Real Estate Investment October 24, 2023

5 Ways to Invest in Real Estate

When looking for investment options, there are many choices for where to put your money. Stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, and real estate are all good investments no matter what level of experience you have; forex or cryptocurrency may be too volatile for beginning investors. Which option you choose will depend on how involved you want to be in your investment, how much money you have to start investing, and how much risk you are comfortable taking. Buying and owning real estate is an investment strategy that can be both satisfying and lucrative. Unlike stock and bond investors, prospective real estate owners can use leverage to buy a property by paying a portion of the total cost upfront and then paying off the balance, plus interest, over time.
What makes a good real estate investment?
A good investment has a high chance of success or return on your investment. If your investment involves a high level of risk, that risk should be balanced out by a high possible reward. Even if you choose investments with a high probability of success, though, that isn’t a guarantee. You shouldn’t put money into real estate—or any other investment—if you cannot afford to lose that money. Though a traditional mortgage generally requires a 20% to 25% down payment, in some cases, a 5% down payment is all it takes to purchase an entire property. This ability to control the asset the moment papers are signed emboldens both real estate flippers and landlords, who can, in turn, take out second mortgages on their homes in order to make down payments on additional properties.
Here are five key ways investors can make money on real estate.
KEY TAKEAWAYS Aspiring real estate owners can buy a property by using leverage, paying a portion of its total cost upfront, and paying off the balance over time. One of the primary ways in which investors can make money in real estate is to become the landlord of a rental property. People who are flippers, buying up undervalued real estate, fixing it up, and selling it, can also earn income. Real estate investment groups are a more hands-off way to make money in real estate. Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are basically dividend-paying stocks.

Exploring Investment Options: From Real Estate to REITs and More

When contemplating investment opportunities, a myriad of choices is available to discerning individuals seeking to allocate their capital. Among these options are stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, and real estate, each offering promising prospects regardless of one’s level of financial acumen. Notably, the volatility inherent in forex or cryptocurrency investments often renders them unsuitable for novice investors. The selection of an investment avenue should hinge upon the investor’s desired degree of involvement, initial capital allocation, and their tolerance for risk.

Investing in real estate through the acquisition and ownership of properties stands as an investment strategy that combines the satisfaction of ownership with the potential for significant financial gain. Diverging from the methodologies employed by traditional stock and bond investors, prospective real estate proprietors can leverage their investments by contributing a fraction of the total property cost upfront and subsequently amortizing the outstanding balance along with accrued interest over time.

Distinguishing a prudent real estate investment necessitates an assessment of the likelihood of success, measured in terms of return on investment. While a high-risk endeavor can be enticing, it should ideally be counterbalanced by a commensurate potential reward. Even when opting for investments characterized by a higher probability of success, it is imperative to acknowledge that there exists no guarantee of profitability. Hence, prudence dictates that one should abstain from committing funds to real estate, or any other investment, if the prospect of losing said capital is untenable.

Notably, the conventional mortgage structure typically demands a down payment ranging from 20% to 25%. Nevertheless, in some scenarios, a mere 5% down payment can facilitate the acquisition of an entire property. This ability to secure an asset promptly upon signing the requisite documents emboldens both real estate speculators and landlords, who can leverage second mortgages on their existing properties to fund additional acquisitions. Here, we elucidate five key avenues through which investors can capitalize on real estate holdings.


  • Aspiring real estate owners can access properties through leverage, by remitting a portion of the total cost upfront, and progressively retiring the outstanding balance.
  • One of the primary avenues for generating income in real estate is by becoming the landlord of a rental property.
  • Real estate investors who specialize in refurbishing undervalued properties and reselling them can also reap substantial profits.
  • Real estate investment groups (REITs) offer a more hands-off approach to real estate investing.
  • Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are akin to dividend-paying stocks.

1. Rental Properties The ownership of rental properties presents an appealing opportunity for individuals equipped with do-it-yourself (DIY) renovation skills and the fortitude to manage tenants. Nevertheless, this strategy necessitates substantial capital to address initial maintenance expenses and cushion against periods of tenant vacancy.


  • Yields regular income, coupled with the potential for property appreciation.
  • Optimizes capital utilization through leverage.
  • Facilitates the deduction of numerous associated expenses from taxable income.


  • Tenant management can be an arduous and time-consuming endeavor.
  • Properties may sustain damage from tenants, affecting potential income.
  • Income can be adversely impacted during vacancies.

Historical data from the U.S. Census Bureau attests to the consistent increase in the sales prices of new homes—a rough proxy for real estate values—from the 1960s until 2007. Notably, this trajectory was disrupted during the financial crisis but subsequently resumed its upward trajectory, even surpassing pre-crisis levels. The long-term ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic on real estate valuations remain uncertain.

2. Real Estate Investment Groups (REIGs) Real estate investment groups (REIGs) present an attractive option for individuals desiring to own rental real estate without the concomitant burdens of day-to-day management. Participation in REIGs requires the deployment of capital resources and access to financing.

REIGs operate akin to small-scale mutual funds focused on rental properties. Typically, a company acquires or constructs a portfolio of apartment complexes or condominiums, enabling investors to purchase units through the company and, thereby, join the group.

While individual investors may own one or multiple self-contained living spaces, the group collectively manages all units, overseeing maintenance, advertising vacant properties, and conducting tenant interviews. In return for performing these management duties, the company receives a portion of the monthly rent.

A conventional lease in a real estate investment group bears the name of the investor, and the rental income generated from all units is pooled, providing a hedge against occasional vacancies. Consequently, investors continue to receive income even if their own unit stands unoccupied, provided the vacancy rate across the pooled units does not experience an excessive surge that could compromise cost coverage.


  • Imposes less direct involvement compared to owning individual rentals.
  • Offers both income and potential appreciation.


  • Subject to risks associated with vacancies.
  • Incurs fees akin to those accompanying mutual funds.
  • Vulnerable to unscrupulous management practices.

3. House Flipping House Flipping is an avenue suited to individuals possessing extensive experience in real estate valuation, marketing, and renovation. The practice of house flipping mandates substantial financial resources and the capability to perform or oversee, requisite property improvements.

This facet of real estate investment embodies the dynamic and speculative nature of the industry. Analogous to how day trading diverges from the strategies employed by buy-and-hold investors in stock markets, real estate flippers distinguish themselves from buy-and-hold landlords. Real estate flippers frequently seek to profitably divest themselves of undervalued properties within a span of fewer than six months.

Pure property flippers typically abstain from investing in property enhancements. Therefore, an investment must already possess the intrinsic value necessary to yield a profit devoid of any alterations; otherwise, it is discarded from consideration.

Flippers who are unable to promptly sell a property may encounter difficulties, as they typically lack a sufficient reserve of unencumbered capital to meet mortgage obligations over the long term. This scenario can precipitate a cascade of escalating losses.


  • Engages capital for a shorter timeframe.
  • Can yield rapid returns.


  • Mandates in-depth market knowledge.
  • Vulnerable to unexpected downturns in once-hot markets.

4. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) Real estate investment trusts (REITs) offer an ideal solution for investors seeking portfolio exposure to real estate without undertaking conventional real estate transactions. A REIT is established when a corporation, or trust, leverages investors’ capital to procure and operate income-generating properties. REITs are publicly traded on major exchanges, functioning similarly to conventional stocks.

To maintain its REIT status, a corporation must distribute 90% of its taxable profits as dividends. By adhering to this stipulation, REITs circumvent corporate income taxation, a liability that conventional corporations must confront before determining whether to disburse after-tax earnings as dividends.

Similar to traditional dividend-paying stocks, REITs represent a dependable investment option for individuals desiring regular income. Moreover, in comparison to other forms of real estate investments previously discussed, REITs provide investors with access to nonresidential assets, such as malls or office buildings, which are typically beyond the reach of individual investors. Furthermore, REITs, being exchange-traded trusts, offer superior liquidity by obviating the need for real estate agents and complex title transfers to facilitate the withdrawal of investments. In essence, REITs represent a more formalized variation of real estate investment groups.

It is essential to distinguish between equity REITs, which hold physical properties, and mortgage REITs, which engage in real estate mortgage financing and dabble in mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Both options furnish exposure to real estate, albeit with disparate modes of engagement. Equity REITs confer ownership of tangible real estate assets, while mortgage REITs center their focus on income derived from mortgage financing.


  • Resemble dividend-paying stocks in essence.
  • Predominantly consists of long-term, income-generating leases.


  • Excludes the leverage typically associated with traditional rental real estate.

5. Online Real Estate Platforms Real estate investment platforms are designed for individuals desiring to participate in larger-scale commercial or residential ventures through collective investment. These investments are facilitated through online real estate platforms, commonly referred to as real estate crowdfunding. Notably, this avenue necessitates an investment of capital, although the requirement is generally less than that needed to purchase properties outright.

Online platforms serve as intermediaries, connecting investors eager to fund real estate projects with property developers. In certain instances, diversification of investments can be achieved with a relatively modest financial commitment.


  • Permits investment in single projects or diversified portfolios.
  • Offers geographic diversification.


  • Tends to be less liquid, often featuring lockup periods.
  • Involves management fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Should I Add Real Estate to My Portfolio? Real estate stands as a distinct asset class widely regarded by experts as an integral component of a well-diversified portfolio. Its value lies in the fact that real estate investments typically exhibit a low correlation with equities, bonds, and commodities. Furthermore, real estate holdings generate income through rent or mortgage payments, in addition to the potential for capital appreciation.

What Is Direct vs. Indirect Real Estate Investing? Direct real estate investments involve the actual ownership and management of properties. Conversely, indirect real estate investments entail participation in pooled vehicles tasked with the ownership and management of properties, such as REITs or real estate crowdfunding projects.

Is Real Estate Crowdfunding Risky? In comparison to other forms of real estate investments, crowdfunding carries a degree of risk. This is primarily attributable to the relative novelty of real estate crowdfunding. Furthermore, certain projects may appear on crowdfunding platforms because they were unable to secure financing through traditional means, raising concerns about their viability. Additionally, many real estate crowdfunding platforms enforce lockup periods, rendering investments illiquid for several years. Nonetheless, top-tier platforms have demonstrated annualized returns ranging from 2% to 20%, as per Investopedia research.

The Bottom Line Whether real estate investors employ their properties to generate rental income or await opportune moments to sell, they can construct a robust investment portfolio by committing a fraction of the total property value upfront. Profits and potential returns within the realm of real estate remain viable, irrespective of the prevailing market conditions.