Real Estate Investing in Rentals – the “$10 Million Real Estate Investing Mistake”

Renting to tenants is no longer “where the money is” for real estate investing. I became a multi-millionaire landlord in the 1980s by buying $10 million in rental houses. Yet, I consider this real estate investing approach the biggest mistake in my real estate investing career. I call it my “$10 Million Mistake.”

Back then, real estate investing in rentals was buying a house, renting it to tenants for a rental fee that covered the mortgage, and waiting for an increase in value. Interest rates were as high as 25%. Inflation was rampant. You could buy a house, and it would almost double in value in 10 or so years.

Boy, have things changed in real estate investing! Interest rates have recently been the lowest in 46 years. Inflation is flat. The same rental house in some areas is appraising for less today than it appraised three years ago. The major profit to real estate investing in rentals is the pay-down of the mortgage by the tenant. Otherwise, profit comes from the difference between the rental fee and the mortgage payment.

One month vacancy per year, which is not uncommon, might convert into an annual investment loss, even if (1) tenants don’t leave owing rent, (2) the property is not damaged, or (3) repair cost is negligible. All of these possibilities are very unlikely.

One month vacancy per year can eliminate usage profit for the year. Spend your time on fix up repairs, even part time, and you go more in the hole. How much you lose depends on how much your time is worth.

Real estate investing is intended to be profitable. Vacancies, repairs, and time expenditure might mean you are only making a donation to the great cause of improving the nation’s housing.
The scenario changes if the mortgage is negligible and note payments are significantly less than rents. But the beginning investor does not often create this situation.

Fixing up properties for resale is a better venue for real estate investing today. Go a step beyond the norm, and learn how to help a renter get financing for your fixed up house. Go another step by converting a junker into a “Dream House,” and you will attract prospects to your property like bees to honey. Turning a “Plain Jane” into a “Doll House” demands extra work, but attracts better quality buyers. Real estate investing is extremely profitable, but your choice of real estate investing venue is critical to optimal profitability.