I look back when I bought my first investment property at 120 Quaker Ln N Plymouth MN in 2002.
I bought it using a conventional loan with low down payment. Many begging investors do not realize that they could qualify for FHA financing as owner occupants and put only $1000 down payment, since many of the first time buyers would qualify for down payment assistance.
Your credit score must be 630+ to qualify for FHA loan though.
If your credit is bad, start working on it, because it will make things a lot easier if you want to invest in real estate.
What to do if you have a good credit but do not have a down payment? Well, I remember that I applied for a lot of business credit cards that didn’t report payments on personal credit report, got the money and used them as down payments to qualify for financing under my personal name. However after my 5th property that I purchased under my own name, nobody else wanted to finance me, because bankers only used 70% of the rental income to calculate debt to income ratio and I was not making enough. Thus I turned to local small banks and got financing from them where I put 25% down and received commercial loans.
You can also buy properties on Contract for deed or subject to, but these deals are so rare in my opinion and most of the time the properties that sell on Contract for Deed are overprized. Thus, if you need cash for a down payment, you can use your retirement account, IRA, borrow money from somebody or apply for business credit cards that do not show on your personal credit report, such as Bank of America, Citi, Chase, US Bank and Wellsfargo. Do not apply for Amex, Capital One and Discover since the payments will show up on your personal credit report and it will be more difficult for you to qualify for a mortgage loan.