You work hard for your money, but does your money work hard for you? When you store your cash under your mattress (or in a bank if you aren't a weirdo), it will produce next to nothing. However, when you put money into an investment, your dollars go to work for you.
Plain and simple: Investing is how you become wealthy.
But what is the best "job" for your dollars? How can your money earn the most and offer the least risk? In my opinion, one investment stands head and shoulders above the rest: real estate.
Yes, real estate is subject to timing; and there are times when real estate is not the wisest investment. However, I believe that right now might be the greatest time to buy real estate that we'll see for another decade or longer. Here are seven reasons why.
1. Interest rates are incredibly low.
Although the "Brexit" scandle that just rocked the world and caused financial markets to tumble, there is one segment of investors who will benefit from the news: those with money tied up in real estate. Why? Two words: Interest rates. Low interest rates lead to low monthly payments, which is great for real estate investors looking to maximize their profits.
Interest rates, which have been at historically low levels for the past decade, have been slowly climbing over the past year, and until recently, most analysts believed that a series of rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve was coming soon. But, with the shaky markets, the opposite has happened: Interest rates have dropped. According to a recent article, "The probability of a federal funds rate hike at the Fed’s next three monthly meetings has collapsed to 0 percent, and traders are assigning a less than 8 percent chance of a rate increase at all this year."
Several years from now, we'll look back and say, "Remember back in 2016 when you could get a mortgage under 4 percent? Those were the days!"
2. Banks are lending once again.
In the collapse of the real estate market in 2007 and 2008, many banks tightened their lending standards to such a degree that obtaining a mortgage became next to impossible for many Americans. However, gradually over the past several years, banks have once again begun opening their vaults and relaxing their standards.
No, this doesn't mean you'll be able to obtain a 125 percent loan-to-value mortgage with no money down based only on "your signature," as you may have done during the mid-2000s, but if you have a job and decent credit, obtaining a fixed-rate loan shouldn't be impossible.
3. Prices are reasonable.
Yes, real estate prices have climbed significanlty from their 2011 and 2012 lows. However, for those willing to hustle to find great deals, great deals can be found. This is especially true for investors who buy bank foreclosures. According to RealtyTrac, there were over 100,000 foreclosure filings in May of 2016, showing only a mild decrease over the past year.
For more on buying foreclosures, check out my article "How to Buy a Foreclosure: The Comprehensive Guide to Buying a Foreclosed Home."
4. Technology has made investing significantly easier.
In the "olden days," investing in real estate took a significant amount of driving around, talking to people, waiting, looking at hundreds of pages of documents and other difficult, time-consuming tasks. Today, technology has made investing in real estate significantly easier. For example:
- Advertising units is as simple as posting to Craigslist.
- Screening tenants can be done online through a number of screening services.
- Handyman and cleaning services can be ordered online.
- Tenants can pay rent online rather than in person.
- Your agent can set you up with automated email alerts for new listings.
- You can take virtual tours of neighborhoods using Google Street View
- You can invest in real estate passively through crowdfunding websites.
And so much more. Today, a real estate investor barely needs to leave the comfort of home to manage a portfolio of rental properties, thanks to technology.
5. Knowledge is free.
In the past, real estate knowledge was primarily taught by "get-rich-quick" gurus who traveled the country charging outrageous fees (up to $100,000) for "secret knowledge." While this practice is still common, the internet has democratized learning in a way that makes real estate investing education completely free.
There are thousands of blog posts, ebooks, podcasts, forums and more sources that help real estate investors connect. BiggerPockets.com, where I spend my nine-to-five, is a good example. Millions of new and experienced investors come to our platform monthly to learn and grow as investors -- for free.
6. Your job is unstable.
While you might think you have a stable job, job security is not what it once was. Employers are all too happy to let go of hundreds or thousands of employees just so the price-per-share might increase a few percentage points. Efficiency is the name of the game, and your job might be on the chopping block.
Today, the best job security is enjoyed by those who take an active interest in gaining skills and knowledge that can be used elsewhere. Real estate investing is one of the greatest ways to gain financial independence so your job can become optional rather than required.
7. Ten years from now you'll wish you had started today
Finally, let's talk about the big one: Investing takes time. I'm not promising you that tomorrow you'll be rich if you start investing in real estate today. But I am telling you that in ten years you will likely look back at 2016 and say, "Why didn't I start back then?"
As previously noted, we are now at a unique point in history where real estate investing just makes sense. Wait too long and you'll miss out.
Of course, I'm not telling you that any piece of real estate is going to make sense. You still need to understand what you are doing. You still need to do the math correctly. You still need to hustle to find the 1-in-100 deals that actually makes sense.
But for those willing to do the work? The timing couldn't be better.