Real Estate Investing the Easy Way

By James Leitz

Real estate investing can take many forms.  If you work 50-plus hours a week, you likely don’t want to spend your spare time searching for, selecting, negotiating, financing and managing real estate properties.  Here’s a simple investment guide to real estate profits, how to invest without the hassles.  Or, you might say, how to speculate the easy way.

Picture April of 2009, and you are willing to bet that real estate prices are low and will not go much lower.  This basic investment guide will show you how to invest and get in on the action, with little time or effort required, whenever you think you see opportunity in real estate.

First, if you don’t have a brokerage account, open one with a major discount stock brokerage firm.  Then, after you have deposited some money, you are ready for action.  You will be buying shares of stock in real estate ETFs.  These are simply index funds whose stock price tracks the stocks of companies in the commercial real estate business.

One of the greatest advantages of real estate investing is financial leverage.  For example, some folks buy real estate properties putting very little money down.  They borrow heavily.  With ETFs you can get financial leverage without personally borrowing anything.

When you invest (or speculate) in these ETFs that trade like any other stock, you simply buy and sell on your computer or over the phone in your brokerage account.  A transaction can cost as little as $10.  That’s your total cost to buy or sell this real estate investment.

Here’s an example of how to invest, how it works.  If you want to be a bit cautious, you could buy shares in a real estate ETF with the stock symbol (IYR).  It does not employ financial leverage.  In late 2007-early 2008 it sold for $70 a share.  In March of 2009 it could be bought for $25.

If you want more action you could go with a real estate ETF with the symbol (URE), which employs leverage.  In late 2007-early 2008 it also sold for about $70 a share.  In March of 2009, a bit over a year later, it sold for $2.50.  Leverage works both ways, to magnify losses as well as gains.  Let’s talk about URE, which I personally bought at $4.25, $2.65, and $1.85.

URE gave investors plenty of action.  Those who paid $70 for it had lost their shirt a little over a year later.  The upside potential could be a rocket ride, if the markets and real estate prices turn around.  In terms of how to invest, it works like this…

If you buy 1000 shares at $2, it will cost about $10 in commissions to make the simple transaction.  You will have $2000 invested.  If URE were to go back to $70, you could sell at a cost of about $10, and you would then have $70,000.  Of course, you can sell anytime, at any price.

Are there any guarantees that you will make money?  This simple investor guide wants to make one thing crystal clear.  When you invest or speculate, forget about profit guarantees, unless the government backs up the investment.

A retired financial planner, James Leitz has an MBA (finance) and 35 years of investing experience. For 20 years he advised individual investors, working directly with them helping them to reach their financial goals.

Jim is the author of a complete investor guide, Invest Informed, designed for average investors or would-be investors of all levels of financial background and experience. To learn more about investments and investing and his new financial guide go to http://www.investinformed.com

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