Often, when we discuss being a real estate professional, it’s within the framework of working as a licensed Salesperson or Broker who brings in a primary income by renting and selling properties for clients. What you may not realize, though, is that you can be involved in real estate outside of your primary source of income by investing in properties with the express intention of accruing a passive stream of income from them, in addition to the active income you bring home in the form of paychecks. As a consultant, I often work with clients who could benefit greatly from investing in real estate, but do not know how to make sure they’re investing in properties that will bring in revenue. The following are a few pieces of advice for first-time or inexperienced investors who are looking for some guidance about what makes a property a wise investment.
- Figure out what your money will get you where: When beginning a search for a property to invest in, the first step is to determine how much money you can invest in the project and what that money will get you based on the location of your potential investment. Look into properties in your price range in different neighborhoods, and see what competing, similar properties are already on the market. Sometimes, it’s wiser to purchase a smaller property in a more upscale neighborhood, as clients are more likely to rent properties in areas that are on the up and up than in areas that cost less for a reason.
- Find out how long the property has been on the market for: Generally speaking, the longer a property stays on the market, the less appealing it becomes to investors and clients alike. The common assumption is that a property that sits on the market tends to have something wrong with it – either the pricing is wrong, the property itself is flawed, or the person who is selling it is not managing the process well and may prove to be difficult to work with. You should always research the length of time that the property you’re considering buying has been on the market for, as well as the amount of time that similar properties in that neighborhood are staying vacant. Invest in neighborhoods where the turnaround time between listing and rental or sale is decreasing across the board, as this is generally a sign that if you buy a property in that neighborhood, you’ll be entering a hot market.
- Understand the neighborhood’s amenities: There are some universal signs that indicate that a given neighborhood is improving. Take note of the retail options in the neighborhood, which food purveyors have chosen to set up shop there, and how happy residents are with the local schools and business opportunities. If you can buy a property in a promising market that is currently undergoing some form of gentrification but is still in your price range, you’ll be increasing your chances of bigger returns over time as the neighborhood becomes more established and you can charge more to rent or sell your investment property.
If you do your due diligence and research, you’ll be able to make more informed, strategic decisions about how and where to invest your money. After all, as Sir Francis Bacon famously said, knowledge is power.