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OK, I said over on the FIRE Wannabees board that I'd share some RE investing gems, so here they are:

1. When searching the classifieds, look for words that indicate that the seller may be flexible about price:

*seller will hold mortgage
*seller financing available
*out of town seller
*motivated seller
*must sell
*open to all offers
*lease/option
*rent to own

Here's a post from this board that gives some more info on how to find deals:
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=18562567

2. When you don't know how to do something, especially when you're first starting out, hire a professional. While you're paying them, pick their brains - the more you can learn from the pros, the less you'll need to spend on them in the long term. Develop relationships with these people, if you can. Some pros you may need:

Before the sale:
*lawyers
*real estate agents
*home inspectors
*bankers
*mortgage brokers
*court clerks, county employees (for title searches, tax & lien info, prior purchase info, etc.)
*surveyors
*appraisers, etc.

After the purchase:
*painters
*roofers
*plasterers
*painters
*carpenters
*electricians
*plumbers
*general contractors
*city enhancement program employees

When you find someone you mesh well with, use them whenever the need arises. My home inspector and I have a mutually beneficial relationship that has saved me a *lot* of money. I also have a favorite real estate agent who knows a good investment when he sees it.

3. When you have the opportunity to talk to a seller, do NOT be adversarial. This is not about "winners" and "losers." It's very possible for both of you to walk away from the table happy. Ask questions. Find out why they're selling. Find out what they're looking to gain by selling (hint - it's NOT always money!). Find out how long the house has been on the market. Ask open-ended questions. Find a way to "solve" their problem without overpaying.

*Sometimes they just need to get out from under debt.
*Sometimes they aren't physically able to keep up with the property anymore.
*Sometimes there are personal issues, like divorce, relocation, death in the family, or financial problems, which make them eager to close quickly, even if they don't come out ahead in the deal.
*Sometimes they're unhappy with the choice that they made and want to "unmake" it.
*Sometimes they don't like the neighbors... the list goes on and on, but you won't know unless you ask.

Hope this gives some of the people here and on the FIRE Wannabee board some help getting started. There's a lot to know, and every little bit helps.

SS
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