For the newbies, one thing that seasoned, successful real estate investors can tell you is the number one thing you need to know before you jump headlong into any project is knowing what to do with the purchase once it’s yours. Whether you keep the home for long term appreciation or intend to flipknow your exit strategy within a few weeks, having a successful plan in hand keeps the jitters at bay when making an offer. Holding or flipping, know the exit.

 Holding a property for the long haul means buying at the lowest possible price. The lower the sales price the lower your loan amount, hence the better your cash flow each month because your mortgage payments will be based upon a smaller note.

Complete an ultra-thorough inspection of the property both in terms of a physical inspection as well as a completed title report. After a review of the property inspection, walk through the unit with your contractor for an intense inspection. Know exactly what needs fixing and what does not.

Finally, have firm numbers regarding rental properties, vacancy rates and market rent for the area. It’s here that the math must lead the way, don’t “wish” your project to success, it needs to be validated with an objective appraisal.

If you’re flipping, work with your real estate agent to put together an offer. Again, as low as possible because this directly affects your bank balance when the home is flipped. How low? Some say not to make an offer that would offend the seller but the truth is if your offer doesn’t make you a bit nervous when presenting it, it’s probably not low enough. Besides, the initial offer opens up the negotiations and you can always adjust your offer or pull it entirely after the results of your inspection have arrived.

Your agent will also help craft a sales price based upon your financial goals and current market conditions. There is indeed a price point where the property sells for the right amount in the shortest period of time—priced similar to other homes in the area but just a tad lower.

In either instance, have a plan that makes sense, be susceptible to adjustments then execute. Know where you’re going to be before you even get there.