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How to Invest in Real Estate With No Money (Seriously!)

Brandon Turner
3 min read
How to Invest in Real Estate With No Money (Seriously!)

Years ago, I was trying to buy a piece of real estate. It was a triplex that needed a bit of work done to it, but the numbers were solid, and I knew it would make a great deal.

But I had a problem—I had no money.

So I gave up, thinking it was impossible. Instead, I sat on the couch watching reruns of Friends.

No, not really. What I did was asked the right questions and was able to find a solution: a partnership. 

Here I’ll explain how to use a partnership to invest in real estate using no money of your own. 

Related: 5 Top Tips for Creating a Mutually Beneficial Real Estate Partnership

How to Use a Partnership to Invest in Real Estate Using No Money of Your Own

Finding a good partner to help fund a deal is one of the best ways to finance a piece of real estate. It’s also one that many investors without a lot of cash begin with.

Partnerships work great because of something we call the “deal delta.”

To put together a real estate deal, three things are required:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Hustle
  3. Money

Playing to Your Strengths

But here’s the thing—all three don’t need to be provided by YOU. Instead, partners can make up the difference for what you lack.

For example, you might bring the hustle and the knowledge, but a partner can bring the money. Now you have all the parts needed for a deal to happen!

So back to my story. This triplex came on the market in my area, and I immediately jumped at the opportunity. But I didn’t have any money, and I didn’t even have a W-2 job. In other words, I had no ability to fund the deal.

This is where most people would simply give up. Alternatively, I asked myself the all-important question, “How do I get this deal done?”

The answer I stumbled upon was to bring in a partner.

I spoke with some friends of mine from church—of all places—who I had known for many years and knew shared an interest in real estate. This couple both worked stable, government jobs, had good income, and had excellent credit. What they didn’t have was TIME!

They wanted to get into real estate but lacked the time (or “hustle”) needed to complete the deal delta. So, I proposed a solution. If they could come up with the $35,000 needed for the down payment, I would take care of the rest.

I would bring the knowledge and the hustle; they would bring the cash. We’ve owned this deal now for almost six years, and each year we save up our cash flow until the end of the year, then split everything evenly—50/50.

Splitting the Profits

On average, we’ve each earned around $5,000 per year (that’s over $400 per month each) in profit from this deal. In addition, we now have about $100,000 in equity in the property, which someday we’ll split and likely turn into future (larger) deals.

That is the power of a partnership when funding deals. And the cool thing is I did the deal for no money down. None.

When I tell this story, there are two completely opposite responses I get:

  1. Why in the world would this partner agree to losing 50 percent when they are bringing all the money?! Why wouldn’t they just do it themselves and get 100%?
  2. Why would you, Brandon, be so generous to give someone 50 percent just for bringing the money? You found the deal, negotiated it, managed the rehab, and manage the property on a continual basis to make sure it produces a profit. They don’t have to do anything but write a check!

Funny how those two responses are completely opposite from each other, and one’s response is based on their predefined opinions of what “value” is being brought. After all, I could not do the deal without their cash. They could not do the deal without my hustle and knowledge.

To me, that’s a perfect partnership. So we split it 50/50. But it doesn’t have to be 50/50. Your partnership can be whatever you’ve defined it to be, based on how you and your partner view the value each party is bringing.

Finally, keep in mind that a partnership is like a marriage. When it’s good, it’s REALLY good. But when it’s bad, it’s REALLY bad.

So take the time needed to find and vet your potential partner. Don’t jump into bed with the first person who wants to work with you. Find someone who fits with your style, goals, and ambitions.

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.