OPINION: Should You Invest In Real Estate or Stocks?

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Disclaimer: The below is not professional financial advice. This is my opinion on both real estate and stocks and you should do your own due diligence before making any investment decision.

Real estate is booming! The stock market is booming! What do I invest in?! Well it’s not that clear of an answer because there is no right answer. You could be like me and invest in both, that works! Or you could only invest in stocks, that’s okay! Only real estate properties? Sure! The bottom line is there is no right answer to investing, as long as you make appropriate decisions, do your due diligence and have a plan. We’ll talk about investing in both real estate and stocks, some pros and cons of both and what I currently am doing. *Plot twist I already said I invest in both lol!

Real Estate Investments

So you’re thinking about investing in a rental property huh? There are a number of ways to invest in real estate. In fact, I have a whole post about it! We’ll focus on physical real estate rentals for now since they are the most similar to stocks in my opinion. There are a lot of factors that go into making the conscious decision to buy an investment property. Here are some of the things you have to think about when wondering if you want to buy an investment property:

  • Do I have enough cash? (25% down payment if you’re not living in the property)
  • Do I have enough money for potential renovations?
  • Do I want to go through the home buying process?
  • Do I like dealing with people?
  • Do I want to become a landlord?

These are probably some of the first questions you should ask yourself when looking to buy an investment property. Don’t just buy one because someone you know has one or someone said you should. If you’re hearts not in the game, don’t play it. We have enough bad landlords out there that make us look bad. Anyway ask yourself, is this really for me and is this something I want to do? Here are some pros and cons to investing in rental properties.

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Pros:

  • Instant Cash Flow – Since the idea of investing in rental properties is for your rental income to exceed the monthly mortgage payments, you’d be receiving instant cash every month from the rental income you earn. It can be $200/month per property or even $1,000/month per property, either way if your numbers are correct, you’ll be making money each month passively
  • Building Equity – While you are collecting rental income that pays off your mortgage you will also be building equity on the home. What does that mean? It means the more you pay off your mortgage, the more your home becomes an asset rather than a liability. This also means you can use the equity you gain on your home via Equity Loans or Home Equity Line of Credit. These two options give you the opportunity to have access to cash if you need it.
  • Fulfillment of owning something! – It feels great to own something, even rental property. It gives you a sense of pride that this is yours and you will work to maintain what is yours. I am so proud I was able to get my first investment property that I am househacking with the bear since November 2019 and I can’t wait to own my 2nd one!
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Cons

  • With great power comes great responsibility. You will be responsible for everything that goes on in the property. Sometimes it can be the roof or the boiler or the hot water heater. Shoot, it can be all three! There are enormous amounts of risks when buying an investment property. This con is everything is your responsibility
  • Need for enormous amounts of cash – Where I live in Northern NJ, houses are expensive. We’re talking like $400,000 minimum for a 2 family home. That means if you want pure investment property, you have to put down at least a down payment of 25% or $100,000 and this is before closing costs which average over $10,000 in NJ! If you decide to live in the property, your starting costs can be as low was $14,000 for a $400,000 property before closing costs. Essentially you need money to make money in real estate unless you go the creative financing route.
  • Dealing With Tenants – Dealing with tenants aren’t always the smoothest process. Things happen, rent doesn’t get paid, whole situations happen where you can get bit in the a** with a bad tenant. This is common whether it’s the landlord or tenants fault. It’s not always bad to deal with tenants, but this can be a huge con.

Stocks

Stocks are a whole topic in itself so I’m going to limit this to just talking about buying stocks in general. Stocks are a great way of generating wealth and you can do it in the comfort of your own home, on your bed and on your phone now too! Investing in the stock market has become so easily available, you can start with as little as $1 on apps like Robinhood! Now before investing in stocks, you may want to ask yourself these questions before proceeding:

  • I am okay with potentially losing 100% of the money I put in? Doesn’t typically happen, but it can.
  • Do I have a plan on what stocks to buy?
  • Am I okay with seeing my account be negative one day but positive another day?
  • Am I looking to buy stock and hold it or buy and sell to make a quick buck?
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These are valid questions you have to ask before investing in stocks. It’s important to understand the risks, have a plan of execution, execute that plan and be consistent. If you are new to buying stocks and are looking for a quick gain on the market, you’re most likely going to lose that money. You’re not investing at that point, you’re day trading. If you’re not a seasoned or experienced trader, I recommend you not buy that penny stock and hope it goes up to $10/share. Chances are you’ll be waiting for a long long time and miss out on a lot of great investments (I certainly sure did). I highly recommend buying, holding and keep buying stocks, which means rarely ever selling your stocks until you’re at an age of retirement when you may need the money. Here are some pros and cons to investing in stocks:

Pros:

  • Low Start Up Cost – Like I said, you can start with as little as $1 now a days! Small time investors like myself can start with little money and let it grow over time. Technology certainly is amazing for now we are able to invest right on our smartphones! Try out Robinhood today!
  • Accessibility – Now a days you only need as little as a smart phone or a computer with internet to begin investing in stocks. It doesn’t require a lot of physical work and working with people like real estate. You literally can do everything yourself and how you like! The power is all yours.
  • The Stock Market Grows – Let me as you this, when was the last time the stock market hit an all time high? 2021. When was the last time the stock market hit an all time low? 1932 at the lowest of The Great Depression. Although past performance in the stock market does not dictate future performance, the stock market has grown and continues to grow. We may suffer downturns and the market can drop, but it will find its way back up over time. If you’re in it for the long haul (20-30+ years), then you have nothing to worry about.

Cons:

  • Researching Stocks – It takes a lot of research if you want to choose individual stock unless you decide to invest in ETFs or Index Funds. You will need basic understanding of the companies you research and analyze if their company will grow over time. Of course, investing in ETFs or Index Funds are easier, a big con of investing in stocks is you need financial literacy and knowledge of the companies you are looking to invest in. If that is something you do not want to deal with, investing in ETFs and/or Index Funds are an alternative. Which still requires some research, but way less than picking individual company stocks.
  • Lack of Control – As a shareholder of a company, you have no control over the value or performance of the stock. This is why research is important. A stock can be worth $100/share today but tomorrow some bad news comes out, the CEO steps down or performance goes down and now that stock is worth $50/share, you just lost half the value you bought the stock at! This is a huge con to investing in stocks, you have no control.
  • Emotions Can Lead To Losses – If you’re trying to chase stocks and you decide to keep buying and selling stocks to make some quick cash, you’re going to slip and lose your money. I don’t care what your pride says or what your ego says, you will lose money if you aren’t careful with stocks. This is a con with buying stocks, you can get lost in it physiologically and eventually lose all your money. If you think of buying stocks as gambling, you’re not ready to buy stocks. Buying and selling on emotion can be your downfall.
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Both real estate and stocks at the end of the day are both great wealth building vehicles that can work out if you invest in one or both. For me, I invest in both and here is why:

I invest in both real estate rentals and stocks because I like the quick cash flow I receive from rental properties and I like the growth of both real estate and stocks for the long term. Stocks give me the opportunity to invest for my eventual early retirement, while rental properties will provide me the wealth to sustain my retirement (in addition to the cash flow). It’s the best of both worlds because both will generate income and wealth and will hopefully be passed on to my next generation. I like to stay diversified in a sense that all my eggs aren’t only in stocks or real estate. Stocks may be down in 2022 but real estate is booming or vice versa. Either way, I believe investing in both will give ME the best opportunity to retire early and live the best life I can live.

What do you prefer to invest in?

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