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Real Estate Investing - "The Neighborhood Factor"

Real estate investing can be a dream career when the process of buying and selling is mastered. The biggest challenge in real estate investing is not the money to get started or the availability of the product. Real estate investing's biggest challenge is judgment. Personal decisions in making the purchase, fixing up the right things, and making the sale require judgment that comes from experience. The second and 100th property should involve better judgment than the first.

An approach to the first acquisition in a real estate investing career involves analysis of the neighborhood.

If the target property is located in a familiar neighborhood, an analysis is clouded by past memories and feelings. Familiarity can preclude objectivity.

And if the target property is located in an unfamiliar neighborhood, the analysis is shrouded in immediate impressions that may or may not be accurate.

Real estate investing today must consider unfavorable elements like drug and prostitution traffic, crime statistics, and the overall visual impression of neighborhood negligence and abuse by property owners and/or tenants. The windshield view will not reveal the whole story.

Research at city planning and the police department might be a starting point, if the initial drive through the neighborhood does not arrive at a negative conclusion. Casual conversations with neighbors might provide clues. Watching from a perch unobtrusively during certain hours might be helpful, such as after school is out and after dark.

If analysis leads to the formation of good judgment, time is needed to assess "the Neighborhood Factor." When I plunged into my first year of real estate investing, no one warned me of "the Neighborhood Factor," and still I sometimes overlook it even millions of dollars in property purchases later. Buying $1 million in rental houses during my first year, and another $1 million in properties the next year did not leave me much time for analysis. However, when placing a makeover house on the market after the work is completed, "the Neighborhood Factor" has often come back to haunt me.

The bottom line for developing judgment about "the Neighborhood Factor" is the consumer's windshield view. The real estate investor can become enamoured over the potential profit margin in a "good deal." But the home-buyer and house-hunter make instant assessments upon a first approach to the house for sale. Their initial impression of "the Neighborhood Factor" is untrained and irreversible. And in real estate investing, the prospect's first impression of "the Neighborhood Factor" overshadows their impression of your labored makeover. More times than I like to admit, I have created a "Dream House" from a junker, only to experience a slow sale because of "the Neighborhood Factor."

Phil Speer, Ph.D., started his real estate investing career 25 years ago. Without the availability of credit and using only a $10 bill, he purchased $1 million in properties in his first year, and had accumulated $10 million in properties by his fourth year. He was featured in a Wall St.Journal editorial as most successful investor in the Nothing Down Real Estate Movement, and was honored with a Caribbean cruise as top investor of the year. In his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, he has been a businessman and Human Resources Consultant for 30 years. He is an author, speaker and seminar director. To learn how to profit in real estate investing, even without cash or credit, read his report at Subscription is free to his Fix-up Ezine -

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