For the uninitiated, investing in real estate can seem like a big, mysterious activity that you pretty much have to be born with a special gene to do. They don’t know that you can break it up into several smaller steps, and that it is only a matter of learning how to get through each one.
The following are seven steps you can follow in order to go from being an Average Joe or Josephine to being Joe Cool, real estate mogul. They will at least get you closer to the latter.
1. Realize that it is not outside of your grasp. As one step leads into another, you first have to begin thinking like a real estate investor. And real estate investors think about finding good deals. However, you may not know a good deal if it jumps up and bites you on the nose.
2. That’s why you have to learn some basic accounting. You don’t have to spend 10 years studying under ancient Chinese accounting master, but you should learn how to read financial statements. You should learn about cash flow. You should learn the difference between an asset and a liability, not just take your banker’s word for it.
3. Once you know how to read the language if investment, you will be in a position to learn how to recognize a good deal when you see one. This is a bit trickier. Although you should do plenty of reading on the subject, the best way to learn is through doing. Get out there and look for deals.
4. Learn about the markets you want to play in. If you are thinking about buying a specific kind of property, learn about the markets in the area you are interested in. The market should actually determine where you make your purchase. Look for a community that is progressive, for one thing. A place with a good quality of life. A place with a good economy.
5. Set goals. Determine what you want to accomplish and when you want to accomplish it. Make sure it is within your reach and then take the steps to actually make it happen.
6. Develop your team. You will need to hire professionals to help you with things like accounting and legal issues. You will want people who know more than you do about how buildings are put together to appraise property for you. According to Ken McElroy, author of ?The ABCs of Investing,? the worst thing you could do is skimp on this step and try to be a ?real estate do-it-yourselfer.? That may appear to save you money in the beginning but you will pay dearly in the end.
7. Make your first purchase. When the numbers add up, McElroy says, then it is a good deal. Don’t leap without looking, but if you’ve looked and the numbers add up, then it’s time to jump.
Of course, this is a simplified version of the process, but it is a good way to get an overview. Each one of these steps could be further mapped out. The trick is to do your research and take it at your own pace. Don’t rush. Learn the process. The first purchase will be the most difficult. After that, the real learning starts.