Real Estate Investing Basics

4 Simple Steps Anyone Can Use to Purchase Rental Properties

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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Rental properties are one of the greatest investments out there. But just buying any ole property is a recipe for disaster. You’ve got know what you are doing.

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So, I want to walk you through exactly how I find, finance, and purchase my rental properties—so you can do the same!

Over the past decade, I've purchased nearly 100 rental units, spread out over a couple dozen different properties—some single family houses, some multifamily, and even a mobile home park.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I’ve also hit some home runs, so in this blog post, allow me to walk through the four-step process I’ve learned works best for purchasing rental properties.

4 Simple Steps Anyone Can Use to Purchase Rental Properties

1. Define what you want.

Step one in purchasing rental properties is to define what you want.

Are you looking for a cheap fixer-upper? A nice duplex? A 500-unit apartment complex on the beach?

I really believe that most success in life can be boiled down to two simple steps:

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Hustle until you get it.

That’s why it’s important to define exactly what you want.

And remember: not every property type works for every area, and not every area works for every strategy. So either find what works in your local area, or find an area that fits what you want to do!

When I got started, I decided that I wanted to buy mostly small multifamily properties—duplexes, triplexes, etc. And so I did.

What are you going to go after?

Related: Should You Buy a Rental Property if You Have Existing Debt?

2. Arrange your financing.

Now, granted, step two and three could be done in any order, but I like knowing where my financing is coming from before I hunt for deals.

I’ve used a variety of strategies for financing my rental property purchases:

  • I’ve used traditional 20% down loans from local banks
  • I’ve used partners to fund the down payment, allowing me to do it for no money down
  • I’ve used seller financing
  • I've used lease options
  • I’ve used commercial loans

I’ve also used even more methods—because there are a ton of ways to finance deals. I like to think of it like a tool box. The more tools you have in your toolbox, the more projects you can take on. In the same way, the more financing tools you are aware of in your mental toolbox, the more properties you can buy!

(For more on the creative side of real estate finance, check out my first book The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down.)

Hand with house key in foreground, living room with light wood floors, white couch and white shelves in background

3. Hunt for deals.

And yes, in today’s competitive market, you have to go hunt. They don’t just lie down on your doorstep, begging to come in.

The strategy behind hunting for real estate deals is actually fairly simple. I use the acronym LAPS to describe it:

  • Get leads
  • Analyze them
  • Pursue them
  • And find Success

Now, leads can come from anywhere:

  • Real estate agents
  • Websites like Realtor.com or Zillow.com
  • Direct mail marketing
  • Craigslist
  • Word of mouth
  • Whatever else

And once you start getting lots of leads, you start analyzing them to find out how much you can pay. Then, go after the ones that you like. And if you are consistent and persistent enough with this process, you’ll eventually find success.

(Of course, check out The BiggerPockets Investment Calculators to see how easy it is to run the numbers on any rental, flip, wholesale, or BRRRR deal in under five minutes.)

And that leads to the final step…

4. Purchase your rentals!

At this stage, you’ll need to use a local title company or an attorney (in a few weird states) to do a title search and handle all the paperwork.

The title company pulls everything together and makes it nice and organized. They work with the lender, any agents involved, and you and the seller. They tie everything together to help get you the keys.

And that’s how I purchase rental properties—and how you can start doing the same. But before you leave, let me give you three quick action steps you can implement today:

  1. Head over to Realtor.com or Zillow.com and start checking out some properties.
  2. Try running the numbers on one of those properties using the Biggerpockets Rental Property Calculator. Remember what your momma told you: Practice makes perfect. So start running the numbers daily until you feel comfortable to start building your empire.
  3. And third, if you liked this blog post, don’t forget to share it to help others learn how to purchase rental properties, too!

Related: What Newbies Should Know About Financing Investment Properties (Versus Homes)

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What questions do you have about landing your first rental property?

Leave them 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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    Shirleen Mueni
    Replied over 2 years ago
    best way to getting profit from a property I’ve bought and want to sell?
    Daniel Bork from Buffalo, NY
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Great to the point video Brandon !
    Cecilia Arnulphi from Ashland, Massachusetts
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Brandon, when you use partners for the down payment, how do you structure with the bank. Do you put them in the deed? If someone will lend you the money for down payment most banks would ask that the funds are available in your account several weeks before the closing. I have a friend willing to do that for me but when I bring it up with banks I get a million questions like I’m about to commit a crime. What’s the best way to go about it for a smooth closing?
    Teresia Sayler Investor from Snohomish, Washington
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Following…this is one of my hesitations on using partners, this unknown.
    Travis Turner Real Estate Broker from Colorado Springs, Colorado
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Also, important question as I look for a financial partner: – if I have a financial partner put up 20% for the down payment on a rental (let’s say it’s a duplex) and let’s say the asking price is 500k, so he is putting up 100k. What percentage of the cash flow should he get going forward and for how long? I am currently in negotiations and I need to know what is equitable for both parties. Thanks, any comments welcome!
    Jenny Samedy from Massapequa
    Replied about 2 years ago
    As a newbie i saw the perfect short sale deal last night and called this am, just to find out its cash only since the tenants won’t allow anyone to come in for inspection or appraisal. I realized it’s tough competing in an expensive location. It’s a learning process. I definitely agree with your point on making sure you know where your financing would be coming from before shopping around.