How To Start Investing in Real Estate With No Money

How To Start Investing in Real Estate With No Money

Do you want to learn how to start investing in real estate when you don’t have a lot of money? 

Well, you’ve come to the right place, because I get this question all the time, and have some actionable ideas to help you get started without breaking the bank!

I bought my first rental property five years ago. 

At the time, I had very little cash to my name, and a negative net worth to boot. 

Luckily, (well, kind of?) my Harley got totaled when a drunk driver decided to park on top of it while I was eating a burger inside the sports bar. This gentleman wrote me a check in person, rather than getting cops or insurance involved. I then sold the remainder of the mortorcycle to the local Harley dealership, and used this money as the down payment on my first property!

You may have heard that I got talked out of using the VA loan by a lender who didn’t really know what they were doing, otherwise I wouldn’t have needed a down payment at all. 

While this is unfortunate, I was still able to buy that duplex utilizing an FHA loan and the money from my Harley incident. 

All this to say, I’ve been where you are right now. Wanting to invest in real estate, but not having a large nest egg to get started. 

Today I want to talk to you about some different ways you can begin investing in real estate even if you don’t have a lot of money. 

Hell, I didn’t pay more than 6% down on my first three purchases (13 doors)! 

How To Start Investing in Real Estate With No Money

Owner Occupied Loans (Especially House Hacking)

The first, and arguably the easiest, way to begin investing without a lot of money is with an owner occupied mortgage. 

Owner occupied mortgages are only available for use on properties that you intend to occupy as your primary residence after closing. While that may be a little inconvenient, these mortgages offer some great opportunities for you!

A few examples of owner occupied mortgages are:

  • VA loan – requires as little as 0% down
  • FHA loan – requires as little as 3.5% down
  • USDA loan – requires as little as 0% down
  • Homebuyers Choice loan (through Navy Federal) – requires as little as 0% down

In my opinion, the greatest strategy you could use to get started in real estate is house hacking.

House hacking is when you buy a property with extra units, bedrooms, or spaces that you can rent out in order to help cover your mortgage. 

Because this strategy allows you to utilize primary residence mortgages you can get started for very little (if any) money out of pocket. On top of that, you will get to learn the basics of being a land lord, and lower your living expenses dramatically in order to help you save more money in your investing account every month!

I even have friends who have paid zero down to purchase a property, and then not only did they live for free, but they got paid to live in that home!

Seller Financing

Seller financing is one of my favorite ways to purchase a property for many reasons. 

When a homeowner has a lot of equity in their home, or owns it free and clear, they are able to carry the note. When you purchase a home this way you can pay a down payment to the seller, and then make monthly payments to them, without a bank involved at all. 

There are so many benefits to seller financing. You don’t need a credit check or income verification, and the terms are much more flexible. 

With seller financing, you are literally only limited by your imagination. 

You don’t have to pay a down payment, or interest, or PMI, or origination points…and yet, all of these things can be negotiated into the terms as well.


Do you own a house with equity in it?

If so, you can apply for a home equity line of credit (HELOC) on that home.

HELOC’s act as a combination checking account, and mortgage for your home. You don’t pay any interest with a HELOC until you spend money on the line of credit. Once you write a check with your HELOC, you will pay interest on the amount you utilized until it is paid back down. 

These are a great way to tap into the equity in your home on a recurring basis. Ensure you don’t over-leverage your home if you can’t afford to make the payments though!

Private Lenders

Private lending is nothing more than having a friend, family-member, or investor lend you the money for the purchase. 

Utilizing private lenders has many similar benefits to seller financing, except that you’re borrowing the money from an external party. This investor can be a debt partner, equity partner, or mix of both on the property, and you will repay them much like you would a bank. 

Terms are flexible when you’re working with private lenders, but they are going to be more expensive than most banks will. 

I like the idea of utilizing private lenders to purchase a home, but you need to ensure you’re somebody worth lending money to, and the deal isn’t extremely risky. 

Ask yourself “Would I lend money to somebody for this deal?” if not, be aware that other lenders may not want to lend on it. 

The riskier the deal, the less favorable the terms will most likely be. 

Joint Ventures

Joint venture is another way of saying partnership

You can collaborate 50/50 with somebody and each bring half the down payment. I just did this on a 4-house, 5-door portfolio, and we each came out on top!

You could also create a partnership where you bring the knowledge, or deal, and handle the operations, and the other partner brings the money.

There are a myriad of ways to structure joint ventures, and I’m certain that with the right partner(s) you can find something that makes sense for everyone!


Despite what people like to say online, you will most likely need some money to get started with wholesaling

The reason is that you will need a marketing budget in order to reach more people. Sure, you can drive around, and send handwritten letters to dilapidated houses, but if you want to lock in more deals, you need to market to more owners. 

Wholesaling is a great option to generate income for yourself, but it takes a lot of time and effort to become successful. 

Wholesaling is not passive income like rentals, so if you want to build passive income you will need to take the income you generate, and buy income-generating assets with it. 


You need to be learning as much as possible regardless the amount of capital you have at your disposal. 

Seriously, education is one of the most important things to do as a new real estate investor. You need to focus on learning everything you possibly can about the real estate investing strategy you wish to use.

You should honestly focus on learning everything you possible can before you worry about buying real estate anyway. The last thing you want is to rush headfirst into a bad deal while scraping together every penny you can…this is a recipe for disaster.

Spend time reading books, blogs, listening to podcasts, and networking with successful investors in order to ensure you know what you are doing!

Work for Free 

Yes, you read that correctly. Work. For. Free.

The idea here is that you will tag along with an experienced investor, learning everything they do. One of the best ways to do this is to render your time to help them…without asking for compensation.

I did this in Hawaii. I found a house worth flipping, and gave it to my friend for almost nothing. Then I tagged along with him and his team throughout the entire process in order to learn how they make money flipping houses in an expensive market!

The return on your time can be huge when you are gaining first-hand experience from solid real estate investors. 

Finding Off-Market Deals

Do you want to make big money in real estate? 

Well then, you need to learn how to find off-market deals. 

Learning how to find motivated sellers, and negotiating the purchase of real estate directly from the seller, is one of the most valuable skills you can cultivate. 

When you can lock up deals for pennies on the dollars a ton of opportunities will flow to you. You should spend some time learning how to market for deals, and building systems that allow you to get in front of motivated sellers. 

Then you can wholesale the properties to other investors, flip them yourself, or hold them as rentals in your portfolio with a large equity position. 

Mastering this art is extremely lucrative, so I recommend you spend some time learning how to market direct to seller!

So Can You Start Investing in Real Estate With No Money?


You can absolutely begin investing in real estate with no money. 

In fact, my friend Brandon Turner wrote a book that I recommend reading called The Book on Investing in Real Estate With No (and Low) Money down. This book is chopped full of great ideas, and it is definitely one of the first books you should read if you don’t have a lot of capital at your disposure right now. 

The next thing you should do is learn everything you can about your specific real estate investing niche, and network with successful investors in that niche too. 

Then, you need to cultivate a “How can I?” mentality to replace any “I can’t” thoughts that flow through your head. Tap into the creativity you had as a young child, and realize that being resourceful is a very valuable character trait!

Finally, tell me about your massive successes so that I can celebrate with you!

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