Passive Income The Easy Way: How to Invest in Real Estate Without Being a Landlord

I remember the first time that it became crystal clear to me how hard and time-consuming it can be to be a landlord. At the time, I had been house hacking for several years but had just recently started investing out of state.

I had followed all the advice I’d heard on real estate podcasts and read in BiggerPockets forums, and I thought I had it down. I thought, this real estate investing thing is easy. Now all I have to do is rinse and repeat, and soon I’ll have a portfolio of 10, 20, 50 rental properties. I’ll be rich! And I won’t ever have to work another day in my life.

Funny how Life always has a way of bringing your feet back to the ground, one way or another. For me, that grounding came in the form of a call from my property manager. “Are you sitting down?” they asked. Uh-oh.

They proceeded to inform me that one of the tenants in one of my fourplexes, whom we were going to evict the next day due to months of non-payment, had just left (great!). However, before she did, she had stopped up the sinks and tubs in her unit and left the water running.

By the time anyone knew what was going on, she had flooded not just her unit, but 3 of the 4 units in that fourplex (not so great).

So, I did what I had to do. I put on my landlord hat, and I spent countless hours that summer on the phone with my insurance company, as well as my property manager, trying to get the remediation and repairs done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

I learned that, in the humid summertime, even with fans going around the clock, it could take several weeks for things to truly dry out before you can proceed with repairs. My husband and I had to front the money needed for the repairs (several thousand dollars, well into five figures) and were reimbursed by insurance only after all the repairs were done and fully inspected.

As a fledgling landlord at the time, as well as a mom of two young kids, I felt like I was completely drowning. Even worse, I thought that this path toward financial freedom was now closed for me. If I wasn’t willing to deal with any more hassles like this, did that mean I could no longer invest in real estate?

I was distraught, but I didn’t give up. And that’s when I discovered that there are actually many ways to invest in real estate without being a landlord, and that’s exactly what we’ll cover here today.

In this guide, we’ll explore the ways you can reap the rewards of real estate, such as through real estate syndications, crowdfunding platforms, REITs, and more—all without ever having to fix a leaky faucet or chase down rent checks. So if you’re in for growing your wealth through real estate, but not for the hassles of being a landlord, let’s dive into how to invest in real estate without being a landlord.

Related: How To Grow From Single-Family Landlord To Multifamily Millionaire

Key Takeaways

  • Real estate syndications enable investors to collectively acquire properties, offering passive income and potential tax benefits without the burden of active management.

  • Real estate crowdfunding platforms have revolutionized the investment landscape, providing access to diverse opportunities and the ability to start investing with as little as $1,000.

  • REITs offer a streamlined and liquid option for real estate investment, emphasizing dividends and capital appreciation, with important considerations regarding interest rate sensitivity and tax implications.

  • It’s important to consider risk and reward as you determine which real estate investing path is right for you. Typically, higher return on investment also comes with a higher degree of risk, and vice versa.

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Investing Passively Through Real Estate Syndications

Real estate syndications offer passive income without needed to actively manage properties

Real estate syndications often serve as the entry point to passive real estate wealth. Let’s say you have $100k to invest. You could put that into a rental property, but you would have to step into actively managing that property, even if you had a property manager in place.

With a real estate syndication, you can pool your money together with a group of other real estate investors. Rather than buying a single family rental, you would then have enough capital to buy a commercial property, like an apartment complex, self-storage facility, or hotel.

As a passive investor, you would put your money in and then sit back and relax. The sponsor team (i.e., the team leading the syndication) would do all the heavy lifting, including putting together the deal, raising the needed capital to acquire the asset, and managing the asset after closing.

Every real estate syndication comes with a specific business plan detailing the intention of the investment – holding it for a period of time, adding value to the property through renovations, bringing rents up to market rates, increasing occupancy, etc. The sponsor team is responsible for managing the asset and executing on the business plan.

During the life of the project, depending on the specific terms of the investment, you would likely enjoy passive cash flow distributions along the way, and when the project is complete and the asset sells, you would get your money back, plus a portion of the profits from the sale.

This is the essence of a real estate syndication, where the collective buying power of investors leads to opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. The appeal of this model is its hands-off nature; it allows you to enjoy the advantages of property ownership—appreciation, cash flow, and tax benefits—without the hassle of daily management.

Dig Deeper: Watch What Happens When You Invest $50k A Year In Real Estate Syndications

Sponsor’s Role And Responsibilities

At the helm of every successful real estate syndication is a sponsor—your guide through the labyrinth of the real estate market. The sponsor group puts the investment opportunity together and is responsible for leading the charge, both during the acquisition process and throughout the hold time.

Real estate syndication sponsors usually focus on:

  • Identifying promising properties

  • Underwriting the deal and putting together deal terms

  • Working with lenders, insurance companies, property managers, and other partners

  • Raising the capital needed for the deal

  • Leading the asset management and execution of the business plan

  • Ensuring transparency and accountability

  • Crafting the exit strategy that aims to maximize your returns

The sponsor is your beacon of information, ensuring transparency and accountability, while also crafting the exit strategy that aims to maximize your returns. Because the sponsor team does all the active day-to-day management, that allows you to have a much more passive role so that you don’t have to deal with the hassles of being a landlord.

Passive Income Potential

The appeal of passive income is undeniable, and in real estate syndications, it’s the regular distribution checks that will bring joy to your financial journey. As properties generate rental income, a portion is funneled back to you, the investor, often at a preferred return rate that sweetens the deal.

Plus, you can even invest in real estate syndications with a self-directed IRA or 401(k), giving you another avenue to put idle money to work for you.

As you invest in multiple real estate syndications across multiple markets and asset classes, you can more easily diversify your portfolio (rather than buying rental properties one by one and managing them yourself), thus leading to multiple streams of passive income.

Entry Requirements

Before you head down this path, however, you should be aware that real estate syndications often require a substantial investment amount, often $50,000 or more. Further, the process of learning the ins and outs of syndications and making sure you’re comfortable with the risks can take some time.

You should be prepared to navigate through the legal intricacies and financial commitments, all while determining whether you meet the criteria for an accredited investor. Determining whether you’re an accredited investor is pivotal, as it can determine which syndications you’re eligible for.

But not to worry, as opportunities also exist for non-accredited investors who can demonstrate shrewd financial acumen and forge a pre-existing relationship with the deal sponsor.

Related: Are Real Estate Syndications Too Good To Be True?

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Delving Into Real Estate Crowdfunding Platforms

Real estate crowdfunding platforms allow investors to buy shares in various property projects

As the investment environment changes, so too do the paths to generating passive income. Real estate crowdfunding has emerged as a game-changer, allowing individuals to claim their slice of the property pie without owning entire buildings or directly owning property. Crowdfunding opportunities democratize the investment process, enabling you to become a shareholder in a property with as little as $1,000.

The JOBS Act has expanded the investor base, opening the door for both accredited and non-accredited individuals to share in the potential earnings of real estate projects. And with the market projected to burgeon to an astonishing $161.8 billion by 2030, it’s clear that investor interest is soaring.

Selecting Projects

Selecting the right crowdfunding project depends on your investing goals, risk appetite, amount you have to invest, and the other assets in your overall portfolio. Your decision should be guided by a discerning look at fees, investment selection, and the due diligence conducted on the properties. While location remains a vital factor, equally important is the platform’s transparency and customer support, ensuring you’re well-informed before making your move.

Real estate crowdfunding investing summaries often offer a deep dive into the property’s financial projections and expected returns, laying the groundwork for you to make a well-informed investment decision.

Diversification Opportunities

Real estate crowdfunding presents a plethora of diversification opportunities, enabling you to distribute your investments across diverse property types and locations. Whether you’re eyeing commercial giants or upscale residential havens, crowdfunding platforms provide a smorgasbord of projects to balance your risk profile. You can sprinkle your capital across the landscape, mitigating the risk of concentrating too much in a single investment.

With such a diverse offering, aligning your portfolio with your risk tolerance and investment goals becomes a tailored experience.

Understanding Fees And Terms

Entering the domain of real estate crowdfunding demands a solid grasp of the related fees and conditions. Platform and management fees can nibble away at your returns, so awareness of these, along with any ancillary charges, is critical. Remember, the managing of a multitude of investors can lead to heftier fees, potentially dialing down your individual gains.

Moreover, the illiquid nature of these investments means you should be prepared for the long haul, with early withdrawal penalties potentially acting as a deterrent to premature exits.

Exploring Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

REITs offer investors a way to invest in real estate without directly owning or managing properties

For those favoring a less involved approach, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) provide a hassle-free entry point to the real estate market, bypassing the complications of direct property ownership. Investing in REITs means:

  • Buying shares in companies that own and often operate income-generating real estate

  • Potential for income through dividends and capital appreciation

  • REITs must dole out at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders, translating to a potentially lucrative regular income stream

  • REITs provide access to a variety of property sectors

  • REITs come with unique sensitivities to interest rates and tax considerations that investors should weigh.

REITs Vs. Real Estate Syndications

From the outside, it might seem like REITs and syndications are one and the same. And while they do both allow you to invest in commercial real estate properties and easily diversify your portfolio, there are a few crucial differences you should know about.

With a real estate syndication, you are investing directly in the underlying property. Usually, the sponsor will create an LLC, which purchases the property. You invest in shares in the LLC, meaning you are a direct owner in the underlying asset, which gives you substantial tax advantages.

When you’re investing in a REIT, on the other hand, you’re investing in a company that buys the real estate, which means that you are not a direct owner of the underlying properties. This can have an impact on your taxes (check with your CPA regarding your unique tax situation).

Further, REITs tend to follow the ups and downs of the stock market, so if you’re looking for diversification outside the stock market, REITs might not be the best vehicle.

Equity REITs Vs. Mortgage REITs

When exploring REITs, it’s essential to differentiate between the two primary types: Equity REITs and Mortgage REITs. The former are landlords of sorts, reaping rental income from properties under their domain. In contrast, Mortgage REITs play the banker, earning their keep from interest payments tied to the mortgage loans they finance.

While Equity REITs generally promise a more consistent income, Mortgage REITs may offer higher yields, albeit with a greater sensitivity to the ebb and flow of interest rates.

The Liquidity Advantage

One of the most significant advantages of REIT investing is liquidity. Unlike traditional real estate investments, which can often feel like a long-term marriage, REITs allow you to:

  • Buy and sell shares with the same ease as trading stocks

  • Swiftly pivot your investment strategy

  • Cash out when life throws a curveball, without the wait or hassle of a property sale.

Tax Considerations

REITs are spared from federal corporate income taxes on income distributed to shareholders, thus sidestepping the dreaded double taxation. However, it’s important to understand that REIT distributions often come with their unique tax implications, and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has introduced a 20% deduction on certain portions of these distributions, sweetening the pot until 2025.

Yet, investors should be mindful of the tax treatment of long-term capital gains and return of capital distributions, which can significantly impact the after-tax return on investment.

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Tapping Into Real Estate Funds And Mutual Funds

Real estate funds and mutual funds provide diversification and professional management

Entering the realm of real estate funds and mutual funds is akin to bringing an expert guide on your investment journey. These funds offer the following benefits:

  • They wrap your capital in a diversified portfolio of real estate opportunities

  • They are managed by professionals who navigate the market’s complexities

  • You bypass the need for hands-on property management

  • You have the potential for both income through dividends and capital appreciation

Whether you’re drawn to the allure of international properties or the stability of sector-specific investments, real estate funds offer a tapestry of options to weave into your portfolio. One of the best ways to diversify and grow your wealth is to invest in real estate, such as an investment property, a rental property, rental properties, or multiple properties.

Real Estate Mutual Funds

Real estate mutual funds serve as a collective pool where investors combine their resources to access a diversified portfolio encompassing REITs, property ownership, and real-estate-related companies. These funds are accessible to all investors, with seasoned professionals at the helm selecting and managing the investments.

This professional oversight ensures that you’re not just throwing money into the wind but placing it into the care of experts who understand the nuances of the real estate market.

Assessing Fund Performance

Evaluating the performance of real estate mutual funds goes beyond mere numbers—it’s about understanding the narrative they convey. Metrics such as net asset value (NAV) and distribution yield offer snapshots of a fund’s health and income-generating ability.

Delving into the consistency of returns over time and the fund manager’s tenure provides deeper insights into the fund’s reliability and growth potential. And let’s not forget about management fees, which can take a significant bite out of your returns if left unchecked.

Investment Minimums And Accessibility

The appeal of real estate mutual funds is their accessibility. With investment minimums often set at less than $10,000, they open the doors wide for a broader spectrum of investors. Platforms like Vanguard offer entry points into the market with their Real Estate Index Fund, boasting a low expense ratio and a manageable minimum investment requirement.

The accessibility of owning rental properties is further amplified by the ability to invest through online brokerages and robo-advisors, offering a convenient and frictionless entry into the world of real estate investing.

Financing Projects With Hard Money Loans

Hard money loans allow investors to finance real estate projects and earn profits without being a landlord

Hard money loans inject a dose of excitement into the real estate investment world, providing a rapid and often profitable method for project financing. These loans are typically short-term, used primarily for buying and renovating properties, and are known for their high interest rates and risk profile. As an investor, you can step into the shoes of a lender, setting your terms and reaping the rewards of interest payments.

The cyclical nature of the construction market means these loans align with the rhythm of building booms and busts, presenting an opportunity for those with an appetite for higher risk and returns.

Risks And Rewards

The risks and rewards of hard money loans maintain a delicate balance. These loans are structured with interest-only payments, culminating in a large balloon payment at the end—significantly different from the more predictable path of traditional financing. The borrowers seeking these loans often fall outside the bounds of conventional lending, injecting a dose of risk due to potential credit or income instability.

However, for the sharp-eyed lender, these higher interest rates can translate into a lucrative income stream, provided a meticulous financial due diligence is conducted to mitigate the risks of default.

Loan-To-Value Ratios

In the sphere of hard money lending, the Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratio serves as the guiding light for the lender amidst the mist of risk. This critical metric ensures that the loan amount is anchored to a conservative percentage of the property’s value, providing a safety net in case of borrower default. A lower LTV ratio means that the lender has a cushion, as the property can potentially be resold at a profit, covering the loan amount and then some.

Hard money lenders generally keep LTV ratios between 50 to 70 percent, demanding significant equity from the borrower and ensuring that the loan is well-secured.

Finding Borrowers

Searching for qualified borrowers for hard money loans is like hunting for gold—half the battle is knowing where to search. Networking with real estate professionals, tapping into the resources of title offices, and immersing oneself in real estate investment events can unearth a wealth of potential borrowers.

Mortgage brokers can serve as conduits, connecting lenders with clients who might not fit the traditional lending mold but are prime candidates for hard money loans. And in the digital age, a strong online presence through a professional website and active social media can attract borrowers like a magnet.

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Navigating Note Investing

Delving into note investing resembles exploring a new territory in the real estate investing scenery. By purchasing secured debt, you take on the mantle of the lender, earning income through interest payments collected from the borrower. It’s a realm where the returns are tied not to the whims of property values but to the reliability of borrower payments—a shift in perspective that can lead to a steady stream of income.

Types of Notes

The realm of note investing is dominated by two primary entities: performing and non-performing notes. Performing notes shimmer with the steady light of consistent payments, keeping the income flowing smoothly to the investor.

On the other hand, non-performing notes are like black holes—absent of payment streams, they present investors with the challenging task of navigating loan modifications, settlements, or the event horizon of foreclosure.

Both types offer distinct pathways for investors, each with its unique risk and reward profile.

Due Diligence Process

In note investing, the due diligence process acts as a navigation tool for the investor. This meticulous examination involves:

  • Scrutinizing the borrower’s financial health

  • Ensuring the note’s legality

  • Understanding the property’s value securing the debt

  • Grasping the intricacies of local real estate laws

Crafting a thorough checklist for this journey is essential for identifying any icebergs that could sink your investment and ensuring that your course is set for calm waters.

Servicing The Note

Regarding servicing the note, investors must make a choice: take on the responsibility personally or engage a third-party service provider. Opting to self-service requires a deep dive into legal compliance and asset management, ensuring that borrower relations are maintained without a hitch.

However, for those seeking the tranquility of passive income, a professional servicing company can manage the intricate dance of payments, delinquencies, and tax documentation, allowing investors to enjoy the performance without the backstage hustle.

Summary

Okay, there you have it – a quick tour through multiple ways you can invest in real estate without being a landlord. Rest assured, you can continue to grow your real estate portfolio even without the tenants, termites, and toilets.

When selecting the right real estate investments for your goals, be sure to keep in mind that investments that project higher rates of return typically come with a higher degree of risk. And vice versa – those with lower risk typically have more modest returns.

Through investing in real estate without being a landlord, you can make sure your money is working for you while also leaving the heavy lifting to professional teams, so you don’t have to deal with the 3am property management calls.

Whether through investing in real estate syndications, crowdfunding, REITs, real estate funds, the sharp hard money loans, or note investing, there exists a path for every investor. Each avenue offers a unique blend of risks and rewards, tailored to different levels of engagement and investment capital.

You can even use strategies like dollar-cost averaging to further hedge against potential downturns and further mitigate your overall risk. Regardless of what you choose, hopefully you can see by now that the journey to passive income through real estate is not a myth; it’s a reality within your grasp, waiting for you to take the first step.

Check Out Our Open Investments

Want to invest alongside us? Take a look at some of our current and upcoming offerings.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you invest in real estate without owning property?

Yes, you can invest in real estate without owning property by investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs). These funds allow you to gain exposure to the real estate market without the burden of property ownership.

How can I invest in real estate with none of my own money?

You can invest in real estate with none of your own money through various methods like hard money lenders, private money lenders, wholesaling, equity partnerships, home equity, option to buy, seller financing, and house hacking. These strategies provide opportunities to enter the real estate market with little to no upfront investment.

How do you actually invest in real estate?

To invest in real estate, you can own a property or pool money with other investors into a fund that includes several properties, earning money from their sale and potential rental income. Additionally, you can consider buying your own home, purchasing rental properties, flipping houses, investing in REITs, or using online real estate platforms.

What is a real estate syndication and how does it work?

A real estate syndication is when a group of investors combine their funds to buy a property, usually a large commercial asset. An appointed sponsor oversees the investment, enabling investors to earn passive income from rental profits without having to handle direct management.

Can non-accredited investors participate in real estate crowdfunding?

Yes, thanks to the JOBS Act, both accredited and non-accredited investors can participate in real estate crowdfunding, offering a wider investment opportunity.

Check Out Our Track Record Of Success

Curious whether we can actually do what we say we're going to do? Compare projected versus actual returns in all the deals we've exited to date.

download track record

Next Steps

If your chosen path of investing in real estate without being a landlord is to invest in real estate syndications, we invite you to join the Goodegg Investor Club, so we can keep you in the loop on opportunities to invest alongside us.

You can also check out our open deals page to learn more about our current or upcoming opportunities.

Learn More

If you’re not yet ready to invest but are curious about how all of this works, we invite you to dip your toe in the water with us through our free 7-day email course – Passive Real Estate Investing 101

You can also get a copy of our book – Investing For Good – or check out our Life & Money Show Podcast.

To learn more about us and our experience, be sure to download a copy of our track record, which shows the projected and actual returns we’ve achieved across all the deals we’ve exited to date.

Connect With Us

If there’s ever anything we can do to help you on your journey, feel free to email us at [email protected] or call / text us at (888) 830-1450

Want To Invest With Us?

You're invited! Join the Goodegg Investor Club to get access to our open investments and to stay in the loop on upcoming opportunities.

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