How to Make a Million in Real Estate – Millionaire Interview 23 (Dustin Heiner)

August 20, 2020

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Wouldn't it be incredible to make a million in real estate in your 30's?! Well, Dustin Heiner from Master Passive Income figured out how to do it by age 36.

Now he and his family have the ability to live on $16,000 of passive income each month. Enough for the good life and then some!

Dustin was kind enough to share how he made his first million in real estate and how his strategies allowed him to surpass $2 million in net worth as well. His ability to keep things simple, recognize his vulnerable areas, and put a laser focus on passive income has set his family on a path of true financial independence.

Enjoy learning from Dustin. I definitely did!

Become a Millionaire in Your 30’s: The Details

How old are you? If you have a family, tell us about them and their ages. 

I am 41 years old and am married to my amazing wife of 14 years and we have 4 kids. Ellie 12, Elias 10, Xander 9, Faith 7

What part of the country do you live in? Do you own your home or rent?

When I started investing in real estate to quit my J.O.B. (just over broke) I was living in Fresno California. I bought and lived in my house in Fresno and sold it when I moved out of CA.

After completely remodeling the entire house, I was able to sell the house for $120,000 more than I bought it for. In 2017, after I quit my J.O.B. because of my real estate investing business, I moved to Phoenix Arizona. We moved into one of my rental properties that recently became vacant.

It is a small house, about 1250 square feet with three bedrooms. We are very frugal and can live anywhere so we are fine for now with all 6 of us living in a small house. Eventually, we plan on buying land in Wyoming or Montana and building a home to live in.

When did you start tracking your net worth? What was it at that time?

When I was 27 years old, I gave myself 10 years to quit my J.O.B. no matter if I had the money to or not. This was a deadline, a time-bomb, that I would have to stick to and hold myself accountable to. Because of this goal, my priority was not net worth but rather passive income. In order to quit my J.O.B., I needed to have enough money coming in from businesses, side hustles, real estate, etc. to pay for all my expenses and put more money in my pocket.

I started many businesses to accomplish my goal. Many of these were good businesses but didn’t end up being what I would use to grow my net worth and passive income. Here are just a few businesses I started:

  • Graphic and web design business
  • Skateboard manufacturing company
  • Convenience store and pizzeria
  • And many side hustles

All of these businesses made money but nothing like the first rental property I bought when I was 27 years old. Buying this one property made me $381 in passive income without doing any work. This was because I built the real estate investing business first and then bought a property that I knew would make me money in passive income each month.

Property after property increased my passive income and net worth. After I bought 19 properties in 6 years, I had $10,000 in gross rents for all my properties and $6,500 in passive income. I had not even thought to look at net worth because that was not my goal. 

Then, I accomplished my goal! I quit my J.O.B. when I was 36 years old. 9 years and over 30 rental properties later, I had $16,000 in passive income coming in each month from my real estate investing business that I knew I would be able to provide for my family with the business that I built.

After 7 years of investing in real estate, I was applying to get a commercial loan over 4 of my properties at once. My banker needed to assess my net worth and I wrote everything I owned on paper for the banker. Since I never even looked at my net worth because of focusing on passive income, I was shocked! All the rental properties I owned now made me worth $1,400,000

This was a super extra bonus to all my hard work. Not only was I making $16,000 a month in passive income, I now was a millionaire! Since then, I still don’t look very much at my net worth but rather still look at my passive income. I consider my net worth the cherry on top. 😊

What is your current net worth? What are your assets and what are your liabilities? 

My current net worth is now, after calculating it all over again for this article, is $2,084,000.

Assets ($2,300,000):

  • real estate
  • cash
  • stocks
  • 401k
  • IRA

Liabilities ($216,000):

  • mortgage: $140,000
  • bundle loan: $76,000

Become a Millionaire in your 30's: The Process

What are your current sources of income? If married, does your spouse have other income sources?

I have the easy job of making money. My wife has the hard job of homeschooling our kids. She is amazing and I am very blessed to have her stay home to teach our kids. That is totally a full-time job. 

My income comes from the businesses I created which includes my real estate investing business. Currently, 75% of my income comes from my real estate business. The other 25% comes in from my other businesses.

Right now, Master Passive Income is one of my businesses where I teach others how to invest in real estate just like I did. With my courses, coaching, affiliates, etc, I make 20% of my income from this business. All this money goes back into my real estate investing business to buy more properties. 

Real estate is where I make my money. My other businesses are just a way to help me to have fun, meet great people, and help others change their lives.

What has been the single best thing you’ve done to increase your income up until this point?

Buy more properties, to make more money, to buy more properties, to make even more money. It is much more simple than you might think and there are many ways to find, fund, and manage your rental properties. As an investor, you just need to figure out how to get the deals done.

When I buy one property that makes me $250 a month in passive income, I don’t spend it on needless things. I save it to buy more properties. When I had 10 properties making me $250 or more, that would be $2,500 a month I saved to buy more properties. When I had 20 properties making me $250 or more, that is $5,000 in passive income saved to buy more properties.

Every time I bought a new property, I made even more money.

What ways do you invest your money?

Solely in real estate. I am VERY GOOD at buying stocks high and selling low. You heard that right. I know the perfect time to buy and sell stocks to lose the most money possible.

Now, I only invest in real estate. It is predictable, stable, steady, and I control everything in the business.

Did you receive an inheritance or windfall of some kind during your life so far?

As I was building my business, no. My wife and I started investing 6 months after we got married and I took our entire savings of $17k and invested it in real estate. After I already had built my business to 20 properties, my parents passed away so I got some money from the insurance. Obviously, I put that money into more properties and became even more wealthy.

What debts do you have (if any)? If so, what are they? Which have you paid off?

I do not have a mortgage on my personal residence but do have 2 mortgages. Out of all the 30+ properties I own, only two of them have a mortgage on them.

We have paid off other mortgages that we received when buying properties. I even used a credit card to buy properties but have paid it off. The beautiful thing is that when you are making money from passive income, that money can be used to pay off your debt much easier.

How do you track your net worth?

I don’t really. After I saw I had enough money in passive income to feed my family and continue to buy more properties, I stopped paying attention.

Do you live on a budget?

No, But…

My wife and I are extremely frugal. Even though we have plenty of money, our expenses are only about $3,500 a month. The rest of our money is saved for investing. 

The best thing is that all of our properties and businesses can, and will, be passed down to our kids when we pass.

What are your annual expenses?

I am so NOT a numbers person. I am the free spirit and my wife is the accountant. Numbers don’t work well in my head so I just make sure I make enough money to cover all our expenses AND buy more properties. Actually, I just keep trying to make more and more money to buy more and more properties.

What is your favorite fintech tool that helps you grow your wealth?

Nice and simple. Email. I do so much business through email and even buy properties through my email.

Become a Millionaire in your 30's: Young Millionaire Journey

Dustin Heiner and family

Why is it important for you to build up your wealth?

Cash goes away. Your J.O.B. (Just over broke) can be taken away from you. Cars fall apart and depreciate. Wealth, in the form of income-producing assets will stay. You can live on the income it produces. You can even pass it on to your children.

What is one financial mistake you’ve made during your young millionaire journey?

Not finding a coach or mentor to do my real estate investing. When I started investing, the real estate “gurus” were charging $40,000 for a week-long seminar. I could not afford, nor would spend, that much money. So, I went it alone.

By not having a coach, I did MANY things wrong. I’ve lost about $40,000 investing the wrong way. So I took my lumps and learned along the way.

Now, I give back by teaching my real estate investing students how to do it the right way and not lose money like I did.

What book has been most influential to you?

Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clawson

What is one financial hack that has helped you that you think most people don’t know about?

Using other people’s money can help you to get very wealthy very fast. On my investing journey, I took our $17,000 to buy our first house and recycled that money over and over again into new properties.

This is done when you buy 1 property, then you get it rented, then you do a cash-out refinance on the property to pull the money back out. Once you have that money back in your possession, you buy the next property. Then you start the process all over again. I’ve refinanced my properties so many times I can’t even count.

Each time I did a cash-out refinance, I had a property to buy with it so the money was not just sitting around. Now, because of all the cash that comes in from my properties, I have been able to pay off the majority of those loans, and now they a lot more than $250 in passive income.

Related Interview: Why BRRRR is the Hottest Real Estate Investment Strategy – with David Greene

Where do you find the most joy in your life?

My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then my wife, then my kids. I love to spend the time with the people who mean the most to me.

For the 20-something with a $0 net worth, what advice would you give them to become a millionaire in their 30's?

This is what I teach all my coaching students who want to become wealthy. 

  1. Get out of debt
  2. Cut your expenses
  3. Increase your income
  4. Save $2,000 for an emergency fund
  5. Save $10,000 to invest in real estate
  6. Buy your first property
  7. Save the money from that property to buy more properties
  8. Buy your next property
  9. Do it all over again.

Are you looking to make a million in real estate? Do you want to become a millionaire in your 30's?

Please let us know in the comments below.

Dustin Heiner

Andy Hill

Andy Hill is the award-winning family finance coach behind Marriage Kids and Money - a platform dedicated to helping young families build wealth and happiness. With millions of podcast downloads and video views, Andy’s message of family financial empowerment has resonated with listeners, readers and viewers across the world. When he's not "talking money", Andy enjoys being a Soccer Dad, singing karaoke with his wife and watching Marvel movies.

One Comment

  • Nicely done with your monthly net rental income.

    I own over 20 rental units and they are starting to take some time to manage.

    How do you manage all your rental properties? Do you use a management firm? If not, how much time do you spend dealing with rental issues? Any recommendations on lowering the time involvement?


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