Today I’m talking to all of you newbies out there about the number one thing you need to know before you invest in real estate.

The most important thing to know is this: you should focus on people first—before anything else. I speak to so many investors every single day it’s mind-boggling. And one common trend that I’ve seen among them is they all think they’re experts. You’re not an expert just because you did a Google search or checked out some statistics on a data platform or Zillow. Looking at the Estimate and speaking to an agent and having them send you a pro forma doesn’t make you an expert either.

Forget the Statistics

You can’t focus on stats and demographics of a particular area. Forget about employment. Forget about capital appreciation projections. And forget about population. Honestly, the stats and demographics are not going to make you money. It’s the people. It’s the team on the ground who you are going to trust with your hard-earned money, who are going to be your eyes and ears—heart and soul—in that particular area. I don’t care if you’re investing in your own backyard. Someone will always know more than you do.

With that in mind, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. It’s something that I’m very good at doing. I quit school at the age of 14. I can hardly type. And I can hardly read. My math skills are shockingly poor. (Thank god for the calculator.) But I am smart enough to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am, and are doing the things that I can’t do (or don’t want to do).

Check out this book, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. There is a section where Henry Ford speaks about something really cool. He talks about pressing a button on his desk to summon any man who could answer any question that he needed to be answered. That has really stuck with me. I’ve always gone about my real estate endeavors by surrounding myself with amazing, smart, awesome people who I could trust. People who are going…