How to invest in real estate: Your complete guide to building up a portfolio of properties, according to experts

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How to invest in real estate: Your complete guide to building up a portfolio of properties, according to experts
Real estate investing can be daunting but rewarding. Steven Senne/AP
  • Investing in real estate can seem daunting.
  • We've compiled a list of our stories with expert advice for having success in the space.
  • Tips range from financing strategies to how to overcome being intimidated.

Investing in real estate can be one of the most effective ways to build wealth.

But it can also be a difficult thing to get started in, with often-prohibitive down payments and marketplace competition driving up prices to unattainable heights. The process can also be intimidating to first-time investors financially, legally, and in terms of time commitment.

But real estate investing doesn't have to be exclusive and convoluted: there are tried and true strategies investors can use to begin building a portfolio of properties even if they don't have a pile of cash ready to deploy. We know because we've talked to people who have put them into action.

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Below we've compiled several stories highlighting the various methods that investors have successfully used in the real estate world.

How to invest in real estate: Your complete guide to building up a portfolio of properties, according to experts
A house's real estate for sale sign shows the home as being "Under Contract" in Washington, DC, November 19, 2020. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Real-estate investor Brandon Turner owns 1,500 units and achieved financial independence by age 27. He shares 6 steps for buying a first rental property within 3 months.

Arguably nobody does more for providing investors with the material they need to get started in or continue building their real estate portfolios than Brandon Turner. Turner is the founder of BiggerPockets, a site that educates and provides a platform for investors in the space. He also co-hosts the "BiggerPockets Podcast," which highlights successful real estate investors.

In May, we wrote about an episode of Turner's podcast in which he unpacked six steps to buying a first property within three months. Turner bought his first property when he was 21.

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Step one? Figure out what's motivating you to get into real estate investing.

How to invest in real estate: Your complete guide to building up a portfolio of properties, according to experts
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Kumar Sadaram bought his first rental property in 2012 and now owns more than 50 homes. He breaks down the strategy that finally propelled him to financial independence - and shares 3 ways to get started in real estate with little to no money.

It took Kumar Sadaram a few years to find the strategy that worked best for him. But once he did, he repeated it again and again to build up a portfolio of over 50 properties.

Sadaram now makes more money per year from rental income from the properties than he did when he was an IT consultant - a job which he quit for good three years ago.

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In addition to sharing with Insider his preferred strategy, he shared his three best tips for those looking to break into real estate without large sums of money. He also shared his advice for overcoming being intimidated by investing in the space.

How to invest in real estate: Your complete guide to building up a portfolio of properties, according to experts
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How to invest in real estate: Your complete guide to building up a portfolio of properties, according to experts
Sam Primm, real estate investor Sam Primm

At the age of 33, Sam Primm owns 167 rental units after putting zero money down. He told us how he got started on his first property without any experience, and the loans he secured that helped him reach financial freedom.

Sam Primm used a private lender for his first property, then transferred his loan to a mortgage.

He now uses hard-money lenders to buy and flip property, while his rental income pays off the mortgages. In an interview, he explained the process for putting these deals together.

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Real-estate investor Mike Bryant breaks down the strategy he used to acquire 10 properties 'without putting a nickel into' them - and shares why he recently decided to sell all but 4

Money is perhaps the biggest hurdle - whether perceived or not - for many when it comes to real estate investing. But there are ways to invest without being rich first.

Mike Bryant has used a very specific strategy that has helped him acquire 10 properties without first needing to dip into his own funds.

"Without putting a nickel into any of these, I have a portfolio - between what I've sold already last year and what I haven't sold yet - of more than a half a million dollars of equity, at least on paper, from what I can glean is the market value versus what I owe on these properties," Bryant said on an episode of the "BiggerPockets Podcast."

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How to invest in real estate: Your complete guide to building up a portfolio of properties, according to experts
Deb Cleveland is a self-taught 30-year real estate investor and house flipper. Deb Cleveland

Deb Cleveland is a master house flipper who maintains 80 rental properties. The 30-year real-estate-investing veteran breaks down how she picks discounted houses to buy, renovate on a budget, and successfully sell or rent for huge profits.

It's the point of making any investment: returning a profit. To do so, you have to identify assets that are being undervalued by the market. Easier said than done.

Deb Cleveland has done it. An expert with three decades of experience and a portfolio of 80 properties, she shared with Insider how she goes about finding undervalued properties to rake in big returns.

How to invest in real estate: Your complete guide to building up a portfolio of properties, according to experts
AP Photo/Matt York

Firefighter Mike Webb went from owning a single duplex to acquiring 35 units, all while working 40 hours a week. He breaks down his financing strategies and his favorite approach for adding properties to his portfolio.

One reason investors can be hesitant to get into real estate is because of amount of time they may think they have to put into maintaining a property. But Mike Webb proves that it can still be done, even while working a full-time job.

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Another reason that gives people pause is financial risk and the work that goes into finding favorable deals. Webb broke down for Insider how he finds deals in a red-hot housing market.

How to invest in real estate: Your complete guide to building up a portfolio of properties, according to experts
Sharon Tseung and Sean Pan

A couple in their 30s breaks down how they came to own 21 rental units in affordable, high-appreciating areas across the country - and share their approach for picking top cities, realtors, and financing strategies

Again, finding favorable deals can be difficult, especially today. Many variables are involved, like regional population and job growth.

Sharon Tseung and Sean Pan, a couple in their 30s with 21 rental units, recently shared with Insider their approach to underwriting - analyzing all of the financial aspects of a deal. They also shared how they go about financing their properties.

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How to invest in real estate: Your complete guide to building up a portfolio of properties, according to experts
Aaron Amuchastegui Courtesy of Aaron Amuchastegui

295 units in 5 years: How one real-estate investor went from broke to owning hundreds of single-family homes

Aaron Amuchastegui, a real-estate investor who navigated the 2008 crisis but took a serious financial hit in 2013, revived his portfolio in just five years' time.

Buying foreclosed homes at auction, Amuchastegui's strategy focuses on "courthouse step" deals, and he prioritizes a long-term investment plan focused on single-family Texas home rentals rather than quick flips.

In January, we spoke to Amuchastegui about how he's built a multimillion-dollar portfolio that then stood at 295 units, with 24 more properties in escrow at the time. Here's how he did it.

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How to invest in real estate: Your complete guide to building up a portfolio of properties, according to experts
Mike Hills Mike Hills

How a 41-year-old 'house hacker' built an $8 million real-estate portfolio that would let him retire now - if he wanted to

Mike Hills has developed a property portfolio worth over $8 million, and he credits his success to "house hacking" - a strategy for multifamily rental properties in which an investor lives in one of their units while collecting rent from the others.

Hills has spent the past 19 years developing an expansive portfolio, and in October told Insider he now owns a condo, townhouse, duplex, quadplex, apartment, trailer park, and eight single-family homes.

Doubtful that he'd ever want to retire, he said he could. And he shared the strategy he used to maximize his portfolio.

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How to invest in real estate: Your complete guide to building up a portfolio of properties, according to experts
Tony Julianelle Tony Julianelle

How a financier turned property management CEO went from losing money on his first rental to raking up a portfolio worth $3.5 million and counting

After a 20-year career at Wells Fargo, Tony Julianelle decided it was time for something new.

Now, he's CEO of Colorado-based property management firm Atlas Real Estate, where he has developed a personal property portfolio worth around $3.5 million and counting, he told Insider last year.

Focused on accumulating a portfolio of wealth-generating assets he can pass to his children, Julianelle's investment strategy is grounded in buying and holding real estate in a long-term, appreciating market.

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Follow the broader real estate investing space here.

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