Equity real estate offers one of the most profitable ways to build financial wealth and security. Investing in equity real estate can benefit you, your family, and future generations for years to come. Learn about the basics of equity real estate, how it works, and the best ways to get started on your investment journey.
What is Equity Real Estate?
Equity real estate refers to an investment strategy focused on acquiring and managing properties with the goal of generating returns through appreciation and rental income. In this context, “equity” refers to the ownership interest an investor holds in the property.
Equity real estate investments typically involve purchasing properties such as multifamily real estate, commercial buildings, retail centers, or land parcels for development. Investors may acquire properties individually or pool their resources in real estate partnerships, funds, or real estate investment trusts (REITs). These investment vehicles allow individuals to access the commercial real estate market with relatively low capital requirements compared to direct ownership. Equity real estate is also considered a great way for investors to diversify their portfolios.
Those who invest in equity real estate can generally expect to earn profits in two ways. The first is through the excess cash flow properties generate after all costs and operating expenses have been paid. Most people will earn quarterly or annual “cash flow distributions” when they own equity real estate.
Another way to earn profit by investing in equity real estate is through appreciation. As demand for real estate increases, or as improvements are made to the property, its market value can rise. The owner can then recapitalize or sell the property at a higher price than the initial investment.
Sign up for our educational newsletter and to gain early access to our next investment opportunity.
What Are the Most Common Ways to Invest in Equity Real Estate?
There are several popular ways to invest in equity real estate, including:
This approach involves purchasing properties directly as an individual investor. It requires a substantial upfront capital investment and involves responsibilities such as property management, tenant screening, and ongoing operations and maintenance. Direct ownership provides full control over the investment, including the potential tax benefits and ability to customize the exit strategy for each property.
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs):
REITs are companies that own and manage income-generating real estate properties. People can buy shares of a REIT just as they would buy shares of any other publicly-traded company. However, when you own a REIT, you own shares of that company and not any actual shares of real estate. REITs offer liquidity, professional management, and the ability o invest in a diversified portfolio of properties across various property sectors such as residential, commercial, retail, or industrial.
Real Estate Mutual Funds:
Real estate mutual funds pool money from multiple investors that is then deployed into a diversified portfolio of real estate assets. These funds are managed by professional fund managers who make investment decisions on behalf of the investors.
Real Estate Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs):
Similar to mutual funds, real estate ETFs pool investor money and invest in a range of real estate assets. However, ETFs trade on stock exchanges like individual stocks. They offer flexibility, liquidity, and the ability to invest in specific segments of the real estate market.
Real Estate Syndications:
Real estate syndications are special purpose entities that are formed for the purpose of investing in a specific asset. Similar to a fund, investor capital is pooled and then invested at the discretion of the developer/sponsor. However, unlike a fund, a syndication has a specific property for which the money is being raised. As a result, investors can make “apples to apples” comparisons among deals and across sponsored opportunities.
Real Estate Crowdfunding:
Crowdfunding platforms allow multiple investors to collectively finance real estate projects. Investors contribute relatively small amounts of money to fund a specific property or development project. Crowdfunding platforms connect investors with developers or sponsors, and investors can choose the projects they want to invest in. Crowdfunding offers an array of opportunities for individual investors who may not otherwise have access to these equity real estate deals.
How to Maximize Your Return on Equity Real Estate
There are many strategies to consider when trying to maximize your returns on equity real estate. Here are a few of the most valuable:
Market Research and Property Selection:
Investing in equity real estate requires extensive research so that you can be sure you are investing in the right property. Take the time to understand the local market and trends, learning about potential source of income, such as rental fees, and understanding the costs associated with any investments that will set you up for long-term success. Before making an offer on a piece of property, be sure to visit the area and investigate factors such as infrastructure, taxes, and legal issues like potential zoning restrictions.
As a general rule of thumb, look for properties with strong growth potential and income-generating capabilities. Search for properties in areas with high demand, potential for appreciation, and favorable rental market conditions. Consider factors like proximity to amenities, job opportunities, transportation, and population growth.
Cash Flow Management:
Optimize cash flow by setting appropriate rental rates and managing expenses effectively. Conduct market research to determine competitive rental rates and adjust them periodically to align with market conditions. Implement cost-effective property management strategies, negotiate favorable vendor contracts, and regularly review and reduce unnecessary expenses.
For example, you should know how long it takes you to turn over an apartment unit upon vacancy and how much this turnover process costs. How does that compare with market averages? Tighten up your policies and procedures to be at or above the market standard.
Increase the value of your properties through strategic investments and upgrades. Renovations, cosmetic enhancements, and modernizing amenities can attract higher-quality tenants and justify higher rental rates. These are both ways to increase the returns on your equity real estate. Regular property maintenance and proactive upkeep can also preserve the property’s condition and enhance its long-term value.
Effective Tenant Management:
When investing in equity real estate, strive for quality tenants who are reliable and look for longer-term leases. For residential real estate, this might mean moving from 1- to 2-year leases. For commercial property, this could entail signing 5-10+ year leases. That type of stability helps to protect against a vacant property and creates more predictable income streams.
To that end, focus on tenant retention and reducing vacancies. Screen potential tenants thoroughly and select reliable and responsible individuals or businesses. Provide excellent customer service, respond promptly to tenant needs, and establish strong landlord-tenant relationships. Consider implementing lease renewal incentives and maintaining competitive rental terms to encourage tenants to stay long-term. A vacancy can ultimately be more expensive than keep rents stable, depending on market conditions.
Leverage Financing Wisely to Increase Your Return on Investment (ROI):
Leverage is a great way to maximize your return when investing in equity real estate. Leverage helps to amplify returns, particularly when there’s a short-term hold period. Most lenders will allow you to borrow up to 75-80 percent of the property’s value and then use the remaining equity as collateral. If done responsibly, leveraging the maximum amount can help generate substantially higher returns compared to investing with no debt.
Of course, use financing wisely. Consider the loan terms, interest rates, and leverage on the deal’s overall return profile. Compare different financing options including traditional bank loans and specialize real estate financing programs. Always be sure your projected cash flow can support whatever loan obligations you incur.
Careful Tax Planning:
Consult with your tax advise to optimize tax strategies and take advantage of all available deductions, credits, and incentives related to your real estate investment or real estate business. Understand the tax implications associated with rental income, property depreciation, capital gains, and 1031 exchanges. Proper tax planning can help minimize tax liability and increase your overall returns on equity real estate. In fact, some tax incentives (e.g., bonus depreciation) can prove more valuable than the actual cash flow distributions a property generates in any given year.
Pursue Potential Grant Opportunities:
In addition to tax incentives, there are sometimes discrete grant opportunities that investors can leverage to maximize their return with equity real estate. A few examples include:
- Affordable Housing Grants:
Governments and nonprofit organizations often provide grants and subsidies to developers or investors involved in affordable housing projects. These grants can help offset development costs, improve cash flow, and enhance the long-term financial viability of the project.
- Green Building Grants:
Incentives and grants are sometimes available to those who pursue energy-efficient, sustainable, or green building upgrades.
- Historic Preservation Grants:
Grants and tax incentives are sometimes offered to individuals or organizations that rehabilitate and preserve historic properties, which can be used to offset renovation costs and enhance the market value of a property.
- Community Development Grants:
Local or regional governments may provide grants and incentives to encourage real estate development that revitalizes economically distressed areas or improves community infrastructure.
Diversify your equity real estate holdings across different property types, locations, and market segments. This reduces the risk associated with concentration in a single property or market. A well-diversified portfolio can balance potential returns and provide a cushion against potential downturns among specific property types or regions.
Stay Informed and Be Prepared to Adapt:
Continuously monitor real estate market trends, economic conditions, and regulatory changes that could impact your investments. Stay informed about market dynamics, rental demand, and emerging investment opportunities. For example, interest rates had been around historic lows the past few years and this was a prime opportunity to refinance to maximize the returns on your equity real estate. In many markets, apartment rents are experiencing double-digit gains. Be sure you’re capitalizing on these opportunities, which requires staying informed.
Of course, no investment is ever foolproof. Equity real estate investment carries risks and uncertainties. Property values can fluctuate due to factors such as changing market conditions, economic trends, and local regulations. Investing alongside an adept real estate sponsor is a great way to navigate these challenges while maximizing your return on your equity investment.
Those who invest in equity real estate will find that this strategy is a great way to provide long-term generational wealth through ongoing cash flow distributions and property appreciation.
Contact us today to start your investment journey.