How do you know when it’s the right time to invest in real estate? With all the factors involved determining if and when you should buy that first duplex, how do you really know if it’s the proper thing to do?Is it time to invest in real estate These are all very fair questions that real estate investors should ask themselves, in fact, if an investor didn’t ask those questions in some form then the effort really shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

Real estate is an investment, just like any other but if you’re in the market to buy and hold or buy and flip, without careful consideration you can lose money.

So how does a successful real estate investor decide which property to buy and when to jump right on in and close a deal? The fact is that there really is no exact “time” for an investment. Sure, if property values are plummeting on month to month basis then reluctance will certainly set in. Yet even in times of real estate tumult, opportunities still present themselves.

The factors for timing involve current market conditions regarding valuation, financing options including prevailing interest rates and the present and future rental markets. If you’ve never invested in real estate but are considering it, it’s likely you’ve been sitting on the fence for a while. Watching for trends or searching for foreclosure filings at the county recorder’s office. Preparation and patience is indeed key but real estate isn’t exactly the type of product where you can return it to the seller as long as you kept your receipt.

If you bought at the wrong price, miscalculated the selling price, went way over budget on the repairs or any combination of the three, it’s likely that not only will your profit be squeezed but possibly vanish. If the rents don’t cover the housing expenses, you’re losing money every month.

But those are not the traits of seasoned real estate investors. If a prospective purchase doesn’t make sense or not enough research was performed the investor backs away and looks for another property.

However, there’s no getting around a bit of trepidation, especially for the novice investor. So guess what? Start small. Find a “practice” property that won’t drain your bank account each time you hit bumps in the road. As you buy, sell and hold more real estate, you’ll find yourself developing a pattern and the more times you repeat that pattern, the better you get at it.

As your portfolio expands and your confidence builds, pursue more expensive projects. The evaluation process for a $75,000 property is the same as it is for a $750,000 one. It’s okay to take baby steps in this business. In fact, it’s the right thing to do for the novice investor.