If you happen to watch cable or satellite television on the weekends, you can find between 20 and 30 channels early in the day with get rich quick infomercials hawking everything from books, tapes, seminars and even personal coaching services. Most are centered around real estate and I am not sure they are worth the time it would take you to order them by phone. I have spent thousands of dollars on real estate home study courses through the years and will continue into the future. I am always looking to further my education and understanding of what is really working in the investment real estate world.Because of the time, energy and dollars that I have spent in the past, I have a pretty good idea of what a real estate investor wants to avoid as well as the best steps to take for a successful start. Education definitely plays a role in the success of a real estate investor as well as business savvy, attitude and at times, luck!Here are a few detailed steps that an investor can take to improve the chances for success.- Learn the basics of real estate in general.As with any investment strategy or business, real estate comes with its’ very own lingo. There are terms and phrases that many of us have heard in the past, yet may not know the exact meaning. It is very important from the get go to do the research and learn the basics such as the meaning of the terms and phrases that are used in the real estate industry every day. You can start by using a search engine and searching the phrase “real estate definitions”.- Begin home study education.There are great benefits to home study and I do not mean the courses we eluded to on weekend cable T.V. At your local library, in the real estate investing section, there will be multiple titles recently written by authors with experience in their topic. Check out as many titles as you can read in a week and o to work reading. Write down sentences and topics that come up in the books that interest you and that fit into your reasoning for starting to invest in real estate. This will be the start of your plan for getting started.- Develop a game plan.By this point, you have an idea of the general terms and phrases for the property investing world and have begun to grow your interest and understanding of the specific strategies for real estate investing. It is time to formally develop your plan and start taking action. Each of the real estate investing books that you will be reading give specific advice about team building. It is a crucial step for your success and the best books offer advice about who to put on your team, where to find them and how important they are to your over-all success. Before you can start investing, you must have a plan for where you are going and how you are going to get there.- Join local organizations for investors.In every city, county and state there are multiple organizations whose missions are to assist real estate investors. Each of these organizations holds monthly meetings and some of the best even hold weekly meetings, where investors can network and learn. These meetings are crucial to a beginner investor because they offer the opportunity to build your team with experienced members. They also are fantastic groups to attend for tips, tricks and education. Join a group close to you and make your attendance mandatory. Attend as many meetings as possible each month. Often times, the simple step of surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who are positive and re-enforce your determination to succeed, can have the biggest benefit on your future success.- Find partners & Do not fall for get rich quick!One mistake that is easy to make in the beginning is to set off on the path of “go it alone”. Another is to believe that just around the corner is a pot of gold if I can just find a deal like those guys on T.V.! One thing that is seldom talked about is the fact that most real estate investors have used partnerships in the past if they are not using them now. Partnerships are a great way to spread the risk of investing while learning the ropes. Those risks include using less of your available capital, credit and time. Partnerships can also be structured to be a simple 50/50 partnership splitting all costs and profits or a slightly more complicated partnership with one partner providing money and the other providing the deals, follow through and managing the investments. Either way, going it alone can be a lonely, long and expensive way to get started investing.- Do not quit your day job!This is a biggie and is a MAJOR mistake made by some first time real estate investors. Investing in real estate requires a total commitment – a “burning of the boats” mentality. There is no turning back when you decide to go all in. And in that statement lies the problem with leaving your day job first. Take time to develop your team, to build cash reserves, to learn the ropes. Take time to make small mistakes before you leave your full time employment and make a big mistake! Investing in real estate is a big picture endeavor and as an investor you have to be able to clearly see your future and plan accordingly.These last two tips really go to the heart of why some investors not only fail, but fail miserably. Many times you can overcome the mistakes with the first few tips here by perseverance and a little luck. If you make one of the following two mistakes, they can quickly break a new investor and sour the experience for a good long time. Then again, if you follow all the previous tips, chances are you will have the team around you to guide you right past these last two tips and onto smooth investing.- Once started, DO NOT under estimate repairs.When you are estimating the repairs to a property for investment, unless you have an experienced contractor and trusted advisor on your team, you can miss the mark wildly. Even the best home study courses are not able to provide you with an accurate ability to estimate costs. It takes experience and time before you can accurately guesstimate repair costs. Missing the mark on estimated repairs can quickly break a bank account and take a property from profitable to money pit quickly!- Do not purchase investment property for equity or appreciationThere is no bigger mistake an real estate investor can make today than to purchase property for its equity holding or future appreciation. Long-term investing today is centered around the ability of a property to perform with a positive monthly cash flow. In my home city for investing, Memphis, real estate investors purchase properties at extreme discounts, but over look those discounts if the property does not provide a high enough monthly cash flow. Equity and expectations of future home values are not good reasons to purchase investment property.Many individuals will purchase their first investment property in 2010. Some will view their purchase as strictly an investment and others will look for real estate to provide a new profession. Either way, it is extremely important that first-time investors seek all of the help, advice and experience they can get from other investors.