Living Your Dream: Investing in Real Estate

Part 3 – The Dicksons

Aaron and Jennifer Dickson are eager to see the potential of real estate beyond having a home, but as an investment to fund and fuel their dreams and visions. This couple, celebrating 10 years of marriage this year, went to a Dave Ramsay finance class early in their marriage, decided to save up their money by living more simply, and finding properties that were less than perfect they could fix themselves.

Their first home had been vacant and involved extensive hands-on remodeling. That experience taught them the skills for their future projects where more renovation was the key.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 30 percent of home sales in 2016 were purchased by investors and vacation home buyers. Investor home sales saw an increase from 2015 to 2016. While that often includes condos and townhomes, another market is multiple units.

Fast forward two years from the last time we saw the Dicksons: On another family trip to Eastern Washington, they were back online looking at property. They found a fourplex on the market. They emailed me at 2 a.m. eager to see it as soon as possible. They didn’t want to lose the opportunity. The minute they got out of church, they were on the road and returned to see it. They made a full price offer counting on the sale of the house they were almost done fixing up.  

That week, they showed their home to a potential buyer – even though the bathrooms weren’t completed. They listened to what the family wanted in the renovation, proceeded to do those very things and had their offer – that very week.

That was four years ago. The house sold to that first family. It was their first house sale. The Dicksons took the funds and made one 900-square-foot unit of the four-plex their new home while they worked on remodeling several of the other units for income property … willing to continue remodeling to achieve their goals. They needed to live in the unit for at least one year to be eligible for a loan, so with a dog, a cat and then two young children in tow, they made it work before moving to a larger place. (They also made numerous trips to the dumpster and were willing to put in some work.)

A reminder: They were in their 20s and Aaron was making around the average national salary that a pastor would make.  He was, and is, not a CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

A message to you: Don’t hesitate to start planning for your dreams including investing in real estate. Think about what you can do right away – today with what you have. Different forms of income-producing property may be the perfect solution for you and maybe something you haven’t thought of before. While the Dicksons decided on a four-plex, other income properties to consider could be apartment buildings, storage units, vacation homes, as well as even mixed-use buildings containing residential and commercial use. Use some imagination!

Whatcom County Tidbit: Bellingham is the last major city before the Washington coastline meets the Canadian border. It is 85 miles north of Seattle and 50 miles south of Vancouver, B.C. for easy access to large concerts, professional sports games, and several international airports.  According to the Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism office, Bellingham has been named by Trip Advisor as second on its list of 10 Best Outdoor Towns in America (May 2016) stating its proximity to Mount Baker and the North Cascades National Park. Outside Magazine ranked Bellingham in its top 16 adventure meccas (September 2016). Sunset Magazine also ranked Bellingham a finalist for Best Adventure Town in its 2016 Travel Awards (August 2016).

Dave Ramsey on Finances.  Dave Ramsey is heard nationwide via radio shows and in classrooms. Dave suggests Seven Baby Steps to Financial Peace including having $1,000 cash in a beginner emergency fund, use the “debt snowball” to pay off all your debt but your house, establish a fully funded emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of expenses, invest 15% of your household income into retirement funds, start saving right off the bat for college, pay off your home early, and build wealth so you can give generously. There’s more information about Financial Peace at

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I aappreciate you reading my blog – week by week. I am available to help you find your lot or home in Northwest Washington. I look forward to meeting you. I’m available at 360-223-9050 cell, 360-738-7070 office, or by e-mail at Next week: The Dicksons make the national news in a good way and they continue to inspire many others with their real estate investing funding their dreams.