Real Estate Investing Basics

The Newbie Investor’s Mini-Guide to Breaking Into Real Estate

Expertise: Commercial Real Estate, Personal Finance, Real Estate Marketing, Business Management, Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Investing Basics, Personal Development, Real Estate News & Commentary, Mortgages & Creative Financing
227 Articles Written

It never ceases to surprise me the range of ages people start to dive into the exciting world of real estate investing. From Millennials just graduating college to full-fledged adults juggling a 9-5 job and raising three children, it is never too early (or too late for that matter) to begin the difficult yet highly rewarding journey.

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However, like all things in life, trying something new when you’re younger does make things much easier. So, if you are still a little unsure about getting involved in real estate investing, don’t hesitate too long and give this helpful mini-guide a go. After all, perhaps by reading this, you’ll be inspired to take that leap of faith.

How to Harness What You Have to Start


No matter your age, no matter your disposition in life and no matter your surroundings, motivation is something that absolutely everyone can get. So be sure to use that. It is true that as your age increases, you can become less motivated as you become more complacent with your situation and no longer aim for the stars. However, don’t be one of those people. Stay strong and keep motivated because motivation is something that people and situations can’t take away from you unless you let them.



In today’s day and age, access to all the latest information is literally at your fingertips. So keep in mind that if you aren’t tech-savvy already, practicing until you have a firm grasp on how to use social media can be very beneficial. Also understanding the workings of the internet and your smartphone is crucial. Leveraging technology enables you to reach the masses at a rapid pace if used properly. Not to mention, with a resource as awesome as BiggerPockets, you have a wealth of information just a click away.

Related: Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Investing


One of the best assets a person could ever have is time. Don’t hesitate for too long; otherwise, you might just see the sands of time slip through your fingers. Be sure that you create a solid plan now and follow it until you reap the rewards. Remember, time is something you can never get back!


Similar to business owners trying to increase their networks, a successful real estate investor has to begin building relationships from early on. This is because relationships are a fascinating and powerful tool that can be used to your advantage, so if you do this right, you will be able to have a greater stepping stone for success. Therefore, I strongly suggest that you start building these relationships today, both locally and online. Make sure to go the extra mile when creating value for others and not make it so much about what you can get out of the relationship.

Your First Investment

There is no doubt that whatever your first investment property is, it depends on your current situation. Nevertheless, I strongly encourage that for the majority of people who take their first dip into the sea of real estate investing, it should be a main residence (some form of “house hacking“). 

So what other kinds of investments are the most appropriate for those starting out? Well, from what I see, here are two examples of great investments you can make.

The Distressed Property

Buying a cheap house with good potential then renovating and cleaning it up to form a high quality home is not a new story. Buy cheap, improve, sell at a higher price = Profit. Not to mention if you purchase the house with a fixed rate mortgage (strongly suggested), your payment will remain fixed for as long as it takes until you sell it.  


Related: The 6 Most Common Mistakes New Investors Make (Including Thinking It’s Easy!)

The Small Multi-Family

A duplex offers a lot of different options. For example, you and your family might live in half of it while renting the other half out, enabling you to live rent-free and gradually allowing you to start investing in another property. This is because by occupying a small multifamily property, you will most likely be able to lower your monthly expenses while still having the luxury of locking in those low rates available to owner occupants today.

Now go forth and be great!

Newbies: Where are you in your investing process? Any questions about starting out?

Leave your comments below!

Sterling is an multifamily investor specializing in value-add apartments in Indianapolis and other Midwestern markets. With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling was involved with the management of over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $18.9MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments. Through the company he founded Sonder Investment Group, he owns just under 400 units. Sterling was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single family investing and apartment investing to wholesaling and scaling a business.

    John Bennett from Lincolnton, North Carolina
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Thanks for the steller information Agent Sterling,it was so right on time! Your information on Multifamily investments in regard to rates for owner occupancy may save me some money, and get my 25 year old son out of the house! I appreciate you!
    Sterling White Rental Property Investor from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Thank you for the comment John! I wish you the best of luck in 2016
    Timothy F.
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    1 article to get John’s son out of the house. Nicely done, Sterling lol! I really enjoyed the article, too, though. Gotta keep moving forward and don’t let aging take away your motivation!
    Timothy F.
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    1 article to get John’s son out of the house. Nicely done, Sterling lol! I really enjoyed the article, too, though. Gotta keep moving forward and don’t let aging take away your motivation!
    Jamaal Watkins from Cleveland, Ohio
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Great article Sterling. As a newbie curious on your thoughts of three good friends, (one currently house hacking) investing in a single family or duplex rental unit as the starting point of our journey???
    Sterling White Rental Property Investor from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    I personally work towards separating friendships & business, so I would recommend not mixes the two. However if your friends have the right work ethic then go for it. Will be a great learning experience either way. Now Go And Be Great!
    Douglas Larson Rental Property Investor from Salt Lake City, UT
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Sterling, Good summary for anyone intimidated with the basics! The very top graphic is concerning though!… The image looks like a young student trying to commit suicide by walking directly into oncoming traffic! Real estate can seem overwhelming but with bigger pockets forums and podcasts, local REIA groups and some of Brandon Turner’s books and courses a newbie can have hope!… No need to walk on the wrong side of the road. ;-}
    Sterling White Rental Property Investor from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    I didnt notice that. Interesting she is walking on wrongside of road. I hope that was intended! Great point Douglas with all of the resources available to newcomers it should help mitigate the overwhelming feeling when starting in this industry. Still so much to learn like venturing into any other new venture.
    Christopher Mcbride
    Replied 7 months ago
    thank you for the content
    Robert Collins Rental Property Investor from Douglasville, Ga
    Replied 7 months ago
    I’m at the point where I’m looking for a small multi family, that I can get at least $100/ door each in cash flow for me & my partner & a minimum of 12% cash on cash return .