When investing in real estate, there is a lot of education that is acquired from taking action. You can spend hours reading or sitting in classes, but the best education is often getting in the market and finding things out for yourself. This education can help you when you are looking for rental properties. The real estate market has many investors looking to flip properties. However, many are willing to buy and hold if that is all that is available. Where and how you find your properties will often dictate what kind of properties you are buying.
If the property hits the MLS, that may be a sign that something is wrong with the property. Most realtors will have a group of investors they can approach if they get a new investment listing. For a property to hit the MLS, it will have to make its way past a dozen or so hungry investors. This is not to say all MLS properties are bad, but it should make you look more closely at these properties.
Aside from MLS listings, the most obvious thing you should look at is the price. For every steal of a property you can get under $50,000, there may be five that are a headache and more trouble than they are worth. There is a reason why they are so low. Usually there is major work that needs to be done. These properties may be cheap to acquire, but by the time you are finished you will end up spending more on the repair work than you did to buy the property. You may be able to hit the occasional home run, but you are more likely to struggle on these properties.
Look at the whole picture with every property you think about buying. Keep your eyes open at the little clues.