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If a doctor invests in real estate, how do they balance being a physician and a landlord?
Direct investing in real estate has a ton of benefits that physicians can take advantage of, if they approach with the right strategy. I began investing in real estate about two years ago and now own and manage five properties. I have seen these massive benefits firsthand and how they have helped me raise my net worth from -$500k to +$500k in just two years.
The benefits of direct real estate investing include:
- Cash flow
- Appreciation (Forced and market)
- Tax advantages
- Hedge against inflation
- Equity build up via mortgage pay down by tenants
However, despite these advantages, there are two overarching concerns that other physicians express when I recommend they consider real estate investing: it costs too much money and it takes too much time.
I won’t address the first point, but I can understand the concern of the second. It’s one that I even felt myself before starting investing in real estate. So, how can you balance being a physician and a landlord? Remember three things.
Know that there is no such thing as “balance.”
I strongly believe that in our personal, professional, and financial lives, balance is a myth. At any point in our lives, nothing is ever perfectly balanced. It is constantly being weighed and counterbalanced in some way. There are times when our personal lives take precedence. Our professional lives take a back seat and serve as a counterbalance then. And vice versa and so on. The danger is when this disequilibrium becomes a permanent rather than a temporary state.
Prioritize based on your “why.”
With that said, the key to being successful as a real estate investor and physician is your “why.” Your “why” is the reason that you are doing it. I invest in real estate to accelerate my path to financial freedom so I can follow my passions (including medicine) on my own terms. Whenever things temporarily fall out of balance and I am extra busy with real estate (and maybe even a bit frustrated), I remember my “why” and it pulls me through. All of a sudden, these minor inconveniences are worth it. However, if these minor inconveniences continually stack up, a temporary imbalance begins to look more permanent, which is a problem.
Automate what you can.
So, the next key is to automate your processes. My wife and I self-manage all of our rentals and are managing 10-15 renters at any one time. However, through experience, most issues that arise take very little effort on our part due to the processes we developed and the team we have built. For example, a tenant recently texted that they had an issue, so I texted my handyman and he scheduled a time to go. Rent is collected automatically through our online platform. And so on.
The bottom line is that you can become a successful real estate investor as a full-time physician. Educate yourself and prepare a plan and schedule, but prepare for things to go off track and be imbalanced sometimes. Determine why you are doing it and orient your priorities around that. Automate what processes you can and build a team if necessary.
Drawing to our conclusion, yes, it is possible to balance being a landlord and a physician, even if you are full time. While not completely necessary, it does bring significant financial benefits and can be quite satisfying on a personal level. But it is not passive or even easy. It requires upfront work and continued (although much lower) maintenance moving forward. So make sure you set your expectations and always remember your reason for being a physician landlord. My reason is financial freedom – and that makes it all very worthwhile!
The Medical Business column features questions from the Doximity community answered by physicians versed in finance. Have a question? Post it in the comment section.
Jordan Frey is a graduating fellow in plastic surgery at NYU.
Animation by Jennifer Bogartz