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Everything You Need to Know About Alternative Real Estate Investing

Everything you need to know about alternative real estate investing 

Real estate investment has long been considered a lucrative venture for building wealth and securing financial stability. Traditionally, investing in real estate often involved purchasing physical properties, managing tenants, and handling maintenance tasks. However, advancements in technology and financial innovation have opened new avenues for individuals to participate in real estate investment without the need to buy property directly.

If you want to get into real estate without diving in headfirst and buying physical property, we have outlined some creative alternative investment methods.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Owning rental properties can be a profitable endeavor, but it comes with its fair share of challenges. From property management to dealing with unexpected repairs, being a landlord requires time, effort, and capital. For those seeking a more hands-off approach, investing indirectly in rental properties through real estate investment trusts (REITs) or crowdfunding platforms offers an attractive alternative.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are companies that own, operate, or finance income-producing real estate across a range of property sectors. These sectors can include residential, commercial, industrial, retail, or even specialized properties like healthcare facilities or data centers.

REITs offer investors the opportunity to invest in real estate without directly owning or managing properties themselves. Instead, investors can buy shares or units of REITs, which are traded on major stock exchanges, similar to stocks.

There are several key characteristics of REITs:

Income Generation

REITs are required by law to distribute a significant portion of their income (usually around 90%) to shareholders in the form of dividends. This can make them attractive for income-seeking investors.


Unlike traditional real estate investments, which can be illiquid and require significant capital, REITs provide liquidity since they are traded on stock exchanges.


REITs typically own a diversified portfolio of properties across different sectors and geographic locations, reducing the risk associated with individual properties.


REITs are subject to regulatory requirements that mandate financial reporting and transparency, providing investors with greater visibility into their operations and performance.

Tax Advantages

REITs are generally exempt from corporate income taxes if they distribute a certain percentage of income to shareholders. This tax-advantaged structure can enhance returns for investors.

Investing in REITs can be suitable for a variety of investors, including those seeking income, diversification, and exposure to the real estate market without the hassles of property management. However, like any investment, REITs come with their own risks, including interest rate sensitivity, economic downturns, and sector-specific risks.

Before investing in REITs, investors should carefully consider their investment objectives, risk tolerance, and conduct thorough research to understand the specific REIT's strategy, portfolio, and potential risks and rewards.

Real Estate Crowd Funding

Real estate crowdfunding is a method of raising capital for real estate projects through the collective effort of a large number of individuals, typically via online platforms. This approach allows investors to pool their resources to invest in real estate opportunities that may otherwise be inaccessible to them individually.

Here's how real estate crowdfunding generally works:

Platform Selection

Investors choose a crowdfunding platform that aligns with their investment goals, risk tolerance, and preferences. These platforms vary in terms of the types of real estate projects they offer, minimum investment amounts, and geographic focus.

Project Selection

Once registered on the platform, investors can browse through various real estate investment opportunities listed. These opportunities can include residential properties, commercial buildings, development projects, and more.

Due Diligence

Investors conduct their due diligence or rely on the platform's vetting process to evaluate the potential risks and returns associated with each investment opportunity. This may involve analyzing property details, financial projections, market trends, and the track record of the project sponsor.


Investors decide how much capital they want to invest in a particular project and commit their funds through the crowdfunding platform. The platform aggregates these investments until the project's funding goal is met.

Project Execution

Once the funding target is reached, the project sponsor (typically a real estate developer or company) proceeds with the acquisition, development, or renovation of the property. Investors receive updates on the project's progress through the platform.

Returns Distribution

As the project generates income or appreciates in value, investors receive returns proportional to their investment. These returns can come in the form of rental income, capital gains upon property sale, or periodic distributions.

Exit Strategy

Depending on the nature of the investment, investors may have the opportunity to exit their positions at predetermined points, such as property sale or refinance. The timing and method of exit can vary depending on the specific terms of each investment.

Real estate crowdfunding offers several potential benefits, including diversification of investment portfolios, access to previously inaccessible real estate markets, and the ability to invest with relatively lower capital compared to traditional real estate investing. However, it also comes with risks, including the potential for loss of principal, lack of liquidity, and regulatory uncertainties.

Before participating in real estate crowdfunding, investors should carefully evaluate the opportunities, understand the associated risks, and consider consulting with financial and legal professionals for advice tailored to their individual circumstances.

Real Estate Partnership

A real estate partnership is a business arrangement where two or more individuals or entities come together to invest in and manage real estate properties. In such a partnership, each partner contributes capital, expertise, or both, to acquire, develop, or manage real estate assets with the goal of generating profits.

Key aspects of a real estate partnership include:

Roles and Responsibilities

Partners may have different roles and responsibilities based on their expertise and contributions. For instance, one partner may handle property management, another may focus on financing, while others may be involved in acquisition or development.

Capital Contributions

Each partner typically contributes capital to the partnership for purchasing properties, covering operational expenses, or funding renovations and improvements.

Profit Sharing

Profits generated from the real estate investments are distributed among the partners according to the terms agreed upon in the partnership agreement. This could be based on the percentage of capital contributed or other arrangements.

Decision Making

Partners must make important decisions collectively, unless the partnership agreement designates decision-making authority to specific partners or a management team.

Legal Structure

Real estate partnerships can take various legal forms, such as general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships (LLPs), or limited liability companies (LLCs). The choice of legal structure affects taxation, liability, and governance.


Partnerships may be formed for a specific real estate project or for a longer-term investment strategy. Some partnerships dissolve after completing a particular project, while others may continue to invest in multiple properties over an extended period.

Exit Strategy

Partners should establish clear guidelines for exiting the partnership, which may include selling the properties, buying out one partner's share, or dissolving the partnership altogether.

Real estate partnerships offer several advantages, including shared risk, access to additional capital and expertise, and the ability to diversify investments. However, they also require effective communication, trust, and alignment of goals among the partners to ensure the success of the partnership and its real estate ventures.

Building a Diversified Portfolio in Alternative Real Estate Investment

Building a diversified portfolio in alternative real estate investment is essential for managing risk, stabilizing income, and much more. By spreading investments across different types of real estate assets, investors can enhance their risk-adjusted returns and achieve long-term financial success.

The following areas are critically important when diversifying your portfolio:

  • Risk Management: Diversification helps mitigate risk by spreading investments across different types of real estate assets. Alternative real estate investments, such as commercial properties, multifamily units, storage facilities, and industrial spaces, have varying degrees of sensitivity to market fluctuations. By diversifying, investors reduce the impact of any single property's underperformance on their overall portfolio.
  • Income Stability: Different types of real estate assets generate income in different ways and may be affected by economic cycles differently. For instance, while commercial properties may rely on lease income, multifamily units generate rental income from tenants. By investing in a mix of these assets, investors can stabilize their income stream, even if one sector experiences a downturn.
  • Capital Preservation: Diversification helps protect capital by reducing exposure to any single real estate market or property type. If one segment of the real estate market experiences a decline, other segments may remain stable or perform well, thereby offsetting losses and preserving capital.
  • Access to Growth Opportunities: Alternative real estate investments offer access to niche markets and emerging trends that may provide attractive growth opportunities. By diversifying across different types of alternative real estate, investors can capitalize on these trends and potentially enhance portfolio returns.
  • Liquidity Management: Building a diversified portfolio in alternative real estate investments allows investors to manage liquidity effectively. While some assets may be illiquid and require a longer investment horizon, others may offer more liquidity, providing flexibility in portfolio management and capital allocation.
  • Portfolio Optimization: Diversification enables investors to optimize their portfolios by allocating capital to assets with different risk-return profiles. By balancing risk and return across various real estate investments, investors can achieve their financial objectives while minimizing overall portfolio volatility.

Due Diligence in Alternative Real Estate Investment

Regardless of the type of alternative real estate investment, the due diligence process is necessary so that you can make informed decisions and maximize potential returns from your investments Due diligence typically involves the following key steps:

  • Market Analysis: Evaluate the macroeconomic factors, local market dynamics, supply and demand trends, regulatory environment, and demographic factors that could impact the investment.
  • Financial Analysis: Review the historical financial performance, revenue streams, expenses, occupancy rates, lease terms, debt structure, and cash flow projections of the underlying assets.
  • Legal and Regulatory Review: Conduct a thorough examination of legal documents, contracts, permits, zoning regulations, environmental assessments, and any potential legal liabilities associated with the investment.
  • Physical Inspection: Inspect the physical condition of the property or asset, including its structural integrity, maintenance history, potential environmental risks, and compliance with building codes.
  • Management and Operational Assessment: Evaluate the quality of the property management team, operational efficiency, tenant relationships, marketing strategies, and any potential operational risks.
  • Risk Assessment: Identify and assess various risks such as market risk, credit risk, liquidity risk, operational risk, regulatory risk, and geopolitical risk, and develop mitigation strategies accordingly.
  • Exit Strategy: Determine the exit options available for the investment, including potential sale, refinancing, or holding to maturity, and assess the feasibility and potential returns of each strategy.

Remember, it’s crucial to engage qualified professionals such as real estate attorneys, appraisers, inspectors, and financial advisors to ensure a comprehensive assessment of all relevant factors.

Tax Considerations and Legalities

Investing in alternative real estate assets can present unique tax considerations and legalities compared to more traditional forms of real estate investment like residential or commercial properties. Here are some key factors to consider:

Tax Implications

  • Depreciation: Different types of alternative real estate investments may have varying depreciation schedules. Understanding how depreciation affects your taxes is crucial.
  • Passive Activity Loss Rules: Depending on the structure of your investment (e.g., through a limited partnership or LLC), you may be subject to passive activity loss rules, which limit your ability to deduct losses against other income.
  • Tax Treatment of Income: Income from alternative real estate investments may be taxed differently than traditional rental income. For example, income from a real estate investment trust (REIT) is typically taxed at the investor's ordinary income tax rate.
  • 1031 Exchanges: Like traditional real estate investments, certain alternative real estate investments may qualify for a 1031 exchange, allowing you to defer capital gains taxes by reinvesting the proceeds into a similar investment.

Legal Considerations

  • Regulatory Compliance: Alternative real estate investments, such as crowdfunding platforms or syndications, may be subject to securities regulations. It's essential to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
  • Ownership Structure: The legal structure of the investment (e.g., partnership, LLC, corporation) can have significant implications for liability protection and taxation. Consulting with legal professionals is advisable to determine the most appropriate structure for your investment.
  • Due Diligence: Conduct thorough due diligence on the investment opportunity, including reviewing legal documents, financial statements, and any potential regulatory issues.
  • Risk Factors: Alternative real estate investments often involve higher risks compared to traditional investments. Understanding and mitigating these risks through proper legal frameworks and documentation is essential.
  • Exit Strategies: Have clear exit strategies in place, including provisions for selling your investment interest or liquidating the asset if necessary. Legal agreements should outline procedures for exits to avoid disputes among investors.

Professional Advice

  • Tax Advisor: Consult with a tax advisor who specializes in real estate investments to ensure you understand the tax implications of your investment strategy fully.
  • Legal Counsel: Engage experienced real estate attorneys to review legal documents, structure transactions, and ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
  • Financial Planner: Work with a financial planner to integrate your alternative real estate investments into your overall investment portfolio and financial plan.

In summary, investing in alternative real estate assets requires careful consideration of tax implications, legal structures, and regulatory compliance. Seeking professional advice from tax advisors, attorneys, and financial planners can help navigate these complexities and maximize the potential benefits of your investment.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When considering alternative real estate investments, there are several common mistakes investors should avoid:

  • Lack of Due Diligence: Failing to thoroughly research and understand the investment opportunity, including market trends, property condition, potential risks, and projected returns, can lead to unexpected losses.
  • Ignoring Liquidity Concerns: Alternative real estate investments often have limited liquidity compared to traditional assets like stocks or bonds. Investors should be aware of lock-up periods or potential difficulty in selling their investment if needed.
  • Overlooking Diversification: Putting too much capital into a single alternative real estate investment without diversifying across different properties or strategies can increase overall portfolio risk.
  • Underestimating Operating Costs: Some alternative real estate investments, such as owning rental properties or participating in real estate crowdfunding, come with ongoing operational expenses. Failing to account for these costs can diminish expected returns.
  • Neglecting Regulatory and Legal Considerations: Alternative real estate investments may involve complex legal structures or regulatory requirements. It's essential to understand and comply with these regulations to avoid potential legal issues or penalties.
  • Ignoring Exit Strategies: Having a clear exit strategy is crucial for alternative real estate investments. Without a plan for how and when to sell or liquidate the investment, investors may find themselves trapped in illiquid assets or unable to achieve their financial goals.
  • Falling for High-pressure Sales Tactics: Some alternative real estate investments may be promoted with aggressive sales tactics or unrealistic promises of high returns. Investors should be cautious and skeptical of any investment opportunity that seems too good to be true.
  • Not Considering Tax Implications: Alternative real estate investments can have unique tax implications, including depreciation, capital gains, and potential tax benefits such as deductions or credits. It's important to consult with a tax advisor to understand the tax implications of any investment.
  • Underestimating Risk: Alternative real estate investments often come with higher risk compared to traditional assets. Investors should carefully assess and mitigate risks associated with factors such as market volatility, property management, and economic downturns.
  • Ignoring Professional Advice: Seeking guidance from experienced real estate professionals, financial advisors, or legal experts can help investors navigate the complexities of alternative real estate investments and avoid common pitfalls.

Final Thoughts

Alternative real estate investing offers investors a compelling opportunity to diversify their portfolios and potentially enhance returns. By exploring alternative investment options such as REITs, crowdfunding platforms, and real estate partnerships, investors can gain exposure to the real estate market without the hassles of direct property ownership. While alternative real estate investments come with risks and challenges, thorough due diligence, careful risk management, and a long-term investment perspective can help investors navigate market uncertainties and achieve their financial goals.

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