Want to quit your 9-to-5 job and customize your life? Sarah Larbi shares with The REITE Club how she created the lifestyle of her dreams with real estate investing.
Q: Sarah, how did you get started in real estate investing?
I got started in October 2013. That's when I decided I wanted to change my life around and real estate was the way to go. We started with the cheapest thing we could afford back then, which was a $130,000 house built in the 1850s. We started by using the buy and hold strategy.
Q: And the buy and hold strategy is…?
Basically, you're buying a house, putting a tenant in and you're holding the property as the owner.
Q: Are you still using the buy and hold strategy?
I started with buy and hold, then I began finding tenants first for buy and hold. And then I pivoted to the BRRR strategy, which is Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance. The BRRR strategy helped me accelerate much faster than the original buy and hold model. I'm still doing the BRRR strategy, but it's more of a buy builds, rent, refinance, and repeat.
I've also pivoted in terms of the types of rentals that I'm doing. In the beginning, I was doing a lot of long-term tenant rentals. Now I'm really liking this mid-term strategy, where you've got tenants that are between properties, getting houses renovated…all that good stuff. And they're looking for a place for that 30 to 90-day time period.
I've also started doing development deals. I bought some land to build a resort. And I’ve pivoted to some recreational properties. I've got some cottages that I Airbnb.
Q: Why did you choose real estate investing?
Ultimately, it was the dream of having the lifestyle to do what I want, when I want and with who I want that drove me. I always wanted to retire early and not work for somebody else for the rest of my life. Every day, I would wake up and go to work. I had an amazing job, I had an amazing boss. But it was having to ask for vacation time, to clock in. From eight to five, that time was dedicated to living out somebody else's dream, making somebody else wealthy. That time is valuable. I just didn't want to live in that system. I only had one life and it was important for me to create that urgency of getting to the freedom goal faster, without risking it all necessarily.
Q: What worked well?
I think being able to stay motivated, to keep going and to keep taking action over the years. And being able to say, ‘Okay, here's my goal. There’s going to be ups and downs and there’s going to be challenges...’ Just being able to balance that and not dwell on it.
Q: What's your trick for staying motivated?
I give myself a reality check and go back to my goal. I had a burning desire to retire early. If you don't have a burning desire to do something, I don't think you'll be able to stay motivated. I became very passionate about it. It wasn't the real estate per se, but the vehicle was real estate. Ultimately what kept me motivated was the burning desire to be free. To do that, I worked my butt off for 10 years! I basically had no time off.
Q: Is there anything you would do differently?
I probably would have spent more time enjoying myself along the journey, not focused so much on working and doing everything else on the side and putting my life on pause. I would've probably celebrated the wins a little bit more, taken a little bit more vacation…But there were choices I made at the time to stay hyper-focused.
From a financing standpoint, getting that figured out from the start rather than having to pivot backwards after the third or fourth property. Could we have purchased some additional properties? Could we have gotten to the BRRR strategy sooner? Probably. But you don't know until you're out of it and you look back.
There’s probably a million things I could have done differently. But ultimately, I wouldn't say I wish I did them differently because the end result for me is still where I'm sitting here today.
Q: How are things going right now in your real estate investing?
Right now, I'm having fun! I wanted to create my lifestyle the way that I want to live it. I left my nine to five job October 1st. Before that, I was burnt out. I was working some insane hours seven days a week. Ultimately, leaving was well worth it, and I would do it again to be where I am today.
I think it's one of those things where you get to a point where you can pick and choose deals based on having fun and making it fit into your lifestyle. I might work two hours a day on projects that I choose – not because I have to, but because I want to have fun with them…like the resort project.
Q: What advice would you give to someone getting started?
Pick a strategy and go with it! Every year, there's going to be something, right? It’s going be a pandemic one year. Another year, it's going to be something that could cause a bubble or a crash…
So, I would say get started. Hire somebody, find a networking group. Find people that can support you, but also that you can bounce ideas off of. As they say, “You're the average of the five people that you hang out with the most.” So, if you don't have a good solid five that are creating dreams for themselves, reach out to The REITE Club, network, meet some new people, attend events. Surround yourself with others, ingest the information and make sure that it's relevant.
About Sarah Larbi
Sarah Larbi is a co-founder of The REITE Club, a real estate investor who has been so successful that within 7 years, she became a 9-to-5 escape artist and quit her 9 to 5 job permanently! You can reach Sarah on Instagram, which is @investorsarahlarbi. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All the other information is on her profile at www.thereiteclub.com. So go check it out! As Sarah says, "I'm hoping to connect with all of you."
- August 18, 2021
What an inspiring story Sarah - thank you so much for sharing! Yours is a story that will resonate with my daughters - and yes, I will be sharing this with them! Thank you -