Another method that people of varying economic means use to build wealth is to invest in real estate. Owning and managing real estate is like running a small business. You need to satisfy customers (tenants), manage your costs, keep an eye on the competition, and so on. Some methods of real estate investing require more time than others, but many are proven ways to build wealth.
John, who works for a city government, and his wife, Linda, a computer analyst, have built several million dollars in investment real estate equity (the difference between the property’s market value and debts owed) over the past three decades. “Our parents owned rental property, and we could see what it could do for you by providing income and building wealth,” says John.
Investing in real estate also appealed to John and Linda because they didn’t know anything about the stock market, so they wanted to stay away from it. The idea of leverage — making money with borrowed money — on real estate also appealed to them. John and Linda bought their first property, a duplex, when their combined income was $20,000 per year.
Every time they moved to a new home, they kept the prior one and converted it to a rental. Now in their 50s, John and Linda own seven pieces of investment real estate and are multimillionaires. “It’s like a second retirement, having thousands in monthly income from the real estate,” says John.
John readily admits that rental real estate has its hassles. “We haven’t enjoyed getting calls in the middle of the night, but now we have a property manager who can help with this when we’re not available. It’s also sometimes a pain finding new tenants,” he says. Overall, John and Linda figure that they’ve been well rewarded for the time they spent and the money they invested. The income from John and Linda’s rental properties allows them to live in a nicer home.