One of the greatest things about real estate investing is that anyone can do it. People think they need money or credit to become a real estate investor, but that is simply not the case.

No matter where you are financially: broke or bulging pocketbook, there is a place in the real estate investing world for you.

The Ladder

I like to think of it like a ladder. We are all want to make it out of the rat race, and each of us is on a rung on the ladder. Whether you have a lot of money and are near the top of the ladder, or are just taking your first step; it is as simple as a series of steps.

It’s obviously easier at the top of the ladder because you have the most options. Cash is king and buying real estate with cash will get you the best deals and terms.

Because you have the most options at the top, it’s logical to choose the highest returns with the least amount of work. The top rung should be on the passive side of the passive income continuum.

At the bottom of the ladder, your options are limited, but not as much as you might think. You will need to find ways to invest in real estate with little or no money. You will have to give up some long-term gains for some short-term money to get you on the next rung of the ladder.

Let’s start at the top of the ladder and work our way down to the bottom.

5th Rung: High Net Worth, Wants Low-Risk Cashflow

People on the 5th rung have enough money to retire and are looking for low-risk, cashflowing assets that will give them a steady stream of passive income in their retirement without digging into their principle.

At this level, you could theoretically just dump your money in Treasury Bonds and live off the 1-2% return, but you can do better than that in real estate while keeping your risk to a minimum.

Multi-Family Yield Play

As real estate investors, we are all heading in the direction of the multi-family yield play. That’s where you buy an apartment complex that is in good condition and already stabilized; and enjoy a steady 10-20% return on your investment through monthly cashflow.

If you have a high net worth and are close to or in retirement, you want an investment that will give you a high rate of return without much hassle. Those that want the least amount of hassle should look for an opportunity to be a passive investor in a multi-family deal put together by an experienced lead investor.

Many lead investors will accept passives with as little as $100,000 to bring to the table. Your commitment might be as little as the optional quarterly meeting to vote on distributions. If you have placed your money with a solid lead, all you have to do is go to the mailbox and deposit your check.

Before entering in any deal with a lead investor, make sure they have a solid track record of safe, steady returns.

If you are willing to put more time and energy into a deal, and have the skill-sets to manage large projects, you might consider learning to be a multi-family lead investor. As a lead, you would earn extra compensation for putting the deal together and managing the asset.

Private Lending

Finding a great multi-family value play might take a little time, so in the mean time you can make a steady 6-10% return by lending money to real estate investors to buy property. Your investment would be secured by the piece of real estate at no higher than a 70% loan to value (LTV).

If you hold a 1st lean position on a piece of real estate at 70% LTV, the worst thing that could happen is you would have to foreclose on the borrower and take over a property with a 30% equity position.

You could sell the property and probably walk away with more money than you would have made if you had not foreclosed. Some people consider this the BEST case scenario.

(For more information on private lending, please visit

4th Rung: Medium-High Net Worth, Wants Big Gains

People on the 4th rung are either still building their nest egg, or are wanting to get more aggressive with their investments. They are looking for opportunities to make a 50-100% gain on a deal in a 1-5 year period.

Multi-Family Value Play

A Multi-Family value play is where you buy an apartment complex that is beat up with low occupancy, and rehab the asset until it is in good condition and performing at a high level.

There is more risk involved with such an undertaking, but the rewards can be massive. Think about it: If you by a apartment complex that was selling for $30k a door five years ago for $10k a door in foreclosure; imagine the possibilities if you could run that asset properly.

Before you embark on such an undertaking, get as much information from experts in this sort of deal. Find a local investor group with multi-family investors to learn from. Go to to find a local investor group.

3rd Rung: Medium Net Worth, Wants to Move Up

People on the 3rd rung have a good foundation, but not enough to get into multi-family investing. Their main concern is building their nest egg as quickly as possible while adding to their passive monthly cashflow.

Single-Family Buy & Refi

If you have $20-$100k to invest, you should be mainly concerned with preserving your liquidity. The object is to buy as much real estate with as little out of pocket as possible.

One way to do that is to buy rental real estate and then refinance your money back out in order to buy the next piece.

The first step is to buy the property with either cash or a hard money loan. In order to make this work, you will need to find a property that you can buy and rehab for 75% or less of it’s after repair value (ARV).

Once you have rehabbed the property, most commercial lenders will give you up to 75% of the value of the house in a refinance mortgage. Take your money back out of the property and do it again.

Rinse and repeat.

When you have built up enough equity to move into multi-family, sell your properties to liquidate your equity and move up.

2nd Rung: Low Net Worth, Good Credit

If you have somewhere between $5k and $20k with good credit, you are still in good shape! Your real estate investing plan should be to buy as many properties as you can with hard money loans.

Hard money lenders are non-traditional banks that will usually lend up to 70% of the after repair value of a property. This differs from traditional lenders who lend based on the current value.

If you can find a house that will be worth $100k when it is fixed up for $50k with $10k in rehab and $10k in closing costs, you will be all in at the end of the day for $70k. Since 70% of the ARV is $70k, the hard money lender will lend you everything you need to buy and rehab the property. In this case, you will have nothing in the deal.

If you are all in for $75k, you would only need to come out of pocket $5k.

Hard money allows you to stretch your minimal capital as far as possible.

1st Rung: No Net Worth, No Credit

If you have no money and no credit, you can still be in the game. Since you won’t be able to qualify for a loan, your strategy will be to find deals for other investors and make a short-term gain.


Wholesalers are sometimes known as “bird-doggers” because they spend their time hitting the pavement to find deals for other investors. If you don’t have money or credit, you will have to bring value to the deal with sweat-equity.

You will set up a marketing campaign to find motivated sellers by putting up signs, sending out mailers, walking the streets, plastering your car with ads, networking, etc. If you can find a $100k for $45k that needs $10k in rehab, you could easily sell it to an investor for $50k, giving you a quick windfall of $5k.

(Remember that most investors are looking to be “All-in” for around 70% of ARV.)


I know people who make a living at every one of these rungs of the ladder. The reality is that it can be done no matter where you are financially.

After hanging out with a bunch of millionaire real estate investors for the last few years, it’s amazing to me how much most people DONT know about creating wealth. The average reaction to this article will probably be skepticism because most people have never even imagined creating wealth this quickly.

The investors who run in my circle are doing this every day.