About Karen Rittenhouse

Karen Rittenhouse

My name is Karen Rittenhouse and I’ve been investing in real estate full-time since January 2005. In that time we have purchased hundreds of homes, opened a full-service real estate company, a property management company, a coaching business, and I have written several books on real estate – The Essential Handbook for Buying a Home, The Essential Handbook for Selling a Home, and The Essential Handbook for Landlords.

My goal with this site is to share what I know, what I’m learning, and to create a place to network. I have gained much knowledge through the deals I’ve done and the investments I’ve made in my real estate investing. I am not a realtor. All of the deals I’m involved with are my own.

I have found through my travels nationally that many, many, many people recognize the value of investing in real estate, some with only their personal home, others as a way to produce present and future income.  Most people simply don’t know how to get started, what to do next or where to get information. That’s the purpose of my writing – concise, abundant information.

In my coaching, I find that people get stopped in their real estate efforts for one or two reasons, lack of knowledge and fear. Of course, most fear comes from lack of knowledge! That’s what I want to prevent here. Don’t get stopped. Let me help you keep moving forward in your endeavors.

Before turning to real estate, I sold high end furniture and did interior design. As you can see, much of my working career has been involved with creating nurturing home environments.

This is a very exciting time in real estate.  It is my goal to help you see the benefits, find the areas of investing that spark your passion and, ultimately, be successful no matter what your real estate endeavors.

To learn more about how we started out in our investing career, please listen to my podcast over at BiggerPockets.com/show2.

Happy Investing!

45 Responses to “About Karen Rittenhouse”

  • My wife found this book and asked me to read this, as we are 100% clueless in buying a home. I found this book a very easy to read gem! Thank you so much for publishing it!

  • Oh, my gosh! Brian, thank you so much for letting me know! You’re exactly the reason I wrote it. If you have additional questions, please ask here and I will be happy to continue helping.

    And, if I may, would you be willing to go to Amazon and leave your review there? You can copy and paste it at http://amzn.to/BuyingBoook.

    Thank you, again!

  • An interior design friend also suggested, when I was panicking about having a crowd in my house, that I spread color around. In this case, it was the end of October, so I bought a bunch of pots of yellow mums at Wal-mart, put them on the front steps, middle of the dining room table, end tables in the living room. Easy on the budget, big impact. Love your blog.

  • Thank you, Carol, for your great tip and for reading my blog!

  • I heard your appearance on Bigger Pockets and had to say you made a great impression. I have a few books in the works of reading now but plan on reading your texts when beginning my career in real estate investing. I like humble people sharing their truthful stories as it motivates me to do what I love best – trying to make money! I am a recent college graduate with student loans to pay off. Do you have any advice for me in terms of what I can do with real estate relative to paying off my student loans in a reasonable timeframe?

  • David: Thank you so much for listening to my podcast and for taking the time to comment!

    Wholesaling is an option. I recommend attending a local real estate investor group meeting (find yours at NAREIA.com and find out what those investors are looking to buy. If you find and negotiate great deals, investors will pay anywhere from $2000 to $5000 for that lead. All you need to do is make the deal and bring it to the meetings. If it’s truly a deal, someone will pay you for it.

    To help you out, I just republished this post: http://www.karensperspective.com/wholesaling-real-estate/

    To your investing success!

  • Hi, Karen – I’m an interior designer-turned-real estate investor too! For me its a natural progression. Yes, fear is there, I have 2 mentors in my local area so that helps a lot. I’m a risk taker by nature but since I’m still in the start-up mode, yes, lack of experience and knowledge is scary. Thank you for sharing on your site. I can appreciate everything.

    Monica Wood

  • Thank you, Monica, for taking the time to leave a comment!

    Did you listen to my podcast about my experience starting out? http://www.BiggerPockets.com/show2

    It’s still a bit scary! Good luck to you with your real estate investing and, if you have questions going forward, please feel free to ask them here. I love this business!

  • Karen,

    A friend recommended that I listen to the podcast interview you did with biggerpockets. You’ve both inspired and motivated me by what you’ve been able to accomplish.

    I can relate to everything you said, right down to having difficulty wrapping my head around the concept of ‘good debt.’ Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Thanks, Cherie, for listening to my podcast and for taking the time to leave a comment.

    To your investing success!

  • Hey Karen, I listened to the podcast you were part of with Bigger Pockets. I am brand new to all things real estate and investing and found it extremely helpful. Keep doing what you’re doing, I will be sure to check out your books.

  • Thank you, Reuben, for listening to the podcast and for taking the time to comment! Please let me know on Amazon what you think of the books.

    To your real estate investing success!

  • Hi Karen, just listened to your interview on Bigger Pockets podcast…so wish you were near by so I could further pick your brain…kept finding myself shaking my head in agreement to your thought processes and way you methodically and carefully, conservatively walked this investment journey…as a newbie…it is imperative to me to do it well, do it right, and just do it….will dive into your blog here over the week and get some more absorbable knowledge! Again, Thank You for letting us learn from your experiences!

  • Thank you, Dawn, for the positive feedback.
    :)

    It’s quite a journey, but it’s a fun one!

    To your success!

  • hello Karen, i came across your profile on BiggerPockets and WHOA! — i must say, quite of an accomplishment you have made for yourself. i envy you! =) that said, i do have a question since i’m only 2 months into the game. how do i create more buyer’s list? so far, i’ve gotten 5 and it’s through bandit signs and craigslist but i’m at the point where i want to buy these list if all possible and legit. please advise. thanks in advance!!

  • Hi Wood:
    So glad you found me!

    There are plenty of list brokers out there and you can probably Google to find resources. One we use a lot is PostCardMania out of California. You tell them exactly what you’re looking for, they create the list for you. We like them because their information is very current. Some inexpensive lists are outdated and no good. You need to get a new list every 6 months or at least annually because people move constantly and lists become outdated quickly.

    Keep me posted on your progress!

  • Karen,

    Read your blog on Hedge Fund Buyers coming into the area, and I have been trying to tap into that market FOREVER..LOL. It is interesting that they found someone that is not experienced in Property Management to work with. If I may ask, with being a newbie looking for these types of funding sources, where would one go to make contact to present to and ultimately acquire funding from these types of buyers?

    thank you,
    Hollis – Greensboro, NC

  • Hi Hollis:

    I’m not sure what you’re asking. I don’t know that you can get funding from these buyers. They are established – think Hedge Funds. They come to town with money to buy properties, not to lend.

    Did that answer what you’re asking?

  • Karen,

    yeah, I did confuse you. I had my mind on SDIRA Investors as funding sources (and getting in front of them), and was looking at Hedge Fund Buyers to place on possible buyers list. But you did answer my question in around about way. :)

  • Karen, loved hearing your story on the bigger pockets.com podcast. In fact, I have listened to it a number of times! I am a small real estate investor (mainly b/c my wife is not totally on board) I hope to add to my two properties some time in the future. You are a true inspiration, thank you!

  • Thank you, Jim, for listening to the podcast and then for taking the time to comment!

    I’m so glad you were inspired. Let me know how I can be of future help.

    To your investing success!

  • Thank you Karen, I will certainly keep you in my rolodex and visit your site for updates. Do you do any mentoring? As I said, I am a small time real estate investor, but have the passion to grow. Just have to figure out how to fund it and how to live off of cashflow. That is the challenge!

  • Yes, Jim, we offer coaching. You can check out what we offer on our coaching site http://www.TriadMastermind.com

    Would love to have you as part of the group!

  • Thank you Karen, I will keep the coaching opportunity in mind!

  • Thank you Karen for all your great information! I have just recently started down the path of trying to consume as much knowledge and information as I can and have started listening to the BiggerPockets podcast. I was shocked on episode 2 to hear of a very successful investor…in Greensboro, NC! That’s where I live as well! As “small” as the internet has made the world seem it’s nice to know there are still people right down the road.

  • Hi Grady:
    We need to connect! We work with a lot of local investors right here in the Triad. Check out our investor group at http://www.TriadMastermind.com
    Maybe you’d like to join us? Together, we buy probably 10-15 properties per month. TONS of information shared here!

    So glad you found us. Greensboro is a FANTASTIC place to live and invest in real estate. Welcome!

  • Hi Karen, I’m also a 40something looking to get into real estate investing a bit late in life. My biggest hurdle is my husband who is petrified of the idea of investing in real estate. On Biggerpockets you mentioned purchasing a business plan. Where would you do such a thing? Is there a place where there are boilerplate RE investing biz plans that you can customize? I’ve wanted to do this for years and now is the time to dive in, do the work and show my husband that it’s a smart move.

  • Hi Kim:
    You’re not getting into real estate late in life by my calculations – I was late 40’s and it’s turned out very well for me! I certainly wish I’d done it sooner but I didn’t know about it sooner… Congratulations on your decision!

    We used a business plan that was not necessarily real estate focused, but that’s where we pointed it. We purchased ours online at BusinessPlanPro.com because it had been recommended. We ended up really liking it. This plan is very detailed and in depth so we guessed at most of the answers – made up bogus numbers as we had none starting out – but a year in we knew what to do. And, this plan asked so many detailed questions that we would never have thought to consider. We found it to be a great teaching tool, so think of it as purchasing a college course.

    There are many available business plans and I’m sure you can even Google and find some free ones.

    What, exactly, is your husband’s fear? We’ve been real estate coaches for years and find that not getting stopped by fear (a very common emotion) is a big reason why people need a coach and/or mentor.

    Here’s wishing you tremendous real estate investing success!

  • Hi Karen, It’s Kim again, you had asked me in your reply (above) what my husband is afraid of… well it’s taken me a while to get back to you because he was over seas on business and this touchy subject is not one you carry on over email.

    So I asked him last night…What a nightmare conversation! He’s afraid I’m not going to have my ducks in a row and we’re going to find ourselves in legal battles over a sour deal and end up losing everything we’ve worked so hard for. It’ didn’t seem to matter what I said, he’s convinced. I’ve wanted to do this for years but because of his fear I haven’t gone there. Just had my 49th birthday and realized it’s now or never. Do you know of any articles or books that would help him see that this business isn’t all “Get Rich Quick” quacks on late night TV? 10 years ago I had him read T. Harve Eker and he got it so I know he has it in him to think big but getting over his fear seems insurmountable right now! By the way, thanks for taking the time to answer these posts. You’re a real inspiration!

  • In your book, “The Essential Handbook for Landlords” on declining an applicant you say “it is perfectly acceptable and that some applicants actually expect it”. My question is how do you turn down an applicant just because you do not think they’d be a good fit, essentially they could have the required income and good references but they don’t seem right for your rental, what do you say in this case? Also if you are turning them down due to a bad reference should you tell them that was the reason? I know you are required to tell them if the reason has something to do with their credit report but what about in other cases not regarding the credit report? How much should you or should you not say? Thanks!!

  • Hi Monique.
    If an applicant has the required income and good references, we probably do accept them. We do a criminal background check, verify income and employment, run a credit check, and check references. When turning them down, we typically tell them why: your income didn’t meet the requirements; you have a history of unpaid rents; you received a bad reference, etc.

    Yes, you are required to tell them why they were turned down if it has to do with their credit report.

    You typically don’t have to say much, and you don’t need to. When you run into an application violation, they know they are guilty which is why I say that some applicants actually expect to be turned down.

    Thanks for asking and Happy Landlording to you!

  • Kim:
    Have you both read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki? I love his perspective on wealth and income. Such an easy, fun read.

    Perhaps my book on landlording? I think it gives the practical side of real estate and is not get-rich-quick propaganda. http://amzn.to/UI3sf0

    Even some of the posts here on my blog? Here’s one on Mistakes to Avoid: http://www.karensperspective.com/10-mistakes-to-avoid-as-a-real-estate-investor/

    I’m glad you’re persevering. There’s so much opportunity in real estate for financial gain. Your husband’s caution will keep you safe in the long term (once he decides to invest!).

    Also, perhaps he will listen to my podcast with you about how we started in this business:
    http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2013/01/24/subject-to-direct-mail-woman-investing-podcast/

    To your success!

  • Karen,

    Thank you so much for replying with so much information. I bought him “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. It’s the book that sold me on thinking in a different way so hopefully it will open his mind as well. We are going to listen to your podcast together and I will order your book on landlording. Even if it doesn’t help me with him, I know it’ll help me in my new career – which I WILL make happen! -kim-

  • Evening and happy thanksgiving. I just listened to your interview on bigger pockets and you are so fascinated. I hope to be successful when I venture into my income property business.

    Thanks.

  • Thanks, Tos, for your kind words and for listening to my podcast!

    Here’s wishing you tremendous success in your venture into income properties!!

  • Hi Karen,

    I just listened to your podcast and it’s really inspiring! I am a mom of 2 kids and I would want to do exactly the same thing — to build up something I can teach them about and pass down to them. I’m still doing my w2 job. I think the first step I’m going to take is just to buy my first five properties like you did. Do you know any lender that will allow mortgage for more than 4 investment properties? I’ve researched a few but all of them have a cap of at most 4 investment loan. Any suggestions would be great!

    Thank you.

  • Hi Emily:
    So glad you liked the podcast and I’m thrilled that you’re getting into real estate investing!

    I don’t know of a lender for you to contact. Look around, call around, try to find one that will work with you, even for one deal. Don’t forget credit unions as they have some of the easiest lending standards. They are only about $25 to join.

    Then, start buying. Laws, regulations, limitations change all the time. If they only let you have 4 loans this year, they may let you have 5 next year (or only 3!). Just find someone to give you one loan and get started. It will grow.

    And, be sure to attend your local real estate investor meetings and landlord meetings to learn more and to meet people who are doing what you want to do.

    Keep me posted and here’s wishing you tremendous success!

  • Hi Karen,

    I’ve listened to your BiggerPockets podcast twice and also read several of your articles. And I just purchased all 3 of your books! Needless to say, I’m a fan of your approach!

    One question for you: Since you were investing before the financial collapse, I’m curious to hear how your business was able to weather the storm. Do you have any advice for preparing for that type of significant downturn?

    Thank you!
    Mike

  • Wow, great question, Mike. And I’m thrilled that you found my information helpful and bought my books! You just made my day.

    Prepping for “whatever” in this business is critical. Real estate always cycles and, just like we saw in 2008, some of the turns can be catastrophic.

    I believe it’s always a good time to be in real estate, simply change your focus depending upon the market. 2008 and on, nothing was selling. Banks weren’t loaning. Values were plummeting. Foreclosures were skyrocketing. All those together made it a sweet time to be a landlord. So, we stopped trying to sell (why sell at a loss when you don’t have to) and became full time property managers. We opened a brokerage and hired agents so we could manage properties for others. When we went out to homes where sellers were upside-down we advised, “don’t sell now at a loss. Let us put a tenant in and manage for you until the economy turns. That way you can move on with your life and sell later when you don’t loose.”

    This economic scenario also reinforces the need to buy your properties with deep discount because you never know what tomorrow brings. There’s always an answer to the economy when you own real estate.

    Thanks for asking!

  • Hello Karen. I just listened to your podcast on Bigger Pockets yesterday and loved it! I just turned 50 and hated my job so I quit. I couldn’t live my life hating going to work every day anymore. I have always been interested in real estate investing and am trying to learn everything I can about it. I am going to be the one who does this full time for now. My husband and I have purchased 2 fix and flips in the past and currently have one rental home that our son is living in. My husband who did most of the work is a carpenter and still has his W-2 job. We almost made what I believe would have been a huge mistake. We went to one of those real estate gurus and almost spent most of our 401(k) money to purchase their product $42,000 to be exact. I have been doing a lot of research on Bigger Pockets and know mentoring and coaching is important and saw that you are a coach through Homevestors. Would you have anyone in Michigan that you could recommend? I would love to have you as my mentor/coach but would think that isn’t feasible. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Hi Dee:
    Congratulations on your huge life change!!

    I don’t know anyone in Michigan, but I would suggest hooking up with local Real Estate Investor groups (REIA meetings), landlord association meetings, and even your local HomeVestors Franchise to meet the players in your area, learn the terminology, learn what other investors are looking for and where.

    Good luck to you in your new venture. It’s always a great time to be in real estate!

  • Hi Karen,

    I just listened to your Bigger Pockets podcast and feel so inspired by your story I just had to say thank you for sharing. So much of what you said hit home with me. I’m a single mother to a 12 year old boy, in my mid 40s and going thru a career change after 20 years with the same investment bank (nonstop offshoring of roles to cheaper locations has lead me to the decision to leave rather than chase yet another “at risk” role within the company). I always wanted to purchase a 2nd property as a rental for passive income, but now in my situation I’m thinking on a much bigger scale and reading & listening to everything I can on buy & hold RE investment. It’s wonderful to hear from a woman’s perspective such a success story. What impresses me even more than your financial success is how obvious it is that you truly enjoy what you do. It shines through your every word. I worked 20 years for same company in various roles and never felt that once. Look forward to reading more from you – thanks again.

    Tracy

  • Thank you so much, Tracy, for taking the time to let me know how you benefited from the podcast!

    I look forward to hearing about your success in real estate investing!

  • Karen, hi! I listened to your podcast on BiggerPockets and thought you were wonderful! It was so inspiring to hear how someone (especially a woman) started with real estate investing knowing very little of the business and then building such a successful company, and in a relatively short time! Most of all, I found your voice really comforting and motivating, and hoped that there were audio versions of your books (I’ve been doing most of my investment education by listening to books/podcasts during my commute). I was wondering if there were any plans for the audio versions? I know I’d buy them in a second.

  • Thank you, Anna, for all your kinds words!

    Nope, nothing in the works at this time for audio books. Great suggestion, though!

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