When many of us think of real estate investing, we think of the need for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Whether you plan to buy land you can later sell to a developer, purchase a rental property or invest in a fixer-upper to flip at a profit, you usually need a large chunk of capital.

If you don’t have that chunk of capital, you might need to borrow from the bank. While this can be an effective way to invest in real estate as a beginner, not everyone wants to borrow in order to make it happen.

For an investor with a small amount of capital and a desire to avoid borrowing, there are some choices:

Real Estate Investment Trusts

One of the easiest ways to invest in real estate is to use Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Not only can you receive real estate exposure, but you also receive a portion of income from your holdings. Because of their nature, REITs pay out a high percentage to investors. It’s a way to earn income as well as potentially benefit from capital appreciation. The good news is that you don’t need a lot of money to invest in REITs. Like ETFs, you can usually find them at low cost from a variety of brokers, and they are easy to trade.

You can choose REITs that invest in certain types of real estate, such as medical properties or retail development, or you can invest in REITs that focus on foreign properties. This allows you a little flexibility in choosing where to put your money, and the chance to take advantage of sector and geographic diversification.

Real Estate Crowdfunding

Thanks to recent changes in US law, securities crowdfunding is becoming accessible. You can invest in real estate with the help of a crowdfunding site. You can usually get started with as little as $10,000. There are a number of real estate crowdfunding websites like Crowdventure that allow you to spread your risk a little bit and take advantage of opportunities that used to only exist for those with hundreds of thousands of dollars to spare.

The main catch with real estate crowdfunding is that, right now, in order to participate in securities crowdfunding of this nature you need to be an accredited investor. This means that you need to have a net worth of $1 million or make more than $200,000 a year (as a single person). This can still be useful, though, since there are those who qualify to be accredited investors but might still have trouble laying hands to more than $100,000 in available capital for their own outright real estate purchases.

Different real estate crowdfunding sites allow you the chance to invest in various opportunities as well. Some sites specialize in commercial or residential opportunities. Others, like Crowdventure, come with a social responsibility twist. With a little research, there is a good chance that you can find something that fits your idea of returns and social responsibility.

Real Estate Investment Clubs

Another option is to join a real estate investment club. Investment clubs pool resources of members in order to access opportunities that might be unavailable to the individuals. Investment club participation depends on the rules of the club, and you might need anywhere between $10,000 and $75,000 (or more) to join. However, when you consider that you might be able to access a $1 million property as a part owner with your investment club, that amount suddenly doesn’t seem like a huge amount of capital.

It’s also possible to enter into other arrangements with potential fellow investors. You can set up a limited liability company or partnership in order to invest in real estate. This is one way to reduce the amount of capital you need to bring to the table in order to invest. Of course, this also means that you will have to share the profits with your partners. If you really want to invest in real estate, though, and you want the property, sharing the profits is worth it if you can experience a lower barrier to entry and share the risk as well.

Buy Real Estate Stocks

Finally, you can invest in real estate by purchasing stocks related to property. There are many real estate developers, management companies and others in the real estate industry that are publicly traded on the stock exchange. You don’t need a large chunk of capital to invest in a company that is related to real estate. However, it is important to carefully evaluate the company. Any time you invest in an individual stock, you need to be aware of the risks.

There are a number of ways to invest in real estate these days. You don’t need a large chunk of capital to buy up property. With a little creativity and knowledge, you can add real estate to your portfolio without breaking the bank.



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.