For new and hopeful passive investors, most of the accessible information on the topic of the stock market versus real estate presents widely varying opinions and tends to over complicate things by assuming you have a solid education in both fields. Rather than feeling informed, this type of guidance tends to leave you in a state of confusion.
For newcomers to the debate of real estate or the stock market, I prefer to share an oversimplification of the subject to ensure you can capture the basics, providing enough information so you can start asking better questions as you embark on an investing path.
First, I am assuming that you want to grow your retirement funds in a safe investment that will produce decent returns. Second, I am assuming you are busy and don’t have the time to gain the in-depth knowledge and experience needed to actively trade or invest in the stock market or real estate and are rather looking for simple solutions.
When it comes to your retirement and the stock market, the most common passive investments are mutual funds. If you’re fortunate enough to average a 10% return on your investments and then you factor in inflation and fees, your eventual return may be lower than anticipated.
In real estate, your passive opportunities are in private lending and rental properties. Private lending commonly involves lending funds to a real estate investor or business in exchange for a set return and length of time. (Full disclosure: I am co-partner of a turnkey investment company.) Turnkey rental properties allow the investor to be as hands-off as they like. This means a turnkey company purchases, rehabs, tenants and manages the property. To truly make this a passive investment, turnkey companies do all the work for you.
Here’s what several key factors of a passive investment looks like in real estate and the stock market:
Control: With the stock market, you are at the mercy of the fund and management. With private lending, you control who you invest with, the rate of return, the length of time you want to invest and approval of the asset your money is secured by. With rental properties, you are in control of what you buy, the improvements that will increase rents and what costs are passed onto the tenants, such as landscaping and shared utility expenses.
Tangible asset: With the stock market, you lack anything tangible. With private lending and rental real estate, your funds are secured by a physical asset.
Cash flow: With the stock market, if we hit a down cycle, your profits are instantly lost. In real estate, in any economic downturn, private lenders have up to 50% equity already built in, and investors with rental properties keep netting their monthly cash flow from their tenants despite the dip.
Leverage: With the stock market, you invest your retirement savings or cash on hand. The same is true for private lending. You can leverage rental properties four-to-one, sometimes five-to-one, meaning your $50,000 investment can buy you $200,000-250,000 in real estate. In a rising market, this is a good thing and will maximize your cash on cash return.
Tax advantages: If you purchased $50,000 in stock that is now worth $200,000, you will pay taxes on that amount when you sell it. Rental properties provide opportunities for multiple tax advantages such as depreciation, deductions and a 1031 Exchange.
Appreciation: You don’t get to factor in added appreciation when investing in the stock market or private lending, but you do with a tangible asset like rental real estate. When you bring together the advantage of real estate being tangible, there’s really no comparison for the passive investor.
The math: Assuming a $50,000, 15-year investment in the passive opportunities we’ve discussed in this article:
• A mutual fund investment averaging 10% returns after fees ends up at a 7% net annualized return = Almost $138,000 after 15 years.
• Private lending investment with no fees averaging 12% net annualized return = Over $273,000 after 15 years.
• A turnkey rental property investment leveraging your $50,000 to buy $200,000 in real estate, averaging 6% in net annualized return after expenses and 3% annual appreciation of the asset = Over $431,000 after 15 years.
Whether you’re investing for your approaching retirement or beginning your passive income approach well ahead of time, passive investing is for anyone who seeks true financial peace of mind and passive income. If you had $10,000 month coming in passively, what would you be doing today? You don’t have to be an active real estate investor to achieve your goals — but you do need to find passive ways to direct some of your money into real estate.