How to Invest in Real Estate While Working Full Time

Posted by Pam Hill in InvestingMay 24, 2022(Last Updated December 2, 2022)6 min read
Key Takeaways
  • Most real estate investors start their business as a side hustle while working full time.
  • Your job can provide the seed capital, access to loans, and knowledge you need to start your business.
  • Real estate funds, property managers, and business partnerships are among the many ways to invest in real estate while working full-time.
Are you ready to make some real money moves?

When considering whether real estate should form a part of your investment strategy, most people would answer yes, with the bigger question perhaps being when to make the investment. And in particular, are you better off purchasing and managing investment properties while working your 9 to 5, or is it wiser to go all out and pursue investing full time?


While there are certainly advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, the real answer is that either strategy can work, depending on how active or passive a role you’re looking to take. 


One of the great benefits of real estate is its flexibility. That is, it offers almost as many investment options as there are varying lifestyles, budgets, and cash flow goals among investors.


Let’s explore some reasons why working full time can fast-track your investment portfolio, and examine four real estate strategies that are particularly suited to full-time work.


Three Benefits of Working While Building Your Real Estate Portfolio


Your 9 to 5 Income Provides Start-up Capital for Your Real Estate Business


Investing in real estate, particularly if your goal is to buy a property or a piece of land, requires a down payment in most cases. Your salary can fund the start-up capital you need to get started. Or, if you’ve already saved for your investment (and kudos to you if you have!), a portion of your paycheck can be used to start or increase your emergency fund, and thus give you a reserve to cover unexpected business or personal expenses.


Your paycheck also serves another role during the start-up phase of your business: it pays for your daily expenses and gives your business breathing room to get on its feet. While some real estate investments take off like a rocket and allow you to quit your job within a year, these are as rare as a winning lottery ticket and thus shouldn’t be counted on as part of your strategy. 


And so, rather than lament the time you have to spend working full time while also building your business, view your job instead as the first investor placing seed capital in you and your business.



Recommended Read: 4 Ways to Build Generational Wealth


Earnings from Your Job Can Qualify You for Financing


Another reason to hold onto your job is that your personal credit score and recent earnings history will be the main benchmarks that lenders use during the first two to three years of your business to qualify you for financing. Prior to that, it will be very difficult to obtain a loan based solely on your business’s track record, as your business will be long on strategy and intention but short on results and revenues. 


As such, obtaining a business loan or credit card that is issued as a personal loan, a credit card, for instance, that you use only for business expenses can give you access to a higher line of credit at a lower interest rate than would be available under a business loan.


Real estate investors who venture out without a primary source of income face a higher burden of proof in demonstrating the creditworthiness of their business than those with employment income. In this regard, your salary not only funds your daily overhead but also serves as a magnet attracting financing for your business.


Most Real Estate Investors Start Their Business as a Side Hustle


Few investors have squirreled away the two to three years worth of living expenses required to tell your boss, ‘I’m outta here’ and pursue entrepreneurship full time. That being the case, it’s no surprise that most real estate investors buy their first property while still working full time. Enterprising entrepreneurs who are focused on eventually leaving their job behind, view all aspects of their work as potential resources for their business.


Entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for how to develop their business, such innovative thinkers scan humdrum job manuals and online guides for tips, adding the magic words, ‘my business’ after a topic to get the juices flowing. Thus, an otherwise dry safety manual read during office hours, is reimagined over the weekend as ‘how to ensure a safety-conscious environment in my business’. Taking this perspective will help you see the dozens of job aides available to you at work as learning opportunities for your business. 


Recommended Read: ​​Tips for Buying an Investment Property on a Budget


Part-Time Real Estate Strategies That Deliver Returns


So now that we know the payoffs of a paycheck, both in terms of its cash and knowledge value, let’s dig into those real estate opportunities that can be done while working full time:


Let a Property Manager Manage Your Property: Once you’ve acquired an investment property and brought it up to move-in standards, your biggest job as an owner will be marketing, leasing, and managing the operations of the property. For investors who have one or more jobs already or who don’t live near their investment property, this level of engagement can be daunting. This is where the services of an able property manager shine. 


A property manager can enable you to balance the level of responsiveness and customer service you want to provide to your tenants while still fully engaging and delivering on your responsibilities at work.



Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) or Mutual Funds: A truly passive real estate strategy that imposes zero time on your schedule in terms of rehabbing or maintaining a property while allowing you to invest in and learn about large commercial properties is buying into a real estate fund. 

A REIT allows you to decide, property by property, which properties you want to invest in while a real estate mutual fund, much like a stock or bond mutual fund, allows you to invest in a basket of real estate properties selected by a fund manager. 


One advantage of REITs and real estate mutual funds is that they have a fairly low cost of entry, on the order of a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand compared to buying an investment property.


Turn Your Home-Sweet-Home into an Investment Property: One of the fastest and lowest-cost ways to enter the real estate investment game while working full-time is to turn your home into a money-making property. 

Numerous online sites exist for advertising a spare bedroom for a day, a week, or a year, or advertising your home for rent during a period when you will be away from it (for instance, on vacation or away for a work trip). Participating in the short-term rental market can allow you to test your interest in this industry as well as earn money towards a larger real estate investment goal.


Recommended Read: Ten Clever Ideas to Start Making Passive Income


Invest with a Trusted Partner: Just as two heads are better than one when it comes to diagnosing a problem, four hands are better than two when it comes to dividing the work. The formula used to split up the work, capital investments, and returns can vary with the resources and needs of the partnership.



For instance, if one partner has more money than time and the other partner has more time than money, then instead of splitting the money needed to buy and maintain a property right down the middle, you might have the partner with more funds finance a bigger portion of the costs, for instance, 70 percent, and put in a lot less time in terms of fixing up the property, finding tenants and responding to maintenance issues, as an example, perhaps 10 percent of the total hours required. 


Whichever splits you choose for money, time and returns, make sure to spell it out in a partnership agreement (hiring a lawyer to review the agreement is probably a good idea) and discuss it in great detail before moving forward.


Do you have any additional tips to invest in real estate while working a full-time job? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

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