As a new investor who hasn't done a deal, who is the first person I should talk to? An agent, a lawyer, a contractor, a lender, etc.? I don't want anyone to look at me and assume I'm wasting their time because I'm sure other people have done so before.
Talk to a couple of them to see the options they give you
@Derek Morrison I would say talk to another investor in your area who is successful and doing the type of real estate you want to do and who is where you would like to be in 3-5 years. This investor should have a system in place that works. You can meet an investor like this at local investor meetups, here on BiggerPockets or through word of mouth. Offer to take that investor out to lunch and pay for it. At lunch ask questions but don’t ask for all of the investors contacts, investing tips, or where he finds all of his deals. Just ask for maybe one or two things such as what banks he has found to be most friendly towards investors. Or how he got started and what he learned from his first deal. You could also ask him what parts of his business right now seem to be the most frustrating or difficult. See if there is anyway you can help with that aspect of his business. The more value you can add to him and his business, the more likely he would be willing to share things with you that will save you both time and money as you get started.
@Derek Morrison Talking with attorneys, CPAs, contractors, lenders, etc. is putting the cart before the horse. Take a direct path and find someone who is already successful doing what you want to be doing. That's your starting point. Get a deal done, then worry about the other stuff. Keep it simple, Derek.
@Derek Morrison Go to a local REIA (Real estate investment association) meetup and you'll likely get a chance to meet all of those people, plus more.
Talk with a Lender first to see what financing options are available to you. I would recommend a local portfolio bank.
Talk with a real estate agent to get a better feel for the market and its opportunities.
Network with investors in the area. Ask as many questions as you can. Your goal should be to build a relationship and try to learn as much as possible and nothing more.
Talk with the City or local municipality. Reach out the Planning Dept. or Code Enforcement Dept. Ask them about trends, areas to avoid, neighborhoods to target, etc.
Thanks everyone for the feedback. It seems like "other local investors" or "lender" are the top suggestions!