Diary of a Rookie Real Estate Investor: Time to Get Into the Game

This is the first of an occasional series of articles on my experiences as a newbie (and part-time) real estate investor.

Diary of a Rookie Real Estate Investor: Time to Get into the Game

With my background, you would have thought that I jumped into the real estate investing game a long time ago. I grew around the residential construction industry. Since college, I’ve been a California real estate licensee, a real estate appraiser for a major national lending institution (that has since bit the dust), and spent 20 years as a business journalist covering the residential real estate industry nationwide.

With such a varied background, it isn’t that I haven’t thought about trying my hand at buying foreclosed homes. Even more so since I’ve been with RealtyTrac these past five years. In that time I’ve interviewed numerous investors all over the country, garnering a lot of knowledge on the way. So I’ve finally decided it’s time to take the plunge and buy a rental property.

One common denominator I’ve heard from many investors over the years it to stick with buying property “in your own backyard” — in other words areas/markets that you know the best.

I’m a Los Angeles native. However, I moved my family to Orange County 17 years ago. I have also spent a considerable amount of time in San Diego County since my son has been attending college down there. So I can really say those three Southern California counties are my market, and they are all within reasonable driving distance from my home.

Now that my son is graduating, he’s planning to stay in San Diego another two years to earn his Master’s degree. So I’ve embarked on a quest to buy an investment property in San Diego for my son to live in with one or more friends renting out the extra bedroom(s). In the long-term I have a buy and hold strategy to keep the property as a rental long after he has left the area to embark on his career.

My son has provided me with a list of the areas he’d like to live in (with a reasonable commute to campus), and all of which are popular with students from the local colleges.

I’ve already contacted a local Realtor I know — having interviewed him for stories about foreclosures in various parts of San Diego County. His brokerage, which represents numerous lenders in selling their bank-owned homes, is a long-time member of RealtyTrac’s Agent Network. He has put me in touch with one of his agents who will do the legwork with me.

So with that in mind, it’s time to boot up the computer and start scoping out properties on the RealtyTrac website.

To be continued…

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