I'm a new investor so I don't have a success story of my own exactly (well we got lucky with our own house but that was due to pure luck, not skill).
However I would like to share the story of an investor that I actually met with. He is new himself, just started RE investing about 2 years ago. Robert is a real nice guy and he just wanted to help show me a bit of the ropes since someone had helped him out when he was new and he wanted to continue the tradition.
When Robert started, he had never even been able to afford his own house. He read some materials on RE investing (I can't remember which ones, though he said the one I read, Sheets, wasn't really realistic or all that practical but gives a bit of info). Anyhow, he somehow found a great agent who helped him a lot. Robert's first year, he was working like 70 hours a week — 40 hours at his day job and 30 hours a week part-time doing RE looking for deals. His first year he send out over 35 offers that were all somewhat low offers. He was really getting frustrated since none of them were getting accepted. Then one day — his 36th or so offer actually got acccepted!
He bought his first investment with almost nothing down and got a distressed 4 unit apartment building that was in poor condition. He spent 1-2 months going one by one to all the units and repainting, redoing flooring, putting in new appliances, and literally mopping out roaches (yuck!) from an oven in one apartment. Basically a ton of hard work. But after he did that, he was able to raise rents substantially and he did a great job of keeping his tenants happy (I can't remember if he got new tenants or kept the old ones).
Within 4 months of his purchase, he got an appraisal on the place and it had gone up in value over 100K. Robert told me his net worth had gone up more in the less than 2 years of real estate investing than it had during his 20 years of day job work!! Amazing.
To make things even better, a few months later, a friend of his friend's came to him and said they were close to bankruptcy. He was able to do a standard friendly foreclosure type deal to save this person's credit and he bought his own house for over 15% less than appraised value. In addition, he spent a month cleaning the place up (it was in very bad condition). He would literally spend nights doing paint and plaster, etc. When I saw his house it wasn't done yet. But now he has his first ever house to live in (in addition to his 4 unit quad)!
He did all this in less than 2 years. Not too bad!
Los Angeles, CA