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Your Basic Guide to Investing in Real Estate

Investing in Real Estate

Ever had a landlord? Not everyone dreams of becoming one. Fielding calls regarding overflowing toilets and oversized bugs doesn’t seem like the most glamorous of jobs. However, if done right, investing in real estate can be quite lucrative, if not flashy. It can help diversify your current investment portfolio and simultaneously be an extra income stream.

Many of the best real estate investors are not at their tenants’ every beck and call (they have supers for that). The difficulty is that many new investors don’t know how or where to invest in real estate. Here are a few ways you can make a significant amount of money in real estate, ranging from low to high maintenance.

Purchase Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

REITs permit you to invest in real estate without the physical real estate. Unlike mutual funds, REITs own commercial real estates like hotels, apartments, retail spaces, and office buildings and tend to pay good dividends making them a typical investment for retirement. Investors who don’t want or need regular income can automatically reinvest those dividends to grow their investment further.

But should you invest in REITs? They’re a good investmen, but can also be complex and varied. Certain trade on an exchange, while others are not publicly traded. The type of REIT you buy can be a huge factor in the degree of risk you’re taking on, as REITs that are not traded don’t sell easily and may be difficult to value. New investors should generally stick to publicly traded REITs that can be bought through top real estate investment firms. For this, you require a brokerage account. If you don’t have one already, opening one doesn’t take more than a few minutes, and a lot of companies don’t require initial investment (though the REIT itself will likely have an investment minimum).

Use an Online Real Estate Investing Platform

If you’re familiar with top real estate investment firms that connect investors and borrowers willing to lend them money for a variety of personal needs, like a home renovation or a wedding  you understand online real estate investing.

Platforms like these connect investors and real estate developers who want financing for their projects, either through debt or equity. Investors hope to receive quarterly or monthly distributions in exchange for taking on a substantial amount of risk and paying a fee to the platform. Similar to many real estate investments, these are illiquid and speculative – you can’t unload them easily the way you can trade a stock. The catch is that you require money to make money.

Think about investing in rental properties

You can purchase or rent out all of the investment property. Search for someone that offers combined expenses lower than the amount you can charge in rent. And if you’re unwilling to be the individual who comes with a tool belt to fix a leak – or even the one who calls the repairman – you also need to hire a property manager.

Rent out a room

Lastly, you can also rent a portion of your home through a site like Airbnb. It is house-hacking for the commitment-phobic. Airbnb at least somewhat prescreens potential renters, and you don’t have to take on a long-term tenant. The company also guarantees protection against damages, up to a limited amount.

Compared to the fancy concept of real estate investing, renting out a room feels a lot more accessible. You can rent it if you’ve got a spare room.

Similar to every investment decision, the best real estate investments are those that serve you best – the investor. Think about how much capital you’re willing to invest, how much time you have, and whether you want to be the one who deals with household issues when they inevitably surface. If you don’t have do-it-yourself skills, consider investing in real estate through a REIT or a crowd-funding platform instead of directly in a property.

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