If you follow the advice of those "make a fortune" gurus on television, the answer to all of your money woes is invariably investing in real estate. Often, getting into real estate their way requires wooing private investors, trying to flip a lease option (risky), owner-financing a property, or buying low and selling high. While these methods could net you money in real estate, none of them is very cheap to do. Try these ideas instead.
Buy Low, Rent It Out
Buy a fixer-upper. There's an old real estate saying: "Buy the worst house on the best street." This way, with a little hard work, your property values can only go up. Many people fall into the trap of buying the best house on a not-so-great street, because they think they are getting a deal on a great house. Not so. If you are willing to invest in a foreclosure or, even cheaper, lease option a fixer-upper, you can fix it up and someday either sell it (flipping) or rent it out. Many people buy houses at low prices and rent them out fairly cheaply, keeping them inhabited until the day when the market is at an appropriate level to sell them.
Become an Agent
Get your agent's license. One of the best ways to learn about real estate and find good deals is to become an agent yourself. Not only is it inexpensive to get into (about $475 for the class and exam depending on your state), but you'll get a commission on anything you sell. You can put that commission toward your first flip project.
Invest in an REIT
Invest in a real estate investment trust (REIT). An REIT is a way to invest in real estate without getting your hands dusty from pulling out sheet rock. An REIT is purchased the same way as a stock, but the business is managing groups of investment properties and paying dividends out to investors.
Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.