Mortgages & Creative Financing

The Guide to Investing in Real Estate with Limited Resources

Expertise: Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics, Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management, Real Estate Marketing, Mortgages & Creative Financing
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Every real estate investor has to start somewhere. And at the very beginning, we all have different levels of resources available to us. One of the best (and worst) things about the BiggerPockets community is the diversity of experience across the board with its users.

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There are so many investors of all levels that it can sometimes seem daunting for new investors. They can find great advice and plenty of tips, but what about when an investor is starting out with little-to-no resources?

Investing in real estate with limited resources can be a challenge—but it’s certainly possible!

Don’t Let Limited Finances Stop You

For those dreaming of success in real estate investing, know that financial freedom is not out of your reach simply because of your current financial situation. There are not only options available for you right now to start investing in real estate (even with limited finances), but also steps you can take to prepare your finances so that you have the best foundation possible for your investment future.

1. Private Money Lenders & Partnerships

private-money-fund-deals

Naturally, if you don’t have enough of your own money, there’s always the chance to leverage someone else’s! Convincing other people to take a chance on you isn’t always easy, especially when you’re just starting out. But friends, family, and even a good sales pitch may be able to help you land the capital you need to get going—even if it’s just enough for an initial down payment.

You may also consider going in with a partner. This could be someone with more finances, more experience, or just on equal footing who you can pool everything with. Working together can be enormously beneficial!

Both of these options have their downsides. Hard money can be expensive and come with huge consequences if something goes wrong. You may not lose your credit, but you could end up losing your investment and whatever capital you had at the beginning.

Partnerships are tricky too. I know a lot of investors who partner with family and friends. Some of those partnerships are excellent and others are a bit more complicated. If you have to partner, make sure you have set clear terms of the partnership before you begin. This will make it much easier if you find you want to go your separate ways after a deal or two.

Related: How to Get Started in Real Estate with Less Than $1,000

2. Crowdfunding

The concept of crowdfunding has opened up a whole new world of access for real estate investors. Not only do investors have access to markets that were once far out of reach, but now can often get involved in projects for as little as $5,000! That’s a low barrier to entry compared with traditional real estate investments. Though crowdfunding isn’t foolproof, it may be an option for investors with limited resources.

The downsides to crowdfunding should be obvious. If you use this method, you'll most likely be passively investing and will be pooled. You'll have no title claim; and while this may be a great way to build your capital over time, it is no way to build assets or wealth. It's a passive investment, but it could be a great step to build toward bigger things!

3. FHA Purchases

Pretty much everyone who doesn’t already have the finances to make a down payment on a house may struggle to come up with that traditional 20 percent figure. But never fear—there are alternatives out there.

An FHA loan is a government-backed mortgage that allows for your down payment to be as low as 3.5 percent. There are rules governing this type of loan, naturally. But it’s certainly an option to look into to see if you qualify.

How Not to Invest in Real Estate with Limited Finances

1. Buying Cheap Properties

When finances are limited, our first instinct is to look for cheaper properties. That seems like a good idea. But I’m telling you, It’ll just hurt your investment future in the long run. Cheap properties are rarely worth it when it comes to ROI, the headaches, and the rent they bring in. As attractive as they may initially seem, the numbers rarely work out.

Don’t fall for the trap of snapping up bottom-of-the-barrel properties just because you can’t afford something better. Wait until you can buy something you can be proud of—something that will give you good returns. In my opinion, it is always better to invest passively—even if it means putting your money in the stock market above buying cheap properties.

Unless, that is, you want to get your hands dirty every week with your investments. If you’re willing to put the time in and deal with the aggravation of managing your investments, then low-price, cheap properties may be a great way to build your resources. This could pay off for future investments.

There’s an abundance of cheap, run-down properties in every major city. In the Midwest, cheap means $10,000-$50,000. And these properties are everywhere. If you don’t mind putting in the hard work, these investments may pay off. If you are looking at a passive investment, save the time and the headache and most of all, save your money!

rental-property-expenses

2. Cutting Corners

By the same token, even if you do have the resources to buy a great property, you shouldn’t if you don’t have the resources to properly care for that property (maintain, renovate, manage, etc.). It may be tempting to start cutting corners, but don’t do it. After all, you’ll have to make sacrifices if your finances demand it.

Be careful! There are some things that seem like maybe you could do without them—or go with something cheaper—but don’t be fooled. Quality services are always going to outweigh the costs saved. They’re worth the investment.

Extra Money Strategies for Real Estate Investing

When you actually look at your numbers, investing in real estate very well may not be realistic right now—especially if you’re young. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can’t do to prepare for a future of successful investing. While these two points are obvious, they’re crucial and too often ignored. Don’t make this mistake.

Protect Your Credit Score & Pay Off Your Debts

Your credit score is your reputation. Guard it well! Build up good credit, make payments early, and keep track of your spending. Take all of the little steps you can to build your credit score and protect yourself from the blemishes that can set you back for years.

Dealing with outstanding debts such as mortgages, car payments, or lingering student loans? Paying off your debts quickly and focusing on them sooner rather than later is going to keep you from paying extra interest while keeping you on the track toward financial freedom. Work out a payment plan that prioritizes eliminating debt from your life so that you can fully enjoy the benefits of your investments.

Related: 4 Steps to Finally Tackle Your Debt—and Start Growing Real Wealth

Practice Patience

Investing in real estate is often a numbers game: working out logistics, risks and rewards, and ultimately, deciding what makes the most sense for your goals. When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to make poor choices because your options feel limited. Practice patience.

If you really want to succeed in real estate and your only real hurdle is the funds, then there will eventually be a solution. It often takes exercising patience and maybe making a few alternative investments until you are ready for the big play.

Lastly, cheap never works and quality always wins. Always! Make sure you don’t compromise on quality: If you need to shift gears and change your strategy in order to have the quality properties and services your investment career needs, do that instead. You’ll be glad you did.

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What are the best tips you’ve given or have received on investing when money is tight?

Share with a comment below!

Chris Clothier began building his rental portfolio in 2003 as a successful entrepreneur looking to diversify his investments. He quickly gravitated toward passive investing, establishing a portfoli...
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    John Glaze from Ellijay, Georgia
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Chris, All good stuff whether one decides to follow or steer clear of what your doing. I really like the personal responses you give to each comment. I haven’t got started yet because I can’t find a deal that meets my criteria yet. I want to get a multi family property within an hour of where I live. There are zero on the MLS so I’m driving around and checking tax records to get phone numbers to call owners directly to try and find one interested in selling. There is no complete one size fits all way to do this. I appreciate all those who are doing it taking the time to write these articles for me and everyone else to read and learn either agreeing or not with the advice.
    Chris Clothier Rental Property Investor from memphis, TN
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Great response John and thanks for posting about where you are in your journey. I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment. Best of luck as you keep moving forward. Chris
    Eliseo Medrano
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Chris! SUCH A GREAT ARTICLE! This totally resonated with me because I’m in this exact situation right now. Just gonna do my best to cut expenses, pay my student loans off, and hustle some side gigs, learn as much as I can until i’m in that position to buy real estate! Thanks for the post!
    Chris Clothier Rental Property Investor from memphis, TN
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Eliseo, I love the drive! Hustle until those that tell you can’t are asking how you did. Be disciplined and you will do great. Right our what your perfect day in real estate looks like and read it as often as possible. Commit to taking all the steps you need to take to get there and live that day. Then, without even realizing it, you will look up with no debt and a world of options in front of you in real estate investing. Best of luck to you – Chris
    Chris Mylan Investor from Washington, DC
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I believe Moo brings up a few good points that people can get overwhelmed over – HOWEVER, how can you look at the abundance of information as all negative? Turn it around and think, “Hey, there’s a lot of strategies that have worked for a lot of people and it’s nice to get these different viewpoints/options.” Everyone is in a different point on this journey and individuals with 10 or 100 properties are in a much different position than individuals that are just starting out. Take the applicable info and use it to your advantage – DON’T complain about having too many viewpoints because you’ll probably need them later in your journey. Take the guidance and run with the information that applies to you and dump the information that does not. There’s plenty of ways to cook a steak and they all taste good to somebody.
    Chris Clothier Rental Property Investor from memphis, TN
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thanks for your comments, Chris. I appreciate your taking the time to read and share. BTW, I like my steak medium-rare. 🙂 Best to you, Chris