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New: How to Build a Real Estate Empire By Age 30: A Conversation With Jon Linders

Posted on Jun 17, 2019

As a writer, one of my favorite things is to listen to someone else’s story. Pickett Street also shares a love for people and their stories, which is what makes them such a great team. Real estate, after all, comes down to individual stories and relationships, rather than big faceless companies and automated transactions.

This past week, I had the opportunity to listen to Jon Linders’ story. In 2012, Jon decided to take advantage of the buyers market and reached out Pickett Street’s lead buyers agent Jillian Farrar. He bought a new three-bedroom townhouse for $230,000 with a 10% down payment. Jon lived there with two friends in order to more quickly pay down his mortgage.

After a year, Jon had saved enough to buy a $120,000 condo. In order to save money on property management fees, he managed the property himself.

In 2016, he moved out into a 400-square-foot apartment so he could rent both the townhouse and the condo. Finally, in 2018, he used the cash flow from this rental income to buy a two-story, single-family home for $500,000, where he now lives happily with his dog.

Here’s what Jon had to say about his experiences.

You’re my age…this is all amazing! What first inspired you to invest in real estate? How did you learn about how to invest “right,” so to speak?

I’m 30 years old right now and have always been interested in investing. My dad ingrained in me the value of investing, whether in the stock market or in real estate, to make money work for us long term.

When I was in college, I’d spend hours at Barnes and Noble reading all the books on finance and investing. The book that had the biggest impact on me was called Buy it, Rent it, Profit. Also, my grandfather owned rental properties, so he was a real life example for me.

Reading books, talking to Cody Touchette about buying power from rental properties, and my own ambition all led me to build my own real estate empire.

If you don’t mind chatting frankly about numbers, where did you find funds for the down payments?

I’ve always been a frugal saver. I was taught to save for a rainy day fund that could support me for 6+ months if I lost my job. I worked in high school and during summers while in college and saved as much as I could. I applied for numerous scholarships every year. My parents also supported me with $2,000 annually, so I had to pay just a couple thousand for college each year. By the time I graduated, I had roughly $30,000 in my bank.

After college, I worked full-time for six months at an engineering firm, where I earned $52,000 per year. I lived with a roommate and spent only $450 per month in rent. By the time 2012 came around, I was sitting with a good down payment.

With just the $24,000 down payment on the first townhouse, I’ve made over $370,000 in equity in the last 7 years. That’s a 1,750% return on profit on the $24,000 in 7 years!

That $24,000 could have gone into a depreciating asset like a nice car like my friend told me to do, but I followed what my Dad has always taught me about investing in appreciating assets. Turned out for the best and that friend is still renting…

What kinds of challenges have you faced while navigating the real estate world for the past few years?

The main challenge is definitely the increasing home prices. Having to bid over the asking price is sometimes too much for the first time home buyer, and I feel for them.

It’s hard seeing prices so high when you’re in the market, but I overcame that challenge by living simply and frugally, and choosing to move into that small apartment in order to save.

What advice or words of encouragement would you give other millennials and folks from any generation looking to invest in real estate for the first time? Any secrets?

Save. Find discounts and deals on things you want. Be frugal, but still enjoy life as well. Instead of buying the latest and greatest $1,000 iPhone that you can’t afford but want, instead buy an older model for only $200. Look at your monthly payments and multiply them by 12 to see your yearly costs. Grocery shop instead of eating out all the time. Keep a budget. Tell your money where to go each month.

The top three things that make me happiest right now are traveling, mountaineering/rock climbing, and doing triathlon races with friends. My real estate income has allowed me to pursue these hobbies, buy nice gear, and travel the world. Down the road, I want to support a family.

As Dave Ramsay says, “Live like no one else, so later, you can live like no one else.” Making sacrifices today and being content in the little things will help you grow your future.

Thank you so much, Jon! Readers, if you’re interested in investing in real estate and growing your future, reach out to the Pickett Street team at (425) 502-5397 or

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