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Starting out in a challenging behemoth of an industry like real estate may seem daunting at first. With so many factors and risks involved, the simple act of contemplating where to begin can be overwhelming. After all, it’s one of the largest and most regulated sectors of the U.S. economy, accounting for approximately $30 trillion. As with most things in life, however, once you get over the initial hurdle of getting started, opportunities begin to present themselves and everything becomes clearer with time.

What I’ve learned over my career may help you in your real estate investment journey and hopefully provide the impetus new investors need to take the first exciting step.

1. Find your vehicle.

It’s all about making that initial, defining decision on what you want to invest in. In order to find the vehicle, you need to do your fair share of research. Find out what problem currently exists in the market or what service is lacking.

In my case, after two or three years of working in retail, I realized that the only person making money in the equation was the landlord. Additionally, I felt that the rental market was very strong and realized that this is a service people are always going to need — whether it be commercial, offices, apartments, etc. It was at that point after identifying a basic need that I began to look into real estate investing. This was going to be my vehicle.

2. Educate yourself.

It sounds like a cliché, but educating yourself is crucial. You need to learn absolutely everything you can about the investment vehicle you choose. You have to become an expert — no ifs, ands or buts about it.

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I began to take classes, attend seminars and workshops and read any book I could get my hands on. People want to make sure you know what you’re talking about.

3. Hone in on the product.

Once you finally decide what to invest in, the next step is to determine the specifics. After taking a few real estate classes, I decided to begin with basic residential investment. Over the years, people have…