Living in city that is rapidly growing, everything SO expensive

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I'm 24, I revived my RE license in March, and would like to further my career in Real Estate by owning rental homes and/or flipping houses. Currently, I am a assistant property manager for a mountain resort in North Carolina. I was born and raised in Charlotte, NC and currently in on Lake Norman (about 20 miles north of the city). I've spent countless days and hours reading about owning rental homes, flipping homes, and everything in between. I'm absorbing all of the really good info on this site but I have the same questions after each article I read... can you guys provide some insight?

First - the city of Charlotte is one of the fastest growing cities on the east cost right now. Population is dramatically increasing by the months / years which, from what I've seen, is driving the price of real estate through the roof. There is literally no such thing as a "$80,000 to $100,000 fixer upper" anywhere that I have found. I don't have access to MLS yet but what other places can I look? Craigslist is flooded with real estate firms. I travel back and forth to the mountains a lot so I don't have a ton of free time to drive around looking for FSBO's. Since real estate in my area is so high, is that my hint to NOT to invest right now? Or is real estate expensive everywhere at the moment?

Second - I have a little bit in savings however, would rather not drain myself using that money towards a down payment for my FIRST time flipping a home (or keeping it for a rental home). Most of the low down payments loans require you to live in the home. What do you do in this situation? Keep saving until I can comfortably put 20% down on a home I'll need to put more money in to rent or flip?

Any suggestions on these topics are greatly appreciated. God bless. 

Hey Erica! I'm the same age as you and a fellow investor in Charlotte. What I've seen over the past few years is a combination of low interest rates / good economy, combined with the area growth making home values soar. While it is true there are no homes within the parameters your listing ($80-$100k) in MLS, I think you may be able to find some off market. It's daunting to put your life savings down on a flip, and I would not advise that. Even though you can do really well, I would recommend a safer plan with buy & holds. If the economy changes & home prices change due to extraordinary events, you'd need to to make sure you have a plan B and the property would work as a flip or a buy & hold. The way I got into my first rental was using a FHA 5% down and living in it for ~1.5yrs, saving up money for the next property and renting out the first. If you're willing to, maybe finding a property to rent out a portion and house hack.

Feel free to connect & let me know if you want to meet up. While I’m in the Matthews area, I work over in Huntersville. Good luck!

As Colleen mentioned it may be best to live in your first home and you can potentially slowly fix it up along the way. I implemented a similar strategy along with renting out the other two bedrooms in the house. Thus, I was essentially living for free and putting any excess capital into improving the home. I sold for a nice profit a few years later.