Novice investor needs help with where to start

Reader Question: I would like to get a home ready to rent but I don’t know where to start. I am a novice investor. Structurally the house is sound, but it has been neglected and needs to be cleaned up! The kitchen and master bathroom needs updating, and an in-ground pool and fencing need to be filled in/removed. I need to replace a deck, and siding (which is asbestos circa 1954) has some issues. I don’t know where to start or what to spend money on first.

Monty’s Answer: Before we delve into the mechanics of preparing the home for the market, consider a discussion about how you came to acquire the house. I sense that the house was gifted, or inherited. There is no information about your life experiences, interests, or financial strength. It is common for individuals to inherit or be gifted property who have no idea where to go from this point. You are wise to be seeking information and acknowledging your inexperience.

If the project is not for you

Take an introspective look at your life and challenge yourself as to whether or not proceeding with this project is what you want to do. An article about who should own investment real estate is here at If you do not want to invest your time to learn, this article at about selling to a flipper may help. Or sell it “as is” to a handy family that is looking for a home they can finish to their tastes. They will likely pay more than a flipper.

If you decide to proceed

Renovating the house is a new education in itself. There are many ways to go about it. As a neophyte, consider interviewing several remodeling contractors or small general contractors. It is vital to gather three estimates because they will all have different ideas about the work to be done, and what it will cost. Here is an article at about how to choose a builder​ ​that includes remodeling contractors.

Before you make appointments to allow contractors or real estate agents view the home, here are a couple of articles that will be helpful in speaking with contractors and may even provide questions to ask that you would not have considered otherwise. One is about money traps when remodeling at,​ ​and the other offers seven home improvement tips at Here is a link to help identify good real estate agents to interview at