I envisioned worst-case scenarios: rent strikes, phone calls at all hours of the day and night, and devastation by fire.

My greatest fear was being exposed as an incompetent manager who would create unacceptable living conditions and lose tenants as a result.

Aspiring moguls must move forward, however. To calm myself, I read several books on real estate management. (Remember Trait #7, Knowledge, and Trait #13, Courage?)

Once I took possession of my first commercial property, I met with the seller to learn how to operate the mechanicals.

“This building has been good for me,” the seller told me.

Then he added a remark that struck me to the core: “I only wish I had bought more buildings like this one.”

I immediately passed around a notice of new ownership and met with all the tenants. I dreaded informing them of the rent increase but was hopeful the improvements I had already begun to implement would show, in part, what they would be getting for their money.

Events unfolded just as I had hoped: to my shock and relief, they all agreed to pay the increase – including the seller’s sister-in-law, who had the best unit in the building and was paying $190 per month. I raised her unit to $260.

The residents appreciated that I was upgrading the electrical system and had installed an intercom system between their apartment and the lobby. New landscaping spruced the place up in the summer, and triple-track storm windows would add to the renters’ comfort in the winter.

In general, though, I still felt very insecure about making decisions on electrical wiring, purchasing a certain brand and type of storm windows, and fixing leaky faucets. One Sunday I spent four hours installing one deadbolt lock. But I survived the trauma, and so did the tenant.

If I had been holding my breath because of anxiety, the oxygen deprivation lasted only thirty days. The building had a positive cash flow by the second month, and it steadily increased in value.

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