February 26, 2024

By Daniel Masuda Lehrman, CFP®, CSLP®

Over the many years that I’ve served clients, one of the most commonly asked questions has been, “Should I invest in real estate?”

Before you dive into the world of real estate investing, ask yourself this:  What's the endgame?  Lots of people chase "passive income" – that cash flow that rolls in without you clocking in every day.But what's behind the dollars for you and your family?  Start by picturing your dream life, then see if real estate's the vehicle to get you there.

Why Should You Invest in Real Estate?

The decision to enter the realm of real estate investment is deeply personal. We highly recommend ensuring complete commitment from yourself and your family before embarking on this path.There are numerous avenues to allocate your funds—stocks, bonds, savings, mutual funds, CDs, currencies, commodities, and notably, real estate investments.

So why real estate?

Investing in real estate is a choice often driven by the pursuit of financial independence, though the most unique reason is access to financing, or leverage.  Other distinctive draws are appreciation, cash flow, and tax advantages.

What Real Estate Types to consider?

Real estate encompasses various property types, each with unique characteristics and investment potentials:

  • Raw land: Basic earth that can be improved, leased, or subdivided for profit.
  • Single-family houses: Common investments, relatively easy to rent, sell, and finance.
  • Multifamily houses (duplexes, triplexes, quads): Offer good cash flow with less competition than single-family homes.
  • Small apartment buildings: Provide significant cash flow but may require more management.
  • Large apartment buildings: High-value complexes with stable returns and minimal personal involvement.
  • Commercial properties: Leased to businesses, offering consistent cash flow but potentially longer vacancy periods.
  • Mobile homes: Low-cost entry, adaptable strategies for investment.
  • Tax liens and notes: Complex but potentially inexpensive investment avenues.

Most Common Strategies to Start Investing in Real Estate for Beginners?

Understanding the diverse landscape of real estate investment involves more than just recognizing various property niches. It encompasses employing a range of strategies to leverage these niches and build wealth. Here, we delve into three prevalent strategies that can drive profits in real estate investing.

1. Rental Property: A rental property represents an investment in real estate aimed at generating income through tenant rent payments. As a landlord, you assume responsibility for property management, tenant acquisition, and maintenance.Rental properties come with notable benefits. They provide a consistent stream of passive income, enabling you to establish a reliable cash flow that can supplement or become your primary source of revenue. Moreover, these investments hold potential for long-term appreciation. Over time, as property values increase, your investment gains value, allowing you to build equity and potentially sell the property for profit.  The beauty of rental properties lies in the gradual reduction of the mortgage while accruing equity over time. However, success hinges on adept deal evaluation, as misjudgments in property assessment, expense estimation, tenant selection, or asset management can be costly.

2. Flipping Houses: Popularized by TV shows, house flipping involves buying property at a discount, improving it, and selling it for profit. Unlike passive investment, flipping demands active involvement. Investors use profits from flipping to sustain daily expenses and support other passive investments.

3. Wholesaling: Wholesalers identify lucrative real estate deals, secure them via contracts, and sell these contracts to buyers, often without owning the property. This strategy, praised for its low entry costs, allows middlemen to pocket an assignment fee without dealing with property ownership complexities.Each strategy holds its intricacies, emphasizing the importance of education. Mastery in evaluating deals, managing assets, and tenant selection is crucial for success.

Other Strategies

Apart from these strategies, exploring avenues like rental properties, REIT investing, Real Estate Investment Groups (REIGs), and various property types—from raw land to large apartment buildings—adds depth to one's real estate portfolio. Each property type offers distinct tradeoffs.
For example, rental properties offer steady passive income and long-term appreciation potential but require hands-on management. Conversely, investing in REITs offers a more passive approach without direct property management, though returns might not match those from hands-on investments.

Similar to how mutual funds relate to stocks, REITs pool funds from individuals to purchase substantial real estate investments, including shopping malls, large apartment complexes, skyscrapers, or clusters of single-family homes. Investors can buy REIT shares via stock accounts, typically yielding relatively high dividend payments. While this method offers a hands-off approach to real estate investment, returns may not match those from active investments.

In summary, real estate investment presents a diverse array of opportunities, each requiring thorough understanding and consideration aligned with individual investment goals and risk tolerance levels. With continuous learning and strategic decision-making, investors can navigate these avenues to build a robust and diversified real estate portfolio.

Can I invest in real estate if I have a full-time job?

Absolutely, having a full-time job doesn't bar you from real estate investment. There's a range of strategies and approaches in real estate that cater to various time commitments. Some methods demand minimal time, allowing investment alongside a full-time job, while others might require more dedication.

Numerous investors successfully manage real estate portfolios while balancing their careers. The key is to find investment avenues and strategies that align with your schedule and lifestyle. Leveraging resources like property management services, technology, or partnerships can help streamline and manage investments effectively, even with a demanding job.

Ultimately, real estate investment can be flexible and adaptable to suit different schedules and commitments, making it accessible to individuals with full-time careers.

Advantages of investing while working a full-time job?

Maintaining your day job offers distinct advantages over diving into full-time real estate investing. Firstly, relying on your job's income allows you to reinvest all profits from your real estate endeavors, fostering exponential growth. Your stable employment also enhances your eligibility for long-term bank financing, promoting stability and growth in wealth-building.Investing in real estate alongside your day job involves various strategies:

  1. Partnering in larger property investments.
  2. Engaging in buy-and-hold properties managed by property management services.
  3. Acting as a private or hard-money lender.
  4. Investing in notes (mortgages).Real estate holds substantial profitability, whether pursued as a career or alongside a traditional job. However, the decision on your path rests with you. Avoid quitting your job solely based on successful stories of full-time investors. Instead, craft a solid plan for your real estate journey and get help when you need it.

Next Steps

Continue Your Real Estate EducationReal estate investing isn't a shortcut to quick wealth. Like a sturdy home, your real estate education forms the foundation for a lasting business. Numerous affordable avenues exist for learning—books, mentors, podcasts, and grasping concepts like cash flow and ROI. Successful investors know education is ongoing, seeking knowledge without needing to spend a fortune on it.

About Daniel Masuda Lehrman

I am a Fee-Only Fiduciary and Founder of Masuda Lehrman Wealth LLC. Prior to starting my own firm, I was a Vice President Financial Consultant at Charles Schwab in their Downtown Honolulu office. I have worked in financial planning for 10 years at Vanguard, Fidelity, and Schwab. I'm a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional (CFP®) and Certified Student Loan Professional with an Economics degree from the University of Michigan.

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