Let’s take a step back to me sitting on a street curb down in Tucson.
I had become a millionaire and then gone all the way down, starting back over at zero at 30. I remember, pretty vividly, being immensely overwhelmed. Everything was falling down around me, and the market fell so fast that I ran out of money before I was able to liquidate my portfolio. I didn’t even know which way was up.
So I sat on the street curb feeling sick and sleep deprived, and I said a prayer: “I wish I had no money—a net worth of zero.”
Because being worth no money was better than being stuck in the hole I had dug for myself.
At this moment in my story, the blood in the street was mine. I’d gone from being a millionaire to a negative worth of hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’d fallen so far into debt and become so overleveraged that I wished and prayed to go back to zero.
My properties were underwater, worth less than what I’d paid for them, and I realized I had to let the portfolio go.
A couple of my properties ultimately went into foreclosure. I had tried to short sell them before that played out. However, the market had fallen into such a spiral that nobody knew what was going on. As banks failed, mortgages became lost, and I spent hours on the phone trying to keep my situation from getting worse, all to no avail.
Just as hindsight showed me that becoming a millionaire was partially a curse, I can look back now and see that the crash in 2008 was somewhat of a blessing.
It was an event that happened for me, not to me.
Over the following decade, I went on to read hundreds of books on real estate, complete a master’s degree in international real estate, get a broker’s license, and develop my skillset further. I’ve done over a thousand flips in 23 states and hundreds of millions of dollars of deals using many lessons and trials. In 2014, I founded a private equity real estate investment company that invests primarily in the urban core of secondary cities.
I went from millionaire to negative thousands of dollars and back again.
The key lesson I took away from my experience is this: There will be more recessions in the future. The particulars about which asset classes fall or what markets are affected will differ from recession to recession, but the same principles apply.
If you’re prepared to act and you have a guide to follow, you can overcome your fears and make a fortune in distressed commercial real estate.
Are you ready? Stay tuned for more.
Don’t forget to snag a copy of my new book Catching Knives.
Packed with practical advice and personal anecdotes, this is your guidebook for embracing the next economic downturn and navigating the risk of distressed investing. With the right strategy, you can be one of the few who lean into hard times, make the most of them, and take advantage of once-in-a-generation opportunities.
LinkedIn: Jake Harris