I'm going more in to depth here about how to be successful at real estate investing and property management.
There are a lot of tools available to be a good real estate investor that I'm going to discuss. First things first, you must rely upon external expertise when buying properties. This is critical because in real estate and property management you CAN NOT do it yourself. Let me repeat, you can not do it yourself. Keep in mind that you need a solid professional real estate management team behind you to do things right and have a ROI on your properties.
Be sure to have your legal ducks in a row. Are you owning your properties in your name or setting them up in an LLC. If they are in your name that means all your contracts and leases are in your name and if something goes wrong, it is your name, your reputation, and your responsibility to handle any lawsuits. Many legal advisors advise that you put all your properties into a LLC so you have a solid wall between your investments and your personal assets. Be sure to consult a real estate professional attorney in your area.
The United States has one of the most complicated real estate tax codes in the world. You are much better off hiring somebody who knows taxes than trying to figure out the hundreds of thousands of details yourself. Your tax situation changes with every property you own and every renter you have, so make sure you hire a competent CPA to handle your taxes.
You may want to manage the property yourself, or you may hire property management to do it. I've done both and for a while I enjoyed managing properties. Fixing drains, unclogging toilets, and doing routine maintenance did not bother me for the longest time. Eventually I tired of the calls at 2AM and on holidays and ended up hiring a property manager to handle the day to day stuff.