make a bundle. It is possible but I don't believe he means to say that is the typical situation. Get out there and be a birddog, make friends with the seasoned investors and learn from every conversation with them. I believe YOU CAN MAKE MONEY RIGHT NOW WITH NO FURTHER EDUCATION.
But understand this: Real estate is a field of endeavor, mutifaceted, complex and intricately designed. You cannot just read a book (even if you did remember every word which we have to admit that we don' need to go back and reread sections as needed). While Dean's written possibly the best books ever on the subject, they are only a summary of what he has learned over 20 years of daily experience. THAT WHY HE HAS THE ACADEMY. I am a student of the academy and I can see more of the iceberg now than I could when I first finished the books. Through the academy I am learning a career in a step by step fashion and I am able to call the advisors as many times as I want for advice when I need help. Their curriculum is not just motivation, it is a serious step by step approach that requires you to work in the field trying what you learn. The academy is not the fast way to immediate cash. It is as methodical as a college curriculum and it takes a lot of time...count on spending months.
I think your gut feeling to postpone the academy was correct. What I sense that you need right now is as immediate boost to your cash flow...THAT's available thru being a birddog. Do that for 2-3 months, then consider learning a new career in the structured environment of the Academy. It is not a 30 day program. It takes months and that's a good thing because there's years worth to know.
Did you get the wrong guy(s) in introduction to the academy? Yes, and that's too bad. They really are a good and "dedicated to your success" bunch of people. It has a AAA+ better business bureau rating (I checked), but there are lesser humans in every profession, in every group. I'm sorry you didn't get a nicer person, but it could be the best thing for you...maybe you shouldn't join the academy yet.
Like I said, I am a student with them right now, my wife and I do something every day toward it, and then we get together and talk about it, every day. It's exciting, it's challenging, and we are making progress. I highly recommend it when you are ready for it.
Don't despair. If you want this to happen, it will, just don't expect it to happen magically. Instead be willing to ask how and then do the work. As you can see by the testamonials, this is real, and people less capable than you have been successful, so go for it.
When the guy calls Wed., you tell him what you want to do, not what he wants you to do. He's just a salesman (business associate). He's not one of the trainers. When you are ready to invest in yourself thousands of dollars for a career change, then you are ready for the academy. Meanwhile, make friends of every investor you can find and learn from them and make some money as a birddog. Life is a journey of single steps; don't skip any or you'll miss something and it might be something good.
Wishing you the best,

Wonderful - Thank You, Mike!

Mike - thank you for the response. The words of encouragement and the helpful details were exactly what I needed. I feel much better!

I have a question please - when you suggest asking investors if I can talk to their bird dogs (if they already have any) - what should I say to the bird dogs?

Thanks again!




I am new to this, and appreciate any advice and assistance! My goal is to own a home of my own, a few rental properties for monthly income, and to fix-up and re-sell as many properties as possible. If I can "green" these properties, that's even better! Thank you.

Asking investors to talk to their birddogs

You are welcome. I'm happy to know that it helped. I originally had no intention of communicating any help here, after all I'm a student myself. The time takes away from my education and who am I to say anything.

Meanwhile, I just saw your question back to me. I have been away from the website doing my studying in between my regular work hours. But this is Saturday, I'll take a few minutes to answer you.

If an investor tells you they have no birddogs and yet they would like to, then maybe you will get more help from them in what to do.

If instead the investor has several birddogs then the birddogs themselves can tell you more about how to be a birddog, probably some othere investor names you don't already have and maybe even some of the mistakes that they have made that you won't have to make.

It sounds to me like you need to make some money while you learn so that's why I'm suggesting that you become a birddog, and what better way to become a birddog than to talk to a few and ask what they do. Ask and you shall receive. Don't ask and you get nothing.

Good luck.

Bird dogging sounds like a great idea.

I was thinking around the same lines.
I have no extra money to invest in the accedemy (yet) and would love to.
I was thinking about bird dogging myself but I wanted to finish my book first before starting anything.

Its a great idea to start some extra cash flow with no money out of pocket.
Just your time and effort. Making $5-20K is alot of money for a few hours of effort. Smiling


Follow My Journey to Real Estate Success!

It is the nature of man to rise to Greatness if Greatness is expected of him.
– John Steinbeck

I don't work for money, money works for ME!
- Robert Kiyosaki

Down In The Dumps, Need To Climb Back Out!

Well, major lame year! It's seriously been over a year since I've lost motivation to do this! But the desire is not's far from gone. I still very much want to get into REI, I just need to kick myself in the rear hard-core. That has always been my problem with my personal goals: being all talk, a little action, and then no follow-through. I do finish things, don't get me wrong, it just sometimes takes me months...sometimes years. Note: This is with my personal life -- not with my work life. I was always very good at follow-through with my job. Now, why have I never done that for myself???

So let's see -- where to start again.

Last year, I seemed to do pretty well driving around town looking for abandoned and run-down homes, making lists, going to the courthouse to research them. I was literally minutes away from taking the next step: writing offer letters or making phone calls to state offers. I think the one little thing holding me back was being unsure of how to execute the whole thing. That is, do I buy the house myself (e.g., with the help of my Dad!), then turn around and sell it for a profit? Or rent it? Or whatever? ~ OR ~ Do I call up buyers on a buyer list? What if out of 25 buyers, nobody wants to buy it? THEN what do I do?

I am the kind of person who likes to have a back-up plan...who likes to know exactly what to do in any given situation. I like to think ahead, be proactive, be prepared. So when I don't have all the details (and I mean ALL), then I get hesitant to proceed. I still feel like I need more training. But I still want to DIVE into this ASAP, so I can use all the help I can get. Are you out there, my spirit guides? I am asking you for help. Thank you.

I think tomorrow I will try to re-familiarize myself with the contracts/documents provided on this site...and try to figure out a plan for actually executing a deal. I need to get this RE thing going again! Is second time a charm? I sure hope so.



I am new to this, and appreciate any advice and assistance! My goal is to own a home of my own, a few rental properties for monthly income, and to fix-up and re-sell as many properties as possible. If I can "green" these properties, that's even better! Thank you.

Buying My Own Townhouse (that I currently RENT) ???

These past few days, I have been pondering the idea of approaching my landlord with a proposal to buy the townhouse I am currently renting.

A few things concerning me:

1) If I offer to buy it (for a discount, of course), will it seed the idea in her head of selling it for fair market value through a real estate agent, possibly putting me out of the townhouse when someone else purchases it?

2) If I offer to buy it, will she assume I have enough money to pay increased rent, and then up my rent? (I could not afford that!)

3) This townhouse needs some repairs, which is what I will use to persuade her to sell far below FMV. For example:

-- All windows and doors need to be replaced because they are very old, single-pane, and leak heat and cause major mold. The front door alone has a 1/2-inch gap at the top that allows you to see outside. The sliding glass patio door in the living room leaks air that moves the blinds from the breeze, and there are holes drilled in the metal frame (for some reason...) which allow spiders to freely come inside. Our electric bill was about $250 last month.... Not to mention, the mold issue is very bad for our health. We can control the mold IF we clean the window frames DAILY (very, very inconvenient). In total, there are three (3) large windows that need replacing (kitchen: 2 panels, living room: 2 panels, second bedroom: 3 panels), one (1) solid wood front door, and two (2) sliding glass patio doors in the master bedroom and living room) - very expensive.

-- The ceilings are disgusting and impossible to clean. They are covered in that nasty cottage cheese textured junk that we call "spider ceilings" because the texture provides ample nooks and crannies for spiders to hide in and lay egg sacks; we have had baby spiders come down on us multiple times in the living room and the master bedroom. Because of the nooks and crannies, you cannot find nor vacuum out the egg sacks (sacks are very sticky, and need to be wiped off by hand...but again, you can't find them in this textured stuff, and even if you could, the texture would crumble off if you tried to wipe it). The ceilings are also very cobweb-prone, due to the texture, and we have to vacuum them weekly to try to keep the cobwebs down. To make matters worse, the bedrooms have extremely high slanted-vaulted ceilings -- so high that you need a 10-foot ladder to vacuum at the highest points of the ceiling (which, again, are spider-filled and need to be vacuumed regularly due to cobwebs...which we cannot even do because we don't have a 10-foot ladder, and even if we did, there is no place to store such a large item in this townhouse...and you still cannot get the egg sacks out anyway). Overall, these ceilings are impossible to clean, and therefore very bad for our lungs. End result: The ceilings will need to be scraped clean, re-surfaced flat, and then re-painted. They are too high for us to do this ourselves, so we'll need to hire a professional.

-- The ceiling in the master bedroom has stains on it that appeared a few years ago shortly after the roof was repaired for leakage (so I can only assume the stains are from mold). End result: We will need to hire a professional to check out the ceiling for mold, and then also pay for any repairs.

-- The balcony off the master bedroom has some wood rot on two of the side panels, which will need to be replaced, and then painted to match.

-- The A/C unit the master bedroom does not work very well, and is also not properly "sealed" around the edges, which is probably how so many spiders get into the master bedroom, and also makes the room extremely cold by leaking out the room's heat in the winter. It will either need to be replaced or repaired, and will definitely need to be properly sealed.

-- The floor in the second bedroom is very uneven, which is very evident by simply walking on the floor, and also when vacuuming (the vacuum engine revs high and is harder to move on the high parts). And the floor creaks very badly; when you are downstairs, you can always hear when someone is walking around upstairs by the loud creaking noises. End result: That flooring will need to be replaced - very expensive.

-- The carpet is extremely old, flat carpet (flat, like commercial office carpet, or low-pile), and while it can look much better after a few shampoos, there are a few dark spots that always re-appear shortly after shampooing (so I can only assume there is something going on underneath the carpet, like mold). Also, the carpet at the entrance has a section where multiple sharp staples are sticking up, so you cannot walk barefoot there or you'll stab your foot (I've also snagged my socks on them). End result: The entire carpet will need to be replaced, plus potential replacement of floor rot underneath carpets where stains keep re-appearing.

-- The bricks in the backyard that create a patio were very improperly installed, and so they are all crooked and uneven, which is ugly, causes multiple water puddles to occur, makes it more difficult to clean due to easier formation of moss and stains, and unpleasant to have crooked patio furniture that wobbles on the uneven bricks. End result: The bricks will need to be removed and replaced.

-- There are plumbing issues regarding the bathrooms. First, the bathtub makes a very loud knocking noise as it drains, if the tub is more than half-full. Second, the downstairs bathroom will occasionally make a very loud knocking noise when the sink is used immediately after flushing the toilet. Both of these issues occurred shortly following a water leak that the landlord paid to repair, where the pipes in the upstairs shower-bathroom leaked water through the ceiling below into the dining room area. End result: A plumber will need to be hired to check out the plumbing throughout the entire unit and make repairs.

-- The drain spout on the kitchen sink that allows the dishwasher to drain when in use does not work properly; it gushes water all over the place, spilling onto the counter. It needs be repaired or possibly replaced. We do not know how to do this ourselves, so a plumber will need to look at this and repair it as well.

-- The sink in the downstairs bathroom is chipped and stained inside the bowl, very ugly. It functions fine, but aesthetically it should be replaced.

-- The sink in the downstairs bathroom also produces odd-tasting, salty-like, cloudy water, unlike any other sink in the townhouse. For this reason, we will also need to have a plumber check this out, and perform repairs/replacements to the pipe system.

-- The sink/counter unit in the upstairs bathroom does not go all the way to the walls on either sides; there are 4-inch gaps on both sides, which are unpainted and show bare flooring, and it looks very ugly. End result: We will need to either install a new sink/counter unit that fits properly, or fabricate sides to cover the gaps.

-- The fan in the shower-bathroom does not effectively ventilate the room, despite the fact that is has been repaired recently by a handyman paid for by the landlord (the existing old fan was repaired, rather than replaced). It ventilates somewhat, but VERY poorly, which makes the shower-bathroom very prone to mildew, and requires regular mildew cleaning. The handyman explained that the fan is very old, and if we want better ventilation, the fan needs to be completely replaced with a new fan unit. With this old fan, it is currently necessary to shower/bathe with the bathroom door wide open to prevent water from beading up on the bathroom ceiling. End result: The fan unit will need to be completely replaced.

-- The folding-hinged wooden doors to the washer/dryer closet do not close properly, and are hitting on something at the bottom hinge that presses on the wood and makes a loud popping noise. End result: These closet doors will need to be repaired.

-- The doorknob to the water heater closet outside is broken, and needs to be replaced.

-- There are several structural cracks that need to be evaluated by a professional and repaired. For example, cracks in the wall posts by the front door, and the structural wall by the downstairs bathroom. Also, a crack in the wall in the master bedroom where the sliding glass door closes -- probably due to having to slam the door to get it to shut (because the door is broken and/or too crooked to shut properly).

-- The interior walls have areas of rot, especially at the bottom corners of the structural walls (by front door, and downstairs bathroom). Also, there is a spot in the master bedroom ceiling that is falling off, reason currently unknown, which will need to be evaluated.

-- The linoleum tile in the kitchen and downstairs bathroom is old and scarred, and will need to be replaced.

-- The kitchen is lacking in storage; additional shelves and cabinets should be installed (our neighboring unit did this).

-- The overhead fan unit for the stove is very old and needs to be replaced.

-- The dishwasher is very old and does not work properly (there is always soap remaining after use, and the interior also has mildew). It needs to be replaced.

-- None of the appliances are Energy Star and/or energy efficient (refrigerator, washer, dryer, stove, water heater, and the dishwasher that needs to be replaced anyway), and therefore are expensive and wasteful. End result: All appliances should be replaced.

-- The central heating does not work well; we were instructed upon signing the rental agreement that space heaters would be more efficient. End result: We will need to pay someone to check out the central heating and make repairs.

So, I just need to check into the procedure for making a creative offer to my landlord with no money down, and being able to follow-through with the appropriate paperwork (which I know NOTHING about!). Need to research.



I am new to this, and appreciate any advice and assistance! My goal is to own a home of my own, a few rental properties for monthly income, and to fix-up and re-sell as many properties as possible. If I can "green" these properties, that's even better! Thank you.

Burdens Weigh.....

It's often difficult to stay focused on this when all I can think about is where I'm gonna get money for rent next month. I keep thinking, "Don't think about that -- focus instead on finding a deal I can make a few thousand dollars on quick," but again, it's just so hard to stay focused on that when my mind keeps drifting back to my need for money - NOW - not in a month or two, but NOW.

I've been searching for a job far too long -- two years now. I recently decided I'd even work as a waitress (a far cry from my last job as a HR Manager) -- just something to pay the bills and help get my debt down. I've never been in debt my whole life until just a few months ago, when I felt I had no other option, and it sucks...I want to get out of it ASAP. After I get my rent and debt sorted out, my focus will be able to return. Hoping for a miracle. I really do want to do this. I want to own property and make money in real estate!



I am new to this, and appreciate any advice and assistance! My goal is to own a home of my own, a few rental properties for monthly income, and to fix-up and re-sell as many properties as possible. If I can "green" these properties, that's even better! Thank you.

hello fellow neighbor

hey valerian im in the process of getting the ball rolling with real estate investin. trying to get people together



Syndicate content