Six of the Worst Real Estate Investments

As any experienced real estate investor will tell you, not all investment properties are created equal. Homes that might be perfect for a primary residence, for example, might not yield positive cash flows — and without positive cash flows, you’re losing money, not making it.

Grow your own money

Here are a few things to think about and properties to avoid when you are ready to invest your hard-earned cash equity capital.

1. Anything that doesn’t generate rental income

These include second homes and land investments. Too many people invest in properties hoping that they will go up in value. But there is an opportunity cost to having money sit in real estate that doesn’t pay any income. Even if the property goes up in value, you’ve got to reconcile and account for all the money you would have earned if your money had instead been in the bank or in stocks and/or bonds.

2. Anything with negative cash flows

If you buy a “prize property” — such as a fancy downtown fancy condo, beach property or vacation rental — it’s probably going to be 20+ years before you get your first dime of positive cash flow. And that’s just no way to invest your hard-earned money. Pencil out any potential deal ahead of time, and buy properties that pay cash flow from day one — the moderately priced properties in non-prize areas.

3. Tenant-in-common (TIC) investments

These were popular from 2005 to 2007 as a way to diversify a portfolio without having to deal with the hassle of owning and managing real estate. But few people ever earned a dime because of all the costs and fees associated with the agreements.

4. Development deals

Development of land is extremely high risk. There are entitlement, construction and market pricing risks, plus countless others. These investments are best left to the extremely wealthy and experienced investors who can take the chance that they’ll never see their money again.

5. Condo-hotels, intervals & time-shares

These aren’t even investments. There’s no ability to predict cash flows, rental income or future value/sales prices. And they are very hard to resell and typically only at a fraction of the original cost.

6. Foreign real estate

You might be OK buying real estate in Canada or Britain – however don’t forget about the foreign currency risk — but foreign countries generally have different real estate laws, protections and fluctuating currencies, making these properties extremely high risk.

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2 comments on “Six of the Worst Real Estate Investments

  1. Great article!…as a fellow realtor I have a ton of people that come up and want to invest in the very same things that you say not too, and that I agree with. The media plays a huge role in masking what should and shouldnt be done as far as investments or in real estate.

    I always tell clients “it doenst happen like it does on HGTV” lol

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