How Real Estate Investing Works

Last Updated on May 24, 2023

Real Estate Investing

Real estate investing is a type of financial strategy that involves managing, owning, buying, renting, and/or selling real estate in order to make money. There are numerous real estate investment strategies, but they all rely on the same economic conditions to be profitable. The first is that the value of the property must rise. The second condition is that the expense of owning and maintaining the property cannot exceed the rise in value.

There are various sorts of investment property, and wise investors make their decision on the kind of return (short-term or long-term) that most appeals to them. Purchasing property with the goal of selling it fast is known as “rapid turn investing” or “flipping.” Long-term investing entails purchasing real estate to rent out or lease over a protracted period of time, earning income from both the rent and the property’s rising value.

What is Real Estate Investing?

Buying, managing, and renting out or selling real estate for profit are all aspects of real estate investing. Real estate development is often thought of as a sub-speciality of real estate investing and refers to the process of improving real estate property as part of an investment plan. A real estate entrepreneur or investor is someone who makes active or passive real estate investments. Owning real estate, generating cash flow from rental revenue, and selling the asset for more money thanks to appreciation are all straightforward ways to do it.

If done properly, real estate investing may produce generational wealth and outperform the stock market by a wide margin. There are four primary ways to profit from real estate ownership. These include rentals, appreciation, ancillary investment income, and dividends from owning real estate investment trust (REIT) shares.

Read: What is a Real-Life House Flipping Success Story?


A property’s value rising over time is called appreciation. It is the most typical approach for real estate to make money.

You’re familiar with the adage “buy low, sell high” in the stock market. Real estate is no different. Investors have a strong possibility of making money on the sale of the property if they merely retain it for a long enough period of time because the value is likely to increase.

There are additional factors to promote property appreciation outside time, which is typically the biggest contributor to growing prices. A home improvement project, such as a kitchen makeover, roof repair, or the addition of a bedroom or bathroom, can boost a property’s value. This is exactly what you see in house flipping projects: a house flipper will buy a house (usually at a discount), make home improvements, and then try to sell the house as soon as possible for a profit.

The location also has a significant impact on appreciation, which is why the adage “location, location, location” is used so frequently in the real estate industry. People prefer to be near “the junction of Main and Main,” the centre of a city or neighbourhood.

Appreciation may increase as a neighbourhood develops and adds practical infrastructure like shops, schools, and transportation alternatives. The demand for properties in prime locations is nearly always high, which raises the value of the real estate in those regions.

Read: 10 Questions to Ask Your Landlord Before Signing a Lease

Rental Income

Rental income is another way real estate investors profit from their investments. The process is as follows: an investor purchases a property and rents it to renters. Regular income streams from rent payments can potentially lead to passive income. But having dependable, creditworthy tenants is crucial since, as a property owner, your investment rests in part on those consistent monthly payments.

The amount that tenants typically pay each month is fixed, although it could go up based on things like demand, inflation, and other variables. Again, this demonstrates the significance of real estate location. Properties that are in prime locations benefit from greater tenant demand and a greater chance of obtaining market-rate rates.

Owning and managing a property may be quite time-consuming; being a landlord is not for the weak of heart. Fear not, as an investor you have a lot of hands-off alternatives to receive rental revenue. Two of these choices are crowd investing on Republic, which seeks to seize real estate growth opportunities through thematic investing techniques, and investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) that manage rental units. Another choice would be to delegate all the hard work to a property manager or property management company. You can benefit from real estate cash flow without doing the labour if you invest in businesses or trusts that manage investment properties.

Ancillary Revenue

Ancillary revenue refers to the income a company earns from products or services that differ from or enhance its main services or product lines. We define ancillary income as the revenue a business generates outside its primary goods and services.

Residential real estate, while the world’s largest asset class, isn’t the only property type. Other real estate assets, especially commercial ones, can come with added profit features. This additional income, on top of regular rental payments, can flow to the investor.

Here are some instances of business ventures that could result in investor returns:

  • A hotel may generate revenue by, among other things, charging for early check-ins, charging for Wi-Fi access, and selling minibar food.

  • Parking garages may provide revenue for a mall.

  • Money-making options for an office complex include vending machines and storage fees.

This makes the fact that places like hotels and airports charge more for all of their services and amenities unsurprising.

Interest from loans

In real estate, it’s rare for someone to purchase a property outright with cash. Instead, most properties get financed through loans or other setups where investors lend money to real estate developers or owners, earning interest on the principal. Private equity firms, real estate investment platforms, and REITs often employ this type of debt investment.

The capital stack can contain various types of debt. This term refers to the organization of funds from different investors used to finance a real estate deal. It’s crucial because it outlines who has rights to the property’s revenue and profits, and in what order.

Equity, mezzanine debt, junior debt, and senior debt can all be parts of the capital stack. Investors in senior debt of investment are “more senior” than everyone else since senior debt is the basis of the capital stack. As a result, these debt holders will be paid back before any other capital contributors.

Understanding Secured and Unsecured Debt: Risk, Returns, and Investment Income

This introduces us to a further crucial idea: debt can be secured or unsecured. An investor’s rights in the event that the loan defaults or the property is foreclosed upon are defined by the differential between secured and unsecured loans.

Senior debt is frequently backed by a mortgage or piece of real estate that serves as loan collateral. It, therefore, presents the least risk and, as a result, often yields the lowest return within the capital stack. The returns for unsecured debt are typically larger, but there is no collateral to support it.

Many investors find investment income from loans to be appealing since it can offer dependable cash flow in the form of passive income. You do not get any ownership rights in the company or the asset as a debt investor (in contrast to equity investment). As a result, in this case, you are making money off of something that you do not own.

Final Thoughts

Real estate has its own distinct set of dangers, and all assets have a risk/reward profile. There is always a possibility that a building will require maintenance and repairs, that a residence may flood or even burn down, that a renter will fail to make their rent payments, or that a mall will close. The bottom line includes all of these costs, which may affect the rate of return on your investment. Making sure the transaction’s sponsor is prepared to handle these circumstances and has previous experience managing similar investments is a part of your responsibility as an investor.

Real estate is one of the safest and most profitable investment opportunities available today, offering investors a number of tested strategies to generate returns.

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