Due diligence is a fact of life. Everyone must learn how to analyze and judge an opportunity, whether it be a real estate investor looking at funding a particular project, a borrower deciding which lender to raise capital from, or a marketplace lending platform presenting investment opportunities to accredited private investors. Without due diligence, you stand a better than even chance of losing your hard earned money through the wrong investment.

While all of that is true, the nature of due diligence is that it changes based on the opportunity. Commercial real estate is different from residential real estate. Borrowing $5 million for a business expansion is not quite like taking out a $50,000 line of credit for small business growth. While there are some similarities, the differences are striking.

That brings me to my next point. Real estate crowdfunding is relatively new, and it does offer borrowers and lenders awesome new opportunities, but it also changes the way due diligence is performed for private investors.

Why Real Estate Crowdfunding Requires Due Diligence

Real estate crowdfunding falls under the wider umbrella of marketplace lending. In essence, the platform is an intermediary. It brings together the borrower, or project sponsor, and the private investor so that each can get what they want out of the transaction. The borrower wants to fund a project; the investor wants a return on their money. The RECF platform makes the connection so that both parties can achieve their goals.

In order to ensure that both the lender and the borrower get what they want, the platform has to choose its investments very carefully. If the RECF platform presents a shady deal to investors, it could lose its credibility as a trusted intermediary. On the other hand, if the platform can’t raise the capital the project sponsor needs to see its deal through to the end, borrowers will stop presenting their deals and the platform will fail.

These realities make it necessary for the crowdfunding platform to do its due diligence on both the borrower and the lender.

For the borrower, Sharestates must learn of his past failures and successes, his track record in managing projects, his trustworthiness as a borrower, credit history, and other typical factors that any lender would want to know about a borrower. That includes whether the borrower can offer a personal guarantee in case something goes wrong with the project and the bottom falls out. For the lender, the platform is obligated to ensure that only accredited investors have access to the deals. Therefore, Sharestates must ensure each investor has the proper documentation to prove they meet the federal criteria for investing.

What Constitutes Investor Due Diligence

None of this precludes the necessity of the private real estate investor performing her own due diligence. With traditional real estate investing, the private investor would run comps on properties and crunch the numbers of a particular deal to ensure that those numbers check out and offer a potential ROI based on the investor’s cash and equity output. With real estate crowdfunding, the investor must perform due diligence on the platform itself.

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What that means is looking at the platform’s track record in terms of projects successfully funded, the number of loan defaults over time, the average return on investment per project, the fees associated with each investment, whether the company invests in good neighborhoods, whether it uses solid underwriting practices, and what kind of backing does it have in its own equity pool?

Sharestates encourages you to perform your due diligence on this RECF platform. We think you’ll be impressed with how it stacks up.

Sharestates joined up with Orchard Platform, Wunder Capital, Lendit, and SeedInvest on April 25th, 2017 in New York City for the Alternative Investing Meetup (NYC Marketplace Lending Meetup.) Speakers at this meetup were Kevin Shane; Sharestates, Todd Anderson; LendIt, Matt Burton; Orchard, Bryan Birsic; Wunder, and Aaron Kellner; SeedInvest. This intimate discussion focused on what alternative investments will look like in 2017, offerings from the various platforms, and which platforms or opportunities sophisticated investors need to know about. To watch the video recording from the meetup, please refer to the clip below:

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQNTUD8ZKq8

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The real estate market can often come across as a black box of investing. Especially after the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-2010, there has been a persisting level of wariness as it relates to real estate. Since that recession, real estate values have been on the rise, especially in metropolitan areas. One of the easiest tools to quickly evaluate and quantify return on investment (ROI) potential within the real estate sphere is to measure the capitalization rate, or cap rate. With the help of our friends at Short Term Rentals NYC, a short term rental agency, we help you break down cap rates, and how they work.

Capitalization Rate Defined

A cap rate is calculated based on the ratio between net operating income (NOI) and property asset value (the market value of buying or selling the property). To break it down even further, NOI is the value of the net rental rate, or operating expenses subtracted from actual income.

A quick simplification of this:

Capitalization Rate: Net Operating Income (NOI) Divided by Market Value of the Property

For example, you are an investor looking to purchase a building. The property of interest has an NOI of $120,000 and is being sold at an asking price of $1,600,000. Using the formula and dividing $120,000/$1,600,000 will yield a cap rate of 7.5%. As an investor, this translates to a 7.5% ROI for you.

Utilizing the Capitalization Rate

The basic function of a cap rate is to measure the potential ROI on any given real estate investment. It represents the risk associated with an investment: The higher the cap rate, the higher the risk, but also the higher the potential ROI. Inversely, a lower cap rate is indicative of lower investment risk, but accompanies a lower payout.

In order to quantify this risk premium, you can compare a cap rate to U.S. Treasury bonds, which are the basis of a risk-free investment. By subtracting the yield rate of these bonds from the cap rate, it reveals the risk premium associated with the investment. For example, if U.S. bonds are yielding at 4%, and a real estate property’s cap rate is 8%, the risk premium value is 4%. For a risk-averse person, this amount may not appear worth it for the chance of an 4% greater ROI than the steady payout from the bonds. However, for others, this is well worth the potential instability that arises from engaging in the market.

Cap rates also serve a predictive function. In one sense, investors are able to compare similar properties (location, price, etc.) and use the cap rate to differentiate between them in terms of higher-risk investments. If one building in a similar location with similar amenities has a much higher cap rate than another, an investor will wonder what the risk factors are associated with it that contribute to such a gap in the cap rate.

As a market forecasting tool, cap rates can be used to predict future value fluctuations. Given that cap rates decrease as property values increase, historical cap data can be referred to as an indicator of expected valuation trends.

Capitalization Rates In Practice

One way to understand cap rates even further is to take a historical perspective, and observe their fluctuations in accordance with real estate recessions and surges. In general, the lower the cap rate, the less risk associated with the property and the higher its market value. How it’s often interpreted at the higher level: The lower the cap rate, the healthier the real estate market, given that, this means property values are higher.

During the Great Recession previously mentioned from 2007-2010, home values were at an all-time low. Cap rates reflected this inversely: At the start of the recession, before the full impact was felt, capitalization rates for commercial properties were at a low of 6.73%. By the end of 2009, however, they had jumped to an average of 8.46%.

Though the real estate market has considerably improved since this time, the average retail cap rate as of Q4 2016 was 8.1%, indicating there is still considerable risk involved with this type of venture. Meanwhile, apartment cap rates averaged out at 5.8% at the end of Q4, 2016. This trend portrays the larger tendency for urban real estate investment to be far less risky than retail.

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Even within the same market (commercial versus residential), there can be vast differentiation of cap rates based on perceived risks. For example, for a Class A commercial property in a central business district (CBD), the cap rate in Los Angeles was under 5%, while that in Memphis was almost 9%. The reason behind this is that the perceived operational and valuation risks in Memphis far exceed those in Los Angeles. However, for a risk-taking investor, Memphis can represent a huge ROI potential as a developing, vibrant metropolitan hub.

When Not to Use Cap Rates

Though capitalization rates fulfill the basic calculation of ROI and serve some predictive function, they cannot account for more complex cash flow processes. A cap rate should be used for quick valuations and to understand the real estate market fluctuations on a high level. For deeper understandings and to account for all variations of cash flow systems, you should conduct a comprehensive analysis.

There are many factors that affect real estate investment risk and loan to value (LTV) is just one of them, but it’s a very important one. If you take out too much loan relative to the risk, not only will you not see as large a return on your investment as you might have, but you may end up losing your entire investment.

There’s a reason successful real estate investors establish loan to value criteria for their investments. The loan to value ensures they do not invest more than is necessary to ensure a good return on their investment.

What is Loan-to-Value?

Every property has a value. There is its current value, which is what you might reasonably be able to expect to get for the property if you were to sell it on the open market right now. If the property is in disrepair, that will diminish the value of the property depending on how much investment would be needed to rehabilitate the property so that it can sell at retail. As an investor, the current value of the property is not as important as the future retail value of the property.

For instance, if you are evaluating a single-family home that needs substantial repair, you could be looking at investing $25,000 in rehabilitation alone. If you run comps on like properties within a reasonable radius, you’ll discover that recent properties of similar size and amenities might have sold for $150,000. Subtract the estimated rehab costs and you have a retail value of $125,000.

If you borrow $125,000 to buy that property and repair it for resale, you won’t be giving yourself enough room for profit. Contingencies might take your repair costs to $30,000, in which case, you could lose money on the deal. To prevent that from happening, you need to establish an LTV threshold for your investments.

What Makes a Good LTV Threshold on Real Estate Investments?

Every real estate investor, and every loan underwriter, has their maximum LTV, that threshold over which they will not lend or invest in a property. Whether that investment is for a fix-and-flip property or a buy-and-hold property, you need a maximum LTV threshold in order to protect your investments.

Generally speaking, the lower the end of the market you are operating in, the lower you want your threshold to be. For instance, if you rehab properties that retail for $50,000 and you set your LTV at 90%, that means you are borrowing $45,000 and can only expect a $5,000 return—but that’s if everything goes well. In luxury markets, repairs might cost more, but the cushion for a 10% profit is much larger for a $500,000 luxury home than the cushion for a 10% profit on less expensive properties.

If you set your LTV at 70%, you’ll want to borrow no more than 70% of the property’s retail value. The retail value is the value of the property after repairs. For instance, an investment property that could retail at $100,000 after repairs would yield a $70,000 LTV. That’s the maximum amount you want to borrow to buy that property and make the necessary repairs.

Why a High Loan to Value Increases Your Personal Risk

Your investment risk is relative to your loan to value. For instance, if you set your LTV at 90%, then you are leaving yourself a 10% cushion for contingencies. That means your investment must be completed without a hitch in order for you to see the 10% profit that you expect. One mishap or unplanned for expense could mean the difference between a small ROI and a loss.

For that reason, you’ll seldom see an LTV more than 80%. You’ll often see them set at 65%, especially in lower-end markets where entire neighborhoods are in disrepair. Buy-and-hold properties often have higher LTVs due to expected property value increases and fewer rehabilitation needs.

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When you borrow money for a property investment, your lender will have their own LTV based on their underwriting philosophy. As an investor, you should set your own LTV and not invest more than you can afford to lose. After all, the LTV is a measure of the risk you are willing to take on that investment.

Buyers want homes with modern, updated features. The same is true for office spaces. There are several office renovations that will help sell your property faster. Some makeovers include installing the latest wireless devices, charging stations, and ergonomic desk designs.

Although these tips apply to the home office and office building, most realtors suggest converting your home office into a bedroom. Bedrooms rank higher than a home office to buyers.

Office Renovations That Cater to the Client

Before starting any office renovation project, there are some crucial questions every real estate investor should ask themselves. What’s the best use of the space? It’s best to purpose the space with buyers in mind. Is the building or unit better equipped for corporate executives or a call center?

Are cubicles more practical for the layout than individual offices? What local tax incentives apply to renovating the building? How does the building/suite measure up to the surroundings? It’s vital to address these questions (and more) when considering which office renovations will help sell your property faster. Local realtors should be well-versed with these concerns.

Modern Office Renovations: Less Furniture is More

Grand, hulking executive desks are a thing of the past. Real estate investors know that modern offices highlight comfort and convenience rather than showy furniture. Keep in mind the purpose of the space when staging or purchasing the furniture. Contemporary furniture is prominently metal and glass with some featuring wood accents.

Modern conference tables include center slots for charging stations and presentation docking connectors. Trending ergonomic office desks slope inward for a more comfortable experience. Many also raise and lower in one or two simple steps. Recent studies prove the health benefits of standing while working. Office chairs that feature the latest designs include foot rests and head supports.

It’s not necessary to purchase office furniture for the space. However, spending some time and money staging the area with contemporary pieces helps investors see the potential of the unit.

Smart Office Renovations

When conducting office renovations to help sell your property faster, it’s always beneficial to install smart devices. The latest smart devices lower utility costs, help employees work more efficiently, and increase security.

Smart locks allow doors to unlock and lock with the wave of a phone or key fob. Owners and managers divvy out access to employees and have the ability to monitor and activate the smart locks via the web. Smart thermostats control the climate and monitor the environment for movement.

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When everyone leaves the building, the thermostat increases its temperature to conserve energy. Smart lightbulbs provide a similar service as the thermostat. They monitor areas and click on and off when rooms are empty or occupied. A wireless air quality monitor is another device that will help sell your property faster.

When connected with an air purifying system, two or more air monitors positioned around the office signal the system to clean the air when pollutants become too dense. Other smart office devices include security cameras, web servers, light switches, cloud printers, audio speakers, and window blinds.

Agree or disagree with the First 100 Days milestone, it continues to be a measuring stick against which progress is evaluated for a new administration. It serves as a marker for assessing the health of each industry and real estate market is no different. During Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, the property market has shown clear signs of strength and long-term growth.

Looking at the Current Real Estate Market

Still, there have been some housing-market red flags coming from the administration, like tinkering with the mortgage interest deduction as part of an overall tax-reform strategy, and reversing planned cuts to interest premiums on Federal Housing Authority mortgages. These appear, however, to have had little to no effect on the surging residential real estate market.

In fact, sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose more than expected in March to the fastest pace in a decade, according to the National Association of Realtors. Contract closings increased 4.4 percent to a 5.71 million annual rate while the inventory of available properties dropped 6.6 percent from a year earlier to 1.83 million.

Fundamentals are driving the market right now. Barring the unexpected, which is a somewhat relative term to quantify based on President Trump’s first 100 days, real estate should remain a solid investment for years to come.

Factors Strengthening the Real Estate Market

For starters, interest rates remain at historically low levels. According to Freddie Mac, the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate home loans rose to 4.03 percent during the week ending April 27 from 3.97 percent a week earlier, the first increase in five weeks. The rate was 3.66 percent a year ago and averaged 3.65 percent in 2016, the lowest level in records dating back to 1971. Even with a possible tax overhaul on the horizon and additional Federal Reserve rate hikes this year (the central bank raised rates in March for a second time in three months) mortgage rates should remain attractive to potential homebuyers.

Demand from homebuyers should also support the market for some time. With a tightening labor market and more of the population showing confidence about their own economic prospects under Trump, consumers are more willing to make large purchases like a house. Further, supply is tight – a legacy of the 2007 financial crisis where homebuilding slowed dramatically.

Real Estate Market Affected By Trump’s Policies

As for commercial real estate, the sector is likely to show gains supported by the Trump administration’s corporate-friendly positions on economic growth and tax cuts. Recent tightness in the labor market also suggests sustained demand for commercial property.

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Another supporting mechanism for the segment is foreign investment. And as the Trump administration tangles with Russia, Mexico and others on the world scene – affecting everything from asset prices to currencies – foreign capital continues to flow toward the safety of U.S. commercial real estate.

As the U.S. and the rest of the world acclimates to President Trump’s unconventional stewardship of the economy and foreign policy, the housing and commercial property markets should continue to strengthen for the remainder of the year and beyond as favorable market conditions continue to support real estate.

To read the original article please visit huffingtonpost.com.

The Atlantis Organization and Sharestates partnered up again this year for the 4th Annual Charity Poker Tournament. The event was held on April 25, 2017 at Temple Emanuel in Great Neck, NY. This year about 200 attendees were present, some of which played poker while others observed. In order to play or watch a donation had to be made to either Sunrise Day Camp or Friendship circle and in some instances both. Our Charity Poker night was a huge success in raising money for both organizations.

Sharestates attended the Sunrise Gala on May 4, 2017 at Glen Head Country Club. Raymond Y. Davoodi, Co-founder and Head of Strategic Planning & Organizations and Michael Ramin, Business Development prior to the event proposed that David Miller, Sunrise Association board member shave his trademark hair and mustache for a pledge of $50,000. David accepted this challenge and ended up shaving his head of hair and mustache due to Sharestates reaching the $50,000 mark. Overall, Sharestates helped Sunrise Association achieve a milestone amount of over $1 Million dollars.

About Sunrise Association

 

Sunrise Association’s mission is to bring back the joys of childhood to children with cancer and their siblings world-wide. The mission is achieved through multiple Sunrise Day Camps, Year-Round Programs and In-Hospital Recreational Activities, all of which are offered free of charge. Sunrise Association was established in 2006 and is the world’s only dedicated day camps for children with cancer and their siblings, provided completely free of charge. There are currently seven Day Camps — three in New York, three in Israel and Horizon Day Camp in Maryland. The association and camps are affiliated with 30 renowned hospitals and medical centers.

Donations towards Sunrise Day Camp are still being accepted, no amount is too small!

About Friendship Circle

The Friendship Circle’s mission is to bring happiness and companionship to children and young adults with special needs by celebrating their individuality, as well as bring energy, support, and peace of mind to their families. They do this by focusing on developing the values of altruism, compassion, and acceptance in their teen volunteers as they heighten community awareness and sensitivity and encourage a sense of responsibility and involvement.

Sharestates takes pride in supporting both the Sunrise Association and the Friendship Circle. Further donations can be made on their websites.

Not all renovations are created equal. Some home renovations actually turn buyers away, rather than draw them in. Last month, existing home sales saw their highest climb in more than 10 years. It’s hard to go wrong with today’s housing shortage, and yet realtors continue meeting homeowners and investors making the wrong kind of renovations.

Savvy investors can avoid cutting the value of their properties by steering clear of these home renovations that turn away buyers.

Pools

Adding a pool could spell trouble in many cold-weather states like New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, etc. Conversely, having a pool is a selling perk in some southern locations like Florida and Hawaii. When in doubt, a flat, landscaped yard is more appealing to most buyers than a pool. This is especially true in northern climates where pools require a lot more maintenance during winter months.

Many buyers see dollar signs instead of the pool. Additionally, pools present safety concerns for parents with young children. If the pool came with the house, leave it. Otherwise, real estate investors and homeowners should invest the dollars in upgrades with high returns like updating the front and garage doors, finishing the basement, and modernizing the kitchen.

Combining Bedrooms

This is a glaring home renovation that turns away buyers. As one realtor puts it, each bedroom makes up nearly 15 percent of the value of the home. Knocking down walls and combining rooms into one large master suite potentially reduces the home’s value by 15 percent per room. When staging a small room, remove the clutter and replace larger furniture with small, modern items.

Also, real estate investors make the room appear larger with solid, neutral paint colors (definitely no wallpaper), a few well-placed décor pieces and a small bed. This same philosophy applies to closets and powder rooms. Update them, enlarge them but never eliminate closets or powder rooms.

Converting a Garage

Regardless of what the homeowner converts the garage into — a bedroom, a gym, a woodshop — removing it turns away buyers. If the home could use an extra bedroom, invest the dollars and add onto the house. Most real estate investors claim their buyers treasure a functioning garage over one converted into a bedroom.

Sloppy Repairs

It doesn’t take an expert to recognize poor carpentry. As a homeowner, consider hiring a professional for any construction repairs and projects. As an investor, it’s worth the time and money to hire a contractor and have him comb the house for shoddy craftsmanship. Redo walls, paint jobs, flooring, and any other “upgrade” the previous tenants performed. Even the smallest imperfections stand out to buyers.

Here are 8 Reasons to Crowdfund Your Next Property

More home renovations that turn away buyers include:

  • Over-the-top landscaping – keep it modern and simple
  • Spas and hot tubs
  • Too many trippy paint colors – use neutral, trending colors
  • Too much carpet – replace carpet with tile, wood, and laminate flooring
  • Personalized tile designs
  • Wallpaper – this is a big turnoff to buyers
  • Really high-end appliances
  • Home office – convert it back into a bedroom
  • Built-in electronics like sound systems and theater rooms

There are a number of ways to raise capital for your real estate projects. If you are a property developer or real estate investor, you might consider real estate crowdfunding. Whether your investment strategy is to buy and hold or fix and flip, you still need capital to purchase property and to make necessary improvements to increase its value. Here are eight reasons why crowdfunding is a great way to fund your property investments.

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8 Reasons to Choose Crowdfunding

1. Convenience – Your real estate crowdfunding platform is right at your fingertips. In most cases, you can input the details of your property investment and have your crowdfunding campaign go live in minutes.

2. Access to more potential investors – By making your property investment available online, you have access to more potential investors than if you simply tried to raise capital by traditional means.

3. Investors can come from anywhere – The reason you have access to more potential investors is because there are no geographical boundaries to crowdfunding. When you publish the details of your real estate project online, that opens the door to investors from all around the world.

4. Raise more money – Having access to more investors from more geographical areas gives you more opportunities to raise more capital.

5. Complete your projects faster – And that means you can complete more projects at a faster pace. You could see your passive income go up just by completing more real estate projects.

6. Cash flow – Real estate bridge loans can give you instant cash flow so you can complete a project already started and get it back onto the market.

7. Marketing – Real estate crowdfunding is not just another way to raise capital for your investments. It can also serve as a way to market your business. When you start looking for a buyer or renter for your project, you’ve already got a network of investors who can help you find that buyer or renter.

8. Analytics – With crowdfunding, it’s easy to track and monitor how much capital you are raising for your projects and your cash flow from those projects. You can also project your returns so that you can plan your long-term investment strategy better and more effectively.

Start Raising Capital With Real Estate Crowdfunding

Getting started with real estate crowdfunding is as simple as 1-2-3.

1. Register with Sharestates as a Sponsor

2. List the details of your first real estate project

3. Promote your crowdfunding campaign, raise capital, and track your progress

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Social capital is the best way to raise money for any real estate project because it relies on reaching members of your own network while adding new members to your network by expanding your reach through the networks of your already-established connections. The more potential investors you can reach, the more capital you can raise for your property investments and the more property investments you can fund in a shorter period of time. The best time to start crowdfunding your real estate projects is now.

When consumers consider real estate investing, they most likely defer to the traditional home purchase. Residential real estate has been a wise investment decision over time, and with interest rates remaining at historically low levels and demand for homes far outweighing available supply, all indications are that the housing market will be strong for some time.

For example, sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose more than expected in March to the fastest pace in a decade, according to the National Association of Realtors. Contract closings increased 4.4 percent to a 5.71 million annual rate while the inventory of available properties dropped 6.6 percent from a year earlier to 1.83 million.

And with such limited supply of quality properties, home-buying competition is fierce with most consumers unable to readily tap the market.

Aside from residential real estate, the multi-housing unit and commercial real estate markets also provide significant opportunities, both in terms of asset appreciation and rental income. Yet, for most retail investors, the money needed to participate in real estate investing may simply be out of reach.

While alternative investment vehicles like crowdfunding have evolved into viable real estate investment options, (Sharestates, for example, offers investors direct access to real estate investments through its online marketplace, with net annualized returns between 8-12 percent), buyers continue to snatch up properties in droves.

And with good reason. Aside from the previously mentioned opportunities for asset appreciation and rental income, real estate investing has many benefits.

Home Ownership

To state the obvious, people need somewhere to live. Rather than pay rent to someone else, homeowners with a traditional mortgage can chip away at loan balances and build equity in their properties over time. And for many, the pride of home ownership is simply part of the American dream.

Better Returns Than Other Asset Classes

While the stock market did enjoy a post-election bounce supported by President Trump’s campaign promises for spurring economic growth, investment experts are signaling there may be a correction soon as the market processes whether the Trump administration can follow through on its pledges. Further, low interest rates continue to keep returns from other asset classes muted – driving investment dollars toward real estate.

Real Estate Investment Trust Investing

A REIT, or Real Estate Investment Trust, is a publicly-traded company that owns or finances income-producing real estate. Modeled after mutual funds, REITs are required to distribute at least 90 percent of their taxable income to shareholders annually in the form of dividends. And over the long term, the total returns of exchange-traded U.S. equity REITs have generally outpaced those of other U.S. stocks. REIT investing is also widely used by investors as a mechanism for diversifying an overall investment portfolio since REITs are not directly correlated to stock market performance.

Real Estate Investing Protects Against Inflation

While the U.S. economy is currently showing only modest signals of inflation pressures, inflation will eventually be an issue to contend with, and real estate is a tried-and-true hedge against these forces.

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Tax Advantages with Real Estate Investing

There are unique tax advantages with holding real estate. Aside from mortgage interest and depreciation deductions, many tax-minimizing strategies can be employed that utilize everything from capital gains and rental income to self-directed IRAs and tax-free property exchanges.

Whether purchasing a home, rental property, commercial real estate or alternative investment vehicle, the real estate market continues to demonstrate strength, and investors looking to grow their portfolios should consider the many available options in this investment category.

To read the original article please visit equities.com.