You can purchase properties that need repairs or you can purchase properties that are turn-key, it really depends how you would like to approach it. I can tell you if you purchase properties that need work, you will have to hire a contractor that you can trust to make the repairs that are necessary.
Obviously being out of town, you may have some difficulty in monitoring the repairs. This is where you will need to have a team in place to handle the construction, leasing and management of the property.
Of course it is much easier to purchase properties that are turn-key. I deal with a team here in the Metro Detroit area that can provide you with both. We have an inventory of homes that need repairs, and we have an inventory of homes that already have tenants in them. The homes that have tenants can make you money from day one. Many of these homes in our inventory have returns from 10 - 25%.
The two main cities that our inventory are in, are Detroit and Pontiac. We also have a management team in place that will handle everything for you. Maybe you should plan a trip here so we can show you the operation and visit some properties, rented and some in need of repairs, so you can see the difference.
My contact information is below, feel free to email me and I can send you a sample of the homes that are both, rented and in need of repair. I can also explain a few other concerns that you may have being an out of town investor.