The property investment checklist

Geoff Roberts
Geoff Roberts | 3 min. read
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Published on October 5, 2009

When it comes to selecting an investment property, there are a few issues that every landlord must take into account. No matter how wonderful a property is or how eager you are to invest, never make a property investment without carefully evaluating the following items on your property investment checklist.

1. Calculate your profitability.
Although determining the likely profitability of an investment property may seem like a given, you might be surprised how many investors find themselves in a losing situation simply because they fail to do the math. Before buying an investment property at any price point, be sure you carefully determine how much rental income you are likely to generate on an annual basis. Weigh this against not only your mortgage and property taxes, but also all of the other costs that are likely to occur over the course of a year, such as advertising vacancies and doing general repairs and maintenance.

When calculating these costs, be conservative when estimating income and err towards over-estimating your outgoing expenses. You want to make sure you have enough wiggle room in your profit margins to afford your investment property payments no matter what unforeseen events may unfold in a given year.

About.com’s real estate business page offers some great calculation tools that will help you calculate your risk based on several different variables.

2. Get inside renters’ minds.
Sure, you’re the one who’s purchasing the investment property but never forget that you are purchasing it for the purpose of renting it out to tenants. Which means that while you obviously have to make a pragmatic investment decision, you also have to think like a renter. Take a long hard look at exactly what sort of properties seem to be the most desirable in your area. Evaluate things like number of bedrooms, location, square footage, and other amenities. Knowing what renters want ahead of time helps guarantee that you won’t struggle to fill vacancies or be forced to settle for less desirable tenants later down the line.

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3. Think long-term.
Will this property still be good a few years down the line? Remember, when it comes to investments, you’re not only investing in your financial well-being—you’re also investing in your future. Which is why it’s so important to take a good, hard look at long-term trends in areas you are considering. Look at city and county records to see how the neighborhood you’re looking at buying into is trending. Have properties been increasing or decreasing in value over the past five or ten years? How about crime rates? Has the demographic remained stable over the past decade or has it evolved (for instance, are residents generally shifting from families to young, single occupants)?

While no one can predict the future, much can be learned from the past. Make sure that you know exactly what direction the neighborhood you’re thinking about buying is headed.

Checking these few items off your Property Investment Checklist can make all the difference between a good investment and a bad one.

Read more on Scaling
Geoff Roberts

Geoff is a marketer, surfer, musician, and writer. He lives in San Diego, CA.

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