Confessions (or: What I've done wrong)

Here's a quick rundown of the rules I've broken and the mistakes I've made along my way to becoming a real estate millionaire (not there yet, but working hard on it). Some of these are minor variations from the mean, some are major.

- I rent, not own. I live in an apartment with my brother and my fiance (it's an interesting dynamic that someday will bear further examination). I own two houses and live in neither of them.

- I cashed out a 401k. I was in a little personal financial struggle when we bought House #2. I had just financed a vacation partially on credit cards and had also recently switched jobs (two weeks without paychecks seems like no big deal, but it really throws you out of whack). Biff, on the other hand, was flush with cash that needed investing. When we found House #2, to pay for it I chose to cash out my 401k from my previous job. Helllllloooo early withdrawal penalties.

- I accepted, and processed, an application without an application fee. When our first tenant didn't renew his lease (living with his fiance wasn't the dream he had anticipated) we received an application from a young military couple. Biff met them and showed them the house and they were thrilled. Foolishly we decided to process their application immediately (they didn't have the $30 on hand to apply), without receiving their application fee. We ran the credit check, etc. on good faith. They ended up discovering that they couldn't get out of their current lease and withdrew their application. Money lost.

The first two I believe I had my reasons for doing and will defend those decisions. But the last one was just a stupid mistake (luckily for only a very minor loss). My mother always told me "Get into business or get into charity. And keep you business a business, and your charity a charity." It's now dogma within the company that nothing is taken by faith. Both Biff and I take a lot on faith (including the eventual rousing success of our company), but the company itself plays by the book.