What is real estate investment? Real estate is an alternative investment instrument, like the ones we discussed in the previous section. But it merits a separate mention because it is tangible. You can physically own a property and decide to use, rent, sell, or modify it. Other alternative investments are purely financial instruments. They pay returns in a predefined manner during their life and cannot be put to any other use.
This piece will tell you all need to know about real estate investing and property investment in India.
Types of real estate
There are five major types of real estate investing in India:
1. Residential – This is the most straightforward real estate investment in India. It includes houses and individual apartments that can be occupied by an individual or a family. It also includes apartment buildings where each unit is occupied by a separate tenant. Tenants pay you a pre-decided rent, usually each month. the duration of their stay depends on the lease agreement. These are generally made for eleven months and renewed on you and your tenant’s mutual consent.
2. Commercial – This includes individual office locations, office buildings, and business parks. They usually require a significantly larger investment than residential real estate. But they also attract higher rents. Commercial properties frequently have multi-year leases, which stabilizes your cash flows and increases their predictability. The only challenge is that their rents are highly volatile. They fall more than residential real estate during downturns as businesses downsize or shut down. They increase considerably during upswings as companies hire more people. So, multi-year contracts keep you from taking in new tenants and earning more rent during upswings.
3. Industrial – This includes any property that the tenant can use to produce, manufacture, assemble, store, or distribute tangible goods. Common examples are factory locations, industrial warehouses, garages, service stations, and cold storage facilities. Industrial real estate generally generates a large fee and creates opportunities to earn incremental revenue from additional services. For example, if you have rented out a car service station, you may set up a café or a convenience store on it for waiting customers. You may even offer the property on a revenue sharing basis and earn a share of the occupant’s revenues.
4. Retail – This includes shopping malls and retail stores. These properties too can be let out on rent basis as wells as revenue sharing basis. In many cases, the landlord asks for a share in the tenant’s revenue, over and above a base rent.
5. Mixed-use – This combines many of the above categories on a single piece of land. It is fit for investors who can invest in a large piece of land and develop its separate sections for different uses. it offers built-in diversification because your revenues are not tied to fundamentals that affect one type of real estate. This reduces risk.
Income from real estate investments
Most real estate investments generate income in two forms:
1. Price appreciation: This refers to an increase in a property’s value when it becomes more desirable. This mostly happens because of developments in its surroundings. For example, when a new source of employment comes up in its neighbourhood or when its metro connectivity improves. Its price may also increase because of the upgrades and improvements you make to it. Price appreciation allows you to sell the property for more than you bought it, generating a profit in the process.
2. Periodic cash flows: This is the rent you generate when you lease your property. To generate this, you must hold the property for some length of time after buying it.
Benefits of investing in real estate
1. Convenience – real estate is not as technical as stocks, bonds, and other financial assets. Many aspects of real estate investing are intuitive.
2. Tangibility – Property provides psychological comfort because it stays with you even when its price collapse. You can use it yourself or generate some bare minimum revenue by leasing it.
3. Stability – Real estate does not always generate supernormal returns like stocks. But it pays stable rent that can be increased when you renew the lease.
4. Insurance – Unlike financial instruments, property can be insured against damage and loss.
5. Inflation hedge – Property prices and rents increase with the price level. So, inflation has a limited effect on your financial position when you invest in real estate.
Real estate is regarded as the simplest investment instrument because investing in a property is less complicated than financial assets. Knowing how to invest in real estate involves a straightforward exchange between the property owner and the tenant. However, properties are of different kinds and each kind has its unique characteristics. This makes real estate investment a skill that needs to be done with expertise in order to get the benefits of investing in real estate.
Disclaimer: Investments in the securities market are subject to market risks. Read all the related documents carefully before investing.
What are Alternative Investments
Equity, bonds, and mutual funds are the best-known investment instruments. But there are several other instruments that you can invest in. They are collectively known as alternative investments. In this section, we will discuss what are alternative investments and how to invest in some of the common alternative investments, namely exchange traded funds (ETFs), derivatives, commodities and private equity.Exchange traded funds (ETFs)An ETF is a special kind of mutual fund that trades like a stock and tracks the movement of an index, such as the Nifty or Sensex. ETFs only invest in stocks that make up the index they are tracking. For example, an ETF tracking the Nifty will only invest in the stocks that make up this index. You can buy and sell ETF units on the market, just like stocks. Since the ETF invests only in Nifty stocks, the price of its units will move according to the Nifty.By knowing what are alternative investments and investing in ETFs, you can buy into the growth of an index as a whole, without individually investing in its stocks. Invest in ETFs if you have a hard time picking individual stocks or if you want to cut your trading costs. Some ETFs also track overseas indices, which gives you exposure to say US or European stocks. Like equity indices, there are also ETFs that invest in debt and gold. You can invest in gold ETFs if you want to invest in gold without buying physical gold.DerivativesOne of the types of alternative investments are derivatives. These are contracts whose price depends upon (i.e. is derived from) the price of other assets, such as stocks, bonds, commodities, and currencies. You can buy and sell them on a derivatives exchange. They were traditionally used to mitigate (i.e. hedge) the risk of a sharp movement in the price of the underlying asset. But they are also popular as profit-making instruments.There are major types of derivatives:1. Futures – This is an agreement to buy or sell an underlying asset at a pre-decided price on a future date. Assume that you just bought a stock for Rs.100. You would make a profit if you sold it at a higher price later. But you would incur a loss if its price fell. You can mitigate this risk by buying a futures contract at say Rs.110. This would obligate you to sell the stock at Rs.110, irrespective of how its price changes. But it will ensure that you make a profit of Rs.10.2. Options – These are similar to futures contracts, except that they give you an option instead of an obligation to buy or sell at a pre-decided price. The option to buy is called a Call option and the option to sell is called a Put option. In the previous example, had you bought a Put option, you could have decided whether to sell your shares or not on the future date. If their price rose above Rs.110, you could have opted out of the contract and sold your shares in the open market at a higher price. CommoditiesAny basic good that is used as raw material or input in the production of other goods or services is a commodity. Commodities can categorised into:1. Metals – They are further categorized into base metals (like copper, tin, and zinc) and precious metals (like gold, silver, and platinum).2. Energy – Crude oil, natural gas etc.3. Agricultural commodities – corn, sugar, cotton, wheat etc.4. Meat and Livestock – live cattle, lean hog, feeder cattle etc. Commodity trades usually happen through the futures market. Commodity futures are contracts where the underlying asset is a commodity. They are mostly used for hedging by entities that deal in these commodities. For example, a cotton farmer may protect himself from a fall in the price of cotton by buying a cotton futures contract. However, you too can trade in commodity futures to profit from commodity price movements.Private Equity (PE)These are funds that invest in unlisted companies with strong growth potential. They have a high minimum investment threshold, which makes them viable only for high net worth individuals (HNIs). The manager of a PE fund is called general partner (GP). He also invests in the fund along with the other investors, who are called limited partners (LPs). In addition to investing the fund’s corpus and handling its administrative duties, the GP is responsible for defining how profits will be distributed among the LPs.The aim of a PE fund is to build a portfolio of companies, just as you would build a portfolio of stocks. However, instead of buying a few shares, PE funds buy major stakes in these companies. At times, they also acquire whole companies. The idea is to bring together companies that can strategically benefit from each other by sharing their capabilities. Some of these funds are sector-specific. They only invest in one sector, such as IT or financial technology.To sum upThe above-mentioned are some of the alternative investments in India. Including secure alternative investments and assets in your investment strategy is a good way to diversify. The price dynamics of commodities are very different from equity, bonds, and mutual funds. They are a high risk-high return asset class. Adding a small proportion of these can boost your portfolio returns, even if you are a low-risk investor. Disclaimer: Investments in the securities market are subject to market risks. Read all the related documents carefully before investing.
Where all can you invest?
“Make your money work so you don’t have to work all your life” – you probably hear this a lot. Everybody knows the importance of investing, but do you really know where all can you invest? Here are your investment options: EquityAs one of the popular investment options, equity or stocks is the probably the first investment product you can think of. Issuing shares to the public is one way companies raise money to grow their business. Known to be one of the best investment options, you can either buy shares directly from a stock exchange or indirectly by investing in an equity mutual fund.Every share you buy gives you a tiny stake in the business. Share prices track company performance – they increase when the company does well and decrease when it performs poorly. Invest in companies that you expect to do well and you can profit by selling their shares in later.Who should invest in stocks?Stock prices are sensitive to market developments and don’t guarantee a minimum return or a periodic income. This makes them risky investments. They are an important investment product because they can jack up your portfolio returns. But only invest big sums if you are willing to take the extra risk.DebtBonds issued by companies and the government are called debt instruments. They are issued for a fixed term and generally pay a periodic interest, called coupon. Unlike shares, bonds do not give you an ownership stake in the issuer. Instead, they make the issuer liable to repay your money and the coupon, as per the promised schedule. This is why bonds are called debt instruments.Who should invest in bonds?Bond returns are more stable and predictable than stocks because bonds are issued for a fixed term and they pay a regular coupon. However, a fixed coupon means that bonds don’t have the growth potential of stocks. Invest in bonds if you are looking for average but stable returns, without taking much risk. Mutual FundsThese are pools of funds created by fund houses by raising money from investors like you. They are managed by professional fund managers and invested in shares, bonds, and other financial assets.A fund house floats several funds at a time and each of these has a well-defined mandate and objective. For example, a fund may have the mandate of investing only in stocks. Some funds have even narrower mandates, such as investing only in bank or IT stocks. Mutual funds also have specific maturities, payment schedules, and risk levels. This helps you pick a fund that best suits your requirements.Who should invest in mutual funds?Mutual funds are an excellent investment option if you are new to the market or can’t devote enough time to picking stocks. Since they are managed by investment professionals, they increase your chances of earning good returns.Real EstateProperty is the most favored asset for Indians. Owning land or an additional house gives more satisfaction than other assets because these are tangible. You can quickly sell the property or use it yourself in adversity. In addition, it generates stable and predictable income when you put it on rent. Who should invest in real estate?Real estate investments are ideal for those who are looking for stable, passive returns over the long term. It is also a great option if your investment objective is to secure your children’s future. The only catch is that investing in a house is not as easy as buying a stock. You’ll have to spend much more to buy a house than to buy a stock or a bond. You may even have to take a loan. Alternative AssetsETFs, derivatives, commodities, structured products, private equity, and hedge funds are some of the other products you can invest in. These are jointly called alternative assets. They are built on top of assets we discussed earlier and can, therefore, be complex to understand and invest in. Some of these also have a high minimum investment threshold. For these reasons, you need to be careful while investing in these. However, you can generate big returns by investing in these. We will discuss each of these in the detail in later chapters.Who should invest in alternative assets?Alternative assets are a good option if you are looking to diversify your portfolio. Retail investors actively invest in ETFs, commodities, and derivates. Structured products, private equity, and hedge funds are high-risk investments that are popular only among high net worth individuals. You can consider them if you are looking to invest some idle cash and don’t mind losing it if things don’t work out. ConclusionThere are so many good investment options including short term investment options and long term investment options that you probably have a favorite by now. But investing is not only about picking the asset you like the most. To make investing work, you need a well-defined strategy. Build a portfolio that has several assets, in a proportion that is attuned to your unique circumstances and investment objectives. Disclaimer: Investments in the securities market are subject to market risks. Read all the related documents carefully before investing.
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