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How to Be a Real Estate Investor


Investing in real estate can be a lucrative venture, but it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Before jumping in, it may be beneficial to consult with a financial advisor to align your investment strategy with your personal financial goals. While real estate investing can be a potential part of a diversified strategy, it requires a deep understanding of the overall investment landscape in order to be successful. Whether you are a high-risk taker or a conservative investor, having your financial plan strongly aligned with your real estate investment efforts can significantly shape your journey. For that, you may want to talk to a financial advisor.

The Real Estate Investment Landscape

For centuries, real estate investing has been a promising venture. It has evolved significantly from sporadic land possessions to a dedicated market with extensive financial backing. The establishment of the first real estate investment trusts (REITs) in the 1960s notably contributed to the growth of this burgeoning industry. Today, the residential real estate industry is worth approximately $2.53 billion in the U.S. alone.

However, stepping into real estate investing requires more than merely capital. It entails a thorough understanding of your financial landscape and a sound investment strategy, often developed in consultation with an experienced financial advisor. The aim is to align your investment approach with your risk tolerance and financial goals. 

Different Ways to Invest in Real Estate

There is a myriad of ways to invest in real estate, each offering its own set of benefits and risks that need careful consideration. Some investors will choose to focus on a single type of investment while others will diversify across different real estate investments. Here is what to know about each of the most popular types of real estate investments.

Rental Properties

Rental properties can offer a steady income stream albeit they require substantial management and maintenance. According to the Urban Institute, rental properties account for the majority of all real estate wealth in the U.S. Renting out properties can be difficult and time-consuming at times but it’s a great way to monetize your properties while they also grow in equity. 

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

REITs are companies that own, operate, or finance income-generating real estate and allow investors to invest in the ownership. Investing in REITs allows you to enter the real estate market without having to purchase properties, making it one of the easiest investment types to manage. However, like any other investment, they carry a risk of market volatility but REITs that are managed well will be very diversified across markets and types of real estate.

House Flipping

House flipping involves buying a property, enhancing it and selling it for a profit. While potentially profitable, this method carries risks and requires a good understanding of the real estate market. It’s important to note that house flipping is not a guaranteed way to make a profit and should not be approached as an easy money-making scheme. It can take considerable expertise, strategic assessment, in-depth knowledge, and of course, a slice of good luck. It really can keep costs down if you know how to do construction work. 

Online Real Estate Investing Platforms

Platforms like Fundrise and RealtyMogul allow investors to pool their resources to invest in significant real estate projects that individual investors wouldn’t risk or couldn’t afford on their own. These platforms can potentially enable portfolio diversification and risk management for your individual portfolio. Keep in mind, though, that these platforms require careful selection and due diligence to ensure they align with your financial goals and ethics. 

Room Renting

Renting out a room in your home can yield extra income. However, it involves certain considerations such as tenant rights, local regulations and potential infringement on personal space.

How to Start a Real Estate Investing Career

Investing in real estate

Launching your real estate investing career involves not only insightful market analysis and a well-defined investment strategy but also building a robust and relevant network. Here are the three steps anyone looking to embark on this journey should undertake first. 

1. Understand the Market

Effective market analysis involves a comprehensive assessment of property values, rental rates and neighborhood demographics. Tools like the U.S. Census Bureau’s American FactFinder can assist in this process. If you don’t understand the market that you’ll be investing in then it’s likely that you won’t be able to find and make strong investments. Doing a lot of market analysis and research before making your first investment decision should pay off. 

2. Developing an Investment Strategy

It’s important to have the right strategy around what types of investments you want to make and in what markets. A robust investment strategy should cater to your financial situation and goals. For instance, if you aim to generate retirement income, investing in rental properties or REITs could be an optimal strategy. You need to find the right strategy that aligns with your long-term goals. 

3. Building a Network

Networking can become the gateway to valuable partnerships and learning opportunities. Many investors have found partners for deals, learned about opportunities and even found the money they needed through proper networking. Embrace real estate investment forums and local meetups to connect with like-minded individuals and industry veterans. Talk to as many people in the industry as you can and let them know what you’re looking for as you never know when the right person will pop up in your network. 

Tips for Getting Started in Real Estate Investing

If you’re looking to get started in real estate investing then you should try to put your best foot forward. Here are some tips to help you as you get started. 

  • Keep Learning: As real estate market trends continue to evolve constantly, staying updated and continually learning is vital for success. Online resources like the National Association of Realtors and BiggerPockets can provide invaluable insights and updates that help you stay ahead of the curve.
  • Take Time for Risk Management: Risk management strategies are an essential part of real estate investing. It might include a range of techniques, from diversification and securing the right insurance coverage to regular property maintenance. Understanding that insurance, while an upfront cost, can save from substantial financial losses in the event of property damages.
  • Diversify Your Investments: Diversification goes beyond investing in different types of properties. It can also imply investing in different geographical areas or utilizing different investment methods. Diversification serves as a safety net, helping to mitigate risks associated with market volatility.
  • Take Time for Legal and Regulatory Concerns: It’s crucial to consider potential legal and regulatory obligations. Violating zoning regulations or failing to understand landlord-tenant laws can lead to severe legal issues or financial losses. For instance, converting a residential property into a commercial entity without obtaining the necessary permissions can result in hefty penalties.

Bottom Line

Woman starting a real estate investment career

Starting a real estate investment journey involves strategic decisions based on your unique circumstances and tolerance for risk. Professional financial advice can be catalytic in making informed decisions and aligning them with your larger financial goals. However, it’s essential to remember that consulting with a financial advisor doesn’t guarantee success but rather stimulates informed decision-making.

Tips for Investing in Real Estate

  • When you’re looking to get into a new investment type, especially one as expensive as real estate, you could benefit from speaking with a financial advisor. They can help you make a plan and make sure your overall financial portfolio is diversified and protected. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now
  • Once you start buying properties you may want to utilize debt and get a mortgage. You can use SmartAsset’s free mortgage calculator to help you estimate what your payments could look like.

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