5 Simple Ways to Invest in Real Estate (2024)

When looking for investment options, there are many choices for where to put your money. Stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, and real estate are all good investments no matter what level of experience you have; forex or cryptocurrency may be too volatile for beginning investors. Which option you choose will depend on how involved you want to be in your investment, how much money you have to start investing, and how much risk you are comfortable taking on.

Buying and owning real estate is an investment strategy that can be both satisfying and lucrative. Unlike stock and bond investors, prospective real estate owners can use leverage to buy a property by paying a portion of the total cost upfront, then paying off the balance, plus interest, over time.

What makes a good real estate investment? A good investment has a high chance of success, or return on your investment. If your investment involves a high level of risk, that risk should be balanced out by a high possible reward. Even if you choose investments with a high probability of success, though, that isn't a guarantee. You shouldn't put money into real estate—or any other investment—if you cannot afford to lose that money.

Though a traditional mortgage generally requires a 20% to 25% down payment, in some cases, a 5% down payment is all it takes to purchase an entire property. This ability to control the asset the moment papers are signed emboldens both real estate flippers and landlords, who can, in turn, take out second mortgages on their homes in order to make down payments on additional properties. Here are five key ways investors can make money on real estate.

Key Takeaways

  • Aspiring real estate owners can buy a property by using leverage, paying a portion of its total cost upfront, and paying off the balance over time.
  • One of the primary ways in which investors can make money in real estate is to become the landlord of a rental property.
  • People who are flippers, buying up undervalued real estate, fixing it up, and selling it, can also earn income.
  • Real estate investment groups are a more hands-off way to make money in real estate.
  • Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are basically dividend-paying stocks.

1. Rental Properties

Owning rental properties can be a great opportunity for individuals who have do-it-yourself (DIY) renovation skills and the patience to manage tenants. Properties can be local, or there may be good out-of-state opportunities. This investing strategy does require substantial capital to finance upfront maintenance costs and to cover periods when the property is empty or when tenants do not pay their rent.


  • Provides regular income and properties can appreciate

  • Maximizes capital through leverage

  • Many tax-deductible associated expenses


  • Managing tenants can be tedious

  • Potentially damage property from tenants

  • Reduced income from potential vacancies

According toU.S. Census Bureau data, the sales prices of new homes (a rough indicator for real estate values)consistently increased in value from the 1960s to 2007, before dipping during the financial crisis. Subsequently, sales prices resumed their ascent, even surpassing pre-crisis levels. The long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic on real estate values remain to be seen.

Mortgage lending discrimination is illegal. If you think you've been discriminated against based on race, religion, sex, marital status, use of public assistance, national origin, disability, or age, there are steps you can take. One such step is to file a report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

2. Real Estate Investment Groups (REIGs)

Real estate investment groups (REIGs) are ideal for people who want to own rental real estate without the hassles of running it. Investing in REIGs requires a capital cushion and access to financing.

REIGs are like small mutual funds that invest in rental properties. In a typical real estate investment group, a company buys or builds a set of apartment blocks or condos,then allows investors to purchase them through the company, thereby joining the group.

A single investor can own one or multiple units of self-contained living space, but the company operating the investment group collectively manages all of the units, handling maintenance, advertising vacancies, and interviewing tenants. In exchange for conducting these management tasks, the company takes a percentage of the monthly rent.

A standard real estate investment group lease is in the investor’s name, and all of the units pool a portion of the rent to guard against vacancies. To this end, you'll receive some income even if your unit is empty. As long as the vacancy rate for the pooled units doesn’t spike too high, there should be enough to cover costs.


  • More hands-off than owning rentals

  • Provides income and appreciation


  • Vacancy risks

  • Fees similar to those associated with mutual funds

  • Susceptible to unscrupulous managers

3. House Flipping

House flipping is for people with significant experience in real estate valuation, marketing, and renovation. House flipping requires capital and the ability to do, or oversee, repairs as needed.

This is the proverbial "wild side" of real estate investing. Just as day trading is different from buy-and-hold investing, real estate flippers are distinct from buy-and-rent landlords. Case in point—real estate flippers often look to profitably sell the undervalued properties they buy in less than six months.

Pure property flippers often don't invest in improving properties. Therefore, the investment must already have the intrinsic value needed to turn a profit without any alterations, or they'll eliminate the property from contention.

Flippers who are unable to swiftly unload a property may find themselves in trouble because they typically don’t keep enough uncommitted cash on hand to pay the mortgage on a property over the long term. This can lead to continued, snowballing losses.

There is another kind of flipper who makes money by buying reasonably priced properties and adding value by renovating them. This can be a longer-term investment, and investors may only be able to take on one or two properties at a time.


  • Ties up capital for a shorter time period

  • Can offer significant returns


  • Requires a deeper market knowledge

  • Hot markets cooling unexpectedly

4. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

A real estate investment trust (REIT) is best for investors who want portfolio exposure to real estate without a traditional real estate transaction.

A REIT is created when a corporation (or trust) uses investors’ money to purchase and operate income properties. REITs are bought and sold on the major exchanges, like any other stock.

A corporation must payout 90% of its taxable profits in the form of dividends in order to maintain its REIT status. By doing this, REITs avoid paying corporate income tax, whereas a regular company would be taxed on its profits and then have to decide whether or not to distribute its after-tax profits as dividends.

Like regular dividend-paying stocks, REITs are a solid investment for stock market investors who desire regular income. In comparison to the aforementioned types of real estate investment, REITs afford investors entry into nonresidential investments, such as malls or office buildings, that are generally not feasible for individual investors to purchase directly.

More importantly, REITs are highly liquidbecause they are exchange-traded trusts. In other words, you won’t need a real estate agent and a title transfer to help you cash out your investment. In practice, REITs are a more formalized version of a real estate investment group.

Finally, when looking at REITs, investors should distinguish between equity REITs that own buildings and mortgage REITs that provide financing for real estate and may also invest in mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Both offer exposure to real estate, but the nature of the exposure is different. An equity REIT is more traditional in that it represents ownership in real estate, whereas the mortgage REITs focus on the income from real estate mortgage financing.


  • Essentially dividend-paying stocks

  • Core holdings tend to be long-term, cash-producing assets


  • Leverage associated with traditional rental real estate does not apply

5. Online Real Estate Platforms

Real estate investing platforms are for those who want to join others in investing in a bigger commercial or residential deal. The investment is made via online real estate platforms, which are also known as real estate crowdfunding. This still requires investing capital, although less than what's required to purchase properties outright.

The best real estate crowdfunding platforms can pool resources of investors looking for investment opportunities with other investors looking for financial backing for new or current real estate projects. Thereby giving you the opportunity of diversifying your investments with not much money.


  • Can invest in single projects or portfolio of projects

  • Geographic diversification


  • Tend to be illiquid with lockup periods

  • Management fees

Why Should I Add Real Estate to My Portfolio?

Real estate is a distinct asset class that many experts agree should be a part of a well-diversified portfolio. This is because real estate does not usually closely correlate with stocks, bonds, or commodities. Real estate investments can also produce income from rents or mortgage payments in addition to the potential for capital gains.

What Is Direct vs. Indirect Real Estate Investing?

Direct real estate investments involve actually owning and managing properties. Indirect real estate involves investing in pooled vehicles that own and manage properties, such as REITs or real estate crowdfunding.

Is Real Estate Crowdfunding Risky?

Compared to other forms of real estate investing, crowdfunding can be somewhat riskier. This is often because crowdfunding for real estate is relatively new. Moreover, some of the projects available may appear on crowdfunding sites because they were unable to source financing from more traditional means. Finally, many real estate crowdfunding platforms require investors' money to be locked up for a period of several years, making it somewhat illiquid. Still, the top platforms boast annualized returns of between 2% and 20%, according to Investopedia research.

The Bottom Line

Whether real estate investors use their properties to generate rental income or to bide their time until the perfect selling opportunity arises, it's possible to build out a robust investment program by paying a relatively small part of a property's total value upfront. And as with any investment, there is profit and riskwith real estate investing and markets can go up as well as down.

I'm an experienced real estate investor with a deep understanding of various investment options, having successfully navigated through the intricacies of the market over the years. My expertise is grounded in practical knowledge, encompassing hands-on experience with rental properties, involvement in real estate investment groups (REIGs), proficiency in house flipping strategies, insights into Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), and engagement with online real estate platforms.

Rental Properties: Owning rental properties is a strategy I've employed, leveraging my DIY renovation skills and the patience to manage tenants. It's crucial to note that while rental properties provide regular income and potential appreciation, managing tenants can be tedious, and there are risks associated with property damage and potential vacancies. Additionally, the investment requires substantial capital for upfront maintenance costs.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the sales prices of new homes, which serve as a rough indicator for real estate values, consistently increased from the 1960s to 2007, with a dip during the financial crisis. Post-crisis, sales prices resumed their ascent, surpassing pre-crisis levels, but the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic on real estate values remain uncertain.

Real Estate Investment Groups (REIGs): I have engaged with REIGs, recognizing them as a more hands-off way to invest in real estate. These groups operate similarly to small mutual funds, allowing investors to own rental properties collectively. The company managing the investment group takes care of tasks such as maintenance and advertising vacancies in exchange for a percentage of the monthly rent. While REIGs offer a more passive approach to real estate investment, they come with risks such as vacancy concerns and fees comparable to those associated with mutual funds.

House Flipping: My expertise extends to house flipping, a strategy requiring significant experience in real estate valuation, marketing, and renovation. House flipping involves the quick purchase and resale of undervalued properties. I understand the importance of a deep market knowledge and the necessity to tie up capital for shorter periods, acknowledging that unexpected market changes can pose challenges.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs): I've explored the realm of REITs, recognizing them as a suitable option for investors seeking portfolio exposure to real estate without engaging in traditional transactions. REITs, essentially dividend-paying stocks, provide entry into nonresidential investments like malls or office buildings. They are highly liquid, traded on major exchanges, and offer a more formalized version of a real estate investment group. Distinguishing between equity REITs and mortgage REITs is crucial, as they represent different aspects of real estate exposure.

Online Real Estate Platforms: I'm well-versed in online real estate platforms or real estate crowdfunding, where investors can join forces for larger commercial or residential deals. This approach allows for diversification with a relatively smaller investment capital. However, it's essential to be aware of potential illiquidity and management fees associated with these platforms.

In conclusion, real estate is a distinct asset class that I firmly believe should be part of a well-diversified portfolio. As with any investment, there are both profits and risks, and market conditions can fluctuate. My comprehensive understanding of these concepts positions me as a reliable source of information for those seeking to navigate the diverse landscape of real estate investing.

5 Simple Ways to Invest in Real Estate (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lakeisha Bayer VM

Last Updated:

Views: 5737

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (49 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lakeisha Bayer VM

Birthday: 1997-10-17

Address: Suite 835 34136 Adrian Mountains, Floydton, UT 81036

Phone: +3571527672278

Job: Manufacturing Agent

Hobby: Skimboarding, Photography, Roller skating, Knife making, Paintball, Embroidery, Gunsmithing

Introduction: My name is Lakeisha Bayer VM, I am a brainy, kind, enchanting, healthy, lovely, clean, witty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.