Many people spend more of their money on real estate than on any other type of investment. Consequently, when you sell a home, you often end up with a cash windfall. You can reinvest your money in more real estate, but you can also explore other types of investment options. Before spending any of the money, determine your short-term and long-term financial needs. Once you have a clear idea of your goals, you should have little trouble finding a suitable investment.
Instruct the closing agent who presides over the real estate transfer to wire the funds into your bank account. You must provide the agent with both your account number and the routing number of your bank. You have immediate access to wired funds whereas your bank may place a hold on a distribution check. By wiring the money you can invest without delay.
Write a list of your short-term and long-term financial goals, including your retirement plans, college expenses and short-term aims such as paying off your credit card. Determine how much money you need to cover short-term costs such as taxes. Keep that money in your checking account so that you can access it without restriction. Divide the rest of the money between long-term aims that are costs you expect to incur more than five years into the future, and shorter-term goals.
Contact several banks and credit unions that you are eligible to join and find out which financial institutions have the best interest rates on certificates of deposit or money market accounts. Find CDs with terms that suit your needs; if you plan to spend a portion of the money in six months, find the rates on CDs with terms of six months or less.
Review real estate listings to look for new properties in which you could invest. Arrange to meet with listing agents so that you can tour the homes that interest you. Hire a home inspector to inspect any properties that interest you to ensure that no hidden issues exist that could cause you to regret the purchase.
Contact an investment broker at your bank or at an investment firm. If you want to take some risks with your real estate sale proceeds, then ask the agent about stocks and aggressive mutual funds. If you want to convert your sale proceeds into an income stream, then ask your broker about bond funds and annuity contracts. Diversify by investing some of your money in a variety of securities types.
Divide your short-term funds between the CDs and savings accounts that offered the best rates. Split your long-term money between the securities or real estate holdings that you looked at.
Deposits at banks and credit unions are federally insured up to $250,000 per account owner. You can therefore double your coverage by adding a co-owner to your accounts, but consider splitting your sale proceeds among several banks if your cash exceeds the deposit insurance coverage limit. When you invest in federally insured bank products you may lose spending power if the interest rate on the accounts falls behind the rate of inflation. Other types of investments, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds and real estate, have no principal protections. Therefore, consider the different types of risk and your own risk tolerance before deciding how best to invest the money from your home sale.
When you sell real estate, you may have to pay capital gains tax on the sale proceeds. You can exclude up to $250,000 of gains from your taxable income if you sell a home in which you have lived for at least two of the past five years. In most other instances, taxes are due so do not invest your money in illiquid securities until you know your tax liability.