• I became a homeowner at age 28 when I used my savings to buy a three-unit apartment building in Chicago.
  • Being an owner freed me from 9-5 work and helped me launch my startup.
  • There are tax benefits too, and paying my mortgage on time is great for my credit.
  • Read more stories on Personal Finance Insider.

When I was 28, I made a decision that changed my life. After years of dismissing bonuses, commissions, and all the cash I could put my mitts on, I was finally in possession of a savings account that I could put to good use. But exactly what use was the real question.

While it was certainly tempting to follow in my friends’ footsteps and invest in purses and honeymoons, I knew I had bigger financial fish to fry. Having experienced the day-to-day as an advertising executive in New York City, I wanted a passive income stream that would free me from the 9-5 world.

The benefits of real estate crystallized, and in 2014, I invested my hard-earned money in a three-unit apartment building in Chicago. There are a plethora of reasons why this was hands down the best decision of my 20 years.

1. I had an asset and had cash

An asset like property doesn’t just provide a roof over your head. It can be put to use in multiple ways, from starting a business, buying another home, or using the building as collateral for a business loan.

Renting the units has allowed me to live “rent-free” and build up cash reserves. I converted the money into start-up capital and started a media and entertainment company, which isn’t that scary when I had regular income and free cost of living from my rental.

2. I get tax deductions on tax deductions

You will become friends with the IRS once you know how many benefits you can enjoy as a homeowner. Did you know that all repairs made to your property are deductible? In fact, even the insurance you buy on your property is a deduction.

A whole universe of tax benefits opened up to me when I entered the real estate world – a little research (with a good accountant!) Literally saved me thousands.

3. It’s a safe bet

There are two reasons why real estate is considered as safe a bet as you can make. A reason rarely considered – land is one of the Earth’s finite resources. We can’t do more! This is one of the main reasons why land does not depreciate and increase its value.

Land ownership can also be a no-go bet. Because believe me, no tenant wants me in charge of the plumbing. With so many mobile labor markets like Yelp and TaskRabbit available, maintenance requests were outsourced and completed with just a few clicks. The ability to manage my building remotely allowed me to easily manage the income generation for my startup.

4. Owning a property dramatically increases your credit score

One of the lesser-known benefits of being a homeowner is how staying in good standing with a mortgage reflects positively on your credit score. Most young professionals’ credit reflects only credit card lines of credit. When I mixed it up, adding installment debt (a mortgage) to revolving debt (credit cards), my score improved greatly.

A mortgage can represent around 10% of your credit score. As long as you pay your mortgage on time each time, the debt you incur on a home is considered responsible debt – the right kind. The result? A credit rating to be proud of.

The benefits of a good credit score are obvious, but having it tied to your mortgage was a benefit that I only discovered once in the real estate game.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea. Are there times when I feel regret that I didn’t walk into this shared Hamptons house with all of my friends? Absolutely. But do I regret my leap into land ownership? No way, not for a second.

Buying real estate whenever I could changed my future physically and financially. This created opportunities that would not have been possible if I had gone the traditional way of saving money or had spent too much on David Yurman. So if you are thinking of delving into the world of real estate, I have just one question – why not?


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