How to Create Passive Income with Real Estate

Creating passive income is one of the most important steps towards retirement. Passive income is money that comes in without any work from you. Stock dividends, rental property income, interest on notes are all forms of passive income. Truly passive income is almost impossible to achieve, because every investment involves some sort of work. Stocks are fairly easy to buy, but still require research, while real estate is more difficult to buy, but can produce much higher returns.

I own 11 rental properties and they require a lot of work to buy, repair and rent. Once they are rented the rental properties become much more passive and my 11 rentals produce over $6,000 in monthly income. Real estate investments like REITs, turn-key rental properties and private money investing are much more passive investments, but they don’t produce as high of returns as I get. There is usually a trade-off on how much money you make on your investments versus how much work you are willing to do.

What is passive income?

Passive income is an incredible tool that everyone should include in their retirement plans. With traditional investing you have to rely on the stock market to increase your investments over time. The longer you have your money invested, the more your money will grow. The stock market does not produce passive income, except in the form of dividends. Most dividends are extremely small and produce small returns on investment. The bulk of stock market returns come from an increase in stock market prices. The only way to realize those increase in value is to sell stock. Retirement calculators that use the stock market as an investment plan on you running out of money when you die because you have to sell all your investments to keep bringing money in.

Here is an article that describes why real estate is a better investment than the stock market.

There are investments that will give you passive income that don’t involve you selling your investment.

  • Rental properties if bought right, produce cash flow every month. They keep producing cash flow as long as you own the property and you never have to sell the property. There are ways to invest in rental properties much more passively than I do.
  • REITs are real estate investment trusts and produce dividends like stocks, but usually pay out at a higher level. I don’t invest in REITs, because I feel they are more similar to stocks than an actual real estate investment.
  • Notes are loans that investors hold against business or property. When you pay your mortgage every month you are creating passive income for the bank. Investors can also buy notes, which create passive income every month as long as the notes are paid.
  • Private money is money that is given by a private investor to a business or investor and can have real estate used as collateral. Private money is similar to notes, but the loan was not originated with a bank.
  • Businesses can also produce passive income if they are set up correctly. if you have a team in place that can handle all the day-to-day activity and you collect checks, that is a pretty passive investment.

The great part about creating truly passive income is the money comes in every month without you having to sell your investment or worry about running out of money when you retire. The returns are also better for me with rental properties, because my cash flow is producing about a 20 percent cash on cash return and that does not even include equity pay down on my loans or appreciation. The appreciation on my rental properties is a bonus for me, while stock market investors are depending on it.

Why you should buy rental properties when you are young.

How can you create passive income from rental properties without as much work?

When I buy rental properties I spend a lot of time finding properties, getting them repaired (I use a contractor), getting a LLC put in place and getting them rented. I have my real estate team manage the properties for me, which greatly cuts down on my involvement after the house is ready to rent. Using a property manager is a great way to reduce the amount of time spent on rental properties, but it will cost you from eight to twelve percent of the monthly rents.

My rental properties are typically purchased from $80,000 to $135,000 and produce $1,200 to $1,500 in rent every month. Some properties need repairs and some are almost ready to rent when I buy them. I also buy my properties below market value, which has greatly increased my net worth over the last four years. The great thing about investing in real estate is my rents and income go up with inflation. The biggest challenge for most people who want to buy rentals is figuring out what is a good deal, what rents are and if they are making a good investment. I help people figure all of that out and save a lot of time with my Complete Blueprint to Successful Real Estate Investing.

Another way to reduce the work needed when buying rental properties is to buy turn-key properties. Turn-key rentals are already repaired, already rented and already managed by a property manager. Buying a turn-key rental property is as easy as talking to a turn-key rental property about what they have in inventory, picking one and setting up closing. I would still complete due diligence on any turn-key rental property provider to make sure they are a good company. I am considering buying a turn-key property myself and I discuss the process here.

When you buy a turn-key rental property you are saving a lot of time and work, by letting the turn-key company complete the repairs, find the property and manage the property. You are giving up equity in the property over buying one yourself, because you aren’t doing any of the work. You have to decide if the time you save is worth the equity you give up. Typical returns I have seen on turn-key properties have been in the 10 percent range.

How can you create passive income with private money investing?

Private money investing involves one investor with money, lending that money to another investor who needs the money. With real estate most private money is used to buy rental properties, fix and flips or even used by turn-key companies to fund their properties until they are sold to an investor. Private money usually is secured with a Deed of Trust against real estate, which provides more security than investing in the stock market. Returns on private money can be four percent or fifteen percent depending on the relationship between the investors and the risk involved.

The terms on private money loans can also vary from very short (a couple of months or even weeks) to years. Once the money is loaned to an investor the passive income will come in as long as the investor can meet their obligations. The work with private money lending comes in the beginning when choosing a private money lender and if the loan ever goes into default.

Here is an article with much more information on how to invest private money into real estate.

How to create passive income with notes

Notes are loans against properties that can also be used to create passive income. Most people assume the bank or mortgage company they get a loan with, keeps that loan. Most notes are sold to investors, usually as mortgage-backed securities on Wall Street. Some notes are sold to individual investors as either performing or non-performing. Performing notes mean the borrowers are making payments and non-performing meant the borrowers are behind or have stopped making payments. When you buy a note, you become the bank and start collecting payments every month. There is a lot of money to be made with performing and no performing notes and they are a great way to create passive income.

It will take work to learn about the not buying process and how to service a note. There are companies that help with the entire process and programs that teach the ins and outs of note buying. Here is a great website dedicated to note buying.

How to create passive income with a business?

I run a real estate team that sells houses. I have eight people on my team and many of them are real estate agents. I also have assistants and contract managers who help with paper work and the ins and outs of the business. I sell houses myself (mostly REO and HUD), but many houses are sold without me doing any work. I get a part of those commission checks, because I set up the team, offer training and help my agents succeed. My business is not truly passive, but if I want to go on vacation for a couple of weeks I still have money coming in without me doing any work. There are thousands of business that can be started, but I think becoming a real estate agent is a great way to become an entrepreneur.


Creating passive income is the key to retiring, especially retiring early. If you want to retire early with the stock market you will have to save a huge amount of money, because that money has to last so long and retirement calculators depend on you using your investment to fund your life. With passive income you will have income coming in as long as you own the investment, without every eating away at the principle invested. Creating passive income may take more work than investing in the stock market, but I think it is well worth the extra effort!


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