Real estate investing is an excellent way to build wealth and financial freedom. However, many investors limit themselves to the properties in their immediate area, missing out on great opportunities elsewhere. Long distance real estate investing is an effective way to increase your chances of success by expanding your options and diversifying your portfolio. In this guide, we’ll explore the advantages and challenges of long distance real estate investing, and provide you with tips to help you succeed in this growing market.
Long Distance Real Estate Investing
Understanding Long Distance Real Estate Investing
Long distance real estate investing involves buying and managing properties that are located outside of your immediate area. This could mean investing in a different state or even a different country. While this approach may seem daunting at first, there are several advantages to investing long distance, such as:
- Access to better markets: By expanding your search beyond your immediate area, you can find properties in more robust and growing markets. Investing in these markets can provide higher returns and more stable cash flow.
- Diversification: Investing in properties in different markets can help you diversify your portfolio and reduce risk. If one market experiences a downturn, you’ll have other investments to fall back on.
- Lower competition: By searching for properties outside of your immediate area, you may be able to find deals that are overlooked by local investors.
Challenges of Long Distance Real Estate Investing
While there are many advantages to long distance real estate investing, there are also some challenges to consider.
Lack of Local Knowledge
One of the biggest challenges of long-distance real estate investing is the lack of local knowledge. Real estate markets can vary greatly from one city or state to another, and it’s essential to understand the local market trends, regulations, and culture to make informed investment decisions. Investors who are not familiar with the local market may struggle to identify good investment opportunities, price their properties correctly, or anticipate changes in the market.
To overcome this challenge, it’s crucial to research and analyze the local real estate market thoroughly before investing. This may involve hiring a local real estate agent, reading local news articles, attending real estate events, and networking with other investors in the area. Additionally, investors can use technology to their advantage by using online platforms and tools to track market trends and evaluate potential properties.
Difficulty in Property Management
Another challenge of long-distance real estate investing is managing the property from a distance. Property management is a critical part of real estate investing, and it can be challenging to do this effectively when you’re not physically present. Some of the difficulties that investors may encounter include finding reliable tenants, maintaining the property, handling repairs and maintenance, and collecting rent.
To overcome this challenge, investors can consider hiring a property management company to handle the day-to-day operations of the property. A property management company can take care of tenant screening, rent collection, repairs and maintenance, and other administrative tasks. This can help investors save time and effort and ensure that their property is well-managed even if they are not physically present.
Long-distance real estate investing can also be more expensive than investing in a local market. There are several reasons for this, including higher travel costs, higher property management fees, and higher repair and maintenance costs. Additionally, long-distance real estate investors may need to pay for professional services such as legal or accounting advice to comply with local regulations.
To mitigate this challenge, investors should factor in these additional costs when evaluating potential investment opportunities. They should also be prepared to invest more time and effort into researching and analyzing the market and finding reliable local partners who can help them navigate the local market.
Difficulty in Building Relationships
Building relationships with local real estate agents, and other professionals in the local market is essential for long-term success in real estate investing. However, this can be challenging for long-distance real estate investors who are not physically present in the market. Building trust and rapport with people in the local market can take time and effort, and it may be challenging to establish these relationships from a distance.
To overcome this challenge, investors should invest in building relationships with local professionals and stakeholders. This can be achieved by attending local real estate events, joining local real estate groups, and leveraging technology to stay in touch with people in the local market. By building trust and rapport with people in the local market, investors can gain valuable insights into the local market, find new investment opportunities, and build a network of trusted partners and advisors.
Tips for Success in Long Distance Real Estate Investing
If you’re ready to take on the challenges of long distance real estate investing, here are some tips to help you succeed:
Research Potential Markets
The first and most crucial step in long-distance real estate investing is to research the local market thoroughly. This includes analyzing local market trends, regulatory requirements, and potential investment opportunities. Investors should also be aware of the local culture, demographics, and economic factors that can impact the local real estate market.
To do this, investors can use various online resources, such as real estate websites, market reports, and local news sources. It’s also a good idea to engage with local real estate agents, property managers, and other professionals who can provide valuable insights and advice.
Develop a Network of Local Partners
One of the biggest challenges of long-distance real estate investing is managing the property from a distance. To overcome this, investors need to develop a network of reliable local partners, including real estate agents, property managers, contractors, and other professionals.
Building relationships with local partners takes time and effort, but it’s essential to ensure that the property is well-managed, and any issues are addressed promptly. It’s also a good idea to have a backup plan in case one of your partners is unavailable or unable to provide the services you need.
Technology can be a powerful tool for long-distance real estate investors. There are many online platforms and tools that investors can use to research the market, analyze potential properties, and manage their investments remotely.
For example, real estate websites can help investors search for potential properties and analyze market trends, while property management software can help investors keep track of rent payments, repairs, and maintenance. Video conferencing tools can also be useful for staying in touch with local partners and conducting virtual property inspections.
Develop a Risk Management Strategy
Real estate investing always comes with risks, and long-distance investing is no exception. Investors need to develop a risk management strategy that takes into account factors such as property damage, tenant turnover, and unexpected market changes.
One way to mitigate risk is to purchase insurance coverage, including property and liability insurance. Investors should also have a contingency plan in case of emergencies, such as natural disasters or tenant disputes.
Stay Compliant with Local Laws and Regulations
Real estate laws and regulations can vary greatly from one state to another, and it’s essential to stay compliant with local requirements. This includes property zoning laws, rental regulations, and tax requirements.
Investors should work with local professionals such as lawyers and accountants to ensure that they are complying with all applicable laws and regulations. It’s also a good idea to stay up-to-date with any changes to the local laws that may impact the investment.
If you’re new to long distance real estate investing, it’s a good idea to start small. Invest in a single property to get a feel for the market and the challenges of managing properties from a distance. Once you have more experience, you can expand your portfolio.
Be Prepared For The Unexpected
Investing in properties from a distance can be unpredictable. Be prepared for unexpected repairs, vacancies, and other issues that can arise. Have a contingency plan in place to help you manage these situations.
Buy Real Estate You Have Never Seen
This is a write up that really helped us take the leap of faith and jump into long distance real estate investing. I’m copying it below for reference, because it’s definitely worth a read:
Do I visit a market before buying there? Not typically, no.
As I explain it to people who seem flabbergasted that I own multiple rentals that I’ve never seen (and in fact have bought and sold property – i.e. done flips – that I’ve never seen) – I rely on experts.
I’m not a contractor. When I want to buy a property, I rely on a home inspector to tell me what’s wrong with it, and I rely on a contractor (or three) to give me a bid for the rehab.
Whether I fly out to the property and stand next to the inspector and then he emails me the home inspection report, or I sit at home and then he emails it to me makes literally no difference to the end result. It’s not like I’m going to go out there and say “that furnace is bad,” because I have no idea what a bad furnace looks like.
I’m relying on that professional.
What difference then does it make if I fly out to the property? None.
So much you can do on the Internet now, and they can send me photos, video walkthroughs, etc. Why do I need to be there? And either way I’m going to have to wait for the rehab bids to find out what my various costs will be.
When I’m going to buy a property in another market, I network with local investors, property managers, Realtors, and other experts. I don’t know the neighborhoods. I do some due diligience online regarding the area in general, but I need the actual boots on the ground to tell me the knowledge they’ve gleaned from years of experience in that market. I rely on experts.
Me flying out there for a few days and driving the neighborhoods tells me… what, exactly? A lot less than 10 minutes on the phone with an expert who owns 50+ properties in the area and says “stay away from this neighborhood, but right across the street is this one and that’s good, and avoid zip codes X, Y, and Z,” etc. etc.
Same thing with the management – I’m going to be relying on a property manager, so I make sure I find a good one and talk with them and rely on their expertise to find out about the market.
I have to be able to vet the people that I’m working with. When you talk to someone for more than five minutes, you can figure out if they know what they’re talking about, or if they’re just bullshitting you. I trust much more in my ability to tell if someone is an expert than I do to go visit a place for a few days and know much about it.
To vet someone, you talk with multiple people, and you’ll find out who has a consistent story that fits and who is making stuff up to sound good. You get referrals, and find out who comes highly recommended. You ask for references.
In other words, I think visiting a place is WAY overrated. I wouldn’t be able to tell anything about a property by looking at it for a half hour. I need an expert to tell me what part of the market to be in, another one to tell me what needs to be fixed on a particular property, and a different one to tell me the cost of that.
My job consists of:
1) Identifying potential markets.
2) Networking with experts in the area. Vetting them – checking references, reading reviews of their company (if applicable), etc.
3) Running the numbers based on the information I get from them.
If the numbers make sense, great, I pull the trigger. All my team is in place. I have a Realtor already to make the offer, a contractor to rehab the property, and a property manager to get in tenants and run the place.
(Rehab/flips are a similar process, the last step just reuses the Realtor to sell, rather than the property manager.)
Don’t let that (simple) series of steps make it sound easy. It’s a lot of work finding potential markets, narrowing down where you will invest, talking to multiple Realtors, investors in the area, home inspectors, contractors, property managers, etc. etc. Dozens of people you’ll build relationships with. And while an eventual “face to face” can be beneficial, it’s not always necessary. If and when I do fly out to markets I own properties in, it’s to buy lunch for my team and hang out with them. Seeing the properties? Meh.
None of those steps requires me to be there. All of it requires me to find professionals who are competent and helpful. I can do that from anywhere.
If you want to scale your real estate portfolio you’ll need to rely on the expertise of other people sooner or later. You just won’t be able to do everything yourself. Long distance real estate investing forces you to have the right team and processes in place and it’s a good forcing function to get your team lined up so you can scale your real estate investments.
Long distance real estate investing can be a lucrative and rewarding way to build wealth and financial freedom. By expanding your options and diversifying your portfolio, you can increase your chances of success in the competitive world of real estate investing. While there are challenges to investing long distance, with careful planning and research, you can overcome these challenges and succeed in this growing market.
Remember, long distance real estate investing is not for everyone. It requires time, effort, and a willingness to take on new challenges. But if you’re willing to put in the work, the rewards can be significant. By following these tips and staying focused on your goals, you can succeed in long distance real estate investing and achieve your financial dreams.
If you’re looking to get started in long distance real estate investing, there are many resources available to help you. Online forums and social media groups are all great places to connect with other investors and learn more about investing in different markets.
In addition, you may want to consider hiring a real estate mentor or coach to guide you through the process. A good mentor can provide you with valuable insights and advice, and help you avoid costly mistakes.
In conclusion, long distance real estate investing can be a challenging and rewarding way to build wealth and achieve financial freedom. With careful planning, research, and a willingness to take on new challenges, you can succeed in this growing market and achieve your real estate investment goals. So why limit yourself to investing in properties in your immediate area? Expand your horizons, and discover the opportunities that await you in the world of long distance real estate investing.