The “Matthew Effect” and how it applies to real estate investing (Part 1)

Updated on May 4, 2015 by 16 Comments

This is the first part of a two part series. You can find part 2 here: How to find opportunities and get started with real estate investing with the “Matthew Effect” (Part 2)

I first learned about the “Matthew Effect” when I read the book “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell. In his book, Gladwell cited stories of successful people ranging from professional hockey players in Canada, to the likes of Bill Gates, and The Beatles,  as examples of how “accumulated advantage” played a big part in the success of these people. I believe the same applies to real estate investing.

“For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” ~ Matthew 25:29, New Revised Standard Version

outliersIn the first chapter of Outliers, the bible verse above was the very first thing that I heard (I was listening to an audio book version of Outliers), and as I listened further, it all made more sense to me.

In Outliers, Gladwell tries to convince readers that successful people neither achieved success only through sheer hard work, nor did they achieve it all by themselves, but rather with the help of advantages and opportunities from “where they came from”. Successful people used these opportunities to their advantage. In turn, these produced even more advantages and opportunities.

In essence, to those who have (made the most of advantages and opportunities that came their way), more (advantages and opportunities) will be given, thus the term “Matthew effect” in reference to the passage quoted above.

In other words, success leads to more success, and failure (or the lack of success), can sometimes lead to even more failures or continued lack of success.

Obviously, I was convinced by what Gladwell proposed in his book, which in turn has led me to believe that this also applies to real estate investing.

How the “Matthew Effect” applies to real estate investing

Have you ever wondered why some people who venture into real estate investing seem to have more success or were able to achieve it faster than others? Sometimes I also find myself asking the same question. I now have a more concrete answer, thanks to Outliers. Let me offer the following examples on how I got started with my own real estate investing career.

The “opportunity” to learn and be financially literate

What if an aspiring real estate investor just happened to learn about the importance of being financially literate and took concrete steps to manage his money properly?

I believe that pretty soon, he will have a little bit of extra money, which can eventually grow big enough for him to actually acquire his first real estate deal.

His advantage is his growing financial literacy.

His opportunity that led to this advantage is the opportunity to learn about the importance of managing money and his personal finances.

That could have come from a book, a seminar, or even from a friend, as the case may be.

In contrast, someone who wants to be financially free, but falters in managing his personal finances, may find it very hard to move forward. He never gets past the question:

”Where do I get money to invest in real estate, I can barely manage to get through a month and I’m living paycheck to paycheck?!”

This question lingers in his mind even though he is moving up the corporate ladder.

His disadvantage is he does not know that more money is not the solution, managing money properly is.

Actually, the person I described above was me. The opportunity that I was missing then was the chance to learn about financial literacy, and the proper way to manage money.

I had nothing (in terms of financial literacy), and even what I had (my monthly paycheck in this example) was taken away, or it was mostly gone before the next payday.

I’m just glad the opportunity to learn about financial literacy eventually came through a friend, who introduced me to the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki.

After I read the book, I was hooked, and I looked for more knowledge about financial literacy. This gave a jump-start for my quest for financial freedom.

I truly believe that financial literacy is a big advantage when you want to go into real estate investing.

In fact, I also believe that it is required!

How would one be able to manage the financial aspect of having investment properties, if one cannot even manage his own finances?!


The opportunity to be financially literate is available for everyone, but I guess very few people actually take time to learn about it, and apply it in real life.

The “opportunity” to learn how real estate investing can be done in the Philippine setting

This time around, the “opportunity” began with an “incident” that happened last December 31, 2006.

I was in a drugstore and I was about to pay for my medicines when my wife called me on my cellphone because I had to move my car. I hurriedly went back to the car and as I sat on the driver’s seat, a soft cracking sound came from my pant’s rear pocket.

Apparently, I had put my cellphone there instead of my wallet. I had just destroyed my phone’s LCD.

Anyway, because of that incident, I decided to go to Nokia Care at Greenbelt 1 to have my phone fixed. After I got a quotation and a referral to another Nokia authorized service center who might have parts readily available, we went to National Bookstore which was nearby.

As I entered, the first book that got my attention was “Think Rich Pinoy” by Larry Gamboa.

Larry’s book was an eye opener, it showed how real estate investing can be done in the Philippine setting. I believe this was a big advantage and opportunity.

Reading the book eventually led to my attending Bo Sanchez‘ “How to be Truly Rich seminar“, from where I learned that Larry also had Think Rich Pinoy Seminars which I also attended.

This also made me look for more seminars about real estate and I found Urban Institute’s Comprehensive Real Estate Seminar And Review (CRESAR) for the November 2007 Real Estate Brokers licensure exam which I also attended.

Although I attended primarily to learn more about real estate in the Philippines, I also took and passed the licensure exam and became a licensed real estate broker.

I also became a member of REBAP Marikina and through another member, I learned about an auction during the first Philippine Real Estate Festival way back in 2008. I participated in that auction and it was the first time I made a winning bid for a foreclosed property. As they say, the rest is history.

I would like to believe what happened to me was a series of “opportunities” which I grabbed, that helped me get started with real estate investing.

To have more and be given more, or have the little I had be taken away

I started with virtually nothing in terms of any know-how when it comes to investing in real estate, and instead of thinking that it was too hard and cannot be done, I decided to look the other way and move forward.

When I decided to become a real estate investor and began to have more knowledge about real estate investing, I was presented with more  opportunities, not just to learn, but to actually have the means to do it.

In contrast, if I went the other way, the little that I had would have been taken away, not by anyone else, but by myself. I would have taken these away, had I decided to give up.

Up next in Part 2 of this series

In the next part of this series, I’ll share more examples of opportunities that anyone can grab that can help get them started with real estate investing, and how this continues and becomes a series of opportunities that become “accumulated advantages”.

Part 2 is available here: How to find opportunities and get started with real estate investing with the “Matthew Effect” (Part 2).

To our success and financial freedom!

Jay Castillo
Real Estate Investor

Real Estate Broker License #: 20056
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Text by Jay Castillo and Cherry Castillo. Copyright © 2010 All rights reserved.

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  • marian

    Hi Jay, I’m so glad I found your website. I’m also in the race for my financial freedom. I’m also a member of TrulyRichClub by Bo Sanchez and planning to attend Think Rich Pinoy this December. I already started investing in stocks and now I want to learn more about real estate investing. Your site is really helpful. Thank you for sharing all these things to your reader.

    Keep it up and more power! God Bless.

  • edgar

    Thanks Jay, your articles always inspires me to keep going with real estate investing. It always gives hope to starters like me. I had read the book “the outliers” and with your own thoughts or opinion of it, complemented the lessons that I have learned from reading it.

    More power to you and your family! happy new year!

  • emilio

    Hi Jay, a very nice and useful website you have. Full of golden nuggets and inspiration.

    Btw, I managed to save a bit to make my first investment. I am still a newbie. You said that you go to auctions, can I ask where do you normally get info about the upcoming auctions in a certain area? I am looking to invest in Sta. Rosa, Laguna and the sorrounding towns. Any ideas/advice.

    Thanks very much and more power!

    God bless the Philippines!

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  • Tim

    Hi Jay,

    Very nice post! Right now, you make me want to grab that book. I seldom pick up books made by Philippine authors I’ve read particulary only Francisco Colayco, Marlo Sanchez and Chinkee Tan’s so far… But I will get my hands on Bo’s and Larry Gamboa’s.

    I believe in what the book says, people just tend to pass by on the opportunity to learn. And I’m guilty of this too a lot of times… I always pray that I would make the right decisions and yes, I believe that life is all about winning, and winning and winning.

    How about you? When are you going to write your book about your success? Haha!

    Btw, when you won the auction does that mean you already had the means (I mean, you were that financially strong)?

    • Jay

      Hi Tim! Somehow my book got put on hold unintentionally by the apprentice challenge. Hopefully… or rather… I declare (this is more appropriate) that I will finish it this 2011! Hehe!

      Yup, I had saved more than enough for the 20% downpayment back then, and my loan application was approved. It took me more than 2 years to reach that point. 😉

  • arsenio gomez


    Good morning!

    Very moving and powerful article!

    Thank you.

    Beng Gomez

  • helen p. aquines

    Hi Sir Jay,

    Thanks for sharing the “Matthew Effect”……waiting for your next blog.
    Merry Christmas to you and to Ma’am Cherry.


    • Jay

      Thank you Ms. Helen! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

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  • Elvin Peria

    This is a very nice article. I’ll share this one paguwi ko sa bahay. Thank you very much. Actually, I’m now opening my mind to look for opportunities! :)

    Also, I really want to have that book of Malcolm Gladwell. :)

    Thanks! :)

    • Jay

      Thank you Elvin! Yup, that’s the way to do it, there are just so many opportunities out there that can even lead to more opportunities.

      By the way, I prefer the audio book version, I can keep on “reading” it as I drive my car in heavy traffic during Christmas season, or even while I’m malling, as long as I have my ipod. :-)

  • Ronald Cagape

    Thanks for sharing, Jay. I haven’t read Outliers but I agree with your observation.

    That’s why it’s important to focus and not wander around jumping from one opportunity after another. (hmm, that sounds like me!)

    That also apply’s to any opportunity – whether it’s real estate, internet marketing, business, whatever. Focused effort over an extended period of time will result in tremendous results.

    It’s compound interest applied to experience.

    • Jay

      Hi Ronald, you’re welcome and thanks for the insights.

      With so many opportunities out there, it would be easy to lose focus. I guess we should make sure we discern which opportunities are more worthwhile and could lead to bigger and better opportunities. It really has a compounding effect as you’ve said.


  • vine

    can’t wait for the part 2. .have always looked forward to your blog.thanks for sharing. more power

    • Jay

      Thanks Vine!

      I also miss writing articles like this, been mostly posting foreclosed properties lately due to the large number of auctions since last November up to earlier this month.

      Thanks again for dropping by, cheers!