So you’ve decided that you want to invest in real estate. It might be that you are still working a full-time job or you are running a business that right now takes up most of your time. Don’t make the mistake of treating your new venture as a side hobby. Diversifying and building your wealth with real estate is one of the best things you can do for your future.
Buying investment real estate is an activity that should be treated as a business and not a hobby. The mistake that many newbie investors make is that they are just making it up as they go along and are not taking the time to do their homework on how to set up their business before they start looking for properties.
It is important to not only structure your business well before you go out buying properties, but also to make sure that you put forth the most professional image possible. There are a lot of aspects to doing this well that I share with my clients, and I will share just a few simple strategies with you here.
First, every new business should you have a name. Choose a name that reflects your investing goals, the industry, and be sure to stay away from words that might have legal implications (ex. “Realty”). Also, be sure to check the availability of the name with your local Secretary of State. This is an important first step, because this is the name you will use with everything from registering your business with your state to opening your bank account. You don’t want tenants making payments made payable to you personally.
That leads us into my second recommendation. Now that you have a business name and have ideally registered it with the state, you will also want to keep your business expenses separate from your personal expenses. The easiest way to do this is to open a business bank account separate from your personal bank account, and make sure to have all income and expenses for your properties and other business related expenses flow through it. Don’t make the mistake of mixing your personal and business expenses, because should you ever be audited by the IRS you could lose some if not all of your legitimate business expenses.
When I started investing some years ago, one of the first things I did was create a name and open a bank account. It gave me a professional appearance to all of the vendors and customers I came into contact with, and an easy way to start accepting payments and tracking expenses.
Lastly, I recommend meeting with an attorney (real estate or trust & estate) to determine the best legal entity for your personal circumstances. Many real estate investors use a Limited Liability Company (LLC) because of the limits on their personal liability in the event of a legal suit. Again, check with your attorney to determine what will work best for you, but make sure you do not own your investment properties in your personal name.
Using these simple strategies, you are well on your way to setting up your new real estate business for success.
Wishing you much success,
Real Estate Investing Mentor