What is the Best Way to Invest $100,000 in Real Estate?

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It takes a lot of hard work to save $100,000 or you have to be very lucky for $100,000 to fall into your lap. Once you have $100,000 it can be even harder to commit to investing it and not blowing it on material goods. If I had an extra $100,000 to invest I know exactly what I would do with it; invest it in real estate. In fact I invest all of my money into real estate. Whether I invested in fix and flips or rental properties would depend on my current situation.

For others there are a number of factors that determine how and when you should invest $100,000. My specialty is investing in real estate because of the awesome returns rentals and flipping can produce. I am a real estate agent and I have a big advantage over many new real estate investors. This article will describe why I think real estate is such a great investment for me and if it would be for you as well.

Why is real estate my top choice for investing $100,000?

There are many ways to invest money into real estate and that is one reason why I love to buy houses. The main reason I love real estate is the great returns you can get if you are willing to do some work. I own 13 rental properties and fix and flip about 10 houses a year. On my rentals I tend to get 20 percent cash on cash returns or more. On my flips I average over a $30,000 profit on each one.

It is not easy to get those returns on rentals and make that much money on each flip. It helps that I am a real estate agent and I have been investing for many years. That doesn’t mean a novice or beginning investor cannot make great money with real estate if they do their homework, work hard and are patient. When investing money in the stock market it is very hard to get the returns I get and there are even more advantages to investing in real estate that blow the stock market away.

What is the best way to invest $100,000 in real estate?

There are many ways to invest in real estate. Besides flipping and rental properties, there is private money investing, REITs, notes and more. Choosing the best option is not easy, because everyone has different goals and everyone is willing to spend varying amounts of time to learn to invest and complete the investments. Here is a quick break down of the most popular ways to invest in real estate.

  • Flipping: flipping houses takes a lot of work and a lot of experience to make money. A flip is buying a house very cheap, fixing it up and selling it for a profit. Flipping is more of a job than investing and it usually takes a lot of capital to get started.
  • Rental properties: rental property investing can be very involved or very hands off. I like to buy properties below market value and then make repairs, which takes time and money. The cheaper I buy properties the more cash flow I am able to create. If you are looking for an easier way to buy rental properties; turn key rentals take very little time and are mostly hands off.
  • Private money: private money is when one investor lends money to another investor for the purpose of investing in real estate. Private money can be very hands off once you find a great investor. Finding the great investor can take time and if the investor does not follow trough on their promises, private money investing can turn into a nightmare.
  • Notes: buying notes is also mostly hands off, because you are not buying a property. Buying notes involves buying a mortgage and becoming the bank. However if the borrower stops making their payments you may have to foreclose on the home which becomes very hands on.
  • REITs: REITs are more like investing in the stock market than investing in real estate. You buy shares of a REIT, which give you a piece of a real estate trust. With a REIT the management is taken care of by a large company and don’t have to worry about taking responsibly for a property. However, you give up all control of the investment and have to hope you picked a good manager.

Even though there are many ways to invest in real estate, this article is going to focus on investing $100,000 into rental properties and fix and flips, because I think they provide the best returns. They also take the most work which I think is a good thing. If you are investing for your future retirement and livelihood I think it should take some work!

Why are rental properties how I would invest $100,000?

Figuring out the best investment for you depends on how much time you have to learn and implement. The more time you have, usually the more money you can make and the better returns you will get. I think rental properties are the best investment if you have the money and time to learn the correct way to invest in them. Once you buy your rentals and get them set up with great renters or property managers, they take very little work.

I spend about $30,000 to $35,000 in cash on each rental I buy. I finance my rentals with 20 percent down and make repairs to add value. Rentals in my area produce about $500 a month in cash flow which equals $6,000 a year. I buy my properties from $80,000 to $135,000 and rent them from $1,200 to $1,500 a month. A 20 percent cash on cash return is pretty awesome, but it is getting harder and harder to find these types of deals in my area. However, even with much lower returns rentals properties have many advantages besides the cash on cash return.

  • Rentals have great tax advantages.
  • Properties will most likely appreciate over time.
  • I am paying off loans and gaining equity every month.
  • Rents will most likely go up over time.
  • Rentals can be bought below market value giving you instant equity.

To see all the advantages of rental properties I will show you the numbers on rental property 7, which I bought two years ago. I bought this house as a short sale and it was a smoking deal.

  • Purchase price                       $113,000
  • Repairs                                    $8,000
  • Closing costs out of pocket $500      (seller paid $2,000)
  • Down payment                      $22,600
  • Commission I made             -$3,000
  • Total cash spent                    $28,100

I rented this house for $1,400 a month shortly after the repairs were made and it has been rented to the same tenants for almost two years.

Not only am I making over 20 percent on the cash I invested from rent, but I bought the home below market and added value with repairs. The home recently appraised for $195,000 and I was able to take out $52,000 in a cash out refinance. Even after the refinance the house cash flows every month (it does make less than $500 a month now).

Many circumstances came together to make this a great rental. These deals are not easy to find and not readily available in every market. However, getting half the return I did would still be a great deal for most people. Here is a look at the total return I have seen in two years on this property.

Returns from buying the home below market

Value of home when purchased and after repairs: $155,000.

Repairs and purchase price plus closing costs: $121,500

Value gained $33,500 which equals 59.6 percent return per year.

Returns from appreciation

Current value of home based on appraisal: $195,000

Appreciation of house over two years: $40,000.

That is a 71 percent return per year over two years.

Returns from rental income received

Rent income per year: $16,800.

Expenses per year: $8,440 (mortgage, taxes, insurance, property management and maintenance)

Profit from the renal property income: $8,360, which equates to a 29.7 percent return.

This number is misleading, because I have been very lucky with these tenants and had no out-of-pocket maintenance, except for the deductible on an insurance claim. We had a major hail storm that damaged the roof, some siding and windows, but my expense was only $500. When I figure cash flow for the future I include much higher expenses for vacancies and maintenance.

What are the total returns of this rental property?

Those returns equal a 160.3 percent return on the initial money I invested each of the first two years. But to be honest, the returns are not that high because you would have selling costs if you sold the house. There are costs to refinance as well when you take cash out. If I sold the house I would have to pay about 6 percent of the selling price in real estate commissions and closing costs (10 percent if I was not a real estate agent). The returns would also go down over time, because the initial benefit of buying below market value would be spread out over more years and we can’t count on 20 percent appreciation each year. A word of warning, I never invest strictly for appreciation.

If you never sell or refinance the property, you will not see those returns from appreciation or buying below market. They would be paper returns which would make your net worth look awesome, but the actual gains would be just the cash on cash returns. Even if you don’t sell or refinance having a lot of equity in homes looks great to banks if you want to get more loans.

When I refinanced the property I had to pay closing costs, which were about $5,000. I will get some of that money back, because the bank collected escrow amounts for taxes and insurance. I already had money in my escrow accounts for my previous loan which I will get back. I also skip one payment with the new loan, which will save me $800. I spent $28,100 buying this property and took out over $52,000 when I refinanced. I still have 25 percent equity since the maximum I can refinance with my lender is 75% of the appraisal. As you can see buying below market coupled with appreciation can make for some great returns when you refinance.

Having said all of that, let’s get back to the entire point of this article. How would I invest $100,000 into real estate? I would buy rental properties, but I would not spend all the money on rentals.

Why do you need to have money in reserves for rental properties?

I may not have had any vacancies or maintenance needed on rental property number 7, but that doesn’t mean I never will or I haven’t had those costs on other rentals. If you are going to buy rentals, you will have to fix things, you will have vacant properties and you will have tenants who don’t pay rent. If you have no money to handle these situations, you will run into some very tough times.

A good rule of thumb is to have at least six months of mortgage payments, taxes and insurance per property in savings. Banks will require this amount as well when you try to get a new loan on a property.

If you bought two rentals using $35,000 cash for each property, you would have $30,000 in cash left. You might be tempted to buy another property with that cash, but you would have no money left for reserves. If you had two rentals and a personal residence, you would need at least $16,000 in reserves assuming you had two $600 payments and a personal house payment of $1,500.

With $100,000 to invest, you could buy two rental properties which would give you great returns on $70,000 of your money. Some may argue the stock market is a better investment because you could invest all $100,000, but no matter what you invest in you should have an emergency fund or safety net. It is more important to have a safety net with rentals because you may have to put more money into then for repairs or to make mortgage payments. Where the stock market you would not need more money, unless you are buying on margin (one of the few advantages of the stock market).

How your goals and personal situation will affect investing the $100,000

There is more to consider then just the $100,000 investment you have. How did you get the money? How much do you save? How old are you? Are you investing from an IRA?

If you make $500,000 a year and it is not difficult to save $100,000, then maybe you are okay taking more risk and buying three rentals. If you make $50,000 a year and it took ten years to save $100,000 maybe you only want two or even one rental. If you are retiring in five years maybe one rental paid with all cash would make you more comfortable. Personally I think leverage is the way to with rental properties as long as they cash flow and I explain why here. If you are in a market with more expensive houses it will also affect how you invest and how much money you need.

If you happened to inherit $100,000 and have no prospect for saving more money, be very careful when investing in anything! It is vitally important you have reserves in savings if you buy rentals.

How much time you have to invest will also play a big role in how you spend the money. If you have no extra time to learn about rentals and buy properties, my strategy will not work well. You have to know your market well, be patient to find great deals, and take time to hire great managers and contractors. Turn-key rentals are a better option for those with no time, but will not provide nearly the same results.

If you have a lot of time to invest, you might even consider flipping to boost your rental property purchasing! If you want help with learning how to invest in rentals, I offer a great program to get you jump started.

How can fix and flipping increase the returns on $100,000?

Fix and flipping can provide a great income, but will take a lot of direct involvement. It is more of a job, because once you sell the property it will no longer make you any money. It takes a lot of money to get started flipping unless you use hard money or have a partner. Having $100,000 to start a flipping business would be a great start,but you are taking on a lot of risk. I love to use flipping to make more money to invest in my rentals.

This article is already way too long to start going into the details of flipping, but here is a great article that describes the process and how much money you can make.


I have invested much more than $100,000 into rental properties and fix and flips. My investments have built up over time and I was not able to put a large chunk of money into the investments in the beginning. If you have $100,000 or $50,000 or one million to invest, don’t dump it all into the business at once. Make sure you know what you are doing, have done the proper research and have a safety net. The returns I show in this article are not typical, but show the incredible power rentals can have. If you have questions or comments for me, be sure to check out the discussion forums!

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11 thoughts on “What is the Best Way to Invest $100,000 in Real Estate?”

  1. Wow, what a great article! You have such a unique take on real estate issues and a real gift in putting it out there for others. Forwarded this to several people.

    • Thank you Kay!

  2. Hey Mark,

    Great article. Have you ever considered multi-family? With that kind of capital, one could easily afford a small apartment complex. I love apartments mainly due to the fact the investor can control their value.

    • Hi Jeff, in my market multifamily does not cash flow well. The cap rates are around 5-7 percent.

  3. What are your feelings on land as an investment?

    • I think land is risky in that you are betting on appreciation and get little if any income. If you are developing it, that may be more lucrative.

  4. Hey Mark,
    Just want to say thanks for all your posts, as a novice investor it is really inspiring to see your success in Real Estate.
    I have been reading a lot of your articles on flipping and owning rental properties. I am looking to make my first investment, and I would like it to be a flip. Do you have any advice or resources to recommend before I get my feet wet?

  5. I have a question, Have you worked with building houses. Example: I was thinking of buying an R2 lot, than rehabbing the front house and owner building a house in the back making a duplex or even splitting the property.
    Your thoughts?

    • Hi Eric, I have never built a house myself. It would all depend on the numbers.

  6. Wow. As a novice investor looking for a cash flow opportunity, this article was really insightful! Do you have any specific city recommendations to invest in?

    • A lot of that depends on your area and what the market is like.

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