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Kathy Buck, Broker
Beyond Realty and Investments
You mentioned 2 bedrooms. If possible buy a 3+ bedroom property since they are easier to rent and resell to families and larger groups. If you get a two bedroom you're limiting to a very small family or possibly a single parent, couple or single person situation. All are good and well but I've known single people purchase 4 and 5 bedroom homes. However I don't ever recall working with a family intentionally downsizing with their two or three kids to a two bedroom home.
It's been said and proven a billion times that the people who have the greatest wealth in this and other nations are the people who own the land. If you are considering buying, consider using or at least learning about creative methods of financing to maximize your investment. Traditional lending as you may be aware is very restrictive (as it should have been all along) but most people don't realize how many transactions are completed outside the confines of a loan application. These techniques are the one's the truly wealthy investors have used for ages.
You'll also want to consider if the condo (if you are buying a condo) permits renters, or limits it to a certain amount of renters, as you could find yourself moving out and then having to put your condo on a waiting list to be able to be rented out. If you are buying a house, that wouldn't be a concern.
Another idea is to buy a multi-unit property (2-4 units), live in the biggest unit and rent out the others, then you'll get your landlord experience under your belt while you are there on site, rather than learning while you are away. With FHA financing you can put as little as 3.5% down payment 1-4 unit properties, 3-4 unit properties require a self-sufficiency test however, details at http://www.fhaoutreach.gov/FHAHandbook/prod/infomap.asp?addr or with using conventional financing there isn't a self-sufficiency test.
There are other items to consider I'm sure, I am not a landlord and in my opinion you'll definitely want to get opinions from one or many. You can also attend local real estate investing club meetings to talk to other people who are actively in the business. http://www.facebook.com/orangecountyinvestorsclub meets in Tustin. I'm sure you have much more advice coming.
Certain area of Tustin/irvine would be a great long term investment. There are great schools in both locations for great resale value and they are both popular areas that have a solid market. It's a great time to buy due to the lower rates and lower cost of homes. Although we don't have a crystal ball, the market seems to be at a hault with the cost of homes for now. The rental market is doing very well right now and owners seem to be renting their homes out at a higher price than a few years
ago. Email me or call if you have any other questions
I would answer "Absolutley Yes," as your situation brings to mind the good old days of military personnel buying homes whereever they were stationed and using the equity at the end of thier careers as an additional retirement plan. I would also say that you should only buy something that will "Positive Cash Flow" for you right away. This will provide you with extra protection when you do decide to move away. If you would like my e-book on "Real Estate Investing" just send me an email. If you want to see some great deals you can log into my listingbook account at http://www.joehoms.listingbook.com , or just give me a call.
I would recommend seeking out a highly skilled and experienced professional that will take the time necessary to get you to where you want to be. In looking at my profile, if you feel that I may be that person for you, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Good luck in your endeavors. So long as they are well thought out and strategized, you will be succesful!!