Real Estate Investing Basics

3 Tips to Succeed With Your Very First Property

Expertise: Real Estate Investing Basics, Personal Development, Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management, Flipping Houses, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Personal Finance, Real Estate Marketing
247 Articles Written

I’ve been investing in real estate for many years now. I’ve made money on deals, and I’ve lost money on deals. This particular year, I’ve probably lost the most money that I ever have throughout my entire real estate career.

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Now, I’ve also been very fortunate to complete over 500 real estate transactions. Who’s counting, right? But experience has led me to believe that when you’re doing your first deal, you need to start small, slow, and cheap.

Succeed With Your First Property Ever

So, let me talk about small, slow, and cheap. A lot of folks out there who I’ve come across and spoken with have wanted to work with me through one of my various companies. They all get excited about investing in real estate and this new passion that they’ve found.

So, then they go and borrow a lot of money and refinance where they live, or maybe they ask their parents and family to give them cash. Then, they go out and buy every property they see or they buy the biggest piece of crap property known to man, because they think they are good at renovating after watching one those fake TV flipping shows. Guys, bad idea. Bad move. Don’t do it.

Related: 4 Questions Every New Investor Needs to Ask Their Attorney

1. Choose an affordable area.

This is what I think you should do. Find an affordable area, predominantly a B or C-class area, even though I know it could be rougher from a property management standpoint. I also believe that you need to invest the least amount of money possible because the less money you invest, the lower the risk you will have. The more money you invest, the more risk.

I say this because the likelihood of you losing and not doing well on that first transaction is very high. Unless you strike it lucky—and I don’t believe in luck—you probably won’t do well on your first deal. Even if you break even on that first deal, that is freaking great. I lost on my first five deals, so if you can do better than that, I think you’re doing well.

2. Don’t take on too much work.

Don’t give up if you lose and make mistakes because they’ll make you better. Trust me, after 500 deals, you’ll be thanking me for it. So, start slow, start off small. Find a low-rent area, buy a property for the least you can, and make sure that it does not need much work.

Forget about structural renovations, building foundation walls, major electrical work, and significant plumbing and roof work. You want to buy a property that does not need too much work. At best, you’ll find a property in need of a cosmetic rehab—paint, carpet, linoleum in the bathroom, linoleum in the kitchen, etc.

Portrait of a young confident smiling indian man with his arms crossed looking into the distance

Related: How to NOT Sound Like a Multifamily Newbie (& Actually Land Deals!)

3. Negotiate long and hard up front.

Now, another thing that I would recommend you guys do is something that I have done a lot of. That is to negotiate long and hard up front. If you are in a buyer’s market like I am in the Midwest—particularly Toledo, Ohio—there are a lot of sellers who want to sell because there is not much competition. So, anyone who comes along with a firm, quick-close offer will accept the deal.

Instead of buying properties that need a lot of work, buy them dirt cheap and spend four to six weeks renovating them. When you renovate, you take on a ton of risk because there are a lot of outside factors that you can’t take into consideration like contractors screwing you or the city shutting you down.

And then, I would sell these properties for a decent profit to investors looking at buying. Now, even though I may make a bigger profit on paper because I bought a distressed property, fixed it, sold it, and made my margin, what I’ve gotten smarter at doing is realizing that time is money. So, now I am spending more buying properties that do not need that much work, turning them around quickly, and making less profit on that particular deal.

Final Thoughts

This is my message to all the beginners out there. I hope you can learn something. This is coming from someone who has done a lot of deals, made a lot of money, and lost a lot of money. Start slow, start small, start cheap, and negotiate well. Guys, remember, you do not make money when you sell, you make money when you buy. So, make sure that you buy below market value.

Any questions? I’d love to hear from you.

Do you think I’m right? Do you think I’m wrong?

Engelo Rumora, a.k.a."the Real Estate Dingo," quit school at the age of 14 and played professional soccer at the age of 18. From there, he began to invest in real estate. He now owns real estate al...
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    Curt Smith Rental Property Investor from Clarkston, GA
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Great advice Engelo, love your videos and commonsense advice. Consistent with this post, is how we worked our way to financial independence. To help new folks I wrote up our business model for buying rentals. This file is linked off my profile, 1st paragraph, How to buy a bullet proof rental portfolio.
    Engelo Rumora Specialist from Toledo, OH
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    My apologies Curt for calling you “Chris”. Have a great day.
    Engelo Rumora Specialist from Toledo, OH
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Hi Chris, Thanks for your comment and kind words mate. It would be great if you can post the link in the comment section here for others to download. Thanks again and much success
    Richi Wagner
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Thanks Engelo I’m totaly new in this and its easy to get excited. Keep cool and do the numbers I guess
    Engelo Rumora Specialist from Toledo, OH
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    My pleasure Richi, Take your time and don’t rush. There will always be another deal or opportunity around the corner. I wish you much success
    Rodney B Gibson Rental Property Investor from Gouverneur, NY
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Great article! As a new investor and super motivated I realized I was willing to buy anything I saw. After this I can honestly take a quick pause and better analyze my move. BTW, I love reading your articles and watching your YouTube videos. Keep up the great work! Rod
    Engelo Rumora Specialist from Toledo, OH
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Hi Rod, Thanks for your comment and kind words. I’m super glad that you find my content valuable. Stay patient mate. The biggest mistakes I made and still make is due to my lack of patience. I wish you much success. Keep the dream alive
    Moyo Olaniyan-A
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Great tips for a newbie like myself, thanks for sharing.
    Engelo Rumora Specialist from Toledo, OH
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Thanks for your comment and kind words Moyo, Much success
    Dan Levy from New York, NY
    Replied 10 months ago
    Quick to the point. No BS. Quality content. This is why I joined bigger pockets. It’s members like you, with your experience and car, that make it that much more entertaining to learn. Thank you for this lesson.
    Engelo Rumora Specialist from Toledo, OH
    Replied 10 months ago
    Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm glad you found my blog useful. Much success
    Lizbeth Castellano New to Real Estate from Connecticut
    Replied 10 months ago
    Really enjoyed this article. I'm a VERY NEW NEWBIE and have been contemplating waiting until I save more to buy in the best areas. This gives me the environment to go for it even if the area is not too notch. PS. No worries will not be investing in the worst part of town either, no thank you 😀
    Engelo Rumora Specialist from Toledo, OH
    Replied 10 months ago
    Awesome Liz, I'm excited and happy for you. Learn from the mistakes you make and never give up. I wish you all the best
    Randall Marshall
    Replied 10 months ago
    I strongly disagree with getting anything under B grade property as your first investment. This is a how you get crazy destructive tenants that move constantly, and the building will already be in disrepair. This is a recipe for ending up demoralized. Think twice about buying any rental property you would not live in. Take out a 3. 5% FHA loan and live in the building for a year as house hacking.
    Na Khan
    Replied 10 months ago
    Hi Engelo, Precise and valuable points for new investors. Do you recommend some emerging markets need to consider for beginners Thanks