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10 Ways to Invest in Real Estate, by Harold Willig

What’s your real estate investment niche? Some like to invest in single-family homes (our specialty). Some stick to large apartment complexes. Others only invest in real estate notes. Some of the other ways to invest in real estate include:

1. Commercial

If you want to go commercial, you’ll have a lot to choose from. Commercial investments include small strip centers, stand-alone buildings, supermarkets, and big box megastores. The good: potentially strong positive cash flow. The bad: commercial property can often sit empty for many months or years. Not recommended for beginners.

2. Duplexes, Triplexes and Four-Plexes

Small multifamily properties of two to four units combine the straightforward financing and income and tax benefits of a single-family home. Bought at the right price, these properties can provided stable cash flow. You can also have an onsite manager, and often can be had with less competition than single-family homes.

3. Land

They’re not making any more of it, so the saying goes. As an investor, you can buy undeveloped land and subdivide it for potential short or long-term profit. Or you can improve it, develop it, or lease it for cash flow. But you’ll always pay taxes.

4. Large Apartments

Large apartment complexes may produce stable and huge monthly passive income. Disadvantages: properties can cost seven or eight figures; competition is intense, liquidity is limited; and property management is complex.

5. Mobile Homes

Mobile home investing may not be for everyone. Yet, according to a 2013 U.S. Census Bureau here are 8.6 million “manufactured housing” in the United States. Institutional investors own a substantial portion of those homes.

6. Notes

Or you could invest in real estate notes – and their potential for high monthly income - rather than property. When you buy a note, you’re buying the mortgage, often at a discount. Cons: the note payers often have less than great credit, which may translate to slow payments to you.


If you buy a REIT, a REIT mutual fund, or a REIT ETF, you become a shareholder. A REIT invests exclusively in real estate and mortgages, issues a fixed number of shares, and is actively managed. REITs are liquid, since they trade like a stock; but returns may be volatile.

8. Single-Family Homes

As you may know, the most common investment for most first time investors is the single-family home. Advantages: they may be relatively easy to rent, sell, and finance. Among the disadvantages: unexpected expenses, vacancy, and increasing property taxes.

9. Small Apartment Buildings

A small apartment building, generally 5 to 50 units, may produce big cash flow, and you can increase rent by adding value. Cons: small apartment buildings can tougher to finance than single-family homes or 2-4 unit properties; and banks look at you based on commercial lending standards instead of residential ones.

10. Tax Liens

When homeowners don't pay their taxes, the local, state, or federal government can foreclose and sell the property to investors for the amount of taxes owed, which can be pretty low. Beware: if you buy a tax-lien where the homeowner has declared bankruptcy, other creditors may have first claim on the property.

For more information on why your should consider investing in a professionally managed portfolio of single-family homes, please contact Harold Willig at 917-209-4452.

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