Rentals, just like stocks, throw off cash. With rentals we call that cash “rent”, and with stocks we call it dividends. A significant difference however is that the S&P 500 has appreciated at ~6% per year (above inflation) for the last 100 years…..Real Estate has had almost 0 growth above inflation. So are rents higher than dividends? Maybe, maybe not. But unless you got one heck of a deal, the delta in rent over dividends will have a very tough time making up for the 6% per year difference in appreciation.
Dividend stocks tend to be more mature companies that are past their high growth stage. Utilities, telecoms, and financial sectors tend to make up the majority of dividend paying companies. Tech, Internet, and biotech, on the other hand, tend not to pay any dividends because they are reinvesting most of their retained earnings back into their company for growth.
Which all goes back to my point – since companies change in a lot of unpredictable ways, it makes more sense for passive income to just ride the market by investing in a Total Domestic Stock Market, Total Bond Market, and Total International index funds, with allocations that depend on your goals and time horizon. For income, withdraw 4% or less, depending on what research you believe, and you’ve got a pretty low risk strategy.
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2. Real Estate: Real estate is #2 for one simple reason, leverage – using smart debt and other people’s money. When looking at real estate rents and the potential for income real estate provides, it is the trifecta of residual income. First, a home or rental property can appreciate, so capital appreciation is the first long-term benefit of owning a home. Second, rent. Other people are paying the mortgage, insurance, property taxes and maintenance while you own that piece of real estate. Third, tax protection. Rental income is taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income and you can depreciate real estate by taking a paper deduction on your annual tax return not to mention expensing the cost of mileage, mortgage interest, and updates to the property. Rentals done right can generate almost double what the stock market can in dividends and interest. The fourth and maybe most hidden, but important benefit is that over time rent’s rise, protecting your cash-flow against inflation, while your mortgage interest can be at a fixed rate potentially.

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