Investing in real estate has been one of the building blocks of private wealth for a very long time. It has the potential to make the average man very rich, if he knows what he is doing. Real estate investing not only generates a solid income stream, but also provides a number of important tax benefits.
Any business that promises great profits also includes the possibility of great loss. Most losses are the result of mistakes that could have been avoided. Let's look at some steps to take that can help you be successful.
Step 1 - Educate Yourself!
DO NOT move blindly into real estate investments because the market is glutted with properties that are actually affordable and interest rates are low - or because you suddenly have a sizeable chunk of income that you want to invest.
The keyword in the previous paragraph is "blindly". All of the reasons listed are good reasons for becoming a real estate investor, but do so with your eyes wide open. Learn the system and learn how it can work for you - become a real estate investment master.
Begin at the beginning - dig into the fundamentals. Talk to an expert in the field and find out everything you "don't know." From that discussion develop a list of questions that you need to have answered and go to work finding the answers. With all the information sources we have available today, finding the answers should be fairly easy - possibly time-consuming, but easy.
Talk to everyone you know who has done well with this type of investing, pick their brains. Get them to share their experiences and mistakes they made if they are willing. Ask about books they recommend. Then, begin your research and study through online sources and the old-fashioned way - the public library.
Do not read just one book or watch one set of videos. To be truly educated in any field, you must study different perspectives on each topic and look for critical threads that run through all the material regardless of who the author is. Your understanding will begin to develop and you will slowly develop a solid knowledge base that will help you be successful.
Begin to network with others in the real estate world, agents, brokers and investors. In fact, joining a real estate investment club or taking classes on real estate investments could be fun and extremely useful in furthering your education.
Step 2: Get your finances in order
I am sure that it is obvious, but I am going to say it anyway. Investing in anything requires capital. You must either have personal capital to invest, financial partners that will help provide the capital (and hopefully have some experience in real estate investments), or you must have the assets and a credit history that will allow you to finance your purchases. They all work, but the bottom line is that you must have the financial strength to move forward.
Step 3 - Specialize in the type of real estate that interests you the most
Focus is critical. Don't buy a little of this and a little that. There are so many different types of real estate that without focus, you will not do well. Which area interests you the most - and why? Which type matches your personality, abilities and skills? Your choice should "fit" you and, most important, it must have the potential of helping you reach your financial goals.
If you are a do-it-yourself person with a creative flair and would enjoy being involved in the day-to-day oversight of properties, single family fixer-uppers would be a good possibility. On the other hand, if you have no interest in managing the properties, apartment buildings make more sense because apartment buildings generally have on-site managers that take care of everything.
Step 4 - Have all your ducks in a row before making the offer and finalizing the deal
Once you have decided which type of real estate will be your focus, study that market carefully - in great detail - before making an offer. Gather as much pertinent information as possible, for example, fair market value of the property, recent sales in the area for similar properties (comps), the maximum offer you are prepared to make, and have a valid estimate of expected rental income and immediate costs (renovations, repairs, etc.).
Be prepared for anything that may come up in the bargaining sessions. Make sure you are working with an experienced agent that you can trust. It is always best if the agent has been referred to you by an experienced investor. You may also want to discuss any potential purchase with other trusted advisors such as your financial planner, your attorney and your accountant.