Beginning Real Estate Investing – Understanding Market Values

Another in a series of articles on beginning real estate investing. A crucial step to becoming a wise real estate investor is getting to know your local market, and learning to put a value on the properties within your target neighborhoods.

Beginning real estate investing involves learning a new set of skills, one of the most important of which is valuing property. For the limited scope of this article, we?ll limit our discussion to residential single-family and duplex homes.

When you are just beginning real estate investing, it?s helpful to set a goal for yourself to become the market value expert in one or two select neighborhoods. When choosing these neighborhoods, look for locations close to your home with a good selection of homes in the lower-middle to middle price range for your market. This is where you?ll find the best combination of working-class homeowners and what I call ?aspirational? renters- those renters who aspire to homeownership. These will become your best customers.

Once you?ve found one or two of these neighborhoods, start driving through at least twice a week, looking for all real estate activity, including listed sales, For Sale By Owner, auctions, estate sales, vacant property, even moving van activity. As someone who is beginning real estate investing you should get tuned in to the pulse of the neighborhood.

Look for and get to know the local Realtors. Stop in to the Realty offices and introduce yourself. Find out who the most active listing agents are, who sells the most houses, who deals with the most foreclosures, and who works with the investors. These are the best Realtors to work with as you are beginning real estate investing.

Also, beginning real estate investing means getting to know local service people, especially contractors. Talk to as many of these as you can, and find the ones that do a lot of work in your target neighborhood, especially plumbers. Ask them what kinds of recurring problems they see. They will provide you a wealth of information.

Give yourself a timetable to learn property values in your target neighborhood. Three to six months is probably realistic. When you are just beginning real estate investing you will need to work closely with a Realtor. Ask for all the listings in your target neighborhood, and try to see them all. Ask also for the listings of comparable sales (Comps) so you can see what similar properties have sold for recently.

Build a spreadsheet, database, or even just a handwritten notebook so you can refer back to it from time to time. This will become a valuable resource for you as you progress beyond beginning real estate investing. Slowly but surely you will become an expert on property values in your target neighborhoods. You will be able to look at most any property and know, within a few hundred dollars, exactly what it?s market value is. This knowledge will serve you very well as you progress in your real estate investing activities.

For more in-depth information, visit my website and read more about beginning real estate investing.

Now, go make more offers!

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Tom Dunn is a successful real estate investor and author of the popular DealFiles Real Estate Investor Stories free newsletter. You are welcome to share this report, unedited and in it’s entirety, with anyone you like. You may not remove this text.? 2007 by Tom Dunn. Website: e-mail:

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