How To Invest In Real Estate In 2024 – Bankrate.com

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Real estate investing is perennially popular, and while high interest rates may be softening the market now, investors are likely to storm back to real estate with a vengeance, if and when rates fall. In fact, 29 percent of Americans said that real estate was their top pick for investing money they won’t need for at least 10 years, according to a 2022 Bankrate survey.
Consumers have a variety of ways that they can invest in real estate, including many options beyond just becoming a landlord, although that’s a time-tested option for those who want to manage a property themselves. Plus, new business platforms make it easier than ever to invest in real estate without having to come up with tens of thousands or more in cash.
In this article
The real estate market has been hit hard by rising interest rates over the last couple of years. Rising rates make homes less affordable to borrowers, meaning that owners may have to lower their asking prices to move a property, and lower affordability was the case for much of 2022 and 2023. With mortgage rates dipping in late 2023, many would-be homebuyers and analysts are hoping that the housing market will loosen up further in 2024.
Early in 2022, interest rates remained relatively low. While mortgage rates were well off their lowest levels of 2021, the Federal Reserve had yet to briskly raise interest rates. But the central bank had made it clear that it was prepared to boost rates significantly in the months ahead. As a result, savvy buyers looked to lock in lower mortgage rates on their property purchases.
Then the Fed went on an unprecedented pace of raising interest rates. The rate increases helped make real estate less affordable and many home sellers lowered their asking prices. In early 2023, the average 30-year mortgage rate sat just under 7 percent, the highest level in over a decade. Since then, mortgage rates fell back in late 2023, as it became clearer that the Federal Reserve was unlikely to raise interest rates further.
But investing in real estate is typically a long-term game, and those thinking of getting involved should think with that mindset when they go into it. And even if rates are high now, it may simply be a good time to accumulate cash for a down payment while waiting for rates to decline in 2024.
With that in mind, here are five top ways to invest in real estate.
You might not normally think of your first residence as an investment, but many people do. It’s one of the best ways for you to invest in real estate, offering numerous benefits.
The first benefit is building equity in your home from your monthly payments, rather than paying rent which always seems to rise year after year. Some portion of your monthly mortgage goes into your own pocket, so to speak. However, experts remain divided on the pros and cons of owning your own home, and a home is not a good investment at every price, as homebuyers of the 2000s learned.
If you’re planning to stay in an area long-term, it can make sense to purchase a home because you’ll be able to lock in a monthly payment that may be as affordable as rent. Plus, banks treat owner-occupied properties more favorably, giving borrowers a lower mortgage rate and requiring a lower down payment. You may also be able to deduct interest expenses from your taxes.
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If you’re ready to step up to the next level, you might try your hand with a residential rental property such as a single-family home or a duplex. One of the bigger advantages of this kind of property is that you know the standards of the marketplace and the market may be easier to gauge, as opposed to commercial properties, such as a shopping center.
Another advantage is that it may take a lower investment to get started, for example, with a single-family house. You may be able to get into a property with $20,000 or $30,000 instead of the potentially hundreds of thousands required for a commercial property. You may be able to buy it even cheaper if you’re able to find an attractive distressed property via foreclosure.
You’ll generally have to put up a sizable down payment to start, often as much as 30 percent of the purchase price. So that may be prohibitive if you’re just starting out and don’t have a huge bankroll yet. One way around this may be to buy a rental property in which you also live.
Another downside is that you’ll need to manage the property and make decisions as to what needs upgrading, for example. While owning property is considered a passive activity for tax purposes, it may end up being anything but passive as a landlord. And if a tenant ducks out on rent, you still have to come up with the monthly payments, lest you go into default on the loan.
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House-flipping has become more of a popular avenue to investing in real estate, but it requires a keen eye for value and more operational expertise than becoming a long-term landlord. However, this path may help you realize a quicker profit than being a landlord if you do it right.
The biggest advantage of this approach is that you can turn a profit faster than by managing your own property, but the expertise required is also higher. Typically house-flippers find undervalued properties that need to be cleaned up or even completely renovated. They make the required changes, and then charge market value for the houses, profiting on the difference between their all-in price (purchase price, rehab costs, etc.) and the sales price.
House-flippers need a sharp eye for what can be fixed at a reasonable price and the unfixable. They also need to estimate what a house can later be sold for. Miscalculate, and their profit might quickly evaporate, or worse, turn into an outright loss. Or a home might not sell quickly, and then the house-flipper is stuck paying any interest on a loan until a buyer can be found.
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Unlike prior options, the next two ways to invest in real estate really are passive. Buying a REIT, or real estate investment trust, is a great option for those who want the returns of real estate with the liquidity and relative simplicity of owning a stock. And you get to collect a dividend, too.
REITs have numerous advantages over traditional real estate investing, and may make the process much easier.
However, investing in REITs is not without its own downsides. Like any stock, the price on a REIT can fluctuate as the market gyrates. So if the market declines, REIT prices may go with it. That’s less of a problem for long-term investors who can ride out a dip, but if you need to sell your stock, you may not get what it’s worth at any single point in time.
If you’re buying individual REIT stocks, you’ll need to analyze them carefully, using the tools of a professional analyst. One way to avoid this downside, however, is to buy a REIT fund, which owns many REITs and thus diversifies your exposure to any one company or sector.
Investing in a REIT is a great way to start for a beginner with a little cash, but you’ll need to work at it, too, since there are still some ways to mess up a REIT investment.
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An online real estate platform such as Fundrise or Crowdstreet can help you get into real estate on bigger commercial deals without having to plunk down hundreds of thousands or even millions on a deal. These platforms help connect developers with investors looking to fund real estate and take advantage of what can be quite attractive potential returns.
The big advantage for investors here is the potential to get a cut of a lucrative deal that they may not have been able to access otherwise. Investors may be able to take part in debt investments or equity investments, depending on the specific deal terms. These investments may pay cash distributions and may offer the potential for returns that are uncorrelated to the economy, giving investors a way to diversify their portfolio’s exposure to market-based assets.
These platforms do have some disadvantages, though. Some may accept only accredited investors (such as individuals with a net worth of $1 million or more), so it may not be possible to even use them if you don’t already have money. Still, while some platforms may require a $25,000 minimum investment, others may let you in the door with $500.
The platforms also charge a management fee annually, often 1 percent, and they may add other fees on top of that. That may appear pricey in a world where ETFs and mutual funds may charge as little as zero percent for constructing a diversified portfolio of stocks or bonds.
While platforms may vet their investments, you’ll have to do the same, and that means you’ll need the skills to analyze the opportunity. The investments are often relatively illiquid, with only limited chances for redemption until a given project is completed. And unlike investments in a REIT or even your own rental property, once a deal is completed and your investment is returned, you may have to find another deal to keep your portfolio growing.
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Like all investments, real estate has its pros and cons. Here are some of the most important to keep in mind as you weigh whether or not to invest in real estate.
While real estate does offer many advantages, especially tax advantages, it doesn’t come without significant drawbacks, in particular, high commissions to exit the market.
The tax benefits on real estate vary widely, depending on how you invest, but investing in real estate can offer some sizable tax advantages. Let’s run through them based on the investment type:
Investors looking to get into the real estate game have a variety of options for many kinds of budgets. Real estate can be an attractive investment, but investors want to be sure to match their type of investment with their willingness and ability to manage it, including time commitments. If you’re looking to generate income during retirement, real estate investing can be one way to do that.
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Best REIT ETFs: Top real estate funds for investors
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Survey: Best ways to invest $10,000 in 2022, according to experts
Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We are compensated in exchange for placement of sponsored products and services, or by you clicking on certain links posted on our site. Therefore, this compensation may impact how, where and in what order products appear within listing categories, except where prohibited by law for our mortgage, home equity and other home lending products. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and whether a product is offered in your area or at your self-selected credit score range, can also impact how and where products appear on this site. While we strive to provide a wide range of offers, Bankrate does not include information about every financial or credit product or service.
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