Is it risky to invest in Real Estate?

Do you ever wonder why some people think investing in multifamily real estate is risky but putting money into a tech startup or a Wall Street stock isn’t?

While any investment with the opportunity for a return has some level of risk, the one thing that reduces risk is knowledge. Today, we will talk about the perceptions of the risks of real estate investing.

As a real estate investor active on social media, I get calls from time to time from people asking me to invest in their venture or deal. Last time, it was a friend looking for me to invest in their tech venture. This friend has been a successful C-Level executive with several companies and is very familiar with the world of technology and business. He was looking to raise a total of $3.0MM in $100,000 chunks in exchange for a return plus equity in the business. During the conversation, he says, “I know the multifamily real estate you do is very risky as you are handing out some good returns. I figured you may want to invest in something that is not as risky. Maybe you or someone from your investor network may be interested in our tech concept. It’s going to change the world!”

Here is a guy that ran multi-million dollar budgets, international teams and many high-level projects. I’ve known him for a long time and can tell you he is very intelligent. However, he was brainwashed into thinking that real estate is risky. Prior to making my leap into real estate 15 years ago, I didn’t even consider real estate as something to invest in. Besides, the perceived risk level of sitting on a mortgage in the hopes that the tenants would cover it was a scary thought.

I began to understand the nuances of the business once I got into the real estate game. I started with single families and small multifamilies. I studied everything I could about real estate and spoke to mentors to get a deep understanding on how to purchase and operate deals large and small. Today, my team and I run our real estate portfolio as a business. I don’t do e-commerce, bitcoin or own a retail shop. All I do is real estate. My team and I are all in. I don’t consider any investments that deviate from my objectives.

Getting back to the conversation, I decided to address the risk of real estate. I asked him: “When was the building you live in, built?” He responded, “Maybe, 30 years ago”. So, for the past 30 years, that building has been throwing off cash. For 3 decades – every single month there was cash flow. Then I asked him, “Do you think that building will be around in another 30 years?”. He says, “I imagine so”. By that logic, that building will continue cash flowing for another 3 decades. I know where his building is and I know that as long as they operate the property well, it will continue performing.

When I look at an investment, I have two strict criteria: 1) I want capital preservation and 2) I want cash flow. Of course, there are the tax benefits and forced appreciation, but that’s the icing on the cake. I want to know that the cash we are putting into the asset will outpace inflation and still get us cash month over month. This is what we offer our investors as a way to preserve their wealth and offset earned income from the taxman while diversifying from risky stocks and indexes.

To me, stocks are a risky endeavor because I don’t know what kind of return I will expect the first week of the month. But, I can tell you that in my 126 unit apartment deal, I will have $90,000 in rents coming in next month. Your 401k can’t tell you that and neither will your stock. What’s more, if a tornado swept in from the sky and took out that entire building, insurance would not only cover loss of rents but also give us the cash to rebuild that property.

My background is in engineering technology, so I understood the tech my friend was pitching and it’s really interesting, but it’s a somewhat risky proposition. I don’t know if any of my investors would want to invest in something like that – especially since they are looking for reliable and steady cash flow. Sure, a multifamily deal may not be as sexy as a Silicon Valley startup, but the assets we invest in are real and will be around for decades to come.

With that, I told my friend that I would have to pass on the tech venture and will stick to the slow and steady cash flow of multifamily real estate. As I said, it may not be as fun as venture capital investing or trading stocks, but everyone has different risk tolerances.

Anyway, do you think stocks are a safe bet? Let me know in the comments.

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