If you're starting out, I'd recommend looking into buyer's agents for a mentorship opportunity. Realtors call for a service fee, but usually the seller of the property allocates 6% (3% each to the buyer and seller realtors) so your buyer's agent would be compensated by the seller, not you. On that note, ask around for investor friendly agents. You'd be surprised how many agents out there have almost no knowledge in real estate investing. I would interview at least 3 investor-friendly agents, and go with who you feel most comfortable.
On that note, I was curious if any of you have looked into or done any REI in retirement communities.
I haven't looked into retirement communities and I know this can be a solid market, but from everything you've laid out I would have several questions.
They basically buy distressed condos in a retirement community, rehab them, and then sell.
To me, distressed condos is an oxymoron. If condos are in really rough shape, it makes me question how healthy the condo association is. Buying an outdated condo in a healthy association and making cosmetic changes is one thing, but if there are lumps of condos for sale and the exteriors are falling apart, that's a big red flag to me. Remember, condos charge monthly HOA fees, and have the power to levy even higher fees for special assessments.
The catch is that the investor either needs to be 55+ or needs to know someone 55+ who can take title on the property.
The problem I have with this statement is why buy a property where you only have one exit strategy? If I'm buying an investment property, I want the ability to sell it to a wide demographic (millennials thru baby boomers). Not only that, but also I want to be able to rent it for cashflow if the market turns sour and you can't sell it for 6 months. See what I mean?
That being said it'd be good to interview this guy, explain your situation, and see what he says.