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4 profitable ways to invest in real estate for starters

by Ana Lopez
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When it comes to investing, few industries offer the level of profitability and stability that residential real estate offers. For early-stage investors, this venture can be a powerful tool for generating income and accumulating wealth.

The real estate market, especially the residential sector, has consistently proven to be a solid investment choice. According to the Federal Reserve’s Consumer Finance Report, primary residence accounts for approx a quarter of all wealth among U.S. households as of 2020. In addition, a National Association of Realtors study found that in 2020, despite the challenges of the global pandemic, the median home sales price sold in the United States was still up 6.7%. These statistics underline the remarkable resilience and profitability of the residential real estate market.

When you’re considering investing, it’s hard to overlook the dual benefits of residential real estate: steady cash flow from rental and potential asset appreciation over time. In addition, real estate investments have a long history as a hedge against inflation. As the cost of living rises, so do property values ​​and rental income, providing real estate investors with a level of protection against the declining purchasing power of the dollar.

For novice investors, investing in residential real estate can be a powerful tool for generating income, accumulating wealth and diversifying an investment portfolio. And while the venture may seem daunting at first glance, there are several accessible strategies that can maximize profitability and mitigate risk. Armed with these strategies and a solid understanding of the market, you’ll be well positioned to reap the rewards of real estate investing.

Related: Why savvy investors prefer to invest in real estate over stocks

1. Hack house

House hacking involves buying a multi-unit property, living in one unit, and renting out the others. The rent from the tenants can cover your mortgage and even provide some extra income.

For example, if you buy a triplex for $300,000 with a monthly mortgage payment of $1,500, and you rent each of the two units for $800, you will receive $1,600 in rent. You basically live for free and make $100 profit every month.

Start with market research to look for multi-family homes in areas of high rental demand. Financial planning is critical here; make sure you have a solid credit score to secure a favorable mortgage rate. Once you’ve acquired the property, you should be ready to take on landlord duties such as collecting rent, maintenance, and resolving conflicts. If you are not comfortable with these tasks, consider hiring a property management company.

2. Long term rental

Long-term rentals can provide consistent cash flow while also building wealth over time. As a landlord, you can benefit from rent payments and property appreciation.

Consider a $200,000 property that rents for $1,200 per month. After expenses (mortgage, insurance, taxes, maintenance), you could be making $200 a month. Over the course of a year, that’s $2,400 in cash flow. In addition, as you pay off the mortgage and the property increases in value, your wealth grows.

For long-term rentals, location is key. You should choose areas with strong rental markets, taking into account factors such as job growth, population growth and economic stability. When it comes to financing, it is crucial to secure a mortgage that will allow you to generate positive cash flow. Once you have tenants, you need to manage tenant relationships and property maintenance.

Related: 7 of the most common mistakes made by novice real estate investors

3. Fix and flip

Fix-and-flip is a short-term investment strategy. This includes buying a property that needs work, renovating it and selling it for a profit.

For example, you can buy a distressed property for $100,000, invest $30,000 in renovations, and then sell it for $170,000. After closing costs and expenses, you could make a significant profit.

With the fix-and-flip strategy, your first step should be finding a good deal on a property. Look for distressed properties that have sold below market value. You may need to work with real estate wholesalers or search foreclosures. Budgeting is also crucial. Accurately estimate your renovation costs and potential resale value to ensure profitability. Finally, you will need to manage the renovation process, supervise contractors or even do some of the work yourself if you are skilled in that area.

4. Short-term vacation rentals

The emergence of platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO makes short-term vacation rental an attractive investment strategy. These properties can generate higher revenue than traditional rentals due to their per-night pricing model.

For example, a beachfront condo can be rented long-term for $1,500 per month. But as a vacation rental, it can run $150 per night. If you only rent it for half the month, you will earn twice as much.

Location is everything for short term vacation properties. Choose an accommodation in a popular holiday area, taking into account factors such as tourist attractions, seasonality and local regulations. Once you have acquired the property, you must effectively market it. Listing your property on popular short-term rental platforms and investing in professional photography will help you attract guests. Finally, be prepared to deal with frequent guest moves or consider hiring a property management company that specializes in short-term rentals.

Residential real estate offers a variety of profitable strategies for early-stage investors. Understanding and leveraging these methods will help you create a robust and profitable investment portfolio. Each strategy — house hacking, long-term rentals, fix-and-flip, and short-term vacation rentals — has its unique set of benefits and considerations.

Related: 5 proven steps to becoming a real estate millionaire, according to an investor

The secret to success in residential real estate investing is no secret at all. It involves diligent research, careful planning and strategic execution. By following the actionable steps in this article, you’ll be well positioned to capitalize on your first residential real estate investment. However, remember that every investment carries risks and it is essential to thoroughly understand these risks before getting in. Start small, learn as you go and scale up as you become more comfortable and experienced. With patience and persistence, your real estate investments can be a significant source of income and wealth accumulation over time.

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