Looking for real estate primers, etc.
April 5, 2012 7:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering investing in real estate in a major US city as a landlord. What resources/books/blogs/best practices can you recommend before diving in?

As far back as I can remember, I've wanted to own rental property, and at this point, I feel like I'm in a good position to start:

  • I'm an attorney, and my jurisdiction will allow me to waive into becoming a licensed real estate broker without any other certification requirements
  • I have a sizeable amount of liquid assets to invest (let's just assume $600K in liquid assets (including $300K cash), plus some other illiquid assets)
  • handy (and enjoy it) and fit
  • supportive spouse
  • some student loan debt, but no other debt, and good credit

  • My spouse and I are ourselves renters, coincidentally. Right now we're not looking to owner-occupy; we're happy renting. No interest whatsoever in building new property.

    We're very much still in the exploratory phase. Can you recommend some resources to help refine our thinking on this? For instance, I'm interested in the rational framework for deciding whether to buy, for instance, a condo in a more affluent area (higher cost, but likely more stability) versus buying a multi unit building in a less affluent area (lower cost, but possibly less stable), and similar questions.

    Obviously, one part of this will be educating ourselves about tenants' rights in our jurisdiction, and we'll get a real estate lawyer.
    posted by 5845(f)(1)(D) to Work & Money (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
    Tenants' rights are a good place to start, as you want to know whether you can charge a market rate or whether the government has decided that you can only charge a certain rent.

    That will obviously affect your potential income, etc.

    Network with other small property owners in your area. Ask them about pitfalls. Get to know people in the neighborhood, its demographics, etc. Is it mostly renters? Mostly owners? What's the median age and income? Single people? Married couples? White collar professionals? Blue collar laborers? How many bankruptcies were declared in the ZIP code in the last 12 months? How many foreclosures?

    The more demographic information you can retrieve about the neighborhood in which you're thinking of investing, the better you can parse its risks. You're essentially doing credit analysis on a neighborhood and potential tenants and those with whom your eventual tenant will associate.
    posted by dfriedman at 7:09 AM on April 5, 2012

    You can buy a high-end, low-end, or middle-end property but in my experience, the quality of the tenant is always the most important.

    For a small fee, local Property Management companies are willing to meet with you or discuss over the phone and have a Landlord 101 type conversation that will help you understand the local market, local tenant's rights, and can assist (if needed, and for more fees of course) handling all the advertising and paperwork needed to secure a good, honest renter.
    posted by lstanley at 7:28 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Get involved in your local REIA. (Real Estate Investment Association).
    There you will find a lot of other investors, and lots of good resources, and other such things.

    I am a long time real estate investor. I started in 1996. I cashed out just before the collapse, and I am buying back in now. My local REIA has been a great help to me.
    posted by Flood at 8:31 AM on April 5, 2012

    Subscribe to http://www.biggerpockets.com/ and read read read.
    posted by lohmannn at 9:25 AM on April 5, 2012

    There is a very long thread about owning rental property on Fatwallet, on the Finance forum. I've found it very useful.
    posted by iknowizbirfmark at 10:08 AM on April 5, 2012

    As a landlord I found this book - Landlording - very helpful.

    Second the recommendation to join a local rental property owners association, and talk with current landlords in the area where you live.
    posted by scooterdog at 6:46 PM on April 5, 2012

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