Home Page > HOME > FEATURES INDEX Google Search
WHY INVEST IN REAL ESTATE OR PROPERTY
Why real estate or why property, some people ask when looking for an investment. Well, as far as I am concerned, real estate/property investment is, and always has been, the most powerful type of investment for building wealth. It has been said that over 90% of the world's millionaires got there by owning property. The reason property is such a powerful way to build wealth is due to one key concept: leverage.

Once I realised this, I didn't look back. Now if you are an experienced investor this may be obvious, but for the benefit of those who haven't seen the light, let me explain ... Leverage is your ability to magnify your returns by using other peoples' money (in this case, it's usually the bank's money).

To give a clear example, say you have 20,000 to invest. This can be a lump sum or by releasing equity in your main residency.

So what is the best way of investing this money?

Option 1 Stick it in your local bank by some considered the safest option, "at least you can't lose it, and you get some guaranteed increase in value" usually goes the argument.

Money in the Bank - assumed return: 4%
Now 20,000
1 Year 20,800
5 Years 24,333
10 Years 29,605

As you can see, after 10 years, you've made virtually no progress at all, especially when you consider the effects of tax and inflation.

Option 2 Stocks and Shares Now over the last 10 years, although admittedly not in last 4 years, the stock market has been very popular. However I cannot accept it is a better bet. When I read that the stock market is a better bet over the next 2 years as will go up by 15% a year, as opposed to the property market that may go up by 5% a year this does not take leverage into account and so paints a very distorted picture!!

And I will show you why. It's hard to say what sort of return you might get on the stockmarket, but let's say you get 12% a year for the next 10 years - very unlikely, but let's just go with this. So if you could beat the odds and get a 12% return every year ......

Money in the Stockmarket - assumed return: 12%
Now 20,000
1 Year 22,400
5 Years 35,247
10 Years 62,117

Now that's a big increase on sticking the money in the bank, but clearly is not guaranteed. But can you do better?? I think you know what I'm going to say?!

Option 3 Property

One of the great things about property is it enables you to leverage the ?20,000 to purchase a ?100,000 investment property (in other words, borrow the remaining ?80,000 from the bank). Now say the property market slows down to an average of only 6% return for the next 10 years. This would probably be a fair estimate in the UK, although there are plenty of markets which are growing more rapidly, lets concentrate on UK for this example.

Money in Property - assumed return: 6%
Now 20,000 (100,000 property value 80,000 mortgage)
1 Year 26,000 (106,000 property value 80,000 mortgage)
5 Years 53,823 (133,823 property value 80,000 mortgage)
10 Years 99,085 (179,085 property value 80,000 mortgage)

Make sense? So you make 6% increase on the full value of the property, not just the 20,000 which you initially had. This is the power of leverage. In effect you have increased your initial investment 5 fold in 10 years! So even if the stock market increases by twice as much per annum as the property market over the next 10 years, you can make far more money from property.

Now for simplification, I have not included lawyers' fees, agents' fees or stamp duty. Admittedly buying a property has more additional costs than buying shares, but this would not make a significant difference on your profits - around 4% in the UK, higher overseas.

One thing to point out is that in the short term you have greatly increased your potential loss i.e. if the property went down by 10% in value, you would lose more of your initial investment, because the property value would go down to 90,000, you still owe the bank 80,000, so you now have 10,000. In comparison if the stock market dropped by 10%, your investment would be worth 18,000, as only lose 10% of 20,000.

However over a length of time, using leverage to good effect and using all the other skills you need when buying property, property is by far the best investment, for the majority of individuals.

The figures I have used have been very conservative, many individuals are making far more than this on property, whereas anyone making the same returns on the stock market, will generally be benefiting from some sort of insider dealing or be very high up in the company, I would imagine!

Alan Forsyth is a full time property investor and developer with 10 years experience in UK and overseas. He is managing director of http://www.property-investment-tips.com (Dead link 2012) and http://www.property-investment-deals.com (Dead link 2012) , which offers free independent advice and tips on property investment, courses, countries, strategies, mortgages and much more - with a free newsletter every 2 weeks giving latest tips and offers to over 1500 investors, and instant alerts when the best deals come out.
Sign up today at both sites for free independent advice and alerts for the best deals - which often go within 48 hours!

Posted 21Mar05