You are right - everyone does learn at a different rate - based on many factors.
I became interested in REI only three months ago. The only part of real estate I knew about was how to fix it (and I know that well). I was a contractor for twelve years. I had a lot to learn about the other aspects of REI.
I work on my “research and development” as a serious second job - putting in approximately 20-30 hours per week (7 days a week) on different aspects such as reading (books, articles, and the newspaper) interviewing and networking to develop my team of professionals, developing my marketing material and sources, and going out looking at properties. I intend to do this full time as soon as possible
If you were taking college courses to learn a new trade you would probably be putting in that same kind of time. This is the same thing - you are learning a new trade. It’s just that you are self-taught instead of following a program of studies.
I have not bought a property yet (it has only been three months after all) I have put in many offers but have not found the right deal with the profit I am looking for yet. I’m am excited but not desperate to buy my first property. I have a (somewhat) specific set of criteria as a new investor. The advice from many experts tells you to find a “niche” and get good at it (to start).
Some advice on the topic of reading:
While you are reading you will start noticing patterns and repeating information and advice. If you start hearing the same advice from different sources . . . pay attention . . . this is “common law” and if you are smart you will follow it. Have a specific goal when you are reading - know what you are looking to get from the material.
Keep your material organized so you can find it if you need to refer back to it. Let me give you an example. I read, on one of the posts, a suggestion for a specific type of fastener to use when putting up bandit signs on wooden posts that would make them harder to remove. I wasn’t ready to use that advice at the time I read it but when I was ready I knew where to find it. I write the category on the top right corner of the print out (ex. marketing, lawyers, etc.) then put it into a file folder. You aren’t going to remember most of what you read when you need it - but if you have kept organized, you will be able to locate information you need faster when you do need it.
I also want to say that you aren’t going to be able to learn real estate without spending some money. It just isn’t realistic and it will ultimately take you a lot longer to get where you want to go. Spend the money on the book instead of going out to eat one night or buying a few lottery tickets. It takes some sacrificing to change your life and put it on a different path.
Once you have purchased any type of learning material - - - - read it. It won’t do you any good just sitting around. You won’t get the material through osmosis.
On the subject of how long to take in your reasearch stage, I guess the answer is - - - as long as it takes. Just don’t use it as a crutch to keep you from moving along. Saying you haven’t learned enough to be comfortable to start can be true . . . for awhile . . . then it becomes an excuse not to start. You will hear the tern “analysis paralysis” often in your reading. It’s a real and true condition. Work on not letting this happen to you.
I’m afraid I’m a little long winded. Hope this helps.