My initial reason for getting a real estate license was simply to buy investment properties myself. I chose the real estate path after realizing that the math of going to grad school didn’t make sense--the return on investment for grad school was lower than just investing the money into real estate and doing nothing. The tuition of a professional school was extremely high. Literally just buying a rental property and profiting from the rental income and appreciation, yields better returns than investing in a professional degree and getting a 9-5 job afterwards.

Here is the full story (and the math):

Years ago, I was studying to become a speech pathologist. I got admitted into the master’s in speech pathology program at Boston university, one of the highest ranked speech pathology programs in the country. There was a shortage of speech pathologists in the US and everyone who pursued a degree like this was guaranteed a stable job after graduation.

Two weeks after I attended the program, I realized that the math of attending a program like this didn’t make sense: the median salary of a speech pathologist in Boston was $86,000 -- and this is mid-career. Starting salaries were looking more like $65k The speech pathology program at Boston University cost $120,000 over the course of two years.

Unlike my peers in the program, I was already a homeowner in Cambridge at the time. Also unlike my peers, I was married. Thus, I would be taxed at a higher tax bracket than my single colleagues due to my husband's income. I realized that as a speech pathologist, my post-tax income (after being taxed at a higher rate because of my husband) would be about $40k. We were projecting five years to break even and eleven years to surpass a rough estimate of a modest 4% net total return. If that was the case, I may as well just spend $120,000 toward the down payment of a second property. The annual appreciation and the net rental income and tax savings from that property would have been easily more than $40k!

In other words, If I just spent $120,000 on Boston real estate instead of grad school, I would have made more money as a landlord than a speech pathologist even if I didn’t get a job. And since the first home I bought in Cambridge already appreciated 60-70k in just one year (at 10% annual appreciation), I could easily pull out the equity from my first property to fund my second property. Since the vacancy rate was close to zero and the demand was much greater than the supply, my tenants basically pay for my mortgages. The decision was a no-brainer. Why donate to an expensive private school when I can leverage the red hot real estate market to live for free and build wealth easily.

So that same year, I left grad school and went into real estate. I bought a second property using the money I would have spent on grad school tuition, and got a real estate license to be a full-time agent. The real estate agent career turned out to be profitable. My second property also appreciated 10% that year, so at the end of that year I refinanced that property to buy my third property (a 3-unit apartment building), which also ended up being a cash cow. Later I refinanced that property. All my properties had appreciated and generated more equity. The journey continues. To me, the best part of the journey is helping others buy the best investment properties and seeing my friends build wealth from Boston real estate.