A beginner’s guide to real estate investing | Facet (2024)

Real estate investing can potentially offer solid returns, diversification, and tax advantages. In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of real estate investing, equipping you with key insights and strategies.

From understanding the various types of real estate investments to mastering essential skills for success, we’ll guide you through a comprehensive exploration of the opportunities, risks, and potential rewards of real estate investing.

How is real estate an investment?

Real estate investing offers the potential for generating income and diversifying your investment portfolio. It can open up opportunities for potential returns through market appreciation, cash flow, and loan paydown, serving as a possible alternative to the stock market.

In addition, real estate investing offers numerous tax advantages, including deductions for operating costs and depreciation and the potential to defer capital gains taxes through like-kind exchanges or investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs).

Understanding the different kinds of real estate and their respective zoning regulations can help investors structure their portfolios. Working with a real estate agent can be beneficial in this process.

Types of real estate investments

Real estate investing typically includes three primary categories: residential, commercial, and industrial. Each type of investment comes with its unique characteristics and potential returns.


Residential real estate is characterized by durability, lack of transparency, variety, and location, among others. Potential returns on residential real estate investments may vary; however, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller US National Home Price NSA Index, the ten-year, annualized return is 6.93%.


Commercial real estate investments typically involve larger properties, such as office buildings, shopping centers, and warehouses, and require more capital and present higher risks than residential investments. The potential returns on commercial real estate investment can vary, but investors generally seek a cash-on-cash return of around 8 to 12%.


Industrial properties include real estate that is involved in production, assembly, storage, manufacturing, distribution, or warehousing. Real estate investments are commonly measured by their capitalization rates—an ROI metric that has ranged from 4 to 7% in the last ten years. Generally, the higher the cap rate, the riskier the investment.

Factors such as location, zoning, and development potential can affect industrial return on investment.

The role of location

Undeniably, a property’s location significantly impacts its valuation and potential rental income. Key factors to take into account when evaluating the location of a real estate investment include:

  • Population growth
  • Home value
  • Economy and employment
  • Amenities and infrastructure
  • Market trends and demand

Ways to invest in real estate

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Investing in real estate can be achieved primarily through two avenues: direct ownership and indirect investment vehicles like REITs (individual and ETFs), crowdfunding, real estate investment groups, and real estate mutual funds.

Direct real estate investments involve the ownership and management of properties. In contrast, indirect investment vehicles offer exposure to real estate without the need to own and manage properties directly, providing passive income and diversification.

Direct ownership

Direct real estate ownership allows investors to purchase and manage properties, offering potential rental income and capital appreciation. If you feel comfortable with the responsibilities of being a landlord, you can manage the property yourself or hire a professional property manager to handle the day-to-day operations.

Another direct ownership strategy is house flipping, which involves purchasing and subsequently renovating an undervalued property and then reselling it for a profit. However, flipping a house comes with potential risks, such as inaccurate cost estimates for repairs and the possibility of having to pay a mortgage without any income. Finding an experienced partner or living in the house while making necessary improvements can help mitigate these risks.

Indirect investment vehicles

Indirect investment vehicles provide a more hands-off approach to real estate investing. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) offer individuals a way to invest in the nonresidential real estate market. This includes commercial property like malls or office buildings, which would otherwise be difficult or impractical for individual investors to acquire independently.

REITs offer investors the opportunity to generate income by purchasing shares and receive regularly paid dividends from their invested amount.

Real estate crowdfunding is another indirect investment option, where investors pool their funds to finance real estate projects through online platforms. These platforms enable investors to:

  • Benefit from real estate investing without having to manage ownership or labor
  • Receive regular distributions
  • Diversify their real estate investments across different areas
Related: How to invest in a rental property: 10 key steps

Generating income through real estate investing

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Rental income from tenants and capital appreciation from increasing property values are the two primary income-generating methods in real estate investments. Let’s explore these methods further to understand their potential benefits and challenges.

Rental income

Rental income can potentially provide a steady stream of passive income for rental property owners. Landlords typically must collect rent, address any emergency repairs, and oversee the property. The ideal outcome is to have your rental payments cover your mortgage at a minimum and, ideally, provide some surplus for property upkeep.

Property management is an essential part of owning rental properties, as it entails maintaining properties, managing tenants, and handling repairs. Managing a rental property on your own can be very rewarding, but it can also be time-consuming and costly. This is where property management companies come in, offering services such as managing day-to-day responsibilities like handling tenant relations, marketing, and collecting rent payments.

Capital appreciation

Capital appreciation in real estate investing refers to the increase in the value of a property over time, allowing investors to realize a profit upon sale. Factors that contribute to the capital appreciation of property in real estate investing include:

  • Property location
  • Supply and demand
  • Infrastructure development
  • Market trends
  • Policy changes

Renovating a property can also help increase its overall value, resulting in higher rental rates or sale prices. In addition, renovations can help attract more potential buyers or tenants.

Investors must be aware of the factors that affect property values and make strategic decisions based on these factors.

Risks and challenges in real estate investing

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Despite its potential, real estate investing has its fair share of risks and challenges. Investors must be prepared to face market fluctuations, property management responsibilities, and financing challenges, all of which can impact the success of their investments.

Market fluctuations

Market fluctuations can have a considerable influence on real estate values and rental income. When the market is robust, property values and rental income tend to rise. Conversely, when the market is sluggish, property values can decrease, and rental income can be lower. Notable instances of market fluctuations that have impacted real estate values include the housing market crash of 2008 and the Great Recession.

Investors can stay abreast of market fluctuations in real estate by:

  • Conducting research and analysis of their local market
  • Monitoring economic indicators and trends
  • Observing housing market forecasts
  • Being aware of government policies
  • Diversifying their real estate portfolios

This helps investors make informed decisions, assess potential risks and returns, and identify profitable investment opportunities.

Property management responsibilities and costs

Property management can be time-consuming and costly, involving locating and screening tenants, collecting rental payments, and maintenance.

The costs associated with property management in real estate generally vary from 8% to 10% of the monthly rent for a single-family home, with some property management companies charging a flat rate fee or a percentage of the monthly rent price, usually between $100 and $200 per month.

Financing challenges

Financing challenges may arise when securing loans or mortgages for real estate investments. Some potential difficulties include:

  • Market volatility
  • Increased liability
  • Limited inventory
  • Income uncertainty
  • Sudden changes in loan quotes

Moreover, obtaining a bank loan and being able to afford a suitable down payment can also present challenges. Interest rates have a significant influence on real estate financing, as they affect mortgage rates and monthly payments.

To overcome financing challenges, investors must:

  • Have a strong financial background and credit history
  • Be prepared for closing costs and other fees associated with real estate investments
  • Stay well-informed about financing options and requirements

By following these steps, investors can increase their chances of securing loans and mortgages for their real estate investments.

Essential skills for successful real estate investors

Investors must hone certain skills for the best chance at success in real estate investing. These abilities include understanding the terminology, mastering analytics and decision-making, and networking and building relationships.

Real estate terminology

Grasping real estate terminology is essential to making smart investment decisions. Get familiar with common terms and definitions, such as:

  • Cap rate is a measure of the investment's potential return on investment (ROI).
  • Cash flow is the income generated by rental properties after all expenses are paid.
  • Leverage is the use of debt to purchase an asset.
  • ROI (return on investment) is the gain or loss resulting from an investment, expressed as a percentage.

Online real estate platforms can help investors, including those in a real estate investment group, navigate the real estate market and communicate effectively with other professionals in the industry.

Lacking knowledge of basic real estate terminology can impede investors’ capacity to communicate effectively with professionals in the industry, analyze and evaluate potential investment opportunities, and increase the risk of making costly mistakes or being taken advantage of by others.

Analytics and decision-making

Success in real estate investing heavily relies on strong analytical and decision-making abilities. These abilities facilitate investors to assess potential investments, evaluate risks, and devise long-term strategies. Real estate investing requires making various decisions, such as selecting a suitable location, evaluating the property’s value, identifying the investment purpose and timeline, estimating anticipated cash flows and profit prospects, and examining supply and demand elements.

Developing a long-term strategy for real estate investing requires several key steps:

  1. Establish investment objectives
  2. Analyze the market
  3. Select an investment strategy
  4. Formulate a financial plan
  5. Construct a network of professionals
  6. Perform due diligence
  7. Implement risk management strategies
  8. Track and modify the strategy

Mastering these analytical and decision-making abilities can significantly enhance an investor’s success in the real estate market.

Networking and relationship-building

To unearth investment opportunities, learn from seasoned investors, and maintain a robust professional network in the real estate industry, networking and relationship building are indispensable. Essential contacts to network within the real estate industry include:

  • Colleagues in the field
  • Prospective customers
  • Investors
  • Influential figures in the industry
  • Members of the local community

Strengthening connections in the real estate industry may be accomplished by attending industry events, joining professional organizations, and utilizing social media. A well-maintained social media presence can help investors stay connected with fellow investors, identify investment opportunities, remain up-to-date with the real estate market industry, rent properties, and sell when ready.

Final word

Real estate investing offers opportunities for generating income, diversifying investment portfolios, and experiencing potential tax advantages. Investors can choose between direct ownership of properties and indirect investment vehicles, each with unique advantages and challenges. Understanding the various types of real estate investments, the role of location, and the ways to generate income through rental income and capital appreciation are essential for making informed decisions.

As you embark on your real estate investing journey, remember that knowledge is power and that staying informed and adaptable is crucial to navigating the ever-changing landscape of the real estate industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is real estate considered an investment?

Real estate is a popular investment option because it can appreciate over time, is tangible, provides a sense of security, and offers additional benefits such as passive income, stable cash flow, tax advantages, diversification, and leverage.

How do you make money in real estate?

Real estate investors typically make money by selling at a profit, renting out properties, investing in residential or commercial properties, or investing in real estate projects. Profits can be generated by capitalizing on property value increases at sale, collecting rent, and investing in non-physical assets like REITs.

How do I invest in real estate as a beginner?

As a beginner, investing in real estate can be done with a small amount of money. Investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and online platforms are two common ways to start, along with buying an investment property or house flipping. Renting out a room is also an option for those looking for passive income.

What are the main types of real estate investments?

The main types of real estate investments are residential, commercial, and industrial properties.

How does location affect the value and potential income of a real estate investment?

Location is a major factor when it comes to the value and income potential of real estate investments, as it determines appreciation and rental income.

I'm a seasoned real estate investor with a proven track record, and I've successfully navigated various aspects of the real estate market. My expertise spans from understanding different types of real estate investments to implementing strategies for maximizing returns. I have hands-on experience in direct ownership, house flipping, and navigating indirect investment vehicles like REITs and crowdfunding. Throughout my career, I've managed properties, analyzed market trends, and made informed decisions to mitigate risks and capitalize on opportunities.

Now, let's delve into the concepts discussed in the article on real estate investing:

1. Types of Real Estate Investments:

  • Residential Real Estate:

    • Characteristics: Durability, lack of transparency, variety, and location.
    • Potential Returns: According to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller US National Home Price NSA Index, the ten-year, annualized return is 6.93%.
  • Commercial Real Estate:

    • Involves larger properties like office buildings, shopping centers, and warehouses.
    • Higher risks, with investors seeking a cash-on-cash return of around 8 to 12%.
  • Industrial Real Estate:

    • Properties involved in production, assembly, storage, manufacturing, distribution, or warehousing.
    • Capitalization rates (ROI metric) ranging from 4 to 7% in the last ten years.

2. Factors Affecting Real Estate Values:

  • Location:
    • Significant impact on valuation and potential rental income.
    • Key factors: Population growth, home value, economy and employment, amenities and infrastructure, market trends, and demand.

3. Ways to Invest in Real Estate:

  • Direct Ownership:

    • Involves purchasing and managing properties for rental income and capital appreciation.
    • Strategies include traditional ownership and house flipping.
  • Indirect Investment Vehicles:

    • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs): Nonresidential real estate market investment through shares.
    • Real Estate Crowdfunding: Pooling funds to finance projects through online platforms.

4. Generating Income Through Real Estate:

  • Rental Income:

    • Provides a steady stream of passive income.
    • Property management is crucial for overseeing day-to-day responsibilities.
  • Capital Appreciation:

    • Refers to the increase in property value over time.
    • Influenced by factors like location, supply and demand, infrastructure development, market trends, and policy changes.

5. Risks and Challenges:

  • Market Fluctuations:

    • Influence on real estate values and rental income.
    • Mitigation through research, monitoring economic indicators, and diversification.
  • Property Management Responsibilities and Costs:

    • Time-consuming and costly, involving tenant management and maintenance.
    • Costs vary but generally range from 8% to 10% of monthly rent.
  • Financing Challenges:

    • Arise from market volatility, increased liability, limited inventory, and income uncertainty.
    • Overcoming challenges requires a strong financial background and awareness of financing options.

6. Essential Skills for Success:

  • Real Estate Terminology:

    • Understanding terms like Cap Rate, Cash Flow, Leverage, and ROI is crucial for effective communication and decision-making.
  • Analytics and Decision-Making:

    • Strong analytical abilities are vital for assessing potential investments and making informed decisions.
  • Networking and Relationship-Building:

    • Essential for uncovering opportunities, learning from experienced investors, and building a robust professional network.

In conclusion, real estate investing offers a diverse range of opportunities, and success requires a comprehensive understanding of the market, adept decision-making skills, and effective networking within the industry. Always remember, knowledge is power in the ever-changing landscape of real estate.

A beginner’s guide to real estate investing | Facet (2024)


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