Money Matters: What's the best way to invest in your future?

by Jake Pence, Guest Columnist

"Real estate or the stock market - which should you invest your money in today?"

This is a fundamental question that many investors must answer at some point on their investing journey. I have consumed hours and hours of content on this exact topic and if there is one thing that I know for certain, it is this … the people creating the content are biased, myself included.

I heavily favor real estate investing over the stock market because it best compliments my goals and skill set, but I also opportunistically invest in stocks.

So … let’s weave through this complex topic and discuss five key points in an objective, fact-driven lens rather than a lens clouded with my personal agenda and bias. The key points I’ll discuss will be barriers to entry, liquidity, diversification, taxation, expected returns, and investment experience.

Barriers to Entry

A widely used economic term, a barrier to entry is a start-up cost and/or obstacle that prevents an individual from easily doing business. When it comes to real estate and the stock market, knowledge and capital will be the two most prominent barriers to entry.

I have found that the barriers to entry for real estate are often overstated because of how easy it is to buy a stock. For better or worse, the barrier to entry to the stock market is almost nonexistent.

If you have a bank account, a smart phone, and a pulse then you can create a Robinhood account and start trading stocks. Therefore, everyone has access to the stock market and can start trading.

In my opinion, that’s a pro and a con, but it does provide equal opportunities and people with small amounts of capital can start putting it to work. Before you put your capital to work, I highly recommend educating yourself on the stock market and how to make educated investment decisions.

While I have found real estate barriers to entry to be overstated, they are still more difficult to overcome than entering the stock market.

Knowledge, capital, and time are the roadblocks you must overcome to invest in real estate.

Knowledge is the easiest to overcome because books, podcasts, and the internet have all of the answers you need. I’m extremely grateful for my education at the University of Illinois, but I learned more about real estate investing from books, podcasts, and YouTube videos than I did in my 400-level real estate investing class from one of the best finance and real estate programs in the country.

Capital is the next obstacle and this one held me back for a few years, but real estate investing should be treated as a team sport. If you have the knowledge, but no capital, then partner with someone who has the capital, but limited knowledge.

If you’re wondering how a cash-poor 22 year old who lives in his parent’s basement, writes articles, and makes YouTube videos is a full-time real estate investor … it's because he partners with people who do have the capital (but limited time and/or knowledge) to invest in real estate.

The last obstacle is time and the common saying to disparage real estate investing is, "I don’t want to get called about a leaky toilet at 3AM."

Well, you’re right. That can happen. However, there are also additional ways to invest in real estate that don’t require that time commitment, such as becoming a passive investor in a real estate syndication.

Before you decide real estate investing isn’t for you, make sure you educate yourself on the different ways you can invest in real estate.

In my next article we will look at the next two key points, liquidity and diversification.

About the author:
• Jake Pence is the President of Blue Chip Real Estate and a consultant for Fairlawn Capital, Inc.. A 2019 graduate from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois, he is a 2016 graduate from St. Joseph-Ogden High School where he was a three-sport athlete for the Spartans. You can view his latest acquisitions and advice on his YouTube channel here.