Real Estate Investing Basics

Overwhelmed? Here Are 10 Steps to Find Your Focus (& Buy That First Property!)

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Investing Basics, Flipping Houses, Business Management, Personal Development, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate News & Commentary
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Getting into real estate investing can seem like a daunting task. There is so much to learn, so much to read, so much information and so much to do that it can be very easy for one to get lost in the maze and just feel plain overwhelmed. I have seen more than one newbie simply get discouraged by it all and quit before even getting started. But people need to understand that changing professions and the path you are on is not quick and easy. If it were, everyone would do it. What can reduce these overwhelming feelings and put you on a path to success? A step by step plan can.

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Just as you would likely not take a thousand mile journey without some kind of plan, neither should you begin your real estate journey without some kind of plan as well. This plan does not have to be perfect. In fact, you can expect many a detour. But ultimately it should get you to your destination. You plan should be manageable, a bit flexible and tailored to your own specific desires and circumstances. What steps should your plan include? Here are some suggestions.

10 Steps to Find Your Focus (& Buy That First Property!)

Write Down Your Goals

I suggest some short, medium and long terms goals. You might, for example, set a short term goals of listening to ten real estate podcasts or reading ten real estate books, a medium goal of buying one house to hold for rent and a long term goal of quitting your 9 to 5 job. Whatever goals you decide upon, just do one thing with them: WRITE THEM DOWN!

Begin Learning

I equate learning about real estate investing to going to going back to school. You will have lots to read, listen to and watch (podcasts, etc.) and have lots of homework. No more TV. No more gaming. You now have goals to achieve.

Related: 11 Common Pitfalls Real Estate Newbies Should Guard Against


Join a Real Estate Club

Real estate clubs can be a great resource, as you will get to meet and network with other investors in your area. I have been a real estate club member myself for over a dozen years. It is at these clubs that you can begin to see what you have been reading about put into practice.

Be careful, though; just as with anything, there are good and bad real estate clubs out there. Make sure the one you attend is educational and not just selling you something. You should be able to tell the difference after a few meetings. Sit back and watch at first and don’t be pressured into buying courses, mentoring or properties. You can do that later on if you choose. For now, just listen, watch and learn.

Get Your Finances in Order

Do a personal financial statement to see where you stand. Set a household budget and clean up some debt if you need to. If possible, begin to build up some cash reserves and capital.

Pick a Strategy

Do you want to buy and hold, retail flip, or flip to other investors? After reading and learning about each strategy, decide which one is right for you. Ultimately you should be doing a bit of all three, but let's not bite off more than we can chew right now. Pick one of the three based upon the goals you outlined above and your current financial status, and focus on starting there.

Pick a Place to Farm

Remember the three most important words in real estate are location, location, location — and I suggest picking a certain location to target in order to keep your focus and save time. It is very difficult to keep the numbers for an entire city in your head, but very easy to feel overwhelmed trying to do so.

Plus, do you really want to be driving all over the city? Perhaps pick one or two particular areas that you are familiar with, and get to know those areas like the back of your hand. You should learn the streets, rents and prices. Learn about the dynamics of the area. Is it up and coming or a war zone? Learn who is buying and who is selling. All of this will be vital when you are ready to pull the trigger later on.

Practice What You Have Learned

You can and should test your new found knowledge here on the BiggerPockets Forums and perhaps with others at your local real estate club. Run through some scenarios with others and see if your conclusions match theirs.

Begin Building Your Team

You need help to be successful. Make it a goal to meet real estate agents, attorneys, accountants, contractors, etc. who can potentially help you with your investing. Invite them to lunch and discuss your ideas. You can learn a lot and make some great contacts this way.

Related: Newbies: You Should Focus on Your First Deal And Nothing Else. Here’s Why.

Talk to Lenders

Talk to as many banks and private lenders as you can to see where you stand and adjust your efforts based on their feedback. You can find good leads at your local real estate club. Financial backing using other people’s money is one of the keys to success in this business. If you can get that before you get started, you will be ahead of 90% of everyone else.


Pull the Trigger

You are ready. Do not let all of this action you have taken go to waste. Use it.

These ten steps may seem like a lot and may also seem a bit vague. They have to be so you can tailor them to your specific circumstances. Follow and fine tune them, and they will help you focus and reduce that overwhelming feeling.

Becoming a real estate investor should be an exciting journey as you learn new things and put that learning into practice. Just remember that every journey, no matter how long, begins with that first step. Be sure to take it.

Newbies: Where are you in the process of buying your first property?

Let us know with a comment!

Kevin Perk is co-founder of Kevron Properties, LLC with his wife Terron and has been involved in real estate investing for 10 years. Kevin invests in ...
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    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Very good list. I think one of the hard parts about getting started which is actually compounded by getting a lot of education first is that there feels like there’s so much to do it’s overwhelming. Just sitting down with a pen and pad and listing out the steps needed can be a huge benefit.
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Andrew, I agree. The amount of info out there now is amazing compared to just a few years ago. Trying to absorb it all is impossible. That is why I suggest narrowing yourself a bit with a particular strategy and area. Hopefully that will allow you to focus a bit. On the flip side, never stop reading, listening and learning. There is always room for improvement and new techniques to try. Thanks for reading and commenting, Kevin
    Billy Guyette Property Manager from Montgomery, Alabama
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Thanks for the article Kevin . I think the most difficult hurdle for new investors is there isn’t much room for error. If you have limited financial resources and sink most of that into your first investment, unlike a more established investor, you can’t afford to take a hit. This was the biggest deterrent for me anyway.
    Latoya Gordon
    Replied about 5 years ago
    I feel the same way about financials @Billy Though with steady education anything positive is key and building with the right money lenders, time, learning and much questioning will solve the fear of errors.
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Very true Latoya. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Kevin
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Billy, I understand where you are coming from. But as investors we have to eventually take the risk. Hopefully your education and research has minimized that risk to a manageable level. But it still is difficult to go all in. I noticed you used the past tense, did your first investment work out? Thanks for reading and for the comment. Kevin
    Andrew Bondarchuk Investor from Valrico, Florida
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Thank you for listing the steps, it has put my progress into perspective. I have felt that I am getting nowhere but it does appear that I am following a sensible path. I am in my learning phase, about 30% of the way through a RE licensing course, reading books, listening to podcasts, etc. There really is a ton of information on this subject so my goal is to learn something new about it every day. I am currently also attempting to get my finances in order and my credit score back up. It was really good (excellent in fact) when I bought my home a year ago and since then we have taken out loans and maxed credit cards for upgrades and repairs and we are back to square one. I am also looking in to part time work for extra cash to accelerate the debt relief efforts. Lastly, I have located a local REI club and I plan on going to my first meeting next week and start networking. The location is actually on my way home, so it’s perfect! Now that this list is available, I can focus in and begin knocking down the rest of the steps that I have not already engaged. Thanks again! This is very helpful.
    Luis H. Investor from California
    Replied about 5 years ago
    I totally agree with Billy. I felt so confident at first I had this idea of building long term wealth with buy and hold but listening to podcasts and reading blogs now Im scared to pull the trigger because everything sounds amazing. I love real estate. I recently did a cash out refinance and am sitting on cash that I want to hurry and invest with but now I seem to have frozen. Definitely going to give this a try Thanks!
    Minh Le Investor from San Jose, CA
    Replied about 5 years ago
    10 steps to find your focus seem a lot. What happened to 2 or 3 steps? I want it, and I want it now. Thanks for sharing your article.
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Kevin, I appreciate your article. It definitely points me in the right direction. I just passed my real estate license exam two days ago and asked myself now what? Your article helps me to list all my options and focus on implementing them as I go. I believe being persistent is key. If you don’t give up, you’ll get to where you want to be. Thank you for sharing.
    Gregory Blair from Topeka, Kansas
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thank you, the amount of info is daunting, I do intend to use this outline as a frame of reference.