long distance investing

Love real estate, but don’t want to invest in your home market?

As a semi-nomadic expat, I certainly get that. Location is everything in real estate, and you need to invest strategically based on the best markets for investing—not wherever you happen to live at the moment.

Long-distance real estate investing can come with its own challenges, depending on how you invest. But in today’s world, you have more options than ever to invest hands-off.

Try these tactics to invest in real estate anywhere in the world, ranked in order of ease.

1. Public REITs

For all my reservations about REITs (more on those momentarily), there’s no easier way to invest in real estate.

With the click of a button, you can buy shares in any real estate investment trust in the world. You don’t even need to open a new account; you can invest with your existing brokerage account.

You also don’t need much money to invest in REITs. The minimum investment is simply the cost of a single share, which could be as little as $10. Plus, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any real estate investment with more liquidity than REITs. You can sell shares instantly and anytime, without penalty or cost.

volatile markets


For all those upsides of REITs, I still don’t normally invest in them. The downside of all that liquidity is volatility since investors can buy and sell shares for free at a moment’s notice.

And because REITs trade on public stock exchanges, that volatility shares an uncomfortable correlation with stock markets. A MorningStar study over several decades found a correlation of 0.59 between REITs and the U.S. stock market. That means they share a similar correlation to the broader stock market as telecommunications stocks, energy stocks, and consumer staples.

In turn, that means you get very little diversification benefit by investing in U.S. REITs. But they still offer a convenient way to invest in international real estate and specific real estate types, such as self-storage facilities.

RELATED: Are Self-Storage Units a Good Investment? Pros and Cons of Owning Storage Units

2. Private REITs and Funds

What if you could invest in similarly structured funds, owning many properties, completely passively, but without that correlation to stock markets?

You can do this via private REITs and non-REIT funds. Instead of buying and selling shares through your brokerage account, you buy and redeem them directly with the company that owns the properties or property-secured loans.

You probably know this model better as real estate crowdfunding.

Over the last decade, dozens of real estate crowdfunding companies have entered the space. For example, you’ve probably heard of Fundrise and even read about Seth’s experiences investing with them for over six years.

Other crowdfunding platforms with REITs and funds include Streitwise (full review here), RealtyMogul (full review here), Diversyfund (full review here), and HappyNest (full review here).

Most pay strong dividend yields, and share little correlation with stock markets. That gives them true diversification value as you build a broad investment portfolio.

On the downside, most are not very liquid and charge a penalty for early withdrawal. That locks up your money for several years. Consider private REITs a long-term investment, best left alone to pay dividends and compound.

3. Property-Secured Loans

You probably know mortgage REITs: funds that own loans secured by real estate. But there are several other ways to invest in property-secured loans.

Some crowdfunding platforms let you invest in either individual loans or pooled funds that own many loans. My favorite of these is Groundfloor, which offers both models. You can pick and choose individual loans, investing as little as $10 in each, and typically earning between 7% to 15% interest on them. While these investments aren’t liquid, they are short-term, with loan terms ranging between three to 12 months on average. That’s a rarity in real estate investing.

Even more rare is the liquidity offered by their pooled loan fund. Groundfloor’s “Stairs” fund lets you pull out your money anytime, penalty-free. The downside of that liquidity is that the fund pays 4% to 6% interest rather than the roughly 10% average earned on individual loans.

Read our full Groundfloor review for more information about both investment types.

Alternatively, you can lend other real estate investors money directly in the form of a private note. Just make sure you know and trust the investor with your money and that they have a long, verified track record of success in real estate investing.

4. Fractional Ownership in Rentals

If you like the idea of owning rental properties, but don’t want to hassle with renovations, renters, or ongoing repairs, consider buying a fractional share in a rental property.

You become a partial owner, entitled to your share of the rental income and property appreciation. But you invest completely passively, letting someone else find the deal and manage the property.

Several fractional property investing platforms have come on the market in recent years. I’ve invested in properties through Arrived and Ark7. Both let you buy shares in rental properties for $100 or less, and Arrived offers short-term vacation rentals in addition to traditional long-term rentals.

fractional ownership

In fact, you can even buy shares in overseas rental properties this way. I recently spoke with the founder of Foothold, which is in the process of buying ten units in the trendy Palermo district in Buenos Aires. These will be rented as vacation properties on Airbnb, and as someone who has stayed in Palermo several times, I can tell you firsthand how lively it is.

This model lets you take advantage of financial troubles elsewhere in the world to buy properties at a discount. Foothold chose Buenos Aires, for example, because Argentina has suffered a currency crisis over the last two years and saw triple-digit inflation in 2022. Banks don’t lend mortgages in that environment, which means cash investors can score deep bargains.

5. Real Estate Syndications

You can also buy fractional shares in commercial properties like apartment complexes. It’s just as passive, and the returns are often significantly higher. I’ve seen deals that paid over 100% annualized returns.

These types of passive commercial real estate investments are known as syndications. You invest as a limited partner in the project, with rights to a share of the property’s rental income and appreciation. When the property sells, you get paid out proportionately.

You also get nearly all the same tax advantages as buying properties directly. In fact, you often get accelerated depreciation on these investments.

So why isn’t everyone investing in them?

accredited investors

First, some syndications only allow accredited investors to participate due to SEC regulations. But even those that allow non-accredited investors still require high minimum investments, typically $25,000 to $100,000. The only way to get around that high minimum is by investing as part of a real estate investment club and pooling your money to reach the minimum.

Finally, these investments are not liquid. Once you invest, you lock your money up until the property either refinances or sells. But that raises one last reason to invest: some syndicators refinance and return your initial investment to you, but you still keep your ownership interest in the property. You keep earning distributions, and the property keeps appreciating, but you’ve already gotten your money back. When you no longer have any money invested in a property but keep earning returns on it, you earn infinite returns as a percentage of your $0 investment.

6. Raw Land

Some land investors become millionaires without ever hassling with a single tenant or repair. Or, for that matter, ever stepping foot onto a property they own.

The business model is as simple as it gets: buy land at a discount and sell it for its full market value. When you sell, you can either sell outright or offer a land contract, letting the buyer pay in installments. If they default on installment payments, you don’t have to go through the expensive foreclosure process (nor eviction), since no one lives there. You just reclaim possession and list the property for sale to someone else.

Still, it takes work to choose a market for investing and set up a system for finding deals on discounted land. For example, some investors contact land owners who have defaulted on their property taxes. There are as many ways to score good deals on land as other types of real estate, but far less regulation.

If you want to learn how to invest in land, check out our Land Investing Masterclass.

7. Partner with a Local Investor

Rather than investing in long-distance real estate alone, you can always partner with an experienced local investor.

They do the heavy lifting of finding deals, coordinating with contractors, overseeing repairs, and managing tenants (or hiring a property manager). You write a check and potentially help arrange financing.

property manager responsibilities

You may have to give up a percentage of the profits to compensate your partner for their labor. But that could well be worth leaving those headaches to someone else.

8. Turnkey Rental Properties

As a recovering landlord, I can tell you firsthand that rental properties are not as passive as many pundits make them out to be.

That said, it’s theoretically possible to buy turnkey properties in another city or state and hire a property manager to handle all day-to-day operations. I say “theoretically” because even turnkey properties often need a few finishing touches, and only the best property managers are 100% reliable with no oversight. In my experience, you often have to manage the manager.

If you go this route, expect to put in plenty of work upfront in choosing the right market for investing and the right boots-on-the-ground partners. The latter should include a property manager, real estate agent, and contractors at a minimum. Once you have a strong local team in place, you can invest with less labor.

Check out Roofstock, a marketplace for turnkey rental properties across the country. You can read our full Roofstock review here to learn how they work.

9. Turnkey Vacation Rentals

On the one hand, vacation rentals certainly take more work to manage than long-term rentals. But I’ve actually found that vacation rental managers appreciate the work required more than long-term rental managers, and don’t shy away from the labor.

Vacation property managers are constantly in and out of your property, checking on it, watching for repairs. They constantly have a finger on the property’s pulse. In my experience, long-term rental managers rarely inspect the properties under their charge, even when they’re supposed to do it once or twice a year.

vacation home

Even so, vacation rentals take plenty of work. Beyond finding the right property in the right market, you have to furnish and decorate it (tastefully), set up and pay utilities, and (of course) put the right local manager in place.

On the plus side, maybe you can stay there as a tax-free working vacation while furnishing and decorating it. Just a thought.

Final Thoughts

You can invest in real estate anywhere in the world, but that doesn’t mean you want to become a landlord of a Cambodian rental property. The more passive the investment, the better, as you get further afield.

Start simple with the first five options on the list above if you’re new to long-distance real estate investing. If you’re committed to direct property investing, you can venture into the latter three options, but beware that they’ll take far more of your time and labor.

About the author

Brian Davis is the co-founder of SparkRental.com, a service offering free online rent collection, a free rental property calculator, free video course on boosting rental returns, and a free rental application. Reach out at any time, Brian is extremely easy to reach and responsive!

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