Latest In

Breaking News

How To Finance A Rental Property And Become A Landlord

Thinking about how to finance a rental property and become a landlord? It's an exciting venture that opens doors to passive income and property ownership.

Author:Darren Mcpherson
Reviewer:Emmanuella Shea
Jan 30, 2024
Thinking about how to finance a rental property and become a landlord? It's an exciting venture that opens doors to passive income and property ownership.
Whether you're a first-time investor or looking to expand your real estate portfolio, understanding the basics of financing is key to turning your landlord dreams into reality. Let's explore some simple steps to help you navigate the world of rental property investment.

Interested In Being A Landlord?

Investing in rental properties can be a lucrative venture, but it demands a significant investment of both time and money. Once you've selected the right property, prepared it for occupancy, and secured reliable tenants, ongoing maintenance becomes a crucial aspect.
The costs associated with maintenance and repairs can eat into your rental income. Unforeseen emergencies, such as roof damage, are always a possibility. As a rule of thumb, investors should set aside approximately 1% of their property's value to cover repair expenses.
Property owners have the option of managing the property themselves or hiring a property manager. While this incurs a cost, typically ranging between 8% and 12% of collected rents, a property manager offers valuable services like coordinating maintenance and repairs, tenant screening, and handling late rent payments.
Familiarizing yourself with landlord-tenant laws in your state and locality is crucial. Both landlords and tenants have specific rights and obligations related to security deposits, lease agreements, eviction procedures, and adherence to fair housing laws.
Safeguarding your real estate investment is paramount. Beyond standard homeowners insurance, landlords can opt for landlord insurance, which provides coverage for property damage, lost rental income, and liability protection in the event of tenant or visitor injuries resulting from property maintenance issues.

Buying A Rental Property


Investors often find potential opportunities in cities or locales experiencing population growth or undergoing revitalization efforts. A neighborhood characterized by a low crime rate, convenient access to public transportation, and a flourishing job market can signify a promising rental market with a larger pool of potential tenants.
When selecting a lucrative rental property, it's beneficial to target locations with low property taxes, a reputable school district, and an array of amenities, including restaurants, coffee shops, shopping areas, trails, and parks.
Using online real estate platforms like can provide valuable information for investors, offering insights into home rental rates and current property values. Additionally, platforms like furnish investors with data on prevailing rental rates for vacation homes or condos, aiding in informed decision-making.

Financing Your Rental Property

Securing a loan for a rental property follows a similar path as obtaining a mortgage for a primary residence, albeit with distinct differences. Due to the elevated risk associated with rental property loans and higher rates of default, lenders typically impose increased interest rates on such investments. Investors can opt for a traditional mortgage, FHA loan, or VA loan based on their eligibility.
However, the underwriting standards for rental property applicants tend to be more stringent. While credit score, down payment, and debt-to-income ratio remain crucial factors, rental property borrowers often face stricter requirements:
  • Credit score -A minimum score of 620 is generally required, with more favorable rates and terms offered for scores of 740 and above.
  • Down payment -While primary residence mortgages may accept 0% to 3% down for government-backed loans and 3% to 20% for conventional mortgages, investment property borrowers usually need to plan for a down payment ranging from 15% to 25%.
  • Debt-to-Income ratio (DTI) -Lenders typically permit up to 75% of expected rental income to be counted toward the borrower's DTI.
  • Savings -Borrowers are advised to have sufficient cash reserves covering three to six months of mortgage payments, encompassing principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.
The decision to buy with cash or finance an investment property hinges on an investor's goals and financial situation. While paying in cash may not be feasible for everyone, it can result in immediate positive monthly cash flow. Ultimately, the choice between cash and financing depends on individual circumstances and investment objectives.
A couple witha baby talking to a rental agent
A couple witha baby talking to a rental agent

Making Money In Rentals

The operational costs for a new rental property typically range from 35% to 80% of the gross operating income. For instance, if the monthly rent is $1,500 and expenses amount to $600 per month, the operating expenses would be 40% of the total. Many investors adhere to the 50% rule, meaning that for a $2,000 monthly rent, one should anticipate $1,000 in total expenses.
Wall Street firms targeting distressed properties generally aim for returns between 5% and 7%, while individual investors are often advised to set a goal of a 10% return. It's common to estimate maintenance costs at 1% of the property value annually. Additional expenses include homeowners insurance, homeowners association fees (HOA), property taxes, and monthly outlays for services like pest control, landscaping, and general maintenance.
Comparatively, while stocks may offer a 7.5% cash-on-cash return and bonds may yield 4.5%, a 6% return in the initial year as a landlord for an investment property is considered healthy, with expectations for this number to increase over time.
For those engaged in house flipping - buying a property below market value, making necessary repairs, and then selling for a profit - factors like affordable materials and labor need careful consideration. During a flip, there may or may not be tenants, making strategic planning crucial for successful and profitable outcomes.

Creative Ideas To Finance A Rental Property

Exploring financing options for your rental property opens up various creative approaches. Read on to discover distinct financing ideas.

Use Current Equity

While not as unconventional as some other financing methods we'll explore later, leveraging the equity in a property you already own - such as your primary residence in Columbia - is certainly a non-traditional approach. This straightforward and expedient financing method allows you to swiftly acquire another property and kickstart your rental business.
Home equity is determined by subtracting the balance of an existing mortgage or lien against your home from its fair market value. For example, if your home is valued at $200,000 and you owe $120,000, you could potentially use the $80,000 in available equity to fund your next property purchase.
This approach is particularly beneficial for those lacking a substantial down payment. Alternatively, it can serve as a stepping-stone strategy, enabling you to acquire additional rental properties and expand your investment portfolio.

Hard Money Loan

Referred to as a private mortgage, a hard money loan offers a straightforward alternative to traditional loan processes. With the potential to qualify in as little as 72 hours, these loans are tailored to assist individuals facing credit challenges in obtaining a mortgage. Unlike bank loans, hard money loans have fewer restrictions, typically relying on the quick-sale value of a property owned by the borrower to determine the loan amount.
While hard money loans often come with higher interest rates, ranging from approximately 10-15%, this option serves as a lifeline for individuals who might struggle to qualify for conventional rental property financing.

Find Investment Partners

An effective strategy for financing rental properties is to collaborate with a partner or partners. This approach offers flexibility, increased financial support, and the advantage of shared knowledge in the real estate industry, streamlining the property financing process. Joining forces with another individual ensures that your name doesn't appear on the mortgage agreement, a valuable aspect for those who have reached their loan lending limit but aspire to expand their investment portfolio.
This collaborative model can involve family members, friends, or business colleagues, providing the opportunity to acquire multiple rental properties with the backing of a partner's financial support.
However, choosing the right partner is crucial, as this collaboration involves a business deal with shared responsibilities and potential risks. It's important to recognize the loss of some control over the loan process and property ownership, making careful partner selection a vital aspect of this financing strategy.


This financing approach for rental properties is commonly employed and proves beneficial, particularly for individuals seeking to invest but facing challenges in qualifying for the entire loan amount or possessing a limited down payment. The seller-second option involves the seller providing a second mortgage on the property, covering a significant portion, if not the entirety, of the down payment required for loan approval.
Before opting for this method, it's crucial to ensure that the loan being pursued allows for the attachment of a second mortgage. While most loans accommodate this, some may not, and failure to confirm this compatibility could result in the inability to finance the property, leading to a lost opportunity.

Lease Option

The lease option is another widely utilized creative financing solution. This method enables you to enter a property with minimal to no down payment and grants you the option to purchase the house at a later date, typically within two to three years. This timeframe allows you the opportunity to organize your financial affairs, making it feasible to secure the necessary financing for the property investment.

Retirement Accounts

While not universally recommended, tapping into your retirement funds can be advantageous in certain situations. Many retirement accounts allow you to borrow from yourself, typically offering a low-interest repayment plan after the funds are accessed.

Loans From Friends And Family

It is acknowledged that not everyone has family members with surplus funds readily available for use in a rental property venture. However, for some individuals, this remains a viable and creative option.
A hand receiving a house key from another hand
A hand receiving a house key from another hand

Risks And Rewards Of Rental Property

Investing in rental properties presents a unique set of risks and rewards that potential investors should carefully consider. Here, we explore both sides of the coin to provide a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics involved.


  • Passive income potential -One of the primary attractions of rental property investment is the ability to generate passive income. Investors can earn money consistently, even while maintaining a regular job.
  • Appreciation in real estate values -The value of real estate tends to increase over time. As property values rise, so does the investment's overall worth, providing an opportunity for substantial capital gains.
  • Exemption from social security tax -Unlike traditional employment income, rental income is not subject to Social Security tax. This can be advantageous for investors seeking ways to optimize their tax liabilities.
  • Tax deductibility of interest -Interest payments on loans used to finance investment properties are often tax-deductible, offering a potential avenue for reducing the overall tax burden associated with the investment.
  • Tangible physical asset -Real estate is a tangible asset, providing a sense of security and ownership. Unlike some other investment forms, investors can physically see and touch their asset.


  • Maintenance and management costs -Property ownership involves ongoing costs for maintenance and property management. These expenses can eat into rental income and impact overall profitability.
  • Insufficient rental income -Monthly rental income may not always cover the total monthly mortgage loan payment. This gap can place financial strain on the investor, necessitating additional funding from other sources.
  • Lack of liquidity -Real estate is not a liquid asset. Selling a property takes time, and during market downturns, finding a buyer willing to pay the desired price can be challenging.
  • High entry and exit costs -Acquiring and selling real estate involves significant transaction costs, such as property taxes, closing costs, and realtor fees. These expenses can diminish overall returns and should be factored into investment decisions.
  • Financial responsibilities between tenants -Even if a tenant moves out, the landlord remains responsible for monthly expenses, such as mortgage payments, property taxes, and insurance. This can strain cash flow during periods of vacancy.

How To Finance A Rental Property And Become A Landlord - FAQ

What Is The Most Important Responsibility Of A Landlord?

Their responsibilities are different, but they are still important. A landlord is responsible for keeping the property in habitable condition. In most cases, a landlord is responsible for upkeep and maintenance on the exterior and repairs on the inside.

What Is The BRRRR Method?

The BRRRR (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat) Method is a real estate investment approach that involves flipping a distressed property, renting it out and then getting a cash-out refinance on it to fund further rental property investments.

What Does A Landlord Do?

A landlord is a person or entity that owns real property and then leases it out to tenants in return for rent payment. A landlord can rent to either residential or commercial tenants depending on zoning restrictions and type of property.

In Summary

Becoming a landlord is within reach, and mastering the art of how to finance a rental property and become a landlord is the first step. By demystifying the financial aspects and embracing a strategic approach, you can unlock the doors to a lucrative investment journey.
Remember, diligence and knowledge are your allies in this venture. Now, armed with the right insights, you're ready to embark on your path to property ownership and rental success. Happy investing!
Jump to
Darren Mcpherson

Darren Mcpherson

Darren Mcpherson brings over 9 years of experience in politics, business, investing, and banking to his writing. He holds degrees in Economics from Harvard University and Political Science from Stanford University, with certifications in Financial Management. Renowned for his insightful analyses and strategic awareness, Darren has contributed to reputable publications and served in advisory roles for influential entities. Outside the boardroom, Darren enjoys playing chess, collecting rare books, attending technology conferences, and mentoring young professionals. His dedication to excellence and understanding of global finance and governance make him a trusted and authoritative voice in his field.
Emmanuella Shea

Emmanuella Shea

Emmanuella Shea is a distinguished finance and economics expert with over a decade of experience. She holds a Master's degree in Finance and Economics from Harvard University, specializing in financial analysis, investment management, and economic forecasting. Her authoritative insights and trustworthy advice have made her a highly sought-after advisor in the business world. Outside of her professional life, she enjoys exploring diverse cuisines, reading non-fiction literature, and embarking on invigorating hikes. Her passion for insightful analysis and reliable guidance is matched by her dedication to continuous learning and personal growth.
Latest Articles
Popular Articles