8 tips for real estate investors

8 Basics Every New Real Estate Investor Should Master

Originally posted by Chris Clothier of Bigger Pockets

One of the keys to success for a new real estate investor is to quickly get pointed in the right direction. With hundreds of different directions to move, that can be a challenge!

There are plenty of false starts and wrong ways for investors to move as they are getting started that can cost both time and money. That is why it is key for an investor to overcome early obstacles.

New investors, no matter where they’re starting out, have a massive learning curve if they want to be successful. It’s true — there’s a ton to know before you can really dive in. If you want to find success in real estate investment from the get-go without making a lot of costly mistakes, there’s a foundation that must be laid from the very beginning.

8 Basic Areas for New Investors to Master

1. Your Goals as a Real Estate Investor

While you can’t research, you have to do some introspection for this one. As much of a cliche as the saying is, it seems to fit perfectly here. You must be able to articulate why you want to invest in real estate. Getting rich is not an answer. Making money is not an answer. Your “why” has to do with the choices you make and how you spend your time. You choose to create a better life. You choose to study, to learn, to give up free time to educate yourself. You choose to put off pleasure today so that tomorrow whatever you choose to do can be more pleasurable!

Your “why” is the reason you make sacrifices. It is a concrete reason or reasons and never something as abstract as “I want to be rich.” It is goal-oriented and something worth working toward. It is something worth setting a goal for and making the appropriate sacrifices.

For real estate investors just starting out, you need your goals in mind! While there are a lot of things to figure out (and a lot of things that must be learned through experience), you do need to have a plan before you go in. Have in mind what kind of investor you want to be going in and what type of investments you want to try. What are your long-term, ultimate goals? These will help keep you on track and focused as you learn.

Having your goals in place will help you take the right actions, make the right sacrifices, and keep you focused on your “why.”


2. Relevant Laws & Regulations

Obviously, the number one thing you’ll want to be up on are the legalities of getting into real estate investment. There are plenty of things you’ll need to know — and variations depending on where you live and invest. There are laws and liabilities to consider, like Fair Housing and discrimination laws, plus tax laws (you wouldn’t want to run into trouble with Uncle Sam), and plenty of national and local legal considerations.

For any investor, it’s important to know these laws and keep up with how they change over the years. It may be wise to seek a legal and tax advisor just to be sure you’re absolutely sure on everything.  At first, it would be smart to join or attend a local real estate club and try and grab a conversation with local real estate investors. This will be the front-lines for your start in real estate and the place where you can shorten your learning curve by surrounding yourself with experience and advice.

Just make sure you do not use this area as one to slow you down. You DO NOT need to know every law, and not every law will pertain to you or the particular niche of real estate you are investing in. Passive investing, for instance — where you are not making offers, overseeing renovations, or managing your investment property — will require very little knowledge of laws and regulation. You’ll need to know just enough to ensure that whomever you choose to work with is following the laws properly. So be smart and attentive, but don’t let this area slow you down.

Related: The Ultimate 60-Day Action Plan for the Paralyzed Newbie Longing for a First Deal

3. Due Diligence

Due diligence is absolutely key for every real estate investor! No investor should be investing willy-nilly without taking the time to investigate and properly vet properties and to take care of the details. Things like hiring a property inspector before purchasing a property and not relying on the seller’s report are integral to avoiding big mistakes and unexpected surprises. Due diligence also involves examining the numbers. Do they make sense? Does this property fit into the grand scheme of your portfolio and your investment goals?

BiggerPockets has become a fantastic resource for investors who use it appropriately. There is loads and loads of advice and many years’ worth of forums to search and read. As with any forum, your biggest challenge will be determining which comments are actually worth reading and noting and which ones to weigh a little less in your final decision making. That is a something you will learn over time.

That being said, you should absolutely ask questions and remember that there are no dumb questions when you truly do not understand something. Ask what you need and pay attention to the answers. This is a crucial part of early due diligence and necessary before moving on to other critical steps of due diligence.


4. Reading the Numbers

Speaking of numbers, it can be a little difficult to learn what numbers matter and what numbers don’t. What should you be paying attention to? How are you making these calculations? Obviously, your prime concern with your rental properties should be long-term viability. In today’s market environment, first and foremost, investors should be looking for:

A return of capital before looking for a return on capital.

There are simply too many opportunities to lose money with no real outlet for getting your money back in today’s market.

Investing in a safe and reliable manner is the most important aspect of putting your money into today’s crazy market. Safety, reliability, and high probability of “getting my money back” are paramount. That’s what you’re looking for. Beware of fudging the numbers to making them work for you — if you love a property or are too eager to make your first deal, that can be a temptation!

Let the numbers speak for themselves. If they don’t make sense, they won’t make sense. Move on.

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