3 powerful ways physicians can invest in real estate

It’s not hard to get started in real estate investing, but it can feel overwhelming at first. There are so many questions to answer!

  • Where do I get the money to do it?
  • How do I find the “right” property?
  • Do I have time to be a landlord right now?
  • Is it really worth the investment?

Financial security is an illusion, if your only income is from your main job. Creating passive income, like through real estate investing, is all about gaining autonomy over our lives. Creating a passive income stream is like creating a big lever. You create a machine that allows you to make a small change on one end and see a big change on the other end. But, it takes a lot of work to build the machine first.

The tax code is massively skewed towards favoring real estate investing. Other forms of income and investing tend to be taxed at higher rates. So, real estate is especially important for high-income earners like physicians to consider.

But, what if you don’t have a lot of money? Or any experience? Fortunately, there are still great ways that you start your real estate investing portfolio.

Real estate investing strategy #1: Invest in a “turnkey property”

One option for you to consider is investing in a turnkey property. Before my conversation with Passive Income, MD, on episode 6 of The Scope of Practice Podcast, I hadn’t considered this option. “Turnkey” properties are just what they sound like. They’re investment properties that are all ready and tied up in a neat little bow for you to buy. Very little work and almost no hassle required on your part.

The idea here is that a “turnkey” company buys a property, does any needed renovations, then sells it to you. A lot of these companies will actually find a tenant and have the property rented out when you buy it.

Pros

  • Very little experience required. You don’t have to be able to flip a house or market a property. You’re buying a property that’s packaged and ready to go.
  • You can invest in properties anywhere in the country, not just in your city. That can especially be valuable if you live in a high cost-of-living area.
  • Most “turnkey” properties offer property management services as well. So, you don’t have to do as much work as the “landlord.”

Cons:

  • You’re buying a property after someone else has done all the work on it. So, you’re going to have smaller margins. That is, your overall returns won’t be as high as if you did the work yourself. Still, this can be a good way to get started in real estate investing, gain some experience, then go find your own property for the next purchase.

Real estate investing strategy #2: Invest in a syndication

A real estate syndication is when multiple investors pool their money to buy a single property. Then, each investor owns a percentage of the property equal to the percentage of the total cost that they invested.

Pros

  • You can buy bigger and more expensive properties you might not be able to afford as a solo investor.
  • Your entry cost may be a lot lower than if you’re footing the bill for an entire home purchase. You can potentially find syndications that allow you to invest in a property for less than $10,000.
  • Syndications may allow you to invest in a wider variety of options because you have larger pooled assets to invest.

Cons

  • Your returns won’t be as high if you own only a small percentage of the investment. But, you can use this option to get started in real estate investing.
  • Since you don’t own the property, you probably aren’t the primary decision-maker. Check out the reputation of the management company to consider whether you want to have them dictating your involvement in the deal.

Real estate investing strategy #3: Invest in an inexpensive single-family home

Honestly, I can’t imagine trying to be a landlord right now. I wouldn’t want to be on the hook for 2 a.m. emergency calls for a broken air conditioner or heater. I’ve been a renter many times, and I’ve had to make some of those calls to property managers or landlords. No thanks.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good option for anyone.

Pros

  • Depending on your city, you may be able to buy a home inexpensively, say $50,000-$100,000. That’s a lot of money, but fairly cheap for a home.
  • If you have a good property management company, you won’t have a ton of hassle and work.
  • Cash flow can be decent on these, depending on whether you buy the house using a mortgage or pay with cash.

Cons

  • If you use a property management company, that will decrease your overall profit margins.
  • Should you elect to not use a property manager, either you or your spouse needs to be prepared to be on call for emergency repairs.
  • You may have trouble getting good tenants in this price range, so make sure you vet them carefully!

Final thoughts

There are a lot of ways to create streams of passive income. For physicians, real estate investing is important to consider. It’s not for everyone, but there are huge advantages, particularly in terms of tax advantages and overall returns.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider these three options for investing in real estate. There are advantages and disadvantages of each option, but these are great ways to get started.

Brent Lacey is a gastroenterologist and can be reached at the Scope of Practice.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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