How to Buy Your First Rental Property

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Want to jump straight to the best? Diversyfund is definitely the best real estate investing platform for most people.

Buying your first home has long been considered a rite of passage into adulthood. It’s a symbol of financial stability and maturity. But buying your first rental property is an even more significant rite of financial passage. It symbolizes the onset of passive income through real estate investments.   

A rental property brings returns through long-term appreciation and passive income from rental payments. These factors are what makes real estate a lucrative component of a financial portfolio.

Are you ready to earn some passive income? Here’s how to buy your first rental property. 

Step 1: Take a Look at Your Savings and Future Needs

It’s a good idea to go through your savings to understand how much money you have to work with. Consider your budget over the next few years. Are you expecting any major expenses? Can you afford to make a mortgage payment?

Keep in mind that real estate is an illiquid asset. Once you’ve bought a property, it will take time to sell it and get your lump sum back. Some properties can sit on the market for months or even years. Ask yourself if you can tolerate not being able to access your funds for an extended amount of time. 

Finally, real estate should be only 1 part of your investment portfolio. You don’t want to keep the majority of your savings locked into real estate assets in case you can’t sell a property quickly or if the market dips. Remember to leave room for other investments like stocks and bonds. 

Step 2: Go Through Your Financing Options 

There are 3 main ways you can finance your first rental property:

  • If you have enough saved up, you can buy your rental property by paying cash
  • You can take out a mortgage for a rental property the same way you take out a mortgage for your residential home. That said, it is more difficult and more expensive to get a loan for a rental property. You’ll generally need to put down at least 20% for a down payment and have enough cash for at least 6 months of expenses. There may be higher credit and income requirements, depending on your lender’s requirements.
  • If you are a homeowner, you can take out a home equity line of credit, also known as a HELOC. Depending on your creditworthiness, you can borrow up to 85% of your home’s value, minus the amount you owe on your mortgage. You can borrow as much as you need up until the credit limit and only pay interest on what you borrow. 

Consult your bank first to learn if you qualify for these financing options. It’s also a good idea to get in touch with different banks and lenders so that you can compare offers to get the best deal.

As soon as you find the lending option that works for you, secure it. You want to be preapproved for a mortgage or already have a HELOC open before you start looking at properties. 

Step 3: Decide What Type of Landlord You Will Be 

Being a landlord comes with a host of responsibilities. You’ll have to find tenants, run background checks, comply with government building codes, fix any unexpected maintenance issues, bookkeep and deal with defaulters – among other responsibilities. Basically anytime your tenant has an issue – you can expect a call. 

Ask yourself whether you have the time to take on this role. You can always choose to outsource these tasks to a property manager, but it will come with a cost. The cost will ultimately depend on the property manager you choose to work with, but in some cases it can range from 8%-12% of the monthly rent value. 

Step 4: Research the Market

Now that you have a good understanding of your budget, it’s time to investigate home sales and rental prices. At this point, you’ll want to hire a realtor or use a real estate marketplace platform to browse different neighborhoods and properties. 

Location is everything. If you invest in a declining neighborhood, it’s possible your property will actually lose value over time. You can spot up-and-coming neighborhoods by looking at population growth, job growth, quality of school systems, infrastructure and proximity to major urban areas.

Step 5: Conduct a Property Analysis

Have you found a few potential candidates that look like they could be a good investment? The only way to know for sure is by doing a property analysis. The most common method is by calculating the return on investment (ROI). This figure will help you understand how profitable an investment property will be, and how that profitability compares to other properties. 

Let’s say you’re looking to buy a property that has a price tag of $100,000. Take a look at what similar properties are renting for in your market to get an idea of what you can charge. Let’s say you can rent it out for $1,000 a month. Your annual rental income is $1,000 x 12 months for a total of $12,000. 

Now take a look at how much it will cost to own this property. Typical expenses include taxes, insurance, renovation costs, maintenance fees, association fees and property management fees. Let’s say your total expenses add up to $600 a month, or $600 x 12 months for a total of 7,200 a year. 

Your actual annual income from this property will come out to $12,000 – $7,200 = $4,800 a year. The final step is to divide your actual annual income by the sale price of the property, not including the interest you will pay on a mortgage. Your total return on investment (ROI) is $4,800/$100,000 = 0.048, or 4.8% 

Compare ROI between different properties to spot the most profitable investment opportunity.  

Step 6: Get Ready to Make an Offer

If you’re financing through a lender, they will most likely order an appraisal. An appraisal is a professional estimate of the value of a property. Both you and your lender will want to make sure you’re paying a fair price. Once you have an appraisal that’s been approved, it’s time to make an offer!

Remember to make the offer contingent on a home inspection. You’ll need to pay for a home inspection out of pocket so it’s best to do so after you’ve set your sights on a property. If the inspection finds potential issues with the property, you can use these issues to renegotiate your offer.

Step 7: You’re on Your Way! 

You’re almost at the finish line. At this point all that’s left to do is close the deal. Sounds easy enough, but this process can be time-consuming and confusing if you’re not prepared. 

The first thing to do is set a closing date. The closing date is when you will officially pay for the home and become the new owner. If you are financing the property with a loan, it is the date you will receive the funds and pay for the down payment and closing costs. 

An attorney, real estate agent, escrow agent, or someone else might be in charge of the closing. They will set the time and place. Ask them what you will need to bring. This may include your ID, proof of wire transfer, closing documents and more. 

Once all the signatures have been signed and the funds have been wired – congratulations! You will have successfully bought your first rental property. 

Best Investing Platforms for Out of State Real Estate

Here are some of Benzinga’s top picks for online real estate investment platforms. 

Get started securely through EquityMultiple’s website
Minimum Investment
0.5% – 1.5%
1 Minute Review

EquityMultiple makes real estate investing simple, accessible and transparent.

Best For
Get started securely through CrowdStreet’s website
Minimum Investment
1% – 1.75%
1 Minute Review

CrowdStreet is a commercial real estate investing platform where people can invest directly in commercial projects. Unlike a brokerage firm, CrowdStreet isn’t a middleman. Instead, the platform acts as a marketplace where investors can pick and choose the best deals for their time horizon and strategy.

Available investments range from family living spaces to office buildings to storage facilities and investors can sign up for a free membership. Your investment options are limited to what’s live on the Marketplace and you’ll need capital to build a diverse real estate portfolio. Only accredited investors can access deals through CrowdStreet.

Best For
  • Investors looking for diversification away from stocks
  • Real estate investors interested in new opportunities
  • Accredited investors with lots of capital at their disposal
  • Unique opportunities available
  • Makes real estate accessible and understandable
  • Investors can devote capital to both debt and equity offerings
  • Offers quality education materials and answers to FAQs
  • Real estate is highly illiquid
  • Most properties require a minimum $25,000 investment
  • You’re limited to what’s on the CrowdStreet Marketplace
Get started securely through stREITwise’s website
Minimum Investment
2% – 3%
1 Minute Review

Looking to diversify your portfolio and get into real estate? A real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns income-producing real estate may be a great place for you to start. Streitwise is a REIT that specializes solely in commercial real estate and has a low entry investment requirement of $5,000. Based in Los Angeles, Streitwise was created in 2017 by three veteran real estate investors who were frustrated that there wasn’t a good option for unaccredited investors to get into the commercial real estate market.

Streitwise focuses on investing in low-risk rental commercial real estate aimed at providing clients with consistent high-yield returns. The team invests in markets that are steadily growing and offer low-risk potential outcomes. While they’re still young and growing, the founders have built their business based on solid experience coupled with a vision for the future of investing. If you’re looking to diversify your current investment portfolio but feared real estate was too lofty a goal, Streitwise is worth exploring.

Best For
  • Investors looking to diversify
  • Investors with less than $200k in annual income
  • Passive traders
  • Consistent quarterly dividends
  • Low, transparent fees
  • Low investment minimum
  • Convenient and easy to use
  • Projections are uncertain
  • Limited portfolio
  • Limited technology
Get started securely through Diversyfund’s website
Minimum Investment
No management fees
1 Minute Review

DiversyFund isn’t your average crowdfunding platform. You’ll find that the company puts a twist on the traditional everyday crowdfunding platform, beyond anything you can find online with a simple Google search. You only have to look under DiversyFund’s skin one layer to surmise that DiversyFund is a conscientious developer and sponsor and helps hedge risk through improved vetting.

DiversyFund offers a multifamily real estate investment trust, the DiversyFund Growth REIT, and its main goals are to increase cash flow and resale value. It’ll automatically give you access to multi-million dollar real estate assets.

Best For
  • Those looking for an alternative investment beyond stocks and bonds
  • Individuals who aren’t sure they want to be landlords in the traditional sense
  • Investors who aren’t accredited
  • Only need to pony up $500 to get started
  • Open to investors all over the world
  • No expensive broker fees
  • You’ll only be able to access “blind pool” investments, which means that you can’t opt out of specific properties
  • There’s only one real investment option, the DiversyFund Growth REIT
get started securely through Groundfloor’s website
Minimum Investment
No investor fees
1 Minute Review

Groundfloor is open to non-accredited investors and private individuals looking for active real estate alternative investment. Groundfloor has great volume with more than 10 investments. 

Individuals with small portfolios will also like the low $10 minimum and 0 investor fees. However, most of the loans are given to house flippers, and there is a risk of borrowers defaulting on their loans. 

Best For
  • Non-accredited investors: It is a good option for non-accredited investors who want to invest in an individual capacity.
  • Private investors with small portfolios: Groundfloor charges a relatively small premium of $10, which private investors with small portfolios find attractive.
  • Active-investors: Groundfloor is also ideal for investors who want to actively maintain and control their real estate portfolio.
  • Charges the lowest minimums in the industry
  • 0 investor fees
  • Open to non-accredited investors
  • Offers no bankruptcy protection
  • High rate of an uncured default
  • Many loans are for judicial-only states
Get started securely through Yieldstreet’s website
Minimum Investment
average 1-2%
1 Minute Review

Yieldstreet is an alternative investment platform that allows you to access unique, diversified and expert-reviewed investments. From real estate offerings to works of art, Yieldstreet offers investments that have low correlations with the general markets, meaning they can act as a new source of portfolio diversity.

Yieldstreet’s platform is easy to initiate and use — open an account in just a few minutes and begin browsing available investments before your account is fully verified. Due diligence information is easy to find and clearly laid out, and most investments include additional resources to learn more about the investment’s industry or category. Although the majority of investments are only open to accredited investors, anyone can invest in Yieldstreet’s Prism Fund.

Best For
  • Passive income generation
  • Accredited investors
  • New investors looking for an intuitive platform
  • Wide range of expert-reviewed alternative investments
  • Investments that are pre-funded by Yieldstreet
  • Prism Fund open to non-accredited investors
  • Majority of investments only open to accredited investors
Get started securely through Acre Trader’s website
Minimum Investment
$15k – $25k
0.75% and 1% per year based on asset value
1 Minute Review

AcreTrader is an investing platform that makes it easy to buy shares of U.S. farmland and earn passive income, starting in just minutes online. The platform features actual parcels of farmland where investors can choose offerings to participate in based on their investment preferences.

Farm types range from Midwest Row Crop Farms to California Almond Orchards, but you don’t need to be an agriculture expert to get started. They have a very thorough underwriting process to vet the offerings, and present information in an easy-to-understand offering page on their website where you can get started with as little as $10k and 10 minutes.

Best For
  • Investors looking for diversification away from stocks and other traditional assets
  • Real estate investors interested in new opportunities
  • Accredited investors with multi-year investment horizons
  • Real, uncorrelated asset class with a history of consistently strong returns
  • Highly qualified team with best-in-class underwriting practices
  • The platform has some of the lowest fees that you’ll find in real estate investing
  • Investment minimums are typically $10,000+
  • Only open to accredited investors at this time
Get Started securely through Arrived Homes’s website
Minimum Investment
1% asset management fee
1 Minute Review

Arrived Homes is the latest player in the real estate investment industry. Differing from many of their counterparts, Arrived provides investment opportunities in the single-family homes, with a minimum investment of just $100.

Best For

Patience is Key

Whether you choose to invest in real estate with a rental property or REIT, know that it is a long-term investment. You won’t see the largest rewards right off the bat. But with a smart strategy and some patience – you’re on your way to earning a steady stream of passive income.

Buying a rental property isn’t the only way to invest in real estate. If you don’t have enough capital saved up or want to avoid landlord responsibilities, consider these options: 

  • Real estate companies own and operate portfolios of different properties. Some real estate companies will issue publicly traded real estate stocks. These stocks are called real estate investment trusts (REITs). Learn about how to invest in REITs.
  • Crowdfunding platforms are another great way to invest in real estate. Many crowdfunding platforms have portfolios of different real estate assets you can buy into for a small investment minimum. Take a look at our DiversyFund review to learn more about crowdfunding. 

Accelerate Your Wealth

DiversyFund accelerates your wealth creation by reinvesting cash flows from the properties — the DiversyFund Growth REIT is a public non-traded REIT designed to build wealth by investing in multifamily real estate and intends to build wealth over an approximate 5-year timeline. You don’t have to be an accredited investor to invest in Diversyfund. Open a Diversyfund account today.