If your investment portfolio is looking a little stagnant, it might be time to turn to real estate for some additional diversification and cash flow. After all, didn’t

How do millionaires make money in real estate so quickly?

How do millionaires make money in real estate so quickly? Is it luck, their parents’ wealth, or is there some sort of science to it?

First, you need to understand that there are dozens of ways to “make money in real estate.” Some take a long, long time. Others don’t.

However, you also need to know that some of the “under 30” kids claiming to be millionaires aren’t. (Oh, sure, some are. You can be.) There are some people who make money selling courses—expensive courses—and they like to promote themselves with pictures of themselves standing in front of mansions, in front of very expensive cars, on fast boats surrounded by nearly-nude bikini-clad women, and so on. So, don’t pay attention to those claims. There’s usually no way to verify them. However, that really seems to be the way some of those folks have made most of their money. They do a few successful deals. Then they become “gurus.” They have a $1,995 course. A $2,995 “boot camp.” A $500-a-month “Inner Circle.”

Here’s one list of “The Top 100 Ways to Make Money in Real Estate.” The list is worthless from a “how to” perspective (though the site itself is very good, with lots of information), but it demonstrates the range of real estate strategies. Also, keep in mind that many people will start off with one strategy, then use another . . . either when the market changes or when their circumstances change. It’s also important to choose a strategy that you’re comfortable with. For example, some investors pursue short sales and pre-foreclosures. Others really don’t like doing that.

And before we finally get to “the answer” (or at least some of them), understand that one way to make a lot of money quickly is to use leverage. And, often, the more leverage involved, the riskier the investment can be, or can get. Still, here are a few techniques that some people have used:

Wholesaling

Become a real estate wholesaler. That’s a quick technique to make money, starting with little money. Note: Some real estate investors don’t consider this “investing.” And it isn’t. You’re not actually purchasing, renting out, or selling real estate. Still, this is a way to make money—sometimes a lot—quickly.

A real estate wholesaler puts a property under contract—generally at a price substantially below what would be considered market value. The contract is assignable and that’s what you do: You assign the contract to a rehabber or another investor and charge an assignment fee.

Example: You find a property that in fixed-up condition (ARV, or after-repair value) would sell for $550,000. It requires about $90,000 worth of work. You can put it under contract for $305,000. You do so; you now have a contract with the owner(s) to buy the property for $305,000. The contract is assignable (most contracts, including real estate contracts, are assignable unless they specifically say that they’re not). You find a rehabber willing to pay a total of $330,000 for the property: $305,000 to the owner and $25,000 to you as your assignment fee: For the rehabber’s right to take over your role as purchaser in the contract. You make $25,000. I know people who average $23,000-$26,000 per deal. I know others who average $5,000-$7,000 per deal, but they may do 20–30 a year.

Your investment: Probably $100 or less. Remember: You’re not actually buying the property, so there’s no 20% down or 10% down or whatever. Instead, there’s an earnest money deposit. Many wholesalers use $100. Some use less. But if your assignment contract (the one between you and the rehabber) is written properly, you can even get your $100 back.

Rehabbing

Rehab houses. This generally isn’t for raw beginners. Learn wholesaling first. Or work with some rehabbers. Also, understand that the reality TV shows that show rehabbers (all the “flipping” programs on the air) you see are highly fictionalized. Still, there’s good, relatively fast money that can be made. Using the wholesaling example above, suppose you’re a rehabber. You pick up the property for $330,000. You put $90,000 into it, and you sell it for $550,000. The rehab process, if done properly, might take 10–15 weeks. Allow another 60–90 days to sell it and close. And you’re going to have a bunch of expenses. The main ones will be financing from either a hard money lender or a private lender. You’ll also want to maximize the sales price, so you’ll use a real estate agent. Still, you might make $75,000, plus or minus, on the rehab. Where I am, rehabbers typically do one at a time. But in other areas, where prices are lower and the profit might be around $25,000, rehabbers might do 2 or 3 at a time.

Mobile Homes

Buy and sell mobile/manufactured homes. This is like rehabbing, but with a few different profit centers. First, you buy with cash, getting a substantial discount off the asking price. (The secret is that most mobile home buyers want to finance the purchase, but can’t. This reduces the number of actual, available purchasers.) Drive through a mobile home park. You’ll see signs in the windows offering to sell for $25,000, $30,000, or whatever. (Can be a bit lower; might be substantially higher. New, really nice manufactured homes sell for $100,000-$125,000.) Do a bit of research on values, though it doesn’t take too much. Offer about 35% of the asking price, all cash. Yes, it’ll take you maybe $6,000-$10,000. You’ll get people to say “yes.”

Have someone inspect the home. It’s likely to need a few thousand dollars of repairs. There’s likely to be wood rot around the bathrooms. It might need a new roof. You may need to put in a few working newer (used is fine) appliances. Just make sure there’s nothing major, nothing that’ll take more than a few days to a week to fix.

Fix it up and pretty it up. Then put it back on the market at close to “retail” price. Let’s say $20,000. But you put it up for sale with “seller financing.” Say, “Only $5,000 down and $x per month.” (I don’t have my calculator with me, but something in the range of $299-$399 a month will work.) So now you get a buyer with $5,000 down. Your total investment in the home is perhaps $8,000. You’ve just received $5,000 from the new buyer. So your net investment really is $3,000. And you’re selling it for $20,000. Your return on your $3,000 investment should approach (and often will exceed) 100% per year. That’s going to give you a nice, solid cash flow. If you want your money even quicker, you’ve got the note from the buyer for (in this case) $15,000. The note has a stated return (the amount you’re charging the buyer) of perhaps 12%-15%. Wait 6 months for the note to season, then sell the note at a slight discount. There are plenty of people out there who’d love to buy a seasoned note yielding 18%-20%.

OK. So rehabbing and financing the sale of used mobile homes isn’t glamorous. You didn’t ask for glamour. You asked for a way to make a lot of money quickly.

Other Techniques

I could keep writing all night, but I’ve got other things to do, and so do you. But a few other ways to earn money quickly in real estate without needing a lot of money up front or waiting forever include:

  • Dealing in Notes (performing or non-performing)
  • Options (for houses, apartment buildings, or land)
  • Mobile Home Parks (Buy with seller financing, fix it up, fill the vacancies, then either sell for a profit or collect a lot of cash every month.)
  • Tax Liens
  • Joint Venture (You find and structure the deals. Your partner puts up the money.)