The Most Important Factors for Real Estate Investing

What’s the most important thing to look for in real estate? While the location is always a key consideration, there are numerous other factors that help determine if an investment is right for you. Here’s a look at some of the most important things to consider if you plan to invest in the real estate market.

1.Property Location

Why It’s Important

The posy “location, location, location” is still king and continues to be the most important factor for profitability in real estate investing. Proximity to amenities, green space, scenic views, and the neighborhoods status factor prominently into residential property valuations. Closeness to markets, warehouses, transport hubs, freeways, and tax-exempt areas play an important role in commercial property valuations.

What to Look For

Commonly used real estate valuation methods include:

  • Sales comparison approach: recent comparable sales of properties with similar characteristics—most common and suitable for both new and old properties
  • Cost approach: the cost of the land and construction, minus depreciation— suitable for new construction
  • Income approach: based on expected cash inflows—suitable for rentals
  1. Investment Purpose and Investment Horizon

Why It’s Important

Given the low liquidity and high-value investment in real estate, a lack of clarity on purpose may lead to unexpected results, including financial distress—especially if the investment is mortgaged.

What to Look For

Identify which of the following broad categories suits your purpose, and then plan accordingly:

  • Buy and self-use. Here you will save on rent and have the benefit of self-utilization, while also getting value appreciation.
  • Buy and lease. This offers regular income and long-term value appreciation. However, the temperament to be a landlord is needed to handle possible disputes and legal issues, manage tenants, repair work, etc.
  • Buy and sell (short-term). This is generally for quick, small to medium profit—the typical property is under construction and sold at a profit on completion.
  • Buy and sell (long-term). This is generally focused on large intrinsic value appreciation over a long period. This offers alternatives to complement long-term goals, such as retirement.
  1. Overall Real Estate Market

Why It’s Important

As with other types of investments, it’s good to buy low and sell high. Real estate markets fluctuate, and it pays to be aware of trends. It’s also important to pay attention to mortgage rates so you can lower your financing costs, if possible.

What to Look For

Stay up-to-date with trends and statistics for:

  • Home prices and home sales (overall and in your desired market)
  • New construction
  • Property inventory
  • Mortgage rates
  • Flipping activity
  • Foreclosures

The Bottom Line

Real estate can help diversify your portfolio. In general, real estate has a low correlation with other major asset classes—so when stocks are down, real estate is often up. A real estate investment can also provide steady cash flow, substantial appreciation, tax advantages, and competitive risk-adjusted returns, making it a sound investment.

Of course, just like any investment, it’s important to consider certain factors, like the ones listed here, before you invest in real estate—whether you opt for physical property, or something else.