• Written By
    Christian Simmons

    Christian Simmons

    Financial Writer and Certified Educator in Personal Finance

    Christian Simmons is a financial writer who has worked professionally as a journalist since 2016. As an active member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning (AFCPE), Christian prides himself on his ability to break down complex financial topics in ways that Annuity.org readers can easily understand.

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  • Edited By
    Lamia Chowdhury
    Lamia Chowdhury

    Lamia Chowdhury

    Financial Editor

    Lamia Chowdhury is a financial editor at Annuity.org. Lamia carries an extensive skillset in the content marketing field, and her work as a copywriter spans industries as diverse as finance, health care, travel and restaurants.

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  • Updated: August 14, 2023
  • 2 min read time
  • This page features 1 Cited Research Article
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Many Americans are always on the lookout for ways to grow their wealth. From new business opportunities to smart investments, many remain on the prowl for paths to achieving financial freedom.

One of the most popular options for years has been real estate. A 2022 2022 CNBC study found that 23% of Americans believe real estate is the best way to increase personal wealth. But despite the high interest, not everyone takes action. The survey also found that just 12% of Americans actually followed through and invested in real estate.

Don Chambers is part of that 12%.

The Georgia-based software developer had always hoped to get into real estate to increase his wealth, and he first did so in 2007.

At the time, his goal was simple: work towards acquiring 20 properties that could be used as rentals to help him build wealth.

More than 15 years later, Chambers has amassed nearly 70 properties in Georgia. He’s done well enough to hire both a manager and repair technician to help keep the properties humming and push him closer to achieving financial freedom.

The Interviewee

Don Chambers Don Chambers
Real Estate Investor

Getting Started in Real Estate

When Chambers first got into real estate investing in 2007, he was excited about the prospect of using it as a means to grow his wealth and work towards retirement.

“I always wanted to do it,” he told Annuity.org. “It’s something that I had always been interested in. And then I had a coworker who lured me into it.”

But, as with many new ventures, things didn’t go as planned. Chambers and his partner brought three properties together, but quickly ran into problems.

They were new to the industry and had conflicting philosophies on how best to do the job, such as whether to work on and repair the homes themselves or to spend money on professionals to do it for them.

Eventually, they parted ways. But Chambers wasn’t ready to give up on real estate just yet, so he persevered.

He worked to find the best deals possible, targeting houses that either needed to be sold immediately and could therefore be attained at a low price or properties that were in poor shape.

He also developed a spending philosophy where he capped what he would pay for a property at 50 times what the monthly rent would be, allowing him to ensure he never overextended his budget.

The work paid off, and Chambers has blown well past his initial goal of 20 properties, currently owning 69 that have tenants.

Real Estate: Worth the Challenges but Still a Tough Industry

While Chambers’ success story is one of many examples of real estate being used to generate wealth, the industry can still be very difficult, especially for those starting out.

“It’s a lot of work,” he said. “It’s especially a lot of work in the beginning. Just managing them, taking tenant calls about a clogged-up toilet 24 hours a day and going to houses. It takes a lot of time.”

Chambers, who still works as a software developer as well, estimated that he spends about 20 hours a week managing his properties, even with his employee handling a lot of the work.

Real estate also comes with the risk of being particularly susceptible to market swings and downturns. Chambers was significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, when many tenants could not pay rent.

But despite the risks and work required, he remains motivated by the money and his goal to achieve financial freedom. It’s why, even through the adversity from the pandemic and with hands-on work required, Chambers keeps going.

“I don’t think I’ll ever stop,” he said. “If I find a good deal, I’m going to buy it.”

Thoughts and opinions expressed in these stories are strictly anecdotal and should not be taken as financial advice. Views of the interviewee do not necessarily reflect those of the author, editor or Annuity.org.
Last Modified: August 14, 2023