Real estate investors like to keep their money in familiar areas. They invest in what they understand and what they can drive by every day. Tenant problems? They’re just down the street. Investing locally has a lot of advantages and can take some ofbuying long distance the anxiety out of the buying process. But sometimes an opportunity presents itself and it’s not in the next neighborhood. In fact, it’s not even in the next state.

Investors can keep an eye on metropolitan areas and the economic numbers surrounding them to look for possibilities long distance. And with the technology available today as well as access to critical information, investing in a faraway city doesn’t have to be scary. Consider some of the hardest hit areas in the country that experienced significant property value declines such as Phoenix or Las Vegas. Those areas experienced a rash of foreclosures with equity vanishing on a daily basis.

But no longer. Any Case-Shiller report, an S&P company that collects data on national housing trends, will tell an investor when home prices have stabilized and recent value increases. Doesn’t it make sense to explore the possibility? Of course it does.

When exploring a distant land, you’ll need to contact a local real estate agent in the area. Ask your local real estate agent for a couple of referrals in the area you’re interested in, contact them and tell them what you’re looking for. The agents can provide you with daily updates on properties that fit your criteria.

Obtaining financing means working with a lender that is licensed in the area you’re investing. Today, lenders are required to obtain licenses for the business as well as the individual loan officer. If you regularly work with a local mortgage broker or banker that doesn’t have a branch in the city you’re interested in, your best bet is to work with your bank that has a branch office where you’re buying.

Once you identify four or five properties, with your preapproval letter in your hand, make a trip for a visit to see your prospective purchase in person. Be prepared, know what you want, and don’t be surprised if you return with a signed sales contract in your hand.