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Last week, I made the case that buy and hold real estate is the best investment around.

Unfortunately, like all good things, there’s always a catch. Buying real estate and holding it requires money, and if you don’t start with much, that can be a great challenge. Luckily, there are many methods to overcome such a problem. However, first it’s important to understand the most important principle of buy and hold.

The Prerequisite for Buy and Hold

In the famous Stanford marshmallow experiment, children were given the choice between eating one marshmallow or waiting about 15 minutes with said marshmallow staring them right in the face, in which case they would get two. Most kids yielded to temptation and ate the marshmallow well before the 15 minutes were up.

The researchers then kept track of the children and found that those who had waited for the second marshmallow had substantially better life outcomes.

The ability to delay gratification is paramount to success. Buy and hold is the second marshmallow. Buy and hold is the ultimate get rich slow scheme. Most buy and hold investors live substantially below their means for many years before building enough equity and/or enough cash flow to fully enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Once that principle is established, you can incorporate any of the following methods into growing your real estate empire.

Methods for Financing Buy and Hold Properties
Save and Hold

It’s absolutely possible for people with decent jobs to simply live below their means and invest in real estate on the side. The advantage to this is that it’s much easier to get bank loans when you can show W2 income, and a job also provides a consistent source of income, even if a particular investment falters.

Related: Top 10 Reasons to Buy and Hold Real Estate

However, it’s also much more challenging to find good deals when you are tied down with a job, and, of course, you are stuck with the job. This is a fairly passive approach to real estate investment, but it can still be very effective.

FHA Loans

FHA loans are a great place to begin for the “Save and Hold” investor. FHA will finance 96.5% of the price of deal at very low interest rates for a homeowner’s property.

The great part is that you can finance up to a fourplex. So why not buy a fourplex, live in one unit and rent out the other three?

Flip and Hold

This is probably the safest, most effective way to get into buy and hold. For investors who are flipping, why not hold every 2nd or 3rd deal instead of flipping it?

For example, use the profit from the first flip to live off of and the profit from the second flip for the down payment on a property to hold. Then rinse and repeat.

Creative Financing

When a seller is motivated, there is often an opportunity to get into a property for little to no money down. For example, if the seller has some equity, then they can loan you the money to buy their house from them. Or they can loan a second to you behind a bank loan or another private loan to cover the down payment.

Another option is to buy the property subject to the existing financing. This transfers the deed to you, but leaves the seller on the original mortgage. Be forewarned: this does trigger the “due on sale” clause of a normal bank loan, so the bank could potentially foreclose. And furthermore, it will take a lot of motivation — and plenty of rapport — to convince a seller to do these types of deals, but they’re done all the time.

(For more on the subject of creative financing, check out Brandon Turner’s new book The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No or Low Money Down)

Angel Investors

It may feel awkward to ask family or friends for money (as an investment or otherwise), but you shouldn’t pass up a major opportunity just because it’s awkward. After all, I went into business with my father and my brother. Family and friends can be a great source of capital as either partners or lenders.

And yes, you will want to be extra careful with their money. But then again, you should be extra careful with any investor’s money.

Private Lenders

Bank loans won’t cover the full cost of an acquisition, and hard money loans are too expensive for the buy and hold strategy, but luckily, there is a third way. The method we’ve used the most is to fully finance properties (purchase and rehab) with a trust deed from a private lender — usually someone we know or have networked with — at 9 percent interest only.

Properties won’t cash flow in all markets at 9%, but in working class areas, especially in Southern and Midwestern markets, as well as smaller towns, they often do. It will take a lot of rapport building to convince someone to lend 100% to you. Therefore, it’s certainly helpful to have some deals under your belt to show them, but it is not mandatory.

And remember, you never know who has money. Tell people what you do and what you offer often, and if they show interest, invite them to lunch or a casual meeting. Make a business plan and a packet of case studies (if you have them) to show any potential lender. We’ve found that once people trust us, they are quite willing to swap the 0.2 percent return they are getting in a CD for the 9 percent we offer.

Related: Keys to Long Term Success in Buy and Hold Real Estate

And if you are buying at the same discounts you do when flipping, you should be able to refinance the whole loan (or at least most of it) with a traditional bank in a year or so after the property has “seasoned” (the bank will refinance it based on appraised value instead …read more