An Engineer Turned Real Estate Investor

When Don Strickland wanted to supplement his income with terms deals, he soon realized it could be his full-time gig.

An Engineer Turned Real Estate Investor

In this blog post, Don Strickland shares his story of how he got involved in the terms niche to supplement his income as an engineer. After going through books and courses in other areas of real estate with varied success, he found Smart Real Estate Coach and never looked back, eventually turning it into his full-time career.

My professional career started in engineering, and then I got into telecommunications; I’ve been in that business for 25+ years, managing and building out networks. That’s what I do full-time, professionally.

Course after course, but no results

Many years ago, traveling through different states on business, I started to look for something more. I had always heard about real estate, and in Georgia, I got involved with the Georgia Real Estate Investors Association, with their monthly meetings and with some of the “gurus.” I bought a lot of courses, and I guess I made some mistakes. I bought and sold some of my own properties. I’m not sure I did it the right way. I did make some money, but that’s how I got started—sort of by accident.

I did a lot that way with the books and courses, then traveling took me away from it. I never really had a good background or a steady mentor or program to sustain me, but because of circumstances and family, I’ve always wanted to get into real estate. So I bought a lot of the courses, stumbled through them, tinkered, and didn’t do deals.

But a few years back, I was laid off. The corporate world was changing, and not just in my area of specialty. I had young kids, and I said, “I need to take a different approach to the real estate business: I have to find a mentor to hold my hand and walk me through all of this so I’m not just tinkering.”

I did a lot of soul-searching, a lot of internet searches, and some conference calls. I was digging deep, looking for somebody who had a business I wanted to emulate. That’s how I found Chris and the Smart Real Estate Coach team.

About a year and a half ago, I was on the Smart Real Estate Coach website tooling around, and I submitted a request for a strategy session call with Chris—just to chat. I wanted to find out what this guy was about, because I liked what he had to say. Chris and I talked about what I wanted to do, my goals, and what he could offer. That was when I said to myself, “I think this is a fit for me. This is what I want to do.” It was the mentoring aspect. Unlike past mentors (I won’t mention names), this was more of a relationship: a true partnership, a “marriage,” so to speak—not just a 30-minute call here and there, or some emails.

Chris and I talk on the phone a lot: early in the mornings, during the day, weekends, nights, whenever I need to talk. If he’s tied up, I know he’ll get back to me first thing in the morning or whenever. I really enjoy that. That was the kicker for me: the support, the availability of Chris and his team for any question I had, whether I was sitting down with a seller or whatever the situation was. It’s just coaching—it’s truly a joint-venture type of relationship.

The Payout

In the 20 years before Smart Real Estate Coach, when I was just buying and selling my own properties, I was selling to cash buyers. In the 20 years I spent tinkering with that business, I can’t say I made even $25,000! I was using outdated contracts; I messed up, and I learned some hard lessons. I didn’t do things the right way, and a significant part of that was not having somebody by my side—a mentor.

I spent a lot on education in those years: if I add up all the courses, books, CDs, and other materials I’ve had to purge from my shelves, we’re probably talking close to $100,000.


Now compare that with the first 12 months of doing deals with Smart Real Estate Coach. In just my first three deals, I had somewhere in excess of $350,000 on the books. That’s a huge difference, truly a game changer—a life changer. And there were many more where that came from, of course.

Working with the Smart Real Estate Coach Team

The biggest difference between going it alone and working with the team is the support and mentorship: Chris texts me early in the morning, or we chat in the early morning and throughout the day. When I started learning the business, we probably spoke at least 10 times a week. Recently, it’s been less and less, but initially, it was a lot of conversations and a lot of support.

It’s exactly what I needed—the support, the mentorship, the confidence of knowing Chris or someone from the team will always be there. I text Chris or call him, and I know he’ll get back to me shortly. Whatever issue I have, I know I’ll get an answer or a solution. And with Zach being such an expert with sellers and Nick on the buyer side—it’s simply an amazing level of support.