Rentals gain popularity for investments "Buy land. They're not making it anymore." - Mark Twain Property is valuable and mostly becomes more valuable as time goes on. This idea is not lost on today's legion of real estate investors or the average person. According to the Financial Security Index Survey released in July, 54 million Americans consider real estate to be the preferred cash investment for funds not needed for more than 10 years. A survey in 2012 by the National Survey of Residential Real Estate Investors found there are about 28.1 million real estate investors in the country spending a total of $9.2 billion on real estate renovations. It is a great time to invest in real estate with interest rates are historically low. Owning rental property is one way to invest and immediately get return on your money. The key before you start is to ask yourself what you need to make on a rental. Enlist a real estate agent to help you analyze rental rates and apartment prices in the neighborhood. Scour the classifieds to get an idea of what rents are in the area you would like to buy. Also, learn what properties are selling for. Before you buy, know what your costs will be for taxes, maintenance, and profit. Can you be competitive at this location and still make a profit? One landlord writing in ConsumerismCommentary.com said she must make $500 profit on each rental per month. Pick the right neighborhood. High crime areas will cost you money, according to Consumerism Commentary. High rent areas probably will resist rentals. Sturdy middle-class neighborhoods are often best. One useful talent is a flair for DIY. If you like doing general repairs, you can usually save on expected expenses. If you don't have such a flair, develop ties to handy-people who are skilled and available. You might be able to hire someone on demand for a low hourly rate. Finally, once you have done the math and purchased your rental, find the right renter with a strict application. You must make your money back on a property so your three questions have to be: Can they afford the apartment? Will they pay the rent? Will they keep the property nice? To find out, check previous landlords. Verify income. After that, run a civil and criminal background check. One landlord even calls the mother or father of younger people who want to rent.