Thinking About Investing in Real Estate? Take 5 Tips From a Pro

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With home prices and mortgage rates surfing the bottom of the real estate trough, it’s no surprise that folks with money to spend are jumping into the investment market. According to a recent study by, real estate investors are buying three houses for every one house bought by someone for their personal use. And it’s a trend that’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future. So AOL Real Estate invited the experts from BiggerPockets blog to help our readers understand the opportunities–and pitfalls–around real estate investing. In this column, veteran investor Michael Zuber explains what he would do if he were starting out today.

The very first thing I would do is get down on my knees and thank my lucky stars to be beginning my investment career at absolutely the best time of our lifetime. Remember, fortunes are made by investing at depressed levels and at the bottom or near bottom of cycles.
Step One: Analyze Your Market & Learn What Deals Really Are
The next thing I would do is get off my butt and start doing my basic homework. I would go out and see no less than 50 and probably 100 properties in my investment area of choice. I am not kidding! I would immediately build a spreadsheet with data on no less than 100 properties. Things like Prices, Expected Rents, Repair Budgets, etc. This would give me the basis or foundation to understand what is a good deal, what is a bad deal and what is a great deal.

Step Two: Establish Your Deal Selection Criteria
After I have built my basic understanding of the market I would decide on what criteria I want to use to decide on what is and isn’t a good deal. I recommend every investor pick one metric that is easily transferable between property types. For me that metric is “yield,” or my expected return on all cash outlaid to secure and rehab a property. Today I personally look for expected yields in excess of 20% in my market.

Step Three: Start to Make Offers
After understanding my market and deciding on my criteria for identifying a great deal I would start making offers on properties that met my criteria. I would hold fast to my criteria and not let bidding wars drive up prices. In fact, you should only expect to get 1 out of every 10 properties you make an offer on. If your success rate is higher than that I believe you are offering too much on your properties.

By following this strategy I am convinced I could secure four investment properties with government-backed loans inside of 90 days and secure 10 properties inside my first year. Every property I bought would have a 30-year fixed interest rate and I would be a very happy man.

As an Alternative: Find Passive Real Estate Investment Opportunities
Now if my market didn’t offer these types of returns or I didn’t have the time to devote to learning a new market I would still find away to participate. I would find an investor with a proven track record, a simple-to-understand process and become a passive investor. This would insure a decent return with a lot less headaches, reduced risks and still give me the upside I want.

In the end if I were starting today I would not let this investment cycle pass me by. I would become a very active investor in my market and if my market didn’t offer returns I would find a way to be a passive investor in another market that offered great returns.

Michael Zuber is an active buy-and-hold real estate investor who still has a full-time job. Michael is not an agent or broker, and simply uses the internet and agent relationships to drive his business. He currently averages at least one deal a month and has developed laser focus on his 5-step process. You can learn more about the process and past deals at This post originally appeared at

See also:
Tempted to Invest in Real Estate? Read This First
College Town Real Estate Investments Score High Marks
Young Real Estate Investor: Where to Stash That Extra Cash?

More from BiggerPockets:
Deciding When to Sell Your Rental Property
Are Home Inspections Necessary for Real Estate Investors?

More on AOL Real Estate:

Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
homes for sale in your area.
foreclosures in your area.
property tax help from our experts.

Photo: Images of Money, flickr


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