How to get started in real estate investing after college

12 Replies

Hello everyone. I’m graduating from Eastern Illinois University in the summer and am very interested in getting started in real estate investing. I have been listening to the Bigger Pockets podcast and reading as much as I can about flipping and single family rentals. Looking for some ideas on the best ways to get started after graduating.

I am trying to pursue a career in commercial real estate brokerage but want to generate a passive income as well. I live in the Seattle area and am open to all ideas. Thanks!

First thing you need is to figure out where you are going to get the money to invest.  Start now to understand where the money is coming from.  If you are borrowing from a bank, you will need good credit and money for down payment and closing costs.

A great way to get started is too buy an apartment with 4 or less units. If you live in one of the units, you can purchase the units with an FHA 3.5% down payment plus closing costs. This is one of the best ways I know of to start off. You can only have one FHA loan, so this needs to be your first acquisition with an FHA loan.

I agree with @John Myers . I started out by house hacking a duplex with an FHA mortgage while in college. It worked for me because I had a tiny bit of money saved, I wasn't allowed to live with my parents anymore, and I had the 2 years of w2 proof. We kinda need more information on your situation like if you already have a steady income/job, saved money, etc. Living with your parents rent free is a different story too...Becoming a commercial broker is pricey in itself as well and could mean little to no pay for a while so keep that in mind.

Hi @Alex Spahman , if you’re looking for completely passive income, flipping and active rental property investing will not get you there. Now, if you do your homework and have an all star team in place, buying and holding real estate can be mostly passive.

If you intend to focus your time on your full time job and other more important things in life, passive investing in a real estate syndication is a good option. A syndication is basically a partnership where a general partner (sponsor/manager) and limited partners (investors) acquire properties that they would not be able to purchase alone. Investing as a limited partner generates passive income for you without any of the operational responsibilities. If you pursue this route, be sure to do your due diligence on the deal and the sponsor. Not all sponsors are created equal.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Hey @Alex Spahman here are a few things to do right now:

1. First, make sure you have strong personal financial health. You should be an expert in your own financial situation right now. If you can't tackle your personal finances, I don't think you can master it in real estate yet. Understand your income and expenses. Figure out how to cut personal expenses and increase income.

2. Aggressively save so when a deal comes, you're prepared to jump on it.

3. Don't get sucked into feeling that you should follow what most of society does after college. Many people get that first job, that steady salary, and they blow it on partying or buying their first fancy car. Stay disciplined.

4. CONSTANTLY network and meet other successful investors. Become friends. If you do this for years, opportunities will start to flow your way naturally.

5. Figure out what your first investing strategy will be. And focus on that first. Don't dabble when you're just getting started. It's hard to make progress that way early on. You'll have plenty of time to dabble when you get more experience and have the proper systems in place to be successful in multiple different ventures.

6. Understand that you will make mistakes. A ton of them. What will separate you from the rest is how you react to those mistakes. Either get frustrated and give up or learn and move on.

Best of luck!


@John Myers is right - its hard to beat a 2-4 unit property with an FHA loan as a way to get started, especially in expensive markets like Seattle. Househacking a large 4-8 bedroom single family home is just as good, and deals on those properties are much more readily available than small multi-families.

Are you considering investing here, out of state, or undecided?

@Alex Spahman

I'm in a similar position to you (Junior at the University of Iowa), and my research points to house hacking being the best way for us to get started!

As others have said before, house hacking is a low-money-down way to invest in real estate that involves you living in the property and renting out the other rooms/units to other people. You can get a duplex/triplex/quad with as low as 3.5% down thanks to the trusty FHA Loan, which means that you can start investing in real estate pretty much right out of college if you been able to work and save up a little bit of money while you were studying.

I plan to house hack in Minneapolis after college for 3 big reasons:

1)  You can avoid paying rent/cut your housing costs from your budget all together. Housing is the largest expense for most Americans, so if you have your tenants paying your mortgage for you, you are in an excellent financial position as you have effectively eliminated a $700+ monthly expense from your budget.

2) Landlording Experience. It'll be much easier for us to learn how to manage rental properties if we live inside the first one we own. Do the easy repairs yourself, manage tenant relations, and save a boatload on property management for your first property.

3) Low bar to entry. Most Conventional Loans are 20% down. I don't know your financial situation, but I do not have that kind of money, plus a reserve for immediate emergency expenses, coming out of college. House Hacking lets you dip your foot into the world of real estate without having a lot of money, and, if my research is correct, you can do it once every year for just 3.5% down! 

My strategy is currently to purchase one house hack a year once I graduate, one apartment complex every 5 years, and reach financial freedom (not having to work a wage-paying job) in the next 10 years. If you want to connect or learn more about house hacking/financial freedom shoot me a PM and I will recommend some great books to you!

Best of luck to you Alex,

AJ Smith

@Alex Spahman  congrats on graduating from Eastern! I'm from Illinois too (went to ISU). I'd like to offer some humble advice as you start your career in real estate...

1) Take the Myers-Briggs Test
2) Take the Strength Finders Test (now called "Cliftonstrengths")

The reason I'm suggesting this is because there are HUNDREDS of ways to build wealth in real estate. It's really important that you're doing something that you really love doing every day.

When I first started out, I was wholesaling properties. I was making really good money and hated it. The reason is that it didn't fit my personality. I enjoy large, longterm projects where I can visualize big picture scenarios and execute. That's my personality.

It takes a little soul searching (and tests like the ones I recommended) to become clear on your strengths and what resonates with your personality.

Put yourself in a position that leverages your strengths. Surround yourself with people who are strong in areas where you are weak. When you do those two things in real estate, magical things will start to happen.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here