As a long time investor in real estate for myself and someone who finds properties for other investors I will try to help you out.
First decide what your long and short term goals are. Your priorities are more important than the property or area.
Are you looking to for a solid medium to long term investment that yields a good return over time in a stable asset or looking to make quicker cash by fixing and flipping.
If you're looking to get a good return on your money, without worrying about being an active landlord, fixing toilets or having management responsibility, there are companies who will do all of this for you.
Find the property, rehab it (if necessary), rent it out and manage it. You'll pay them to do this, but it's a lot less work than getting involved and doing a lot of this yourself.
In fact, most of the properties I purchase for myself and my clients are from frustrated landlords who bought property, wanted to manage it themselves and after a few years of headaches, they sell it to me at a very big discount just to get rid of it.
So make sure you know what you want for yourself, both in terms of return on investment and time or risk involved.
There are opportunities for you no matter what you want to do, but those are key.
AFTER you know that, the biggest decisions are WHERE to invest and how you're going to find the properties.
If you live in Southern California, as I do, you may not want to buy and hold because you can get much more for your money in places like Dallas and Memphis (where I buy houses to "hold"). Working with a company who does everything for you is a called a Turn-Key operator.
Hope these help, if you'd like more insight, feel free to schedule a call.