The Least Risky Way to Get Started in Real Estate Investing


Taking the first step with anything is always terrifying. Starting out in real estate investing can be especially terrifying because most of us didn’t learn anything about it in school, there are a lot of people telling us what we should and shouldn’t be doing (and we don’t know who to listen to), and there may be a lot of our hard-earned money on the line.

But guess what. The only way to start building wealth is by getting out there and doing it. And real estate investing can be such a perfect platform for wealth-building! Yes, it may be intimidating at first, but there are some really easy, low-cost, and lower-risk entry points that you can start with so that you aren’t diving straight into the deep end of the pool without knowing how to swim.

The cheapest and safest place to start real estate investing

Don’t discouraged with how boring this might sound, but the best place to start real estate investing is with education.

Education is going to positively contribute to your real estate investing career in a few important ways:

  • It’s critical for building a solid investing foundation. No building or structure is built without having a solid foundation. Without a solid foundation, a building will topple. And for buildings in higher-risk areas such as those that experience hurricanes or earthquakes, the foundations have to be that much sturdier. This is no different for your real estate investing career. Without a solid foundation—understanding the foundational principles that set successful investments apart from unsuccessful ones—there’s no way to maximize your investment efforts. Only with taking the time to really learn the basic fundamental principles can you take your investing efforts to the next level.
  • It’s the only way to find out which investing strategy is the best fit for you and your goals. Part of real estate investing success comes from pursuing an investment strategy that is fitting to your goals, skills, and available resources. Through getting education on real estate investing, each strategy option will start to become clearer as to what it entails from an investor, what resources it requires, and what the risk level is. When an investor takes the time to learn the differences between the strategy options, they can better choose a strategy that they may naturally excel at. When an investor follows their inherent skills, they are more likely to maximize success.
  • It can be extremely cheap to get. The internet is free, podcasts are free, and checking out a book at the local library is free. Just these education resources alone can jumpstart a new investor’s real estate career. Of course caution should always be taken as to the source of the information someone is receiving, but there is a lot of legitimate and solid real estate investing advice available through these mediums.
  • You can get it anywhere, so it doesn’t need to interfere with your current job or schedule. Unless you’re attended a weekend real estate workshop, you can peruse the internet, read a book, or listen to a podcast whenever you want. This allows for someone who is already busy with a job, a family, or other life-things to get educated in real estate without having to forego any current schedules or obligations.

An insane amount of risk with real estate investing can be mitigated just through education. Of course, real estate investing is an industry that has a lot of on-the-job training, so to speak, but taking the time to set up that solid foundation before going all-in can alleviate most major disasters.

For those who might be fearful or tepid about making a splash as a real estate investor, education is the first step to aid in alleviating concerns.

The next place to go after education: Experiential education

Once you’ve spent some time getting a feel for how real estate investing works and how the different investing strategies compare to one another through basic education, it’s time to take education to the next level. Sounds boring, but this level of education does kick it up a notch.

It’s time to try something.

This doesn’t mean throw your entire life savings into a property and cross your fingers hoping it will work. Think: baby steps.

Here are some things you can do that still fall into the education category, but they are more hands-on and experiential than just reading a book:

  • Run some property analyses. What better way to practice for actual investing than by doing some practice investing? When you set out to pursue your first investment property, you’re going to have to shop for the right property. So start shopping! Shopping doesn’t mean you have to buy, it just means you can start learning what is out there. You can also figure out where you might be missing some education. First, choose the strategy you want to pursue. Once you know that, start looking for properties. When you find a property, evaluate it as if you actually want to pursue it. Things you would need to know in order to determine whether or not a property is a viable investment potential might include: running the numbers, evaluating the neighborhood and city it’s located in, acknowledging the risk factors associated with it, and deciding on risk mitigation strategies for those risks. Begin to learn, and see, the difference between a possible successful investment property and an unsuccessful one. If during your evaluation you find things you are unsure of, this is just a prompt for you to further your education by finding those answers. Evaluating investment properties is fun anyway, so use it to deepen your foundation. Who knows, you might find your first successful investment property while doing it!
  • Attend networking events and meet other investors. One of the best ways to learn more about real estate investing is by hearing from others who are already in the industry. When you network, you begin to learn to speak the game. So not only are you practicing what you’re talking about, you’re learning from others to further your education, and you are also hearing about real-life deals happening rather than those a book tells you about. A major bonus to meeting other investors is if you can lock down a mentor to help you through your investment strategies. Having a mentor is a huge step in putting what you’ve learned into practice.
  • Put together an investment plan. An investment plan is much like a business plan. The plan will include things like your strategy, how you plan to structure your business/investment, the goals you hope to achieve, and how you plan to achieve them. This is a fantastic activity much like practicing evaluating potential properties; not only do you need a plan in place anyway, but you can also look for holes in your education and use those as prompts for what information you still need to learn before going forward.
  • Attend a weekend workshop. There is every level of education ranging from free to education that costs tens of thousands of dollars. There’s rarely a reason to need to spend tens of thousands of dollars right out of the gate. A cheap weekend workshop—the kind that are in the $495 range—can offer significant information to help an investor towards investment success. Usually these programs come with a lot of upselling during them, but the information provided around the extreme sales pitches can be very useful and contribute positively towards building that solid foundation.

Last step: Trying an investment

At some point, you will have no option but to dive in. As already mentioned, real estate investing is very much an on-the-job training kind of industry. Only by getting into the industry and trying things can you learn everything you need to know as an investor.

Real estate investing is an industry of never-ending learning.

The idea is to have enough of a solid foundation built by the time you begin so that you aren’t going in with a blindfold on. Having a blindfold on in an industry like real estate investing is certain to offer some level of catastrophe. But once you have removed the blindfold through education, even if you don’t know everything you need to know, you most likely will know enough to keep any mistakes to a manageable level.

To ease into trying an investment, consider the following:

  • Start small. Don’t go screaming into a complicated or risky deal right out of the gate. Even if you eventually want to get to complicated and risky, so as to maximize your return potential, start more simply. You don’t want to dive in so fast that you end up scaring yourself out of the industry. Start with lower-risk properties so that you have a chance to practice all of those fundamentals you learned, and then start advancing up the ladder with more complicated properties or strategies. Be patient with your learning curve, and don’t bite off more than you can chew right away.
  • Have a mentor. Even if this isn’t a formal mentor relationship, having someone you can go to who has already done what you’re trying to do can make a world of difference. Even if it’s just for emotional support, letting people help you is a sure-fire way to not only help you get further along, but to also keep your sanity along the way. Plus, you can avoid a lot of mistakes by learning from other’s mistakes.
  • Learn from your mistakes. It’s more efficient to just assume you will make mistakes than to spend time and stress trying to avoid mistakes at all costs. The best thing you can do, from any mistake, is to learn from it. This is how the most successful real estate investors became so successful—they learned from their mistakes. Mistakes aren’t a reflection of you as a person or your abilities. The strongest people are the ones who brush themselves off after a mistake, learn from it, and continue persevering until they’ve succeeded.

Real estate investing offers endless amounts of opportunities for investors. Not only is there an endless amount of specific investment opportunities, but there are endless variations of options that involve varying levels of risk, skill requirements, effort requirements, and potential barriers. A new investor doesn’t need to jump into the deep end of the pool before learning to swim. The best course of action is to learn to swim first, and then naturally end up in the deep end when the time is right. Everyone is allowed to learn in the kiddie pool first!

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