10 Keys to Success as a Beginning Real Estate Investor

Ever thought about becoming a real estate investor but weren’t sure where to start? You’ve got company. People just like you have purchased millions of books, tapes and videos from the Robert Kiyosaki’s, Carlton Sheets’ and Robert Allen’s of the world looking for the keys to investing puzzle. However, very few actually get started and even fewer make any money at it. You might still feel as if there are too many obstacles in your way.

Let me encourage you. Just because you might lack a large cash balance, may not have a great credit rating or may not have years of experience as a wheeler-dealer doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy success as a real estate investor. I am walking proof. I have helped real estate investors obtain millions of dollars in financing for their projects and, along the way, I think I’ve seen every type of investor possible.

In my job, I’ve had the benefit of seeing many people succeed wildly and many others lose thousands of dollars almost overnight. Here are some ideas that, in my experience, will lead to greater success for you:

1. Determine your goals. Where do you want real estate to take you? Approach your real estate career just like you would any other business by deciding where you want to be in one year, three years or deeper into the future. Knowing where you want to end up helps you choose the right road.

2. Choose the best path for you. What level of profitability do you want to achieve? How much risk can you tolerate? One thing I love about real estate is that there are at least 100 different ways to make money. For example, you could consider

· Rehabbing and reselling single-family properties

· Buying homes and holding them as rental properties

· Becoming a real estate agent

· Brokering or owning office and commercial properties

· Investing through limited partnerships or becoming a private money lender

The thing that matters most is that you find a path that is in line with your lifestyle in terms of how much you want to participate in various investment vehicles.

3. Do your homework. You can lose a lot of money fast if you don’t exercise the discipline to educate yourself and get good advisors. Talk to people about various lending programs, rates and terms in the marketplace. Read some trade magazines or subscribe to wonderful newsletters such as Peter Pike’s Dispatch (http://www.pikenet.com/) to bolster your understanding of real estate trends.

4. Location, location, location. Learn the makeup of your local market. Buy locations. You can change everything about a property except where it is located. I haven’t seen too many folks make money by having the market bail them out of a bad situation. It usually doesn’t happen that way.

5. Ask questions. When you find a property or project, talk to the neighbors. They will tell you everything you could want to know and more…including why the owner is really selling. Interview Realtors. Some have worked in certain neighborhoods long enough to have brokered the same property several times over the years.

6. Appraisals and inspections are your friends. Unless you are already a millionaire real estate investor, stop listening to your “gut” feeling. If you are a millionaire real estate investor, you probably aren’t reading this article. Therefore, I feel safe in recommending that you always get a second and third set of eyes to look at every investment you’re considering. Better to spend a few dollars to save thousands, right?

7. Line up your professional team. Ask for references and check them. Be willing to fire them and move on if they aren’t performing. You’ll want to establish a relationship with a good attorney, real estate broker, mortgage broker, accountant, inspector, appraiser and a title company along with others that you may work with from time to time.

8. Know your numbers and respect them. You are probably not so much brighter than everyone else that you can rewrite the rules. (Not yet.) Take the time to learn how to analyze debt coverage ratios, local days-on-market, property rental rates, occupancy averages, etc. Respect what your research tells you and…

9. Always be willing to walk away from a deal. It is your money and your time that are at stake. You are making all the ongoing commitments and taking much of the risk. Don’t let anyone pressure you. No one gets paid until you start signing papers; so wait until you are ready before going forward. Once you’re ready…

10. Get started and never give up. You might do a bad deal or two. That’s okay. It’s better to learn early in your career, right? There is a way to breakthrough and accomplish all your dreams. You just have to hang in there until you find it.

In most of the cases, people lose because they violated one or more of the above keys. The more you guide your real estate investing career by these rules, the better off you’ll do. Maybe you’ll be sending me a testimonial recounting your latest success one day? I hope so.

In the mean time, if you need assistance identifying your goals, locating advisors, evaluating opportunities or financing your projects, contact me today for help. In fact, I have a free “Deal Evaluator” in Microsoft Excel format that I will send you free when you e-mail me. No matter where you are starting, the exciting and wealth-building world of real estate investing isn’t closed to you.

I wish you great success.

Mark Anthony McCray, author of the upcoming books, “The 31 Rules for Succeeding as a Mortgage Broker” and “The 31 Rules for Prospering Financially” ([http://www.the31rules.com]), is the Founder and CEO of Houston, TX based First Capital Mortgage Company (http://www.dealsdone.net). First Capital is a commercial mortgage banking and brokerage firm that has helped its clients leverage millions of dollars in financing for their real estate acquisitions, developments and investments over the years. Write to Mark at mark@dealsdone.net or call 713-267-4040 for more information about the author or First Capital’s services.

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