Everything from property hunting to buying and managing does tend to be much harder when there are great distances involved. Nevertheless, it makes sense to begin to learn to invest out-of-state. You may be able to take advantage of lower property prices elsewhere, or more active markets.
You will need a plan to overcome the obvious challenges that you face living far away, however.
Think about going turnkey
A turnkey property requires no fixing up. When you buy it, you get to use it right away for your rental business. For those buying in Florida, for instance, turnkey properties such as Lakewood Ranch homes in Southwest Florida make a lot of sense. They involve little need for work, are well-managed, and can be a great way to ease your way into out-of-state investing. In general, fixer-uppers only tend to be a good deal when you're close by, and able to invest time.
Think about where you can best build a team
Successful out-of-state real estate ownership requires competent and trustworthy people on the ground at the location -- good real estate agents, management companies, accountants and lawyers. This team is an important part both of the buying process, and the process of making an income out of your investment over time.
Finding a quality team isn't simply about reading a few online reviews. It's important to shop around, interview multiple experts, and develop a feeling for where there is good real expertise to b found. Deciding on a real estate destination sometimes comes down to choosing a location where you have access to expertise.
Personally spend time learning about an area
Things can seem deceptively inviting when you first read about the promise that the real estate market in a particular part of the country holds. It's when you go in closer that you begin to realize that there may be complications.
Due diligence requires shoe leather. Even if you do have an expert team on the ground , you do need to spend a couple of days each week in the area to learn about tax rates, employment prospects, family-friendliness and legal rental restrictions (some areas require permits to rent to students).
Take advantage of the latest in real estate tech
Technology has changed the way real estate is bought. People are now able to quickly look at hundreds of images online with little effort. There's a lot more that you can do with technology to make the search process smoother, however.
Many people don't realize that Google Maps has a Real Estate option in the More menu, that actually indicates houses for sale in any area, on the map. You can quickly cruise past every home on sale in any given location. Using the free public record resources websites to look for local tax costs can be helpful, as well. Checking out Trulia's Crime Map and networking with other local investors on the BiggerPockets Forum, can all help.
Jamie Fowler has extensive experience buying and selling property; he is an experienced real estate agent who recently entered the world of property investment first hand.