Investing in Rental Properties

Over 90% of all millionaires have made their money through investing in real estate, and it is still considered the best investment today. 

It didn’t necessarily happen because they inherited some money or started investing when they were 18. Sometimes it’s a more relatable story like mine. 

Let’s rewind back to 2006. After reading Wealth Without Risk For Canadians by Charles J. Givens, I bought the condo that I was renting. Now I know that it’s probably rare that your landlord will simply sell you the place you’re renting, but as I learned from this book that you really don’t know unless you ask. 

Shortly after buying my condo, the market started to climb and so did the value of the condo. So I marched right on down to the bank and secured a homeowner line of credit against the equity I had already made.

It was around this time that I began reading Don R. Campbell’s Real Estate Investing For Canadians. This timeless book really helped me understand the basics of investing in rentals, how to analyze a property, calculate cash flow, the art of negotiation and so on. It is a book I highly recommend.

With my new found confidence, I used my line of credit plus a mortgage to make my first rental property purchase. It was a dumpy, dirty, ground-floor condo, but it already had a tenant and it cash-flowed. It also ended up being a nightmare tenant experience which included threatening letters and a seemingly endless eviction, but I learned a lot about managing rentals. A degree from the school of hard knocks.

I went on to buy more and more rental properties, then ran out of the ability to finance these places myself. It was then that I began to partner up with people I knew (coworkers, new acquaintances, my sister and so on) to buy a bunch more places. The investor-partner would put up the money and get the mortgage; I would source the property, provide a cash flow analysis, and manage the property and tenant. 

Fast-forward to today, and I still have some of these original properties. Others were sold, or renovated and flipped. I learned that there are a lot of ways to make money in real estate, but the best strategy for me was to buy and hold for 10+ years. These made the most money in cash-flow, mortgage paydown and equity. My investments continue to provide me with an income and the quality of life I enjoy.

Investing in rental properties is certainly not a fast way to make money, nor is it easy at times, but if done right, it can be profitable, rewarding and exciting.

Buying real estate has made me rich - mostly through necessity, not by design. I bought my first itty-bitty studio after scraping together a few bucks because I needed to live somewhere anyway. A few years later, the studio doubled in value, giving me enough cash to plunk down 50% on a one-bedroom apartment. That soon rolled into a two-bedroom, then a three-bedroom, and finally landed me in my 10-room penthouse on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Buying that tiny studio was the most important decision I made because it got me in the game.

Barbara Corcoran

Founder of The Corcoran Group & Shark and Executive Producer on ABC’s “Shark Tank”

The books that got me started

These books may be a bit older, but the fundamentals of investing and building wealth don’t change. I highly recommend these reads.

Learn more about investing

More articles coming soon.