10 Tips for Buying Your First Rental Property

Real estate has produced many of the world’s wealthiest people, so there are plenty of reasons to think that property is a sound investment. However, as with any investment, it’s better to be well-versed before diving in with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Arm yourself with the information below before starting a new career as a real estate tycoon.

Make Sure It’s for You

Do you know your way around a toolbox? How are you at repairing drywall or unclogging a toilet? Sure, you could call somebody to do it for you, but that will eat into your profits. Property owners who have one or two homes often do their own repairs to save money. If you’re not the handy type and don’t have lots of spare cash, being a landlord may not be right for you.

Of course, that changes as you add more properties to your portfolio. Lawrence Pereira, president of King Harbor Wealth Management in Redondo Beach, Calif., owns properties on the East Coast while living on the West Coast. As somebody who says he’s not at all handy, he makes it work. How? “I put together a solid team of cleaners, handymen and contractors,” says Pereira. This isn’t recommended for new investors, but as you get the hang of real estate investing you don’t have to remain local.

Pay Down Debt First

Savvy investors might carry debt as part of their investment portfolio, but the average person should avoid it. If you have student loans, unpaid medical bills or children who will soon attend college, purchasing a rental property may not be the right move. Pereira agrees that being cautious is key, saying, “It’s not necessary to pay down debt if your return from your real estate is greater than the cost of debt. That is the calculation you need to make. However, don’t put yourself in a position where you lack the cash to make payments on your debt. Always have a margin of safety.”

Get the Down Payment

Investment properties generally require a larger down payment than owner-occupied properties, so they have more-stringent approval requirements. The 3% you may have put down on the home you currently live in isn’t going to work for an investment property. You will need at least 20 percent, given that mortgage insurance isn’t available on rental properties.

Beware of High-Interest Rates

The cost of borrowing money might be relatively cheap right now, but the interest rate on an investment property will be higher than traditional mortgage interest rates. Remember, you need a low mortgage payment that won’t…

By Tim Parker | Investopedia

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Ray Ailstock

Ray Ailstock