Real Estate

Property as well as any permanent improvements, whether natural or man-made.

Author: Hassan Saab
Hassan Saab
Hassan Saab
Investment Banking | Corporate Finance

Prior to becoming a Founder for Curiocity, Hassan worked for Houlihan Lokey as an Investment Banking Analyst focusing on sellside and buyside M&A, restructurings, financings and strategic advisory engagements across industry groups.

Hassan holds a BS from the University of Pennsylvania in Economics.

Reviewed By: Patrick Curtis
Patrick Curtis
Patrick Curtis
Private Equity | Investment Banking

Prior to becoming our CEO & Founder at Wall Street Oasis, Patrick spent three years as a Private Equity Associate for Tailwind Capital in New York and two years as an Investment Banking Analyst at Rothschild.

Patrick has an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School and a BA in Economics from Williams College.

Last Updated:September 21, 2023

What Is Real Estate?

Real estate is considered to include property and any permanent improvements, whether natural or man-made, such as water, trees, minerals, buildings, homes, fences, and bridges. Examples of non-permanently attached personal property include vehicles, yachts, diamonds, furniture, and farm equipment

Companies, individuals, non-commercial organizations, fiduciaries, and any other legal body defined by state law can transfer, own, or acquire real estate in the United States.

It can be utilized for a variety of purposes, as well as providing shelter and comfort for people, farming raw land, and renting commercial property for a business.

Professionals in the property sector, such as agents, brokers, and developers, generate money by constructing or facilitating the trade of property.

Some people often use the terms land, property, landholding, and real property with the same meaning, but there is a subtle difference in each term:

  • The land is defined as the Earth's surface, including permanently attached natural objects, stretching below the Earth's center and upward to infinity.

  • Real Estate (RE) defines everything included in the definition of Land, as well as all objects permanently tied to it, whether naturally or artificially.

  • Real Property is defined as RE plus the interests, benefits, and rights that come with owning RE - Possession, Control, Enjoyment, Exclusion, and Disposition.

Personal property, which includes all property that does not satisfy the concept of real property, should not be confused with real property. Personal property is distinguished by the fact that it is mobile. Vehicles, boats, furniture, clothing, and cell phones are all examples.

The property does not just exist; it has multiple aspects. It can improve from a state of being unimproved to a state of being better, and It's either for sale or purchase. The government, a corporation, or a private individual can possess it.

Certain factors, such as regular land improvement and individuals and businesses that allow ownership transfers, could significantly impact profitability.

Key Takeaways

  • Real estate includes permanent improvements like buildings and natural features. Personal property differs from real estate.

  • Ownership of real estate is possible for various entities, offering possession, control, enjoyment, exclusion, and disposition rights.

  • Major real estate types are residential, commercial, raw land, industrial, and special purpose, each with distinct purposes and income potentials.

  • Economic factors such as scarcity, location, improvements, and investment permanence influence real estate value

what are Types of Real Estate?

Here is an overview and a simple explanation of five of the most common types of property.

1. Residential

Residential property is defined as a piece of land utilized solely for private, residential purposes. Examples of residential property include:

  • Single-family homes
  • Condominiums
  • Townhouses
  • Multifamily rental buildings with four or fewer housing units

2. Commercial

Any property used primarily for business or workplace purposes, or to create cash flow in some form for the owner or lessee, is known as commercial property (or CRE). Examples of commercial properties include:

  • Retail spaces
  • Office buildings
  • Strip malls
  • Petrol stations
  • Shopping complexes
  • Apartment buildings with five or more units

3. Raw land

Some examples of raw land include:

  • Vacant land
  • Farmland
  • Other undeveloped property

This property is primarily undeveloped, with few improvements or cultivation. It is less expensive than developed areas and can be used in various ways.

It could be used for small-scale farming, or some people just hold their raw land until they decide to build a new home or sell it.

4. Industrial

Land and structures used by industrial firms for operations such as manufacturing, mechanical productions, research and development, construction, transportation, logistics, and warehousing are referred to as industrial property.

Industrial property are utilized for certain industries, production, and storage. This includes properties such as:

  • Power plants 
  • Factories

The primary distinction between commercial and industrial property is that industrial comprises land transactions for the manufacture of commodities, whereas commercial property involves land transactions for the distribution or sale of those things.

5. Special purpose

These are some common property transactions for public facilities. These include:

  • Parks 
  • Libraries
  • Schools
  • Religious practices (e.g. churches or mosques, and cemeteries) 

These locations have a definite, limited use, yet they may also be classified as commercial property.

Examples of real estate

A single-family or multifamily structure that is available for occupation or non-commercial usage is classified as residential property. It is possible to categorize houses based on how they relate to surrounding residences and land.

Different forms of housing tenancies might be used for the same physical type.

For example, connected flats might be owned by one company and they rent it out, or they could be owned separately with an agreement specifying the relationship between units and common areas and concerns.

Major classifications

Attached/multi-unit dwellings such as:

  • Apartments are attached / multi-unit homes

  • A flat or a single unit in a multi-unit complex

  • The apartment's borders are usually defined by a perimeter of closed or lockable doors

An apartment is a distinct living space inside a house that is rented out and can be found in one or more residential complexes. For all the apartments, there is often a single owner or management organization that handles all maintenance and upkeep.

Apartment buildings with multiple stories are common, especially in crowded cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Manhattan. Crowded countries such as China, Singapore, Spain, Germany, etc. also have a lot of apartments due to their population and land.

Here are some examples: 

  • Multi-family dwelling: A detached multi-story building has individual apartments or flats on each floor.

  • A house with multiple levels (also known as a townhouse or rowhouse): A row of single or multi-unit residences with no common walls and no intervening space.

  • Condominium: A building or complex owned by a single person, akin to an apartment. The communal gardens and places are collaboratively owned and enjoyed within the complex.

An apartment or house's size can be expressed in square feet or meters. This comprises the area of "living space" in the United States, omitting the garage and other non-dwelling spaces.

A house's "square meters" statistic in Europe may indicate the complete size of the walls enclosing the residence, including any connected garage and non-living spaces, so it's necessary to ask what kind of surface area definition was utilized.

The number of rooms is a more general description. A studio apartment features only one bedroom and no living room (possibly a separate kitchen). A one-bedroom apartment has a separate living or dining area from the bedroom.

Units with two, three, or more bedrooms are widespread. A bedroom is considered a separate space where people sleep. It usually has a bed and, in contemporary homes, a built-in closet for clothes storage.

The economics of real estate

The land also has some distinct economic characteristics that influence its value as an investment:

1. Scarcity

While the land is not considered scarce, the total supply is fixed. Scarce signifies that there isn't much of anything. Scarcity, on the other hand, conveys the same message. The land is not limitless. Yes, land covers around one-quarter of the earth's surface, but once gone, it is gone forever.

This can have a significant impact on the value of a home. Particularly in densely populated areas such as Long Island. The more expensive the land, the more scarce it is. It is a supply and demand notion.

2. Improvements

Any additions or adjustments to the land or building that impact the property's value are considered improvements. Houses and fences are examples of "improvements on the land."

Land improvements benefit the general public (e.g., sidewalks and sewer systems).

Improvements to a piece of land can have either a positive or negative effect on its value, according to the economic feature of improvements (also known as a modification).

A home's value will be increased by adding a pool and landscaping. The value of neighboring land will drop if a nuclear power plant is developed.

3.The permanence of investment

Once the site has been developed, the overall capital and labor required to construct the project represent a major fixed investment. Even if a building can be removed, modifications such as drainage, power, water, and sewage pipes are permanent since they are too costly to dismantle.

The word "permanence of investment" is also known as "fixity," and it refers to long-term property investments. This is related to indestructibility and immobility as physical properties. Because land is immovable, property investment becomes fixed.

If the market improves in another location, land cannot be relocated. Property deals are not often done because they are complicated and entail big sums of money. As a result, investing in property is a long-term strategy.

4. Location or area preference

Location refers to people's choices and tastes regarding a given area, based on factors like convenience, reputation, and history.

A strategic house purchase in a good neighborhood with a low crime rate and good schools will automatically increase housing prices. While a house in a bad neighborhood with high-crime rates and low-quality schools will generate lower prices.  

Other factors like hospitals, convenience stores, amusement parks, or close to your jobs.  

increase the value of your real estate portfolio

There are some ways to increase your home value:

1. Discuss With a Pro

Invite a realtor or interior designer over to check out your home. Many realtors will do this as a courtesy, but you will probably have to pay a consultation fee to a designer.

Check with several designers in your area; a standard hourly fee is normally less than $100, and in an hour, they can give you lots of ideas for needed improvements.

Even small suggested improvements, such as paint colors or furniture placement, can go a long way toward improving the look and feel of your home.

Not all house improvements are aesthetic. Roof deterioration, termite infestation, or out-of-date electrical systems – you can't fix what you don't know is broken. Employ an inspector to inspect regions of your house that you do not regularly view.

They may identify hidden issues that have a detrimental influence on the value of your house. Small problems (such as a concealed water leak) may soon grow into large, costly problems; the longer you put off repairs, the more expensive those repairs will be.

2. Save Energy Costs

The amount of money you spend on energy bills each month may appear to be a constant figure, but many local utility providers offer free energy audits of their customers' houses. They can teach you how to improve your home's energy efficiency.

An energy-efficient house will save you money now that you can put toward other improvements, and it will be a more valued and marketable asset in the long term.

3. Plant a Tree in Your House

If you don't intend to sell your home right away, complete a landscape enhancement that will grow over time. Plant shade trees - not only can mature trees increase the value of your property, but a fully developed, the well-positioned tree may reduce your cooling bills by up to 40%.

Mature landscaping is also beneficial to the environment, as it provides crucial habitat for wildlife while also adding great curb appeal to your property.

Not only does it increase your home value, but it does add some comfort, such as better oxygen, reduces sound from traffic, reduces winds, and just makes it look pretty.

4. Low-Maintenance Landscaping

There is no doubt that shrubs and colorful plants can improve the curb appeal of any property, but while shopping at your local garden center, remember to "think green." Purchase native plants or drought-tolerant plants; they take less water and upkeep, which equals greater savings for you and more green in your wallet.

5. Improve the Indoor Air Quality of Your Home

The circumstances outside have nothing to do with air quality. Older carpets in your house may be harboring toxins and allergies. The first step in determining if they need to be replaced is to engage an expert to analyze your indoor air quality.

If the findings show that your carpets need to be changed, pick eco-friendly natural solutions such as tile or laminate flooring. Hard-surface flooring is significantly easier to maintain, doesn't retain odors, offer your property an updated appearance, and is more enticing to purchasers in general.

6. Upgrade your bathroom

The bathroom is an excellent space to renovate for less than $750. The kitchen and bathroom are the two areas that gain the most from even little remodeling.

One low-cost improvement, like replacing an outdated vanity, old plumbing, and lighting fixtures, or installing a new tile floor, will give your bathroom an updated, modern look.

7. Upgrade Your Kitchen

In the kitchen, the same rule applies. A winning recipe does not have to be created from scratch. Kitchen improvements are essential for increasing the value of your property.

Begin by replacing only one thing, such as a soiled sink or an old microwave, with new stainless steel versions. Even little kitchen upgrades can significantly increase the value of your property.

how to Invest in Real Estate

There are many different ways to invest in property, ranging from taking out a home loan to establishing a nationwide property empire. While the latter is likely out of reach for most of us, there are plenty of other options.

Purchasing and owning RE may be a financially satisfying and successful endeavor. Unlike stock and bond investors, property buyers can leverage their acquisition by paying a portion of the cost upfront and then repaying the remainder, plus interest, over time.

A regular mortgage typically requires a 20% to 25% down payment; however, in very rare cases, a 5% down payment is all that is necessary to acquire an entire property.

Property flippers and landlords gain confidence by being able to own the asset as soon as the paperwork is signed, allowing them to take out second mortgages on existing homes to cover down payments on other properties.

It appears that now is a difficult moment to enter the real estate market.

The Federal Reserve, on the one hand, intends to hike interest rates multiple times in 2022. Higher rates imply higher mortgage payments, which could wreak havoc on the housing market.

Consumer prices, on the other hand, are climbing at their quickest rate in 40 years. People want to keep their purchasing power intact. And one of the most efficient inflation-fighting assets is real estate.

The costs of labor and raw materials to construct a home grows as inflation rises. That's one of the reasons why its values always rise during periods of high inflation.

Well-chosen property can bring more than just price appreciation. A regular stream of rental revenue is also available to investors.

Here are five key ways real estate investors can benefit.

Rental Properties

Individuals with do-it-yourself (DIY) renovation abilities and the patience to supervise renters may find owning rental homes a terrific possibility. This technique, however, necessitates a significant amount of capital to cover initial maintenance costs and vacant months.

Consider owning rental homes if you want to make a significant property investment. Rentals can provide consistent cash flow and the potential for long-term appreciation, but they are also one of the most labor-intensive methods of property investing.

There are two main ways to make money with rental properties:

1. Long-term rentals

These houses are normally rented for at least a year and provide a continuous monthly cash flow in theory, albeit this is dependent on the stability of your renters. You can buy a multi-unit structure or a single-family house to rent to others.

2. Short-term rentals

Like Airbnb, these properties serve a revolving tenant base with visits as short as one night. You can rent out your entire home or apartment while you're gone, or you can invest in a second property only for short-term rentals.

Even though investing in rental properties sounds promising, it requires time and effort. You should be looking for tenants, pay maintenance, repairs, and other unexpected things that could occur.

Using real estate companies will be easier when looking for tenants, but it will reduce your profit.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

A REIT is a business that owns and, in most circumstances, runs income-producing properties.

REITs own several forms of commercial real estate:

  • Office and residential buildings
  • Warehouses
  • Hospitals
  • Retail malls
  • Hotels
  • Commercial forests

Some REITs are involved in real estate finance.

A brokerage account can be used to buy and sell REIT stock in the market, just like any other public company. As a result, REITs are the most liquid property investment.

You can also invest in REITs by purchasing shares of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). New investors with a little amount of money can engage in fractional shares in REIT ETFs via apps like Stash, M1 Finance, and Robinhood.

House Flipping

House flipping is done by individuals who understands these fundamentals:

  • Property evaluation
  • Marketing
  • Renovation

House flipping requires money as well as the ability to do or supervise repairs as needed.

This is the "wild side" of property investing, as they say. Property flippers differ from buy-and-rent landlords in the same way that day traders differ from buy-and-hold investors—property flippers. For example, frequently seek to financially sell the discounted properties they acquire in less than six months.

Property flippers don't usually invest in renovations. As a result, the investment must have the intrinsic value required to generate a profit without any modifications, otherwise, the property will be ruled out.

Flippers who are unable to sell a home fast may run into difficulties since they rarely have enough uncommitted cash available to pay a property's mortgage over time. This can result in a downward loss spiral.

Therefore, it is highly recommended to learn available home-selling tips and strategies before getting into the house-flipping business.

Another type of flipper makes money by buying low-cost residences and renovating them to make them more valuable. This could be a longer-term investment, but most investors can only afford one or two places at a time.

Online Real Estate Platforms

Platforms for property investing are for those that want to join others in a more significant business or residential purchase. The money is invested through online property platforms, often known as property crowdfunding.

This still necessitates capital investment, although it is much less than purchasing properties altogether. Online platforms connect property developers with investors eager to fund projects. You can mix your investments with a small amount of money in some instances.

For investors who want a more hands-on approach, crowdfunding property investing platforms are a fantastic option.

Rather than investing in large, generic property portfolios, you can participate in specialized property development projects through numerous online platforms.

To support development projects, property crowdfunding platforms aggregate funds from a variety of investors. They usually require investors to agree to property investments for longer periods, typically five years or longer.

You might be able to get some of your money before then, but it will be at the platform's discretion, and you might be subject to early withdrawal fees.

The platforms may levy fees. Keep an eye out for any additional fees or management expenditures that could reduce your profits.

Keep in mind that not all online property sites are appropriate for you. Most of them demand an investment of $500 up to $25,000 as a minimum investment, and they could demand even more.

Some of them required you to be an accredited investor. This means that you need to have at least a $1 million form of assets outside your personal residence and earn $200,000 a year as a minimum.

Several online platforms could help you start your REIs. Here are some online platforms that offer a variety of ways to start your investment which can be adjusted based on how much money you have:

Using those platforms could be ranging from property funds to private property projects.

Rent out a room/ Invest in your own home

Finally, you may rent out a portion of your home to get your toes wet in the property seas. Such an arrangement might lower housing costs, allowing people to stay in their houses while still reaping the benefits of increased property value.

This is especially important for the elderly. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, a quarter of adults aged 65 and more who lived alone spent more than half of their income on housing in 2016.

For elderly persons living with roommates, the percentage declined to 12.9 percent.

For younger folks, having roommates can help make that mortgage payment more manageable. If you're not sure if you're ready, consider using a service like Airbnb. It's house hacking for the averse to commitment.

You are not required to accept a long-term tenant, potential tenants are at least partially prescreened by Airbnb, and the host guarantee protects you from harm.

Renting a room looks to be a far more approachable concept than the more arcane concept of REI. If you have a spare room, you can rent it out. It helps your mortgages, and bills, all while providing extra income.

Like all financial choices, the best property investments are ones that benefit you, the investor. Here are some important considerations:

  • Consider how much time you have available
  • How much money you're willing to invest
  • Whether you want to be the one to deal with home concerns as they emerge

If you don't have any DIY abilities, instead of investing directly in a property, consider investing in a REIT or a crowdfunding site. The most common way for most people to invest here is through their primary residence.

You take out a mortgage, make regular payments, and finally own your home. If you're lucky and there's a lot of demand in your neighborhood, you might just be able to cash in on the equity when you sell your home.

While owning real estate can help you build wealth over time, average annual returns are smaller than you might think. Property values barely increased by 3.9 percent per year from 1994 to 2019, according to a survey by industry expert Black Knight.

While there are some locations of the country where house appreciation is significantly higher, your home is unlikely to increase significantly, especially when costs like maintenance and repairs, insurance, property taxes, and mortgage interest are taken into account.

Researched and authored by Ilhaam Prayudi | LinkedIn

Edited by Colt DiGiovanni | LinkedIn

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