Ok, so I am not as interested in flipping houses as much as I am interested in buying distressed properties for buy and hold. I am currently reading The Book on Flipping Houses by J. Scott. I believe it was in Chapter 5, J. Scott recommended picking a single or possibly two areas codes to focus on as your "farm area". Would it be safe to say that this same idea would transfer over to a buy and hold strategy (for a new investor)?
Absolutely. Regardless of the strategy you want to invest with (is flipping investing..? Ha) you should have a criteria. That criteria should include type of home, location, price points, the list goes on and on..!
Agreed with Frank. You should have criteria, even if only to narrow down your search and allow you to truly understand the area where you'll be investing. I've seen lots of new investors who say, "I'll buy anywhere..." and then don't buy anything, because they aren't able to focus.
For starting out with rentals, I think you can expand your farm area a little wider than for when you're starting out flipping...but still have a limited area...
Having a farm area for any type of business in the real estate realm is going to be very helpful. If you are an expert in that area, you will almost know exactly what it is worth in it's current condition and it's ARV. This is helpful for buy and hold, flipping, and being an agent. The only thing I do suggest is that do not let yourself become blind to opportunities outside of your farm.