How To Start Investing in Real Estate

Thinking of investing in real estate, but not sure how to begin? First and foremost, know that you are not alone. Real estate investing is a great way to build your wealth, but when you have little to no experience it can seem a bit overwhelming.

Do Your Research.

We have all heard the old adage that knowledge is power, and it still holds true today. One of the best pieces of advice one can be given is to do their research. In this day and age, there is no excuse not to. So much information is available to us instantaneously. Begin by learning popular real estate terms. So often I get asked the definition for “ARV” and “deed of trust”. Arming yourself with the basic understanding of the lingo is imperative.

Time is of the essence, and most people feel they do not have enough of it. However, if you are serious about real estate investing you will find time. Listen to a podcast, eBook, or real estate talk radio while you are driving in the car, working out, or as you drift off to sleep. This is a great way to get your head in the game and learn while doing it.

Grow Your Network.

Your network equals your net worth! Surround yourself with like-minded people. There are so many avenues one can pursue with real estate investing, but one thing is certain, you will need trustworthy, competent people at your side. Do your research and build your network. Most large cities have Real Estate Investment Association groups (REIA’s) which are great places to learn the industry while making contacts. Many teach classes on real estate investing, tell both success and horror stories, and introduce you to reputable industry professionals and investments. Lenders, title companies, contractors, CPA’s, real estate attorneys and real estate agents are all worth getting to know. Leverage the experience and the field of expertise of those around you.  These people will help you grow your business/investments setting you up for success.

Find a Mentor.

An ideal mentor is an experience investor with time and knowledge to share. They can help you stay on track, keep focused, and guide you in the right direction. Be sure to ask lots of questions. Find out what your mentor did to become successful and mimic it.

Assess Yourself.

Next, you will need to do an honest assessment of yourself and your situation. You do not always need a lot of cash on hand or a perfect credit score to take advantage real estate investments. However, knowing your limitations will help set you up for success. 

Other questions you will need to ask yourself is how much time you have to dedicate to your real estate investments. If you have a full-time job, volunteer three times a week, and must keep your schedule as well as your kids, you might be better suited for a passive investment. One that does not take a lot of your time. Therefore, a fix and flip project may not be best suited to your situation. Semi-passive to passive options like real estate notes might work best for you.

Decide on the amount of risk you are willing to take. Do you have extensive knowledge in the industry and a pool of cash for investments that would allow you to go after those high-risk high-reward opportunities? If so, commercial deals might be your niche. Are you close to retirement and principal preservation is imperative, consider funds or REIT’s? Do you need passive monthly income? Consider a rental property. There are both aggressive and conservative options out there and knowing which category you are comfortable in will help guide you to the right investment.

Additional items to consider are the type of funds you are looking to invest; cash or structured funds (IRA’s, 401K, etc). If you, will you be investing as an entity or as an individual and what the taxing consequences might be in direct correlation to your situation (seek the advice of a CPA). Look at state laws and how they might affect your investment. These questions can be deciding factors.

Find a Trustworthy Lender.

Most new investors have limited cash resources. If that is your situation, consider finding a lender who can help you. There are private lenders, banks, hard money lenders and others out there who can help you get started. Even seasoned investors often use outside financial resources to help them grow their investment portfolio. Be sure to do your research and ensure your lender is trustworthy and deserves your business. Ask for referrals or ask your real estate networking group if you are having trouble finding good lenders.

Make Your Dream a Reality.

Once you have done these things go out and find your investment, do the leg work, and make your dream a reality. Remember to be realistic in your expectations and set goals. Do not overextend yourself either mentally or financially. Keep your mentor close, leverage the experience of industry professionals and never forget that your knowledge and network are the two most important things in your arsenal. This is how you will set yourself up for success.