Real Estate Investing – Avoiding The ‘Frequently Made Mistakes’

Real estate investing has been the American dream. However, it’s not for the faint-hearted, many have lost money because they made mistakes. It’s a risky business so you need to know the ‘how to’s or you could join the ones who lost money rather than made it.

You know what some real-estate gurus tell you – Real estate investing is easy! It’s as simple as finding a low-priced property, getting it painted, plant some greenery, and wait for buyers to fight for it – so they say. They entice you into real estate investing by telling you it’s possible without even putting in a dollar.

A common scenario is someone who invests over a couple of thousand dollars for one of these Real estate investing seminars with some hot-shot investing guru. Excited about the prospect of making enough money to retire on, they become convinced that real estate investing is their answer. Only a year or so later, and they’ve realized that investing isn’t a quick fix, and it takes more than a seminar to be successful.

There are many pitfalls that new investors can make which we can only cover a few of – but at least it’s a start. Here are three of the main ones.

If you go into real estate investing emotionally, and not as a business venture, you’ll definitely lose out. What does this mean? Well, say you find a property that you immediately fall in love with. It’s so cute, it’s got a pretty garden, it’s got character etc. You will be making an emotional buy and not an objective one that should be considering the suitability of price, for tenants, and even resell prospects.

The less knowledge you have about real estate investment, the more risk you’ll be taking. Investing blind means buying real estate as if your eyes are shut – such as blinding believing all you’re told at real estate seminars or agents. You must do your research; read and read and then read some more on the subject; ask others who have been successful and learn from them. Just a little lack of knowledge could mean that you end up with a bad buy.

Many real estate investors have fallen due to lack of cash flow. This is the key phase for survival in the investing business. Not having cash reserves makes your position very risky and shaky. Sure you can use your credit but credit needs repayment. And that investment property will have hidden costs. The more pressure you’re under the easier it is to make silly mistakes. Make sure you allow for sufficient cash flow.

Research is only as good as knowing what to look for. An example; say you were investing using the ‘fix and flip’ technique which means re-selling quickly for a profit.

Say you buy a property that looks like it fits all the requirements. You spend a little bit of time researching and checking zoning requirements. All seems good and you spend money and time doing it up. Only to find out that you hadn’t checked requirements carefully enough and you’ve created an apartment block with too many apartments for the zoning area. Guess who’s going to be out of money? Do your reading for knowledge and your research for reducing risk.

So, you’re ready for your property to be tenanted. Don’t rush in and accept the first people who apply. It’s very gratifying to know that someone wants to live in your newly acquired property, and the cash would definitely come in handy with bank bills to pay. But it is well known by long-term real estate investors that bad tenants cost a lot more than a couple of weeks waiting for the right ones to come along. Screen your tenants – choose carefully. Getting references is a good start.


To succeed in real estate investing you need to read for knowledge and research to reduce risk. Then you won’t get sucked-in by real estate investment gurus offering you the world for nothing.

About the Author

Brooke Hayles
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