The short sale investor needs to be more exacting and more committed than an individual who is acquiring a residence. If you have had good luck buying low and selling high on your past residences, that has little bearing on your success as a short sale investor. In other words, throw the amateur playbook aside and get serious about making money through your real estate investment.
Of course, you will need all the tools used by any business. That means a business plan, a budget, a marketing plan and the right team. If you are going to be investing in multiple properties, the more urgent these needs are. If you intend to start slow and work your way into the business, then set your overall business plan accordingly. You may want to do some projections for two, three, four or five years out so that you understand all the nuances of growing your investment business.
In any case, one of the first decisions you will need to make involves the use of a real estate agent. If you get out and about at all, you know someone in the real estate business. That should have no bearing on your decision.
There are good short sale real estate agents and there are less than good short sale agents. If you determine to add an agent to your team, the agent must be experienced, willing to wear more than one hat and someone you can communicate with comfortably.
Not all agents have taken advantage of the real estate short sale courses. That should be a requirement for your team agent. You should also ask for a list of short sale transactions the agent has successfully and unsuccessfully negotiated.
You need a strong negotiator and if the agent is not up to the task, you must sharpen your own negotiating skills. The agent will serve other purposes, but ideally your long-term investment success depends on the ability of your agent to pull the pieces together.