How to Invest in Real Estate


Investing in real estate is always in demand and even though interest rates may be slowing the market down currently, investors are likely to return to it strongly if rates decrease. In fact, real estate is a favored long-term investment among Americans, as shown by a survey conducted by Bankrate in 2022, surpassing even stocks. 

There are various ways for individuals to invest in real estate, including options beyond becoming a landlord, which is a traditional and well-established method for those who wish to manage a property themselves. 

Additionally, new technology platforms have made it more convenient than ever to invest in real estate without needing to have large sums of cash on hand.

Investing in real estate in 2022


The increase in interest rates has significantly impacted the real estate market. Higher rates make it difficult for borrowers to afford homes, leading to a decrease in asking prices for property owners to attract buyers. This trend has been prevalent throughout much of 2022.

In early 2022, interest rates were relatively stable. Although mortgage rates were not as low as they were in 2021, the Federal Reserve had not yet increased them significantly. However, the central bank indicated that it was ready to raise rates significantly in the near future. As a result, smart buyers took advantage of the low rates and secured them for their property purchases.

The shortage of residential real estate, with only 1.6 months of supply according to Trading Economics, combined with a high demand of buyers with still-low rates, resulted in a rapid rise in home prices during the first quarter of the year.

The Federal Reserve then increased interest rates at an unprecedented speed. These rate hikes made real estate less affordable and caused many homeowners to decrease their asking prices.

However, real estate investment is generally a long-term strategy, and those considering investing should approach it with that perspective. Even if rates are high at the moment, it may be wise to save for a down payment while waiting for rates to drop again.

With that perspective, here are the five best ways to invest in real estate:

1. Buy your own home

Owning your first home may not seem like a typical real estate investment, but many people consider it one. It is one of the most advantageous ways to invest in real estate, offering several benefits.

One of the key benefits is that your monthly mortgage payments help build equity in your home, rather than paying rent that continues to increase annually. A portion of your mortgage payments go towards your own financial growth. 

However, experts have differing opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of owning a home, and it is not wise to buy at any cost, as the homebuyers of the early 2000s discovered.

If you plan to reside in a certain area for a long period, purchasing a home may make financial sense as it may offer a monthly payment that is as affordable as rent. Additionally, banks generally favor owner-occupied properties, offering lower mortgage rates and requiring a smaller down payment. There may also be tax benefits from deducting interest expenses.


- Owning your own property instead of paying rent

- Appreciation in home value

- Increased returns through leverage

- Potential tax breaks for mortgage interest

- Fixed, long-term payments


- Ongoing property maintenance costs

- Large down payment may be required

- Risk of foreclosure if unable to pay the mortgage

Ways to make money:

- Capital appreciation

- Building equity

- Potential tax benefits from the appreciated value.

2. Purchase a rental property and become a landlord

If you're looking to take the next step, you may consider investing in a residential rental property such as a single-family home or a duplex. The main advantage of this type of property is that the standards and market demand are well-established, compared to commercial properties such as a shopping center.

Another benefit is that a lower investment may be required to get started, for instance, with a single-family house. You may be able to purchase a property for $20,000-$30,000, rather than the hundreds of thousands required for commercial properties. You may even be able to purchase it for a cheaper price if you find a desirable distressed property through a foreclosure.

Investing in a rental property typically requires a substantial down payment, often up to 30% of the purchase price. This may be challenging if you're starting out with limited funds. One solution could be to purchase a property where you also live as a tenant.

Another challenge is the need to manage the property and make maintenance decisions. Although owning property is considered passive for tax purposes, being a landlord can be quite active. If a tenant fails to pay rent, you'll need to come up with the monthly payments or risk defaulting on the loan.

Investing in residential real estate, such as a single-family home or a duplex, can offer advantages such as the ability to start with a small investment, tax-free cash flow through depreciation write-offs, and the potential for price appreciation and magnified returns through leverage. 

However, there are also disadvantages, including the need for hands-on management, ongoing property maintenance costs, and the requirement for a larger down payment than for owner-occupied properties. 

Additionally, selling a property in real estate can result in a substantial brokerage fee, making it relatively illiquid. Landlords can also face challenges with mortgage payments and tenants. 

To make money, one can benefit from capital appreciation, growing rents and equity over time, and tax-free exchanges through 1031 exchanges.

3. Consider flipping houses

House flipping has gained popularity as a way to invest in real estate. However, it requires good judgement and more technical know-how compared to being a long-term landlord. But done correctly, flipping houses may yield quicker profits than renting out a property.

The main benefit of this approach is the potential for faster profits. However, it also requires a higher level of expertise. Typically, house flippers look for properties that are undervalued and require renovations or clean-up. They make the necessary improvements, then sell the property at market value, earning a profit from the difference between their total cost and the sales price.

House-flippers require a keen eye for identifying what can be repaired cost-effectively and what cannot be fixed. They must also accurately predict the resale value of a property. Mistakes in these calculations can quickly reduce profits, or even result in a loss. Slow sales can also lead to paying interest on a loan until a buyer is found.

House-flippers may turn to unconventional funding sources as they typically hold properties for a few months rather than years, and traditional mortgage closing costs are high.

House-flipping is a hands-on venture compared to being a landlord. The flipper must oversee a team of repair workers, be the driving force behind each transaction to ensure it stays within budget, and constantly search for new deals as payment is only received upon flipping a property.

House-flippers can utilize 1031 tax-free exchanges by investing the proceeds from one property into another within a specified time frame and following certain guidelines.


- Can begin with small residential real estate investments

- Involves hands-on management (suitable for certain individuals)

- Returns can be increased through leveraging

- Can result in quick investment gains (with the right skills)


- Requires hands-on management

- Must keep up with mortgage payments even without generating income

- Incurs upfront renovation costs

- Requires a sharp eye for value and the ability to manage a team of professionals

Profit is made through:

- Buying undervalued property, renovating, selling for a higher price and repeating the process

- Utilizing 1031 tax-free exchanges.

4. Buy a REIT

The following two methods of real estate investment are truly passive. Investing in a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) is a good option for those seeking the benefits of real estate investments with the ease of owning a stock and the added advantage of collecting dividends.

REITs offer several advantages over traditional real estate investment, making the process simpler:

- Low initial investment, potentially as low as $20-$30 for a stock

- No property management headaches (e.g. no unexpected phone calls)

- High liquidity, REIT stocks can be sold during market hours

-.Zero transaction costs, as broker commissions have been reduced

- Averaging 10.6% returns over 10 years (ending Aug 31, 2021)

- Consistent quarterly dividends, with top REITs increasing payouts over time

- Diversification across multiple properties and real estate sectors.

However, investing in REITs also has its drawbacks. Like any stock, REIT prices can fluctuate along with market movements. This can be a challenge for short-term investors, as a market decline may result in lower REIT prices. However, for long-term investors, this may not be a significant issue.

If you opt for individual REIT stocks, it's necessary to conduct a thorough analysis, using professional analyst tools. An alternative solution is to invest in a REIT fund, which owns multiple REITs and diversifies your exposure to individual companies or sectors.

Investing in a REIT is a suitable option for beginners with a small amount of funds, but it still requires effort as mistakes can be made.


- Can start with minimal funds

- No need for hands-on management

- Liquid investments

- Regular dividends

- Easy diversification

- Deferred taxes on capital gains with long-term holdings.


- REIT stock prices can be volatile

- High debt levels in REITs

- Limited transparency in investments.

Ways to make money:

- Capital appreciation

- Growing stream of dividends.

5. Use an online real estate platform

An online real estate platform like Fundrise or Crowdstreet can help you invest in large commercial real estate projects without having to spend hundreds of thousands or even millions. These platforms connect developers and investors who are looking to finance real estate and benefit from attractive potential returns.

Investors benefit by having the opportunity to participate in a profitable deal they otherwise may not have access to. They can choose between debt or equity investments, depending on the deal terms. These investments may provide cash distributions and may have returns that are not dependent on the economy, offering investors a way to diversify their portfolio from market-based assets.

However, these platforms also have some drawbacks. Some may only accept accredited investors (such as those with net worth over $1 million), making it inaccessible for those without significant wealth. The investment minimum can also vary, ranging from $25,000 to $500.

Additionally, these platforms charge an annual management fee, usually 1%, and may have additional fees. This may seem expensive compared to ETFs and mutual funds, which can have no management fee.

While the platforms may evaluate their investments, investors must also perform due diligence. This requires the skills to analyze the opportunity. The investments are also often less liquid, with limited redemption options until the project is completed. Once the project is complete and the investment is returned, investors may need to find another deal to continue growing their portfolio, unlike with REITs or rental properties.


- No need for hands-on management

- Ability to start with lower upfront investment compared to direct real estate

- Regular dividend payments

- Easy to diversify holdings

- Deferred taxes on capital gains for holding assets


- Limited liquidity

- Higher upfront costs compared to publicly traded REITs

- Reduced transparency in investments

- High fees on investments

Ways to earn money:

- Capital appreciation

- Dividend or interest payments

Pros and cons of investing in real estate


As with all investments, real estate has both advantages and disadvantages to consider before making a decision. It's crucial to be aware of these factors when deciding if real estate investment is right for you.

Long-term appreciation while you live in the propertyAppreciation is not guaranteed, especially in economically depressed areas
Potential hedge against inflationProperty prices may fall with higher interest rates
Leveraged returns on your investmentA leveraged investment means your down payment is at risk
Passive income from rents or with REITsMay require substantial time and money to manage your own properties
Tax advantages, including interest deductions, tax-free capital gains and depreciation write-offsOwe a set mortgage payment every month, even if your tenant doesn’t pay you
Fixed long-term financing availableLower liquidity for real property, and high commissions

Real estate offers several benefits, including tax advantages, but it also has significant drawbacks, such as high exit costs through commissions.

Determining if real estate investment is suitable for you requires evaluating your investment style and financial situation. Both types of real estate investment have the potential to generate significant returns, but it ultimately depends on your financial stability and willingness to take the necessary steps. It's important to align your investment type with your personality and skills.

Before investing in real estate, potential investors should consider the following three factors:

1. Financial resources: Assess your financial capability to invest in a specific real estate investment opportunity. Consider if you have the resources to pay a mortgage in case of tenant default. Evaluate your dependence on a regular income to sustain the investment.

2. Willingness: Consider if you are willing to be a landlord and work with tenants, understand rental laws, or prefer analyzing deals through REITs or online platforms. Determine if you are ready to handle the demands of a house-flipping business.

3. Knowledge and skills: Evaluate if you have the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in real estate investment. Consider if you have expertise in analyzing stocks or have the ability to repair properties, as these skills can impact the success of your investment.

"When your retirement is at stake, it's best to avoid speculative investments and focus on industries you are familiar with, so you can keep track of your investments progress," advises James Richman, CEO of JJ Richman Asset Management.

To determine the best investment fit, consider your own skills, abilities, and willingness. You don't have to include real estate in your portfolio to succeed. Many investors only invest in stocks, aiming to match the long-term market return of 10% per year, and reap the benefits of passive investing.

Top states for investing in real estate

Real estate investment is often a long-term venture, with success dependent on the growth of population driving up property demand. Popular cities such as New York and Los Angeles have strong markets, but other markets can also be lucrative. It's wise to examine population growth trends to identify potential investment opportunities. 

The US Census Bureau reports that US population grew 7.4% from 2010 to 2020. The West saw 9.2% growth and the South 10.2%, while the Northeast grew by only 4.1% and the Midwest by 3.1%.

Fastest-growing states and their growth rate (2010-2020) include:

  1. Utah - 18.4%
  2. Idaho - 17.3%
  3. Texas - 15.9%
  4. North Dakota - 15.8%
  5. Nevada - 15.0%
  6. Colorado - 14.8%
  7. Washington - 14.6%
  8. Florida - 14.6%
  9. Arizona - 11.9%
  10. South Carolina - 10.7%

Potential real estate investors may consider investing in popular metropolitan areas in these states.

Top tax benefits of real estate investing


Tax benefits in real estate investments vary based on the investment method. Nonetheless, real estate investing can provide substantial tax benefits. Here is a breakdown based on the type of investment:

Residential Property:

  • Deductible mortgage interest expenses, subject to your financial situation.
  • Up to $10,000 in property taxes can be deducted if you itemize your taxes.
  • Tax-free capital gains of $250,000 (or $500,000 for joint filers) for the sale of the property, if occupied for 2 out of the last 5 years.

Rental Property:

  • Deduct property taxes from rental income to reduce taxable gains.
  • Deduct interest expenses and depreciation to lower taxable income and maintain cash flow.
  • Taxes are levied on lower depreciated value upon sale. Defer taxes on gains by following 1031 rules and investing in a new property.

House Flipping:

  • Defer taxes on gains by rolling the proceeds into another deal through 1031 exchanges as long as profitable property deals are found.

REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts):

  • No capital gains taxes until shares are sold, avoid taxes by holding shares for extended periods.
  • Tax-free inheritance as shares can be passed on to heirs without incurring taxes on gains.
  • Tax-efficient as REITs don't pay corporate taxes, resulting in money paid out to you being taxed only once.

Online Real Estate Investments:

  • Tax implications depend on the type of investment made (e.g. REIT, debt, equity).
  • Income such as cash distributions is taxable in the year received, while capital gains tax is deferred until realized.


  • Real estate offers investment opportunities for various budgets.
  • Matching investment type with management skills, including time commitment, is important for potential investors.

Read More: How to save money


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