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After a decade of saving and investing, I think real estate is one of the best ways to make money and build wealth. Here is why.
There are many ways to turn a profit with real estate.When you buy a stock, the only way you can make money is if the stock appreciates in value, and you sell it at the good time. With real estate you can make money in many ways, I can name those 12 off the top of my head, and there are many more.
- Rental income. That one is the main source of profit investors are going for when buying a rental, and doesn't need an explanation.
- Buying low. You turn an instant profit if you manage to buy a property for under market value. Think foreclosures, quick sales, and awesome negotiation skills.
- Selling high. You can make extra money if you stage the property to attract buyers over market value. With stocks, you always buy and sell at market value. With real estate, you can try to beat the market.
- Increasing equity. If you take a mortgage to finance a rental, you are increasing your equity with every mortgage payment. I put down 25% on my last rental and with mortgage repayments am around 33% equity at the moment, those 8% of the property value were paid by rents and are increasing my net worth every month.
- Leverage increases returns. If you put 20% down on a property, you will still receive rental income based on 100% of the property value, making it a great return for your 20%. Say your property is worth $100,000 and you charge $750 in rent with $500 in mortgage, taxes and fees. You have a $250 profit on $20,000 down. That is $3,000 a year, or a cool 15% return on your deposit. Good luck trying to get an almost guaranteed 15% on stocks.
- Leverage makes you profit on the full selling price. If that same $100,000 property you bought with $20,000 down sells for $120,000 a few years later, you get your $20,000 plus principal payments back, and a $20,000 profit. It is only a 20% profit over the full value of the property, but thanks to your leverage, you are making a profit of 100%, minus principal payments to the $80,000 mortgage. The bigger the leverage, the greater the return.
- Renting smaller units. I rent three rooms by the room, to three tenants. I can charge more than if one family was renting the whole place. You can divide your family house into a duplex or a triplex and increase the rent.
- Renting to businesses. Businesses are a different type of tenure and rents are generally higher. They are also safer if you choose a well known business to rent to.
- Tax benefits on interest. Depending on your country of residence, you can often deduce the mortgage interest from the rental income, and create a tax free profit.
- Tax benefits on improvements. You can also deduce the cost of the improvements from the rental income, while the added value to the property is yours to keep.
- Profit from a lump sum on a refinance. So you bought your $100,000 place, and put $10,000 worth of improvements, that the tenants paid back with rents. The property is now worth $125,000 because your contractor did a great job, you can refinance to get the $25,000 cash and put 25% down on your next $100,000 rental!
- Profit from extra cash flow on a refinance. If you are able to refinance the property to lower your mortgage bill payments while the rent stays the same, you are generating more cash flow every month. You can build a cushion for maintenance, save up for a deposit on a new rental, or have more passive income to live off.
There is less risk in real estate leverage than in stock leverage
Stocks are volatile. Penny stocks and currencies even more so. Some trading companies will allow you to trade on leverage. That means if you buy 1,000,000 shares of a penny stock valued at $0.05, the trading company will not require that you fund your account with the full $50,000, it will let you buy the shares with only $5,000, BUT if the share goes down to $0.045, which it almost certainly will, you will get a margin call and your whole account balance will be wiped out.
With real estate, you can put the same $5,000 as a deposit on a $50,000 or even a $100,000 house, and rent it. If you have a renter, you don't really care about the ups and downs of the market, as you are able to meet your monthly repayments. If the property sits empty for a while, all you have to do to keep it is pay the mortgage yourself. It isn't fun, but it is much better than seeing your whole trading account annihilated by a margin call.
Real estate is what you do with it
I bought my first rental cash when I was 22, let the property rot and did not invest a dime in repairs in 10 years. The result? A low rent and quite a bad tenant. He was there before I bought the place and I wanted to have him out before renovating, but he beat me to the game, stayed for 10 years, died, I had to evict his widow, and managed to sell the place a few months later for double the money.
My last rental is a different story. I bought a brand new property, furnished it nicely, set up rental prices that are not outrageous but will drive away the worst tenants, and positions the place as an upscale flatshare for young professionals, instead of a bottom range share for first year students.
What you plan on doing with the property should determine the area you buy in, the type of unit you buy, the state of the property, and all details about said property. If you are not handy and hate to renovate, buy a new place or somewhere you can afford to hire out the renovation without tanking your operation. If you want to rent to families only, buy a nice family home in a good school district. For young professionals, find an affordable studio or 1 bed that is an easy commute from a dynamic zone of employment.
The same thing applies to managing the place yourself or not. Property managers will happily do the job for a fee, and if you are busy, that fee will be worth your time and then some. It will however decrease your profit. Choose to do it yourself, and you will have all sorts of headaches, and a source of income you can no longer call passive.
How you profit from real estate depends on YOU. When you buy a stock, you never know, for as much as you study the company, if its CEO isn't about to leave and the next one will run the company to the ground, if there is a merger with a less profitable company in the pipeline, or if an earthquake will destroy the production plant in China. Your real estate investment will be a result of your own efforts to renovate a place, promote it, screen a proper tenant, and keep it up over the years. And real estate is tangible. When all the markets tank, you are trying to hold to your losing positions in hopes they will go up in a few months, or hurrying to sell at a loss before it gets worse. Real estate will bring you a monthly rent to cover the mortgage, even if you have negative equity. And in periods of economic turmoil, when people lose their houses to foreclosure or first time buyers are denied mortgages by the banks, you will have more potential renters than ever. When things go back to normal, home prices will increase and you can make a nice exit, sit it out until the next crisis, and go back in the game to buy low. Don't want to time the market? Just buy. Now is as good a time as any, for all the reasons mentioned above.