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What Every Real Estate Investor Needs In Their Financial Plan

Introduction As a real estate investor, your financial plan is more than just choosing good properties. It encompasses all aspects of your finances, from risk management to minimizing taxes, and from retirement projections to estate...

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As a real estate investor, your financial plan is more than just choosing good properties. It encompasses all aspects of your finances, from risk management to minimizing taxes, and from retirement projections to estate planning. In this article, we will explore the 10 essential elements that every real estate investor should include in their financial plan.

Implement a strategy to build and maintain business cash reserves

Building and maintaining business cash reserves is crucial for weathering vacancies, repairs, and unexpected financial challenges. These reserves act as your "emergency fund" for your real estate investments. Keep your cash reserves in secure, liquid savings, such as high-yield checking accounts or money market funds.

Run a retirement projection and update it annually

Running a retirement projection every year is paramount to ensure you are on track to meet your retirement goals. By doing so, you can assess your progress and make any necessary adjustments along the way. There are various retirement planning tools available to help you with this, but it's important to regularly review and update your projections to stay on track.

Create a plan for risk management

Managing risk is a key aspect of financial planning for real estate investors. This involves evaluating and forecasting financial risks and implementing strategies to mitigate them. Some key areas to consider include choosing the right legal structure, ensuring appropriate insurance coverage, and using financial ratios to set guidelines and goals for your real estate business.

Make a plan to minimize taxes

Minimizing taxes is essential for maximizing your real estate investment returns. Seek professional tax advice from a Certified Public Accountant or Enrolled Agent with expertise in real estate. Some common tax-saving strategies for real estate investors include depreciating properties, contributing to tax-deferred retirement accounts, and considering a 1031 exchange for like-kind properties.

Utilize a target debt-to-income ratio

Avoid over-leveraging yourself as a real estate investor by maintaining a target debt-to-income ratio. This ratio is calculated by dividing your total monthly debt payments by your total monthly income. Aim to keep your target debt-to-income ratio at 35% or below to avoid financial strain during market downturns.

Develop sources of both fixed and flexible income

Real estate income is considered fixed income, but it's important to also have sources of flexible income for future financial flexibility. Fixed income sources include rental property income, annuities, and regular business income. Flexible income sources can be retirement accounts, taxable brokerage accounts, and other investment vehicles. Plan for both types of income to cover fixed and flexible expenses.

Envision an exit strategy for each property

Real estate is an illiquid asset, so it's crucial to have an exit strategy for each property you own. Clearly define your goals for income and potential appreciation for each property, as well as under what circumstances you would sell. Consider factors like property condition, financial position, and market conditions when determining the best time to sell a property.

Design a personal budget and a business budget

Developing a personal and business budget allows you to track and manage your finances effectively. A cashflow budget for your real estate business helps you plan for regular expenses and fluctuations throughout the year. A personal budget includes all sources of income, including rental cash flow, and helps you manage your overall financial well-being.

Know how your real estate investments impact college planning

If you have children and are planning for their college education, it's important to consider how your real estate investments may impact financial aid eligibility and college expenses. Real estate income is considered in the determination of total income, and the equity in your properties is seen as an asset that could be used to pay for college. Start planning several years in advance and consult with a financial planner and tax advisor to strategize for college costs.

Prepare an estate plan

Estate planning is crucial for every real estate investor. It ensures a smooth transfer of assets and protects your loved ones in the event of your passing. Review and update the titling and beneficiaries of your properties, create essential estate planning documents like wills and trusts, and consider a digital estate plan to manage your online presence effectively.


By incorporating these 10 essential elements into your financial plan as a real estate investor, you can make informed decisions and maximize your real estate investment success. Seek the guidance of a Fee-Only CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ who understands the unique needs of real estate investors to help you navigate the complexities of financial planning in the real estate world.

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