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How I Started With Real Estate Investing (And Retired From Being An Employee)

It’s one thing to get interested with real estate investing, but it’s totally another thing to actually go out there and do it, escape the “rat race”, and gain “financial independence”.

I’m sure a lot of you are asking: is this really possible?

To answer, let me tell you how I started with real estate investing and quit my job later on.

How it all started for me


I remember when my son CJ was born in January 2005, it was the happiest day of my life. But it also made me think long and hard about my family’s future.

It’s great to be a Dad, but it obviously comes with greater responsibilities.

Soon after, I decided to accept a long-standing offer from another company for twice my current salary back then.

It was sad because after just a few days, I realized I was living such a dangerous life. I had to drive from Makati to Batangas and back almost every other day (that’s 200 kilometers one-way… or 400 kilometers per day!), and then I had to drive home from Makati to Marikina everyday.

This wasn’t the “I.T. Manager” job I signed up for.

So just after just 7 months, I decided resign and gave my 30-day notice to return to my previous job. I took a pay-cut, but at least I get to work in a place that was just 6 kilometers away from home, that’s a 10-minute drive with no traffic.

Even if it sounded like a waste of time, I was still very thankful for the short time I was with another company because that’s where I found the book that started my real estate investing journey…

One of my staff in that company (now a good friend of mine… he even got me as a Ninong in his wedding) introduced me to Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad Poor Dad. This was around April 2005, and it started my real estate investing journey…

Chronology of events

Let me summarize my real estate investing journey in the video below:


If you prefer the written version, see below:


In December 2006 I stumbled upon Larry Gamboa’s book Think Rich Pinoy, which strengthened my belief that real estate investing and the Rich Dad principles can be applied in the Philippine setting. After reading the book, I wanted to learn more, so I began to seek more information, mentors, and other people who were also interested in real estate investing.

Later that year, I was diagnosed with vertigo and hypertension. I realized that the stress at work was just too much, but it was a blessing in disguise as it was an “aha!” moment for me and strengthened my resolve to get started with real estate investing.


In 2007 I attended the How To Become Truly Rich seminar by Bo Sanchez. This led to attending Larry Gamboa’s Think Rich Pinoy Wealth Seminar a month after. Afterwards, I joined a Google group for TRP attendees and this was how I found Dinna Revilla, Larry’s mentor, which he mentioned in his book. I started attending meetings at the Charter House in Makati where Dinna Revilla would share real estate investing tips for newbies like me.

However, I still wanted more, so I also attended Engineer Enrico Cruz’s Investing In Real Estate Seminar Series and his Comprehensive Real Estate Seminar and Review (CRESR). It was great to learn from Engineer Cruz, most especially with his no-nonsense approach and wisdom gained from many years in the real estate industry. I then took and passed the 2007 Real Estate Broker Licensure exam. I was so excited, but the excitement ended abruptly.

2007 ended in a negative note because news about the Dinna Revilla bouncing check scandal broke out, and for the first time in my life, I doubted real estate investing because of a ‘guru’ who allegedly duped a lot of her friends/investors.


In 2008, I turned to paper assets, particularly mutual funds, and started putting all my excess money there. Although it was nice to finally have paper assets, I felt the lack of control. I could not do anything to make my paper assets appreciate in value.

I also realized it would take a long time for me to have enough replacement income to quit a job where I was overworked and underpaid. So I decided to try real estate investing one more time…

My passion for real estate investing got re-ignited!

Thanks to a friend, I met Dr. Jon Abaquin a.k.a “Doctor Rent” (He’s also in the book Think Rich Pinoy). Dr. Jon’s mentoring and challenge helped me make an offer for a foreclosed property, which was later approved by the bank. The property was occupied and my offer was contingent upon the bank’s possession of the property, so all I had to do was wait…

Later that year, I won my first bid at a public auction of foreclosed properties held during the 1st Philippine Real Estate Festival at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. Although the deal didn’t push through (the mother title had a problem), I learned so much from it.

I also became a member of Think Rich Pinoy (TRP) Club Marikina, handled by Thea Santos (a very successful real estate investor), who also invited me to attend Jomar Hilario’s Internet Marketing Workshop as a facilitator. I owe a lot to Jomar because the lessons I learned from his workshop helped me start which I later moved to


At the start of 2009, I made a bold declaration. I declared that “I will get out of the rat race on or before my 40th birthday in December, and I will do this with my combined earnings from real estate investing and internet marketing”.

My big goal was to buy at least 4 foreclosed properties that year.

A goal setting session with the TRP Club Marikina helped me realize this goal. I remember I wrote down my goal of buying a foreclosed property within the next 30 days, which I was able to accomplish. I attended an auction and won my bid for a foreclosed property, renovated the property, and got the property tenanted in 55 days.

After that deal I was able to buy two more foreclosed properties.

In spite of being one property short of my target (because of Ondoy), I was still able to acquire 3 foreclosed properties that year alone. Not bad!


I finally quit my job as an IT manager last January 31, 2010. I am a full-time real estate investor and internet marketing practitioner up to this very day, and I am very happy with what I do.

(Whew… that was a long summary!)

Yes! It really is possible!

I did it myself, and so can you… all you have to do is stop dreaming and start doing!

Photo of author
About Jay Castillo
People encounter problems and make mistakes when buying foreclosed properties, and Jay wants to help people avoid those problems/ mistakes. Jay encountered a lot of those, which is why he started this blog in 2008 to serve as a guide where he shares lessons learned, and how to overcome challenges you may encounter when investing foreclosed properties in the Philippines … [Read more]
Avoid losing money, wasted time and effort caused by buying foreclosed properties that have too many problems, with our free 60-item Property Due Diligence Checklist. Grab your free copy now.

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14 thoughts on “How I Started With Real Estate Investing (And Retired From Being An Employee)”

  1. Thank you Franco! Sorry for the late reply. It was basically done by my broker, she already had a buyers list/prospects in that location, and my house was a good fit to their requirements. My broker’s leads come from those who call here number, which is posted outside their house, along the main road of that village, which was very near the village clubhouse. Very strategic kasi those looking for properties for sale/rent in that village would see her for sale/rent signs. 🙂

  2. Your story po sir jay is very inspiring. Can I ask you how you got your first tenant? What mediums did you use, how did you did it overall? Thank you, it would mean the world to me if I read your insights. 🙂

  3. Hello sir jay! Your experience is very inspiring. Can I ask you how you find and encourage tenants to your properties? What mediums do you use, or any insight that helped you realize this bid of yours. Thank you, and all the best sir jay!

  4. Just a curious question lang sir regarding sa story nyo… so nung 2009 alone nakabili kayo ng 3 properties… sa mga nabili nyong properties nag buy and sell ba kayo para umikot ang pera? Or may enough money lang talaga kayo to pay yung down ng mga properties nyo?Just want to get an idea pano paikutin ang pera sa real estate coz I want to do the same. Thanks!

    • Hi Kristine, I’m so sorry for the late reply for a lot of reasons. Anyway, you are correct, pina-ikot ko lang yung pera. The key is charging a big enough downpayment sa tenant/buyer for your next deal. Good luck!

  5. That was an inspiring story jay . I have read Rich dad ,Poor dad too .But i still need someone to push me in buying foreclose property and earn from it . how can i choose which property will be profitable ? How much should i need in real estate investing ?

  6. Hi, that is truly inspiring, thank you for sharing your story. It helped me find my direction. I am also in the field of real estate as a sales agent under Avida. I was thinking of ways where I can put/invest what I earned in this industry for house selling does not come every month, and daily expenses swallows my earnings. I browsed your article on Pag-ibig foreclosed properties and it has just gave me a bright idea. Thank you so much. God bless you.

  7. Wow! Sa una is im planning palang yan. Ngayun, e nabasa ko na. Converting my paper assets to real estate din ang gagawin ko, but this paper assets are came from stock market. Me too a License Real Estate Broker but working on a different field and planning at my age of 35 Im gonna exit the rat race. WOooohh.. Can you be my mentor sir?

  8. Hello Jay, this great and all. Any tips how we can also do it outside Manila? Here in the provinces we don’t have clubs where like-minded people can meet, and it’s a bit sad really. But as much as I wish we have those, there’s not much I can do about it. You think it’s possible to get started using online resources, such as your blog? Perhaps you can create a complete online resource bundle which you can sell to guys like me in the provinces so everything we need to learn about the Philippine Real Estate investing can be learned online. I’d definitely pay for that. Hope you’d get to read this comment.

  9. As a real state investor in multiple countries, the problem I see with this approach, is that countries have cycles when the prices are attractive and when are overpriced.

    You can get burned badly I’d you get hit by the downturn.

    That’s why I prefer to look at multiple countries and find the ones that are in the lower part the cycle, this involves traveling and macro economic analysis, but still able to do it in spare time after work.

  10. Hi Jay, good afternoon. I just read your 5 years journey posting. We also have similarity except that I lack on action to start real estate. I always wanted to do it but I am afraid if I choose a wrong property to bid. I started investing in stock market in 2012 following bo sanches’ truly rich club. That was also after reading rich dad poor dad and most of robert kiyosaki’s book. Now, I want to start buying foreclosed properties but I just don’t know how to check if the property is a good buy and if it can be easily occupied after. how much money do I need to to start? How much did you have back then? By the way, i am also an IT Manager. Thank you.

    • I am also an IT Manager OFW but these one inspires me to take action after the same journey you had. Read Rich Dad Poor Dad 2011 and joined TRC and started in paper assets 2013. I joined your group and continue my education with action.

  11. I am inspired by your journey. I am a licensed real estate broker and with a developer/brokerage firm. I am planning to buy my first foreclosed property this year. God bless to my family venture!

  12. Wow Sir, that gave me Hope that I can do it as well. I always have that imagination before but I never thought that it’s really happening. Right now that’s my goal to buy a foreclose house and lot here in Cavite as I am currently renting a house here, Camella Springville. I love reading all your blogs and getting some idea on how to start. This house I am renting now is actually for sale for 1.8M and am planning to loan it sa bank with only 20% cash downpayment however am still saving for the 20%. But after reading your articles, on a second thought I want to start buying foreclose properties first, renovate and sell it and earn from it. Question is, how long is the process of buying foreclose properties? Saw a couple from your blog in this area and how much do you think I need to invest in renovating it? and how is the selling afterwards, is’t hard to sell?

    Would really appreciate all the answers you will give. Thank you in advance 🙂



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