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The Business of Property Real Estate Investing

the business of real estate investing

Commercial property investment is often considered more business-focused than residential real estate. But let’s not forget that both types of property investment share many similarities with running a business.

This article explains the differences between investing in commercial and residential properties. These differences make it seem like renting homes to people is less of a business than renting offices, warehouses, and other places to companies.

Before we get to that topic, let’s examine the similarities between investing in real estate and running a business.

Why Property Investing Is A Business

Investing in property, whether residential or commercial real estate and operating another type of business have many similarities. For example, both use a business plan for making financial decisions.

Financial Investment and Analysis

Both real estate investing and running a business require financial investment, which is not risk-free. Both carry inherent risks, which include interest rate fluctuations and potential changes in lending policies.

In real estate, you need capital to purchase properties. Plus, there is cash flow to fund renovations and maintenance. For example, in the case of leasing commercial and residential properties, it is essential to comply with legal regulations to guarantee that the structures are constructed soundly and are weather-tight.

Operating a business requires funds for various expenses, such as leasing, inventory, marketing, and operations.

Both investing in property and operating a business requires financial investment. In both cases, you need capital to start, cover ongoing expenses, and potentially expand.

Good financial reporting and analysis are also needed. Real estate investors must analyse economic data to assess potential properties’ cash flow, return on investment, and overall profitability. Businesses must analyse financial statements, conduct cost-benefit analyses, and use financial metrics to gauge performance.

Goal-Oriented and Long-Term Vision

Both endeavours are goal-oriented. In real estate investing, your goal might be to generate rental income, flip properties for a profit, or build long-term equity. In business, you have specific objectives like increasing revenue, expanding market share, or achieving profitability.

Both real estate investing and running a business require a long-term perspective. Success in both endeavours may not happen overnight, and it takes time to see significant returns on investment.

Risk Management

Just like in business, real estate investing involves managing risks.


Property investors must deal with market fluctuations, tenant turnover, property damage, and economic changes that can impact real estate returns, much like how market competition, changing consumer preferences, and economic shifts can affect businesses.


Both activities involve making strategic decisions. In real estate, you must choose properties wisely, decide on rental rates, and plan property improvements.

Similarly, in business, you make decisions regarding product development, marketing strategies, and hiring employees.

Asset Management

Real estate investors must manage their properties, ensuring they are well-maintained and attractive to tenants. Similarly, businesses work their assets, whether physical inventory, intellectual property, or human resources.

Customer/Tenant Relations

Both real estate investors and businesses interact with customers or tenants. Real estate investors deal directly with tenants, handling leasing and property-related concerns.

Businesses have customers to satisfy and must maintain positive relationships to ensure repeat business.

How Investing Differs From Other Businesses

The idiom, the devil, is in the details attributed to a German architect and applies to the differences between investing in property and running another type of business.

Purpose and Function

Property investment’s primary goal is to generate rental income and capital appreciation. Property investors are essentially landlords who earn income from tenants.

A business primarily aims to provide customers with goods or services, generate revenue, and earn profits. The focus is on creating value and satisfying market demand.

However, another way of looking at it is that business and property investing earn an income, incur expenses, aim to make profits, and eventually sell for a higher price.

Management and Involvement

Property investors typically have a more hands-off role, especially if they hire property managers to handle day-to-day operations, tenant management, and maintenance.

Business owners are involved in daily operations, management decisions, customer interactions, and strategic business planning.


Once again, there are more similarities than differences as larger businesses may be fully managed by a board of directors and management team, with the owner having less operational responsibility.

Cash Flow vs. Profits

The primary source of income in property investment is rental income, which contributes to cash flow. Property investors must cover expenses like mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance, and management fees.

Businesses focus on generating profits, which take into account revenue and expenses related to production, marketing, operations, and overhead.

Property investors also need to earn a profit after expenses, like any investment requires to provide a net yield.

Risk Factors

Risks in property investment include changes in property values, market demand, interest rates, law changes and unexpected maintenance costs.

Business risks can involve market competition, changes in consumer preferences, economic downturns, regulatory changes, and operational challenges.

Exit Strategies

Property Investment: Investors can sell properties for capital gains or ongoing rental income. Property investments can also be passed down as inheritance.

Business owners can sell the business, exit through an initial public offering (IPO), pass it to a successor, or close down operations.

Commercial Versus Residential Investing

Commercial real estate investing is generally more business-oriented than residential real estate investing.

Complexity and Scale

Commercial properties tend to be larger and more complex than residential properties.

Commercial real estate encompasses office buildings, retail centres, industrial warehouses, and apartment complexes. Managing and operating these properties often requires a deeper understanding of business operations, leasing agreements, property management, and tenant relationships.

Financial Analysis

Commercial real estate investing often involves more sophisticated financial analysis. Investors must consider factors like net operating income (NOI), cash flow projections, cap rates, and potential return on investment. The economic evaluations for commercial properties are typically more detailed and require a firm grasp of business and market dynamics.  Moreover, there are different financing and investing products, including CMBS.


To ensure profitable investments, residential real estate investing should also use financial data, net operating income, cash flow projections, and cap rates.  Many residential investors use the same entity structures, financial tools and experts as commercial investors.

Tenant Relationships

Commercial properties usually involve longer lease terms and more intricate negotiations with tenants through lawyers.  The success of commercial real estate investments often depends on attracting and retaining reliable tenants, which requires effective management and negotiation skills.

Risk and Reward

Commercial real estate investments can offer higher potential returns but have more significant risks. Market fluctuations, economic conditions, and changes in local business environments can significantly impact the performance of commercial properties.

Regulations and Zoning

Zoning regulations and local ordinances for commercial properties can be more complex than those for residential properties. Investors must navigate zoning laws, building codes, and other regulatory considerations.

Final Words

There are two types of real estate investing: commercial and residential. The commercial is considered more business-oriented; however, it must be run as a business to succeed with residential property investing.

The risks of investing in property and running a business are similar, including legal, finance, market and management.

The rewards of property investing are similar to those of a business with income, profit and market appreciation.