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Twin brothers who turned a single house into nearly $8 million of property share the first step to take before investing in real estate


kelly chris edwards

When brothers Kelly and Chris Edwards bought their first house in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2002, they didn't know much about real estate investing.

The twins, who were in their late 20s at the time, had both been working in commercial banking and noticed a trend among the tax returns they analyzed: The people with the highest net worth owned real estate.

Looking at one portfolio in particular, Chris remembers seeing that the client owned a handful of single family properties. "There was a house for sale two doors down from the one he owned," Chris told Business Insider. "We were like, 'We might not be the smartest guys in the world, but we can figure it out.'"

After getting the client's opinion on the sale, the brothers bought the house for $88,000 and started renovating it, doing much of the work themselves. In the next two years, they bought another four or five properties, getting to know contractors and developing a system along the way.

Today, The Edwards Companies owns nearly $8 million in assets, and works with private investors through its investing arm, Edwards Capital Partners.

Going to that initial client for his opinion inspired one of their go-to tips for beginning real estate investors: Find someone who knows more than you do.

When the brothers first started investing, they went to a local meeting in Raleigh to meet, and hopefully speak to, a local residential real estate investor who now owns over 2,000 units in the area. They invited him to dinner, and he accepted.

"Ultimately we went to work for him for two years and saw everything there is to know for what our area of real estate, from fires to new construction to tear downs," Chris said. "One of our favorite books is 'Rich Dad Poor Dad,' and he's that guy to us: the rich dad, if you will. If there's a problem, we still call him. That definitely has been the most important thing contributing to our success."

In addition to seeking out individuals, Kelly and Chris are big readers, and recommend anyone take the time to gather industry knowledge before and while they start investing. 

"There's so much information on the internet today," Kelly — who read books and spoke to experienced businesspeople instead of taking any official type of real estate class — said. "You're going to see books, blogs, classes, gurus ... you need to start reading and learning. That goes back to taking it seriously. Our bookshelves are filled with real estate books, from Trump to Kiyosaki. We're big believers in reading."

In fact, they still keep copies of the story of the tortoise and the hare. "We always use the analogy of the tortoise and the hare," Kelly said. "Jump on the internet and it says get rich quick, everyone is wealthy. But it ain't that way — it's just not. The book is childish, but we have copies sitting on our office shelves reminding us of why we do what we do. If you're just starting out, keep in mind that it's not a 'get rich overnight' plan. It's kind of a 'get rich slow.'"

SEE ALSO: Twin brothers who turned a single house into nearly $8 million of property share 9 tips for aspiring real estate investors

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