Landlording & Rental Properties

How to Buy a Rental Property in the Next 90 Days (With Bonus PDF!)

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Development, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management, Flipping Houses, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Real Estate Wholesaling, Personal Finance, Real Estate Marketing, AskBP, Real Estate Investing Basics
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I was sitting down for dinner with a friend a few years ago, and he said to me, “Brandon, I want to buy my first property, but there is so much information out there. I just want to see the whole process, neatly outlined, so I know my step-by-step plan.”

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And I thought, “Isn’t that what we all want when learning something new?”

We want to see the whole picture, not just broken up parts.

Today I want to help you do just that—learn the step-by-step process for getting your first rental property in the next 90 days. For those of you who like something tangible to look at, at the end of this post, I’ll show you where you can download a free one-page PDF summary of this process—neat and clean, just like my buddy ordered.

Alright, let’s get started. Watch the video below or read on for eight entirely doable steps.

Step One: Get Pre-Approved

Unless you plan on paying cash (which would be great), you are going to need a pre-approval letter from the bank or other lender.

We start with this step because I don’t want you wasting time only to find out you can’t afford it. Your lender will help you know exactly how much cash you’ll need.

Step Two: Get in Touch With a Real Estate Agent

Don't just call the name on the park bench by your house. Look for an agent who is willing to spend the time needed to help you get the perfect deal.

Get recommendations from others, and pick someone you get along great with.

The best part is, a real estate agent is paid by the seller—so it's free for you to use one!

Step Three: Define What You Are Looking For

Let your agent know exactly what kind of property you are interested in. If it’s a duplex, you don’t want to waste time looking at single family homes. And vise versa.

Step Four: Start Looking

Yes, you'll actually need to spend some afternoons with your real estate agent looking at potential properties. And like dating, the more you look at, the better you'll recognize "the right one" when it comes along.

Don’t be afraid of looking at properties that might need a little TLC, but don’t get in over your head either. Once you find the right one, you’ll need to do step five, which is…

Male Traveler Looking Through Binoculars In The Distance Against The Sky

Step Five: Do the Math

A rental property is only as strong as its math. Run the numbers, and make sure it pencils out.

Be conservative, and be sure to plan for property management, vacancy, repairs, and more.

I’d recommend running the numbers through a good property analysis tool, like the BiggerPockets Rental Property Calculator, to make sure you are looking at all the facts and figures.

Step Six: Make an Offer

Okay repeat after me: I WILL NOT OVERPAY!

Negotiate with the seller and stick to your math from step five.

You might go back and forth a few times, and you might even lose the deal and have to start over. But whatever you do…


Soon enough, you'll get an offer accepted and you'll be ready to move on to…

Step Seven: Do Your Due Diligence

At this point, you want to make sure there are no hidden surprises at the property. Hire a property inspector to walk through every inch of it looking for potential problems.

If you find any, either:

  • Suck it up if it’s not too bad.
  • Ask the seller to fix it if it is bad.
  • Or if it’s really bad, walk away.

During this time, your agent will help you shuffle the correct paperwork between them, your lender, and your title company.

Step 8: Close on the Property

It’s been a journey, but finally you are ready to close.

You’ll show up to the title company (or attorney), and they’ll take care of the rest. You might even get some chocolate at the front desk!

Once the title and deed are recorded at the county, you'll get the keys and be the proud owner of your very own rental property!

Now comes the fun part—managing your properties. For tips on that, here’s another blog post!

Key Takeaways

As promised above, I created a simple one-page PDF of these steps so you can print it out and hang it on your wall (or just keep in your files). To get it, simply click the photo below and head over to the BiggerPockets FilePlace to download it for free!

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 5.27.08 PM

Questions for me about this process? Stuck on a step? 

Let’s talk in the comment section below! 

Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, writer, and co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast. He is a nationally recognized leader in the real estate education space and has tau...
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    Replied over 6 years ago
    very simple and easy, amazing article, helped me understand what my steps are. thank you
    Replied over 6 years ago
    I just looked at a two unit building, not to far from a college. Each unit has two bedrooms. It is in a decent neighborhood. Only issue is, each unit has water damage in the kitchen ceiling. Do you think this is worth the effort? Can you or anyone on this blog give me some advice?
    Dawn Anastasi
    Replied over 6 years ago
    I would suggest posting in the Real Estate Analysis section of the forums with some location information and maybe some pictures. That may help people provide some advice.
    Deanna Opgenort Rental Property Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    is the water damage ongoing or a one-off? Has the cause been identified/repaired? I know of a house in San Francisco that had water damage that was terrifying to look at, but very, very simple to fix (a matter of restoring a gutter downspout that had been ill-advisedly removed). Literally $100k of “scary” that could be remedied in a few hundred dollars if hired out. Another “scary” water stain was where an upstairs bath drain had clogged and water had flooded – once. Other water damage I’ve seen was a ceiling fixture doing it’s best imitation of a goldfish bowl full of water (WITH THE LIVE BULB ON INSIDE THE WATER!!!). Clogged downspout on the (flat) roof due to seeds sprouting in a neglected downspout. Simple fix, but scary to see (water+electricity = the heebie jeebies).
    Deanna Opgenort Rental Property Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Oh, so simple answer — don’t let water scare you, but DO figure out what’s really going on. 2 2/1 units near a college sounds like a pretty good set-up, but learn how to manage that demographic (ie if you think you shouldn’t have to deal with co-signers that’s probably not the right market for you)
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Great beginner info without overwhelming your audience. Nicely done. Dayna at
    Replied about 6 years ago
    A lot of good, concise and organized info here. I’m (hopefully) starting my investing journey soon and found this helpful. It’s amazing to me already how many people jump in way too deep knowing close to nothing about the processes.
    Gabe Sanders
    Replied about 6 years ago
    And keep in mind that this will be a business and not an emotional purchase decision.
    Bruce Stayner Real Estate Investor from Snohomish, Washington
    Replied over 5 years ago
    While I agree that the first step would be to get preapproval it does not mean that you have to spend that much money. Every house I have bought was way below my preapproval amount. That means I get much better cash flow and I am also in better shape when I decide to go for another one.