The Best Way To Invest $200,000 In Real Estate (It’s Not What You Think)

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country.

Down the street from me, just last month, one of my neighbors listed a two-bedroom home for over $800,000.

And that’s not all. After a couple of weeks on the market, it ended up selling for over $950,000.

$950,000! For a two-bedroom home. Eesh.

So we got to thinking, in a real estate market that’s this overheated, does the traditional narrative of “get married, buy a house, have kids” still make the most sense financially, when you’ve got to put down hundreds of thousands of dollars just to buy a starter home? Is a primary home still the best investment?

Or, could it make more sense to go against conventional wisdom, continue renting, and invest that money into a different type of investment instead, like a multifamily real estate syndication (i.e., a group investment)?

Let’s walk through two examples for investing $200k in real estate, examine investors’ options, and see what the investment outcomes are over the span of several years.

The Best Way To Invest $200k

Buying A Single Family Home vs. Investing In Real Estate Syndications

Let’s take a deep-dive into two paths a young family might take.

Scenario 1: Saving up $200k to buy a single-family home

vs.

Scenario 2: Renting a home and investing that $200k in real estate syndications instead

Let’s examine the math behind the two scenarios, determine which is best for investments, and look at the potential risks and liabilities of each.

Scenario 1 – Conventional Wisdom – Save $200k To Buy A Home

Let’s start with the conventional wisdom, which is to save the $200k for a down payment, then purchase a home.

Let’s say our fictional couple, Jack and Jill, have just gotten married, and they’ve been told that they should settle down, buy a house, maybe get a dog, then have some kids.

Jack and Jill knew this day was coming, so they’ve saved up a good amount of money in their savings account and have been keeping an eye on their local real estate market, as well as interest rates.

Buying A Home

After looking at a few homes, they find the perfect three-bedroom home in a decent neighborhood and put it under contract for $1 million. They plan to put in 20%, or $200k, as a down payment. (For simplicity’s sake, we’ll keep closing costs out of this scenario.)

They get a loan for $800,000 at 5% interest with a 30-year amortization.

Everything goes smoothly, and Jack and Jill soon have the keys to their new $1 million home in hand. Ah, a true investment for their future, they think.

Paying The Mortgage

One month later, they get a mortgage bill in the mail for their first month’s payment: $4,295.

They both have pretty well-paid tech jobs, so this mortgage payment is well within reason for them.

In a few years’ time, Jack and Jill find out they’re expecting their first child. Then, a few years after that, their second child. The house is filled with laughter and general merriment, with the occasional screams of “Mom, she hit me!”

Homeownership Over The Years

About five years in, they realize their now 30-year-old roof needs to be replaced. A couple years after that, their hot water heater goes out. And then they discover foundation issues, so they get hammered with a huge bill from that. Ah, the joys of owning real estate.

But, because both Jack and Jill are well-paid professionals, they’re able to cover the costs of the unexpected repairs.

Ten years after they buy the home, Jack and Jill realize they’re out-growing what once seemed like such a spacious home. They’ve got two tweens and a labradoodle in the house now, and more space is in order. Stat.

Equity And Appreciation

Over the ten years they’ve owned the house in this hot market, the appreciation for real estate in their market averaged, let’s say, 4% annually.

That means that their house could now be worth about $1,480,000 in their local market, which means that Jack and Jill have gained about $480,000 in equity over those ten years.

But of course, that’s not all. Jack and Jill have diligently paid their mortgage every month, which has helped to pay down the principal on their $800,000 loan.

Over the ten years, they’ll have paid about $515,000 in monthly mortgage payments ($4,295 per month for 120 months). Of that, roughly $150,000 will have gone toward their principal, which means they still have about $650,000 remaining on their loan balance.

That also means that they’ve paid about $365,000 in interest to the bank over the years. Ouch! (This is why interest rates are so important to keep an eye on.)

Selling The Home

If they sell now, they will receive their original $200k down payment back, $480k in equity from appreciation, and $150k in principal that they’ve paid down over the years.

That means that they’ll end up with about $830k in their pockets at the end of the day.

$830,000. That’s a lot of money, especially when you think about the $200,000 that they started with.

Surely that means that conventional wisdom is right and that this is indeed the best path…right?

Scenario 2 – Bucking Conventional Wisdom – Rent A Home And Invest That $200k In Real Estate Syndications Instead

Jill has always had a bit of a rebel streak inside her. Her parents wanted her to go to medical school, but she ended up majoring in art history instead.

Her friends told her to invest in the stock market, but she wasn’t sure that was the best way to grow her wealth.

Let’s rewind these ten years and see what would have happened if Jack and Jill had taken a different path, a path that few people ever dare to even consider.

Renting vs. Buying A Home

Jill has never liked the idea of being saddled with a mortgage. So, when it came time to “settle down,” she and Jack weren’t sure that they wanted to sink the $200,000 they’d worked so hard to save up into a house. So, they decide to rent a home instead of buying one.

They find a terrific three-bedroom apartment near public transit for $3,000 per month.

Because they are renting a home, they don’t have to pay for any maintenance costs or HOA (homeowners association) fees, and they like that.

Real Estate Investing – Rental Properties vs. Syndications

Jack and Jill had always wanted to get into real estate investing, though they had thought that they had to invest in a rental property, which would mean they would have to be landlords.

With their busy lives, they aren’t sure they want all the hassles that come with investing in a rental property, so rather than jump and start buying up rental properties, they pause to consider their investments options.

Through their research, they are thrilled when they discover that they can invest in real estate passively, through real estate syndications (group investments), rather than individual rental properties. This means that they are able to pool together their money with a group of other investors to buy a bigger commercial asset, like an apartment building, together.

Best of all, this means that Jack and Jill get to invest in real estate without having to deal with any of the headaches or time commitments of being landlords for individual rental properties. Instead, the general partners leading the syndications will do all the heavy lifting of managing the properties, meaning Jack and Jill can sit back and enjoy the ongoing passive cash flow.

Jack and Jill do their due diligence, make sure that real estate syndications are a good fit for their investing goals, and proceed to invest in their first real estate syndication.

Investing In Their First Syndication

After considering all their investment options and taking the time to get educated, Jack and Jill decide that the best way to invest for their goals is to invest in real estate not through a rental property, but through a real estate syndication.

So, they take the $200,000 that they’d saved up for the down payment on a home or rental property and invest that money into a multifamily real estate syndication instead.

The real estate syndication (i.e., group investment) invests in an apartment community in a fast-growing neighborhood of Dallas, Texas.

How Much Income Will $200k Generate?

The multifamily real estate syndication they invest in comes with a preferred return of 8% per year. That means that, for their $200k investment, they might generate around $16k in passive income per year, or about $1,333 per month.

On top of that, the syndication has a projected equity multiple of 2x over a projected 5-year hold period. In other words, when factoring in both the cash flow and the profits from the sale of the asset in year 5, they could double their money from $200k to $400k within 5 years.

Here’s how the math shakes out.

8% preferred return on $200k = $16k/year ($1333/month)

$16k per year for 5 years = $80k

Profits from the sale of the asset in year 5 are projected to be 40-60%. Assuming this lands at 60%, that would mean Jack and Jill would get $120k in profits from the sale.

$80k (passive income over 5 years) + $120k (profits from the sale) = $200k total returns

Jack and Jill could feasibly double their money in 5 years, when counting both the passive income distributions and the profits at the sale of the asset.

This means that they could possibly turn their $200k into nearly $400k in just 5 years. Plus, they get to invest in real estate and enjoy all the benefits of direct ownership (cash flow, equity, appreciation, and tax benefits) without having to actively manage the asset. Win-win!

Exiting The First Investment

Three years later, when Jill is pregnant with their first child, they get an update from the general partners that the renovations on the apartment building in Dallas are complete, and that the general partners would be selling the asset early.

By the end of year three, their first child is born, and they receive their original $200,000 investment back. Oh, and they’ve made $170,000 in profits from the real estate syndication they invested in.

Investing In The Next Deal

Because they love both their apartment and the experience of investing in multifamily real estate syndications, Jack and Jill decide to forego their other investment options and continue renting while investing the $370,000 into another real estate syndication with the same general partnership team.

Four years later, that second real estate syndication successfully completes their reposition and is able to sell the property and double Jack and Jill’s original $370,000. Now, Jack and Jill have $740,000.

At this point, they have a four-year-old and another baby on the way. They love investing in real estate syndications so much that they’ve told all their friends about it. They take their $740,000 and reinvest it.

Three years later (which is now ten years since they invested in that first real estate syndication) they end up with $1.4 million.

Now of course, we can’t forget the rents that Jack and Jill have been paying every month. The rents that their parents told them they were “throwing away every month” and that they’d never get back.

Over those ten years, assuming an annual rent increase of 3% per year, they will have made about $415,000 in monthly rent payments. And no, their landlord isn’t about to write them a check to return any of that.

Even still, when we factor in the profits from their syndication investments, are those rent payments they’re “throwing away” really as bad as society makes them out to be?

Comparing The Math

In both cases, Jack and Jill started out with $200k to put into something. In scenario 1, they chose to use the $200k as a down payment for a house. In scenario 2, they chose to invest that money into a real estate syndication instead.

So, how do the two scenarios compare? Which option was the best way for them to invest their money for the long-term? Let’s take a look.

Scenario 1 – Buying A Single Family Home

Started with: $200,000

Equity after 10 years: $480,000

Principal paid down after 10 years: $150,000

Interest payments over 10 years: $365,000

Net gain over 10 years: $465,000

Scenario 2 – Investing In Real Estate Syndications

Started with: $200,000

Profits after first syndication exited in year 3: $170,000

Profits after second syndication exited in year 7: $340,000

Profits after third syndication exited in year 10: $660,000

Rent payments over 10 years: $415,000

Net gain over 10 years: $985,000

The Verdict – The Best $200k Investment

This means that if Jack and Jill were to decide to go against conventional wisdom and invest their money in real estate syndications, while continuing to rent, that over the course of ten years, they could end up with roughly $520,000 more than if they were to buy a home and make the mortgage payments.

Over $500k more. Let’s just let that sink in for a minute.

$500,000 over 10 years is an average of $50,000 a year. Try to get returns like that from your savings accounts, ha! This means that Jack and Jill essentially added a third income earner to their household via their investment. All without having to do any work.

All they had to do was buck conventional wisdom, consider their long-term goals, evaluate all their investment options, and determine the best way for them to invest their $200k such that they would be able to meet their investing goals.

Rather than having to work for their money, their investment put their money to work for them. That’s what you get through the power of passive income and investing in real estate.

Assumptions and Other Considerations

Of course, all this math is just on paper, and it’s based on a number of assumptions. Here are a few of the big assumptions to consider:

1. Assumption: Home Appreciation Rate

These scenarios are assuming an annual home appreciation of 4% over ten years. It’s possible that, in a hot area like the San Francisco Bay Area, the average appreciation could top that. But of course, that’s not a guarantee. Home prices could just as well dip down and appreciation could slow, no matter what the historical real estate data says.

2. Assumption: Syndication Performance

These scenarios are also assuming that the real estate syndications are led by strong teams that are able to execute on their business plans and meet or exceed their projections. We’re also assuming that the market holds fairly decent, allowing these real estate syndications to cycle through in a timely manner.

Both of these factors can be big question marks, especially when you’re first starting out investing in real estate syndications.

That’s why we work so hard to make sure the teams we’re investing with are strong operators with proven track records, conservative underwriting, and multiple exit strategies and why we always encourage our investors to do their own due diligence before they get into any investment.

3. Consideration: Huge Home Loan

Another big aspect to consider is the huge loan that Jack and Jill would be taking on in scenario 1, if they were to buy a home. That $4,295 per month payment seems doable when both Jack and Jill are happily employed and have no kids.

But if a recession were to hit and one of them were to lose their job, or Jack’s father were to get sick and Jack needed to take some time off to take care of him, or any number of other unexpected situations were to come up, they might struggle to make that monthly payment, which could then lead them to default on their mortgage and possibly lose their home.

When you factor in that huge loan, as well as the interest rate, you can start to see that buying a home is really more of a liability, rather than the asset and true investment that mainstream media keeps telling us it is.

4. Consideration: Liability

Consider, on the flip side, scenario 2, in which Jack and Jill invest their $200,000 into real estate syndications instead. They take on no loan themselves and are not liable to lose any more than that original $200,000. They needn’t make any additional payments on that investment. Instead, that investment is making money for them, which means that that investment a true asset.

5. Consideration: Taxes

We didn’t even mention the huge tax benefits that come with investing in a real estate syndication, which really put it over the top. This is one of the core reasons to consider investing in real estate, rather than the stock market or another alternative investment.

What Should You Do With Your $200k – Buy A Home Or Invest In Real Estate Syndications?

We’re going to borrow Apple’s tagline here: Think different.

These scenarios are not meant to be investment advice. Rather, they are meant to show you two different theoretical scenarios.

One that follows the traditional narrative that we’ve been taught all our lives. And an alternative investment option that most people have never heard of or have even dared to consider.

One comes with a huge liability. And one is a true asset.

At the end of the day, going against conventional wisdom is really difficult.

You have to be really sure that you believe in the path you choose, because people will question your choices at every turn.

Our goal in diving into these two different scenarios with you was simply to lay the groundwork, to plant the seed, and to show you that an alternative investment option exists. The hard decision of choosing whether to follow or buck against conventional wisdom is still yours to make.

Regardless, whether you choose to buy, rent, invest, or take on a hybrid approach, we hope your home is filled with the laughter and merriment that fill Jack and Jill’s fictional home. That, and maybe the occasional yell and cry too. You know, to keep things interesting.

Ready To Put Your $200k To Work For You?

Now that you’ve walked through Jack and Jill’s two fictional scenarios, perhaps you’re ready to dip your toes into real estate syndication investing yourself.

If that’s the case, the best thing you can do is to invest your time into educating yourself, to make sure that this is the best option for you.

To access our exclusive members-only resources, to get samples of our previous real estate syndication deals, and to consider investing alongside us, join the Goodegg Investor Club today!

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