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I’m a Physician Landlord. How Do I Balance These Roles?

I was recently asked, “If a doctor invests in real estate, how do they balance being a physician and a landlord?”

This is probably the #1 concern of any physician considering investing in real estate and becoming a landlord. And it makes total sense. Being a doctor is a full time job. A real full time job. Like you’re often on the job mentally even when you are not “on the job.”

So, why and how would someone take on another seemingly very active role as a landlord in addition to being a physician?

Let’s be straight with each other. The main reason why is that real estate is a great investment. It can really serve as an accelerator towards financial freedom. I have experienced this first hand and laid out all the numbers for you here.

physician landlord
Is a turtle the landlord of its shell?

Direct investing in real estate has a ton of benefits that physicians can take advantage of, if they approach with the right strategy. I began investing in real estate about two years ago and now own and manage five properties. I have seen these massive benefits firsthand and how they have helped me raise my net worth from -$500k to +$500k in just two years

The benefits of direct real estate investing include:

  • Cash flow
  • Appreciation (Forced and market)
  • Tax advantages
  • Hedge against inflation
  • Equity build up via mortgage pay down by tenants

However, despite these advantages, there are two overarching concerns that other physicians express when I recommend they consider real estate investing: it costs too much money and it takes too much time.

I won’t address the first point in this post. You can find my recommendations for funding real estate investments here.

However, as I mentioned above, I can understand the second concern. It’s one that I even felt myself before starting investing in real estate.

So, how can you balance being a physician and a landlord?

Remember these three things:

Know that there is no such thing as “balance.”

I strongly believe that in our personal, professional, and financial lives, balance is a myth.

At any point in our lives, nothing is ever perfectly balanced.

It is constantly being weighed and counterbalanced in some way. There are times when our personal lives take precedence. Our professional lives take a back seat and serve as a counterbalance then. And vice versa and so on. The danger is when this disequilibrium becomes a permanent rather than a temporary state. 

Prioritize based on your “why.”

With that said, the key to being successful as a real estate investor and physician is your “why.” Your “why” is the reason that you are doing it.

I invest in real estate to accelerate my path to financial freedom so I can follow my passions (including medicine) on my own terms.

Whenever things temporarily fall out of balance and I am extra busy with real estate (and maybe even a bit frustrated), I remember my “why” and it pulls me through. All of a sudden, these minor inconveniences are worth it. However, if these minor inconveniences continually stack up, a temporary imbalance begins to look more permanent, which is a problem.

Automate what you can.

So, the next key is to automate your processes. My wife and I self-manage all of our rentals and are managing 10-15 renters at any one time. However, through experience, most issues that arise take very little effort on our part due to the processes we developed and the team we have built. For example, a tenant recently texted that they had an issue, so I texted my handyman and he scheduled a time to go. Rent is collected automatically through our online platform. And so on.

The bottom line is that you can become a successful real estate investor as a full-time physician. Educate yourself and prepare a plan and schedule, but prepare for things to go off track and be imbalanced sometimes. Determine why you are doing it and orient your priorities around that. Automate what processes you can and build a team if necessary. 

But you can also go from the ultimate automation and hire a property manager fro your investments. This will cost a premium, usually 10% of monthly rents. This makes the investment much more passive.

If this is a route you would like to take, just factor this cost into your investment property deal analysis. If the numbers still work, then go for the property!

I will note that you should still take a periodic active role even if you use property manager. No one will care about your investment, and your money, like you will. Check in to make sure the property managers are doing their job well!

Drawing to our conclusion, yes, it is possible to balance being a landlord and a physician, even if you are full time

While not completely necessary, it does bring significant financial benefits and can be quite satisfying on a personal level.  But it is not passive or even easy. It requires upfront work and continued (although much lower) maintenance moving forward. So make sure you set your expectations and always remember your reason for being a physician landlord.

My reason is financial freedom – and that makes it all very worthwhile!

But thats not all!

So far, we have made one big assumption. And you know what they say about assuming…

We have been assuming that all real estate investments are direct or active investments. But they are not!

If any kind of active investment does not sounds right to you, you can still invest in real estate through syndications or funds – so called passive real estate investing. While you still need to do up front work and due diligence to make sure you believe in the deal sponsor and the deal itself, you don’t need to be active in the day-to-day running of the investment.

You can learn more about passive real estate investing opportunities like syndications here and real estate funds here!

If you are looking to learn more about real estate investing, check out these posts!

My flagship course, Graduating to Success, also includes modules on passive and active investing in real estate for full-time physicians like me. Learn more here!

What do you think? Should a physician also be a landlord? Have you tried it? What holds you back? Let me know in the comments below!

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    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected]

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