Rental Properties Pros and Cons (and If It’s Even Worth It)

January 24, 2023

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At some point in your money journey, you've probably heard someone excitedly share all the benefits that come from real estate. And you've probably found yourself wondering what's the truth about owning rental property. That's why we tapped a team of real estate experts to learn more about rental property pros and cons.

Plus, we'll share our personal favorite way to invest in real estate so you don't have to worry about the majority of the common real estate drawbacks.

What Are Rental Properties?

Before you can weigh the pros and cons of rental properties, it’s important to be clear on the definition of what a rental property is.

A property is a rental property if:

  1. An investor purchased the home,
  2. Tenants other than the investor live in the home, and
  3. A lease or other rental agreement outlines this arrangement.

If a city or town zones a property as residential, it can be lived in. That means that they are supposed to be occupied by individuals or families, not commercial businesses.

Types of Rental Properties

Now you’re clear on what rental properties are. But did you know there are actually different types of rental properties?

Rental properties can include:

  • Single-family homes
  • Duplex and other multi-family homes
  • Apartment complexes
  • Condos and townhouses

There are also commercial rental properties in addition to these residential types of rental properties. However, we’ll keep our focus on residential rental properties for this article.  

You can also get more details on residential rental properties from the IRS to know exactly what qualifies as a rental and what counts as rental income. 

Rental Property Pros and Cons

If you’ve spent any amount of time working on your money goals, you’ve probably heard someone talk about real estate. Adding rental properties to your portfolio can help you on your financial journey. However, it’s key to be aware of rental property pros and cons before diving in. 

Rental Property Benefits

Photo by Anna Nekrashevich

Some of the most important rental property benefits relate to how much income they can generate and how quickly you can potentially see that income. However, there are lesser-known rental property benefits that you also want to explore! 

Outperform Index Funds

It’s hard to find an investment that is loved more than index funds. In fact, they’re probably the simplest hands-off way to become a millionaire

However, real estate investors like Scott Trench from Bigger Pockets point out that real estate can outperform index funds. Scott says, “I believe long term, a leveraged real estate portfolio that has operated well can and statistically should outperform a comparable index fund or other average stock investment. I believe that that effect can be very dramatic over a long hold period of let's say 10 or more years.”

Of course, this isn’t a guarantee. And that’s why people often diversify their investment portfolio to include real estate, as well as index funds, and other investments. 

Grow Your Money More Quickly

Another benefit to rental properties is how quickly you can grow your income stream. Paula Pant from Afford Anything owns eight rental properties. 

Paula says, “When you're investing in a rental property, the returns bias towards that dividend, they bias towards the income stream. What that means is that rental property investing is a more appropriate choice for somebody who has the goal of building passive income to reach financial independence because of the fact that the returns bias towards the income stream.”

Paula also says, “Now, assume the property just keeps pace with inflation and no more, that means the total return would be 9%, and so comparably you might put that same $300,000 into the stock market. Let's say you put it into an S&P 500 index fund and that over a long-term aggregate average also has a 9% return, but in the case of the rental property, you have 6% out of that 9% coming in the form of an income stream, which means that if you were to achieve an early retirement or you wanted to live on passive income, you could then keep that 6%.”

House Hacking

One way that people hit FIRE or Coast FIRE faster is through house hacking. They rent a room or an area of their homes, and that covers much of their housing costs. By minimizing your own housing costs, you can find financial freedom a lot faster.  

In addition to potentially covering all or part of your mortgage, rental properties often come with tax benefits. Even if you only rent extra space in your primary home, you can often write off a portion of your mortgage interest. 

Set It and Forget It Options Exist

If you talk to rental property experts, it can often feel like there’s a steep learning curve. In fact, many people worry that it’s too complicated or might even feel like a second job.

But there are plenty of ways to take a “set it and forget it” approach to rental properties. Working with a property manager is a great way to ensure you never have to field a late-night flooded basement phone call.

Additionally, you can invest in real estate platforms like Arrived Homes that do all the research and homework for you. Rely on other experts who’ve analyzed the market and selected high-performing properties. You can eliminate a lot of the risk and a lot of the work–and still reap the benefits of rental properties in your portfolio! 

For more insight into Arrived Homes and other investing platforms, check out our full review

Rental Property Drawbacks

Tired Mom
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Investors who found success with rental property love to tell people about those wins. And they should! After all, real estate can really help you further your financial goals. However, it is important to be aware of some of the drawbacks that come with rental properties. 


Unless you're using a crowdfunding platform like Fundrise or Arrived Homes, traditional rental property investing is a lot of work. You are running a small business with real costs, real deadlines and real human factors.

Since this is not something to be taken lightly, you'll need to dedicate time to making sure you're doing it right financially, legally, and ethically.

If you're in a busy time in your life already, investing in rental properties may not be worth it.

Unpredictable Taxes and Insurance Costs

Most people who take out mortgages on rental properties have fixed mortgage costs. However, property taxes and homeowners insurance costs can swing, sometimes dramatically depending on the area.

If your rental income can’t absorb those rising costs, you may have to raise your rent at the end of the lease. This can mean turnover in tenants and other issues. 

Unpredictable Neighborhoods

Sometimes, rental property owners find themselves in for a surprise when the neighborhood their property is in starts to change. It’s possible that an area can be hit with high unemployment if a big company goes bust.

Other times, the age of a neighborhood starts to shift. Young families move out if school boundaries change, and so on. A changing neighborhood can make it difficult to lease your property, and it can also change the type of tenants who want to live there. 

Of course, one way to lower this risk is to stay involved in local news and politics to keep a pulse on the neighborhood.

Leverage Requires Increased Risk

One of the reasons why real estate investments can sometimes outperform index funds is that they are sometimes much riskier investments. 

Scott Trench cautions, “This out-performance, this extra return that a real estate investor can generate only works if the portfolio is leveraged. [It has to be] leveraged for the entire duration of the hold period with regular re-leverage as notes are paid down or average annual long-term appreciation sets in and equity values increase.”

What does that mean? Well, it means that you need to really understand how your money is invested and how your properties are generating income.

That’s because Scott also says, “So if you're going to use leverage over a long period of time, that creates additional risk. An uneducated, undisciplined operator can and will likely lose a substantial amount of money or go bankrupt at some point in the hold period if they are not managing their properties and their portfolio correctly. Either that or they're going to seek to reduce risk by paying down their debt and owning the properties free and clear.”

Does this mean you shouldn’t invest in real estate? Not at all! It means that you should do your homework first, which is true for any investment. The key to protecting your money is to not invest in something you don’t understand. 

Home Values Can Drop in Tough Times

Deacon Hayes from Well Kept Wallet currently owns one AirBnB. He’s also had experience in the homeownership and rental market for more than a decade. 

He reminds us that home values don’t increase indefinitely. Deacon says that in 2006, “I decided to buy two properties in Arizona. The housing crisis happened, and those properties were cut in half in value. It took almost I think 11 years for them to get back to even. However, one of them was foreclosed on. The other one we sold for like a $50,000 loss.”  

Much like the stock market, it’s difficult or even near impossible to predict how the real estate market will move. And just like the stock market, ups and downs are to be expected. 

Unfortunately, it is often only the market-ups that are discussed. Making sure that you have a plan to weather market downturns–in real estate and in other investments–is key to managing this rental property con. 

Final Thoughts on Rental Properties Pros and Cons

The truth about owning rental property is that your results can vary depending on many different factors. That’s why it’s important to understand rental property pros and cons before diving in. 

If you’re looking for a straightforward way to invest in real estate, check out Arrived Homes to see if they might fit your goals.

What are your thoughts on rental properties? Can you think of any rental properties pros and cons that we missed?

Please let us know in the comments below.  

Andy Hill

Andy Hill is the award-winning family finance coach behind Marriage Kids and Money - a platform dedicated to helping young families build wealth and happiness. With millions of podcast downloads and video views, Andy’s message of family financial empowerment has resonated with listeners, readers and viewers across the world. When he's not "talking money", Andy enjoys being a Soccer Dad, singing karaoke with his wife and watching Marvel movies.


  • I’ve been a financial planner/advisor for the last 16 years and I’ve been investing in mutual funds as well as real estate. Here are my thoughts – I would argue that neither stock investing nor real estate investing are passive. When it comes to mutual funds, you have a fund manager, but you still need to evaluate the fees, and the performance of the underlaying portfolio. Real estate is more hands on and more active. But I believe it serves someone like me better. Especially in tough economic cycles. I have more control over my selection of renters, and the neighborhoods that I buy. I buy in landlord friendly states, like OH and TX, generally in class B or better areas. I have handyman and property managers that handle my out of state rentals.
    I also believe the correct and modest leverage can actually decrease your risk and boost your return. Do you think a 4% rental mortgage is an asset or a liability in 2023? I would argue it is an asset when inflation is a 6%. You are eroding( paying off) your debt with future cheaper US dollars. Also, you’re investing only 25%of the money into a real property and getting 100% of the upside( good leverage). In stocks, this is called margin trading and the borrowng cost is significant for anything longer than a few days or weeks.

    It is harder to buy real estate and more time consuming, therefore the barrier to entry is higher compared to buying an ETF or mutual fund with Fidelity. That’s why prices are not are sensitive to the news. Housing will always be a need. It was the case 5000 years ago and will be the case 5000 from now. Not the case with stocks.

  • Quick question here.

    Personally we favor single family homes for our own investments, but hear alot of talk around multi-family properties.

    We like the simplicity of single family since we know “what right looks like” and are building out a portfolio of houses at the moment.

    For the person beginning buying properties, do you recommend single family, multi, or fractional ownership (like arrived) that you mentioned?


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