It is a great time to be a real-estate investor. If you are looking to jump in the investor market low home prices and low interest rates make this a great time. According to Zillow.com. the real-estate market is starting to recover: U.S. houses lost $489 billion in value during the first 11 months of 2009, but that was significantly lower than the $3.6 trillion lost during 2008 and things only continue to look up.

While the timing may be right, you will need to have all your ducks in a row. An investment purchase is different than your typical purchase.

Consider your options.

Have a strategy and know what kind of investor you would like to be. Ask yourself if you want to be a landlord, or are you planning on flipping or restoring and reselling properties. What types of properties are you interested in? There are many choices from land, to apartment buildings, residential housing and other commercial real estate.

Partner with experience.

Real estate agents experienced in investment property deals know what to look for in a deal. You may also want to consider asking a more experienced real-estate investor for advice. If you plan on becoming a landlord make sure to familiarize yourself with the local laws regarding being a landlord.

Location, location, location.

If you buy a property with hopes of renting it out, location is key. Homes in high-rent or highly populated areas are ideal; stay away from rural areas where there are fewer people and a small pool of potential renters. Also, look for homes with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms in neighborhoods that have a low crime rate. Also think about potential selling points for your property. If it’s near public transportation, shopping malls or other amenities, it will attract renters, as well as potential buyers if you decide to sell later. The more you have to offer, the more likely you are to please potential renters.

Have capital lined up.

Speak to potential lenders or a financial planner about what you will need for assets and cash flow. You will need to have enough assets to handle the ups and downs that could come with investing. Most experts suggest a fallback of about six months of mortgage payments for landlords. You will need this in case or vacancy or repairs. If you’re planning to fix up a home and sell it, you will need reserves to cover the costs to maintain the home while it is on the market.

Becoming a real-estate investor is much different than being a residential homebuyer. A buying decision is a business decision not one based on emotions.

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Buying your first home should be an exciting experience. Unfortunately, however, some first time homeowners would confess the term ‘stressful’ would be a more appropriate description for such an exploit. Despite the rumors, there is no need to be intimidated as a first time buyer if you take the initiative to prepare yourself for the process beforehand.

Be proactive.

Contact three separate mortgage brokers. The point of contacting multiple mortgage companies being to discover all of your available financing opportunities. Shop around for different rates and different options. Some banks offer VA financing, while others do not. Some banks offer mortgages specifically for first time buyers. You wouldn’t purchase smaller items, such as a laptop, without doing your research. Your future home should be no different. Don’t settle for the first option you’re offered.

Educate yourself.

The information you need to prepare yourself for the buying process is out there! Some mortgage brokers or real estate attorneys offer educational seminars for first time buyers. Search for a seminar in your community!

Don’t settle.

Realize what some home-seekers have overlooked or misunderstood in the past, there’s no cost for you, as a buyer, to have a buyer’s agent. Using a buyer’s agent will keep your best interests in mind and will benefit you in the long run. Interview a few different real estate agents in order to find someone you are comfortable with.

Most real estate agents, including myself, would be happy to sit down and simply have a conversation with you! Let’s work together to make this process a great one.

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