What advice would you give to a new investor?
1. Find a coach/mentor in your area to whom you can turn for guidance. Most importantly with anyone you turn to, make sure they are successfully doing what you want to do and talk with others they've helped before you make a commitment of your time and/or money.
Real estate investing is not a solo business. You need attorneys, CPAs (knowledgeable in real estate investing), contractors, sub-contractors, real estate agents, title companies, closing attorneys, inspectors, appraisers, on and on. Find someone who's walked through the mine field before you and can give you a hand to save you both time and money.
Should you pay them for their time? Absolutely. If they're willing to share with you what they've learned over years of their own time and efforts, they've paid for their skills one way or another and what you will gain from them is worth paying for. If they're not worth paying, they're not worth following.
And don't reach out to only your peers; reach out to those in a better position than you. Jim Rohn said, "you are the average of the top 5 people you hang around with." If you want to get better in any area, find someone to follow who is doing way better than you are.
2. Get involved with a peer group that knows more than you. Go to all the meetings you can. For real estate investors, that typically means local REIA meetings (real estate investor association meetings which you can find on NationalREIA.com). Also check out MeetUp.com and any local landlord association meetings. Landlords are already doing the business and can be a great source of information as well as potential buyers and sellers to work with.
3. Set goals. Make a plan. How many houses do you want to buy in the next 12 months? How much do you want to be worth in 5 years? As you write out your goals, include strategies for accomplishing them. Want to buy 10 houses in the next 12 months? Break that into pieces to figure out what you need to do every month to make those goals a reality.
4. Buy real estate. If you haven't started yet, start! If you're buying, buy more. If you don't, 10 years will have passed and you'll be kicking yourself for not buying all you could today. The way to truly learn is by doing. Books and seminars are great, but you won't know what you know and what you don't know until you jump in and start buying for yourself.
It's a worn out cliché that "there's never been a better time to buy real estate", but it's true. I believe it's always true. Sure, you have to adjust your methods and your strategies depending upon the economy and where you invest, but everyone works, shops, and lives somewhere. If you don't own it, someone else will.
Get an education, hook up with a mentor, make a plan and buy real estate.
What can you add?