I bought my first rental property in 2010 and I admit it was much easier to buy rentals that cash flowed back. At least it was easier in my area in Northern Colorado. A lot of people wish they could go back in time to buy investment properties (me included) but no one has invented a time machine yet. Wishing for the impossible will do you no good. Since we have to live in reality can you still make money in today’s market with rental properties?
Why is it harder to buy rental properties in 2024?
It is harder to invest in real estate in 2024 due to multiple factors.
- Interest rates are much higher than they have been for decades. High-interest rates are making it tougher on everyone in real estate. The high rates make it harder to cash flow no matter what prices are. They also make it harder to refinance properties which can be a big part of investing in rentals.
- Housing prices are higher than they have ever been. Now, in most markets housing prices will always be higher than they ever have been, that is how the economy and inflation works. However, prices are still high and that makes it tough to buy rentals that make money.
- There is record low inventory in most areas of the country. When there are fewer homes for sale it makes it harder to find deals which is what most real estate investors are looking for.
- Many areas of the country are enacting tenant-friendly laws that make it harder on landlords. Rent control, free attorneys for tenants, no-cause evictions are all making it harder on landlords.
- There is a growing ideology claiming landlords are evil and hurting society because they raise prices and take housing away from owner-occupants.
It is important to know that even though these things make it harder for real estate investors trying to buy now, rising prices have made many existing real estate investors very rich. Landlords also help the housing market, they do not hurt it.
How do you make money with rentals in today’s market?
I hope I did not scare everyone off with the doom and gloom of the last section of this article. However, there are still ways to make money with real estate in today’s market. How do you make money with rentals?
- High interst rates make it tougher to make money but they are coming down and they should continue to decrease over the next couple of years. Real estate investors have made money with higher rates for decades even if it is harder to do so.
- Housing prices are higher but there are still good deals out there. There will always be good deals no matter how high prices are. The key to investing in real estate is getting a good deal whether you or flipping or buying rentals. Good deals can make up for all of the other issues.
- While there are few houses for sale right now there are still houses and multifamilyl and commercial real estate for sale. Real estate investors also do not need to buy only properties that are for sale. There are also off-market deals that can be just as good or better than on-market deals.
- There are a lot of areas that are enacting more laws against landlords. However, there are still many areas that are landlord-friendly and I made list of the best states for landlords here.
It may be tougher to invest in real estate now than ten years ago but it is still definitely possible to make money with rental properties.
What strategies can you use today to make money in real estate?
It might not work to buy a single-family house in Denver or Seattle or Miami as a rental anymore if you want it to cash flow. While it might not work in every city there are still many areas where you can make money with single-family homes. There are also different strategies you can use to make money with real estate.
- Invest in different markets. Not every market will work for every real estate strategy. It is really hard to start out as an investor in an expensive market. There are many markets with affordable real estate and while it is not easy investing in a different market could be the route to take.
- Being a landlord may not be the right move for you right now. It is possible to flip houses and make money in some markets when you can’t make money with rentals in those markets.
- Switching to a different type of rental may help as well. I switched from single-family rentals to commerical real estate in 2016. I also added in some multifamily properties as well. They often cash flow better than single-family rentals in expensive markets.
- If you cannot afford to invest in your market, finding a partner may be another way to make real estate work in your area. Many people love to have their money in real estate but do not have the time to find the right investments.
While it is not easy to invest in real estate right now, it is rarely easy. Even when I bought my first rental properties many people (including those in the industry and in my family) told me I was an idiot. They told me the market would keep crashing and real estate would never come back. It was also tougher to get loans back then and there were not nearly as many educational sources about real estate either. I learned most of my strategies from reading books, some that were decades old that I hoped would still hold true when I was investing.
There is no perfect time to invest. The only way to know when the timing is perfect is years or decades after that time occurred. Waiting rarely works out but luckily there are many ways to invest in real estate even if rentals won’t work for you in your market right now. If you want to learn more about investing in other markets I put together a very detailed webinar on the subject you can watch below.