The look and cost of your best rental properties

8 Replies

Hi everyone, 

I'm new to BP and actively searching for my first rental property now. But I'm running into the situation where pretty much all of the properties that have been shown to me by real estate agents look over priced and in sketchy areas. 

I'm located in the Atlanta area and plan on investing locally first. I was hoping someone could show me some photos of the properties they have invested in (recently & in the same area) and how much spent to give me a better idea of what I should Be looking for for my price range (which I'm open to suggestion as well).

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I start my investing portfolio! Thanks!

Hi @John Dean are you looking for your first rental in Atlanta or Cobb County? The types of properties you find in Cobb vs Fulton or Dekalb are quite different. And depending on your criteria (turn key rental vs one that requires work) you'll tend to find more overpriced in not the best areas. Flippers do just flip to the end owner occupant. Some end up flipping homes to investors but still need their spread to make it a good deal for them. What's your max, what area(s) are you looking and are you willing to do some renovation or move in ready? Hopefully I can suggest some areas to consider.

@John Dean  That's because they are overpriced!  Don't let that bother you.  Make an offer you feel is fair.  Actually, make several offers and stay engaged until the houses you're bidding on sell.  You'll get one where you want for a fair price.  

Don't buy a rental house in a sketchy area.  It's likely to ruin your real estate career.  Being a first time landlord has enough hurdles.  You don't need to add the risk of extensive repairs, vandalism, and professional tenants.  

Where are you looking?  I'd look in Kennesaw if I lived in Marietta.  I'd also buy a nicer house that I could retail down the road if I had a W2.  

Yea IMO step 1 would be to stop using an agent to find a rental. I'm not sure what your return standards are, but using an agent the traditional way is "usually" the most expensive route to find a property. If you want to use this route, get a couple more agents working for you and have them make multiple offers a day/week for you. Always under asking. Most will get rejected but 1 every once in a while will get accepted. 

Discount wise, you have better luck working with wholesalers. You can find these people by going to ALL of your local REI meet-ups and introducing yourself as a buy and hold buyer. Give them all your email so you can get on their buyers list. This will be good for your future anyway. The problem here, is that most wholesalers expect you to act fast. Sometimes requiring non-refundable earnest money to lock up a contract on one of their deals. So you would need to have a contractor on call to go visit props with your unless you have that experience. Most props will need some work. But even this route has props priced high right now b/c of the market we are in. If there are buyers willing to pay it, then you can best believe the wholesalers will price it there.

The third way I'll mention is the best way to find properties, but also is not free. Marketing. You can pull lists in areas that you want to buy and send letters. Handwritten or printed, using a site like There is lots to learn about this route, and you can find most of it here on BP, but its by far the best way to find deeply discounted properties and also being able to have some precious time to check it out without the competition breathing down your neck. You will just need to work your marketing expenses into the deal when negotiating. 

To answer your question.. I like to buy my rentals in Decatur. 30032 isn't a bad zip depending on the streets. I like 4 sided brick ranches. My first ever rental was in this zip. It was a 3BR, 2BA, brick ranch, with a fenced in back yard and a carport. Hardwood floors throughout, but needed some light touch ups. It had a 2 year old roof and HVAC system. I got it from a wholesaler for $47,000 in Feb of 2016 and put about $2,000 into it. It rents like clockwork for $900/mo. I save 40% for all expenses and pocket 60%. Since then I have bought a duplex in the same zip, and another 3/1 brick ranch in SW ATL. I like low income rentals. Way better deals usually. You just have to VET YOUR TENANTS PROPERLY, and not take the first few that show you a  security dep. 

@John Dean I agree with Rick, stick to a price you think is fair and eventually a seller will negotiate with you. Seems you need to define the location, budget, return and comfort level of rehab. Once you have those general guidelines, it will be easier for you to determine if a deal is acceptable. I have a property in SW Atlanta that I bought for $30K 10/16, I put about $15K into the property, (1 HVAC was stolen) and it rents for $900 a month. It is a 2/1 and about 1200 SF

Thanks  to everyone who responded! There is definitely some really good  information and advice that I will be using from all of this. I'm trying to stay open minded since this is my first rodeo, so budget wise I wouldn't mind spending 150k on a quality property that I can get a good return on and have some good cash flow. I also wouldn't Mind getting something for less and having to do minor updates or repair, but I will want to avoid anything major. My comfort areas are north west of Atlanta and up 400. Just because I know know these areas, with my day job it's hard to get down to areas like Decatur or west Atlanta to get a feel of the neighborhoods.

@John Dean I don’t personally like certain areas. It’s all about what you feel you can handle. I pretty much stay in Cobb and Cherokee and while the prices are higher, so are the rents. I do agree with @Parker Stiles about wholesalers. Problem is finding good ones who are not trying to gut the deal. I’m that case, you may as well stick with a realtor. I also don’t discount good realtors. Picked up one in Kennesaw last week off of the MLS for about 75% ARV. Now, that was just plain lucky and the Gods were shining down on me that day. That’s not normal off of the MLS these days especially with the bidding wars, but it can happen. Point is, pick your target area and scour every part of it — FSBOs, Realtor’s, wholesalers — and you will come up with something.

@John Dean Area will most definitely dictate selling price of the property and monthly rental price. Find an area you are comfortable with, that also has the kinds of prices you are comfortable with. Also, something I think is an underrated principal in renting is to get a property management company to handle the day to day. They only take a percentage and it frees you up to put less effort into handling your rental portfolio, especially as it begins to grow. This can allow you to look in different places that you may not have considered due to proximity and location. 

@John Dean , I recommend you take out a pen and a piece of paper and write your criteria down. Brokers are often the best way to find great deals, solely because they are in the trenches every single day. That being said, not all agents/brokers offer the same quality. One thing they do like is when their buyer knows exactly what they want. Your job as the investor is to spend their time wisely, as they don't like to waste it (nor should you waste yours). 

Good luck, let me know if I can help answer any other questions. 



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