My Real Estate Story: How Ali Built His Real Estate Portfolio in 3 Years

My Real Estate story is a OneSavvyDollar series where we interview people who have successfully invested in real estate.

The aim is to inspire, encourage, and motivate you to start investing for your financial future because “financial fitness is not a pipe dream or a state of mind. It is a reality if you’re willing to pursue it and embrace it.” – Will Robinson

Can you tell us a bit about you?

Hi, my name is Ali and I am a part-time real estate investor. I’ve worked for corporations for a long time and I’m finding real estate to be my key to financial freedom.

I’ve gone through extensive education from top universities and still find real estate to be the key. Currently, I work as a data scientist/analyst and have been in this role for the past 7 years at companies like Pennymac, Medtronic and Ticketmaster.

I have a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from the University of California Riverside and a Masters of Science in Financial Engineering from the University of Southern California (USC).

I was born in Iran, moved here to the United States when I was 7, and then moved back to Iran for high-school and then moved back here for college. Yes, there was a lot of back and forth.

I’m now working at Ticketmaster, I invest in real estate and stocks, and also committed to coaching people towards financial freedom.

When did you decide to get into real estate? What was the “aha” moment for you?

I bought my first primary residence after graduating from my Masters of Science program by saving money and working full time during the course. I lived with my parents and was able to save money to purchase my first property.

My aha moment was when I realized the power of compound effect and that someone else is creating the compound effect for me. By compound effect, I mean paying down a fraction of the value of the property and being able to have cash flow monthly.

To build wealth, you can either start a business, invest in the stock market or real estate. Why real estate?

I’ve done all three. I personally don’t think there is a one-way ticket to wealth building because for instance, when you invest in real estate, you’re essentially starting a business.

However, I choose real estate for multiple reasons: the tax advantages, the passive nature of it because I can keep my full-time job, leverage by using other people’s money to make money, and of course the multiple ways one can generate income from real estate.

Most people think you have to quit your job to invest. Did you keep your job or are you involved in real estate full time? How has the experience been (either way?)

No, you don’t have to quit your job to invest in real estate. It’s my passion to invest in real estate full time and I will get there. For now, I enjoy what I do in both fields s there’s no reason to quit.

Tell us about your first home/deal. How did you find it? How much did it cost and do you still own it?

I found my first deal through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). It was a one-bedroom one bathroom condo in Los Angeles which I purchased for $500,000 with a 20% down.

I saved up some good money to do this and my parents also helped me a bit with the down payment. After my first property, I kept saving my money from my job and now own 5 properties in total.

What are some mistakes you made during your real estate journey?

I would say my biggest mistakes were not analyzing and not being educated about purchasing my first deal. However, I am blessed to break even every month on that property and maybe be negative $100 a month in cashflow.

LA is an expensive city so I began to invest more outside LA which was more profitable for me.

Was there any time during your journey where your friends and or family challenged your plans to get involved in real estate?

Yes, 100% to this day. I’ve decided to not share my thoughts and action steps with people who don’t have a similar mindset as me. I’m blessed to have found people who do have the same mindset and can connect with them to expand our knowledge.

Do you invest instate or out of state and which would you consider to be harder?

I’ve done both. I don’t find either or to be harder or easier. I think they both have their own limitations but I do enjoy being able to see what I purchase and being there for project improvements so an in-state purchase may have a slight edge.

Were any resources such as blogs, books, podcasts particularly helpful to you to get started? How did you find the inspiration to get started?

Biggerpockets podcasts were huge! I actually got some inspiration from my neighbor on the first home I purchased. He taught me so much from his own house hack.

What markets do you primarily invest in and which do you avoid completely?

I invest all over Los Angeles (less of LA), Ohio, and Arizona. I’m looking to get into Florida soon. Each state has its own pros and cons.

Let’s talk about leverage: would you advise reinvesting your profit to pay down the loan or acquiring more using your profits?

Great question. I ask this question from myself all the time. I do not like to be taking on too much risk.

For me, since I still have a day job, I will use the W2 income to buy as many properties as I can. The plan is to save more and use my profits to keep purchasing with the 20% -25% down payment required as I have done with the 5 properties I have.

I consider real estate to be the good debt which is why I invest in it in the first place. I’m aiming for 10 properties for now.

If you could go back in time and advice your 18-year-old self, what advice would you give him?

I would tell my 18-year-old self to learn more about real estate quicker and don’t be afraid to take action. Even the safe route can fail.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would invest out of state more; maybe from the beginning. I wouldn’t sit on the sidelines waiting for too long. I would remove limitations in my head by actually researching markets and not taking other people’s usually non-investors words as the source of truth.

What advice would you give anyone who is trying to buy their first home or become a real estate investor?

You will learn so much through your real estate journey even if you lose money; that’s OK. If you’re investing time to just analyze and not move forward you’re wasting time because time is more valuable than money. You won’t really learn until you do.

How can our readers keep in touch with you?

You can find and follow me on Instagram where I am most active at @ali.mah.davi.

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Congratulations Ali! Wishing you much success in your real estate investing journey!

About Ogechi

Hello, I'm Linda Ogechi. I'm a financial educator, real estate investor, and founder of OneSavvyDollar. I write to empower you into saving more, paying off debt, increasing your net worth, and building real wealth so you can achieve financial freedom

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