- Maximilian Reidl found himself 42,000 euros in debt in his early 20s.
- He paid off his debt after buying and selling a property for a 100,000 euro profit.
- He told Insider how he did it, from obtaining the financing to scaling his new business.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Maximilian Reidl about his real-estate portfolio, which Insider has verified with documentation. It is an edited, translated version of an article that originally appeared on December 13, 2022.
At 22 years old, I was working as a clerk in a savings bank.
I was also spending too much money partying, was living far beyond my means, and had managed to land myself in 42,000 euros, which is around $45,100, of debt. I was constantly in overdraft, and I had to take out a personal loan to pay it off.
Because of my job at the bank, they were fairly sympathetic when it came to offering me a loan. I think they thought that employee loans meant employee retention.
In 2007, a stroke of fate made me reevaluate my life
I wasn’t well at the time. I was overweight, I drank too much alcohol, and I had to find a way to pay off my debt.
That’s when I had the idea of investing in real estate.
I knew the real-estate market well as I was the real-estate officer at the bank. The timing also seemed favorable, since it was the middle of the global financial crisis and people were worried about their money.
I saw my opportunity to pounce on a 100-square-meter apartment in Rosenheim, Germany. I made an outrageously low purchase offer of 165,000 euros, and the seller accepted it.
Getting the financing for my first property was relatively easy. I still had the 42,000 euros of debt breathing down my neck, but because I was a bank employee — and because the lending policy was not as strict as it is today — I was able to get another loan.
As soon as I got the keys, I worked on the apartment every day
I was usually there from straight after work until 2 a.m.
The renovation took about a year and it was tedious. I’m not an engineer or a handyman, so I just did what I thought was right. With certain things, such as tiling the kitchen, I had help from friends who worked in the trade.
Because I did so much myself, the renovation cost me less than 10,000 euros. I sold the apartment in 2009 for 285,000 euros — a profit of 110,000 euros. That meant I could pay off my debt and still have a good amount leftover.
At that time, I was earning 1,500 euros a month. To suddenly make 100,000 euros on one deal was huge and it gave me the real-estate bug.
From then on I could hardly concentrate at work
I’d find myself looking at real estate all day, so I decided to try more fix-and-flip projects, where you buy a property, renovate it, and sell it quickly. I also started looking at buying land and project development.
I bought three more properties while I was still working at the bank. Then, in early 2010, I made the decision to quit and focus on my real-estate business.
But I knew that my creditworthiness was the most important factor for financing, along with equity.
That’s why I signed a commercial-agency contract with a financial-product broker. This meant I still had a monthly income, but I could be flexible with my hours.
My real-estate investments have made a profit every year, but they really took off in 2016. Since then, I’ve started taking on bigger projects — recently, I sold a project that included 40 apartments in Berlin.
The return on a project is usually at least 40% of the total investment. I’m now 39, and I’ve made eight figures with my investments.
To scale my strategy, I constantly establish new companies
I currently have 18 limited-liability companies. These usually only exist for one project and then I close them, but some handle several projects.
The advantage is that I don’t have a permanent staff, which is much better for me, because I find it difficult to manage people.
With the subsidiary companies, I automatically get motivated people onboard. They’re self-employed and get a share of the profits, which usually means they work better.
I also have a private real-estate portfolio, as sometimes I decide to keep a property. I rent out a double-digit number of properties, mainly places in and around Munich. The value of these properties is offset by 20% debt.
In addition to the rental income, I also benefit from increases in value. My cheapest apartment currently has a market value of 900,000 euros.
I’ve made mistakes in my investments
The biggest loss I’ve had so far was around 100,000 euros. I misjudged the building regulations and ultimately couldn’t place as many units on a plot of land as I had planned.
I’ve also had sleepless nights, especially at the start, when I would reinvest every penny I earned.
Things could have gone wrong, but I wanted to grow as quickly as possible. To be a successful real-estate investor, you have to be brave — making money without risk is impossible.