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I would start by checking out the real estate investing board an asking them for their recommendations for books to read. Here is a link to an unrelated post.

Some people have started out buy buying a duplex, living in half and renting half, to get their start in real estate investing then buying a new property every few years. Unfortunately in much of the country is less expensive to rent than to buy which makes it difficult to get positive cash flow without a very large down payment.

The real estate bubble is looking pretty shaky and the subprime mortgage mess is causing problems with financing. The good news is that if there are major real estate market problems, then in a few years it might be possible to pick up some bargains.

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