Should You Invest in

Real Estate or Stocks?

A significant portion of Americans opts for a diversified approach. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 65% of U.S. households are owner-occupied, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 55% of American workers participate in an employer retirement plan, often including stock investments.

Whether you’re considering doubling down on one investment type or you’re a newcomer trying to make the best choice between the two, it’s crucial to understand the pros and cons of each.

What’s more, you don’t necessarily have to make an exclusive choice. You can also gain exposure to real estate investments by purchasing shares, all without the challenges of direct property ownership, management, and sales. Let’s dive into this!


Investing in Real Estate


  • Simplicity and Tangibility:
    – Real estate investments are easy to understand. The basics involve purchasing a property, managing upkeep (and tenants, if you own additional properties beyond your residence), and attempting to resell for a higher value.
  • Safe Debt Investment:
    – Investing with debt is safer in real estate, often referred to as a “mortgage.” You can invest in a new property with a 20% down payment or even less, financing the rest of the property’s cost.
  • Inflation Hedge:
    – Real estate investments can serve as a hedge against inflation. Real estate values and rents tend to increase along with inflation, providing protection against its erosive effects.
  • Tax Benefits:
    – Property ownership offers potential tax advantages. Homeowners may qualify for a tax deduction on mortgage interest paid, especially on the first $1 million in mortgage debt.
    – When selling a principal residence, homeowners can benefit from exclusions that may allow them to avoid capital gains taxes on net proceeds of $250,000 for singles (or $500,000 for married couples filing jointly).
    – Commercial property owners may avoid capital gains through a 1031 exchange, provided they reinvest proceeds in a similar type of property.
    – Investment properties can also earn tax breaks through depreciation, allowing you to write off wear and tear on the property.


  • Work Intensity:
    – Real estate investments can be more labor-intensive compared to stocks. While buying property is straightforward, the ongoing maintenance, especially for rental properties, can be demanding.
  • Expense and Liquidity:
    – Real estate is capital-intensive and lacks liquidity. Investing in real estate, even with borrowed funds, necessitates a significant upfront investment. Liquidating a real estate investment through resale is far more complex and time-consuming than the relatively easy process of buying and selling stocks.
  • Transaction Costs:
    – Transactions involve substantial costs. Sellers can expect to incur substantial closing costs, which can subtract a substantial percentage, typically ranging from 6% to 10%, from the sale price. 
  • Diversification Challenge:
    – Diversifying investments in real estate can be challenging. Location plays a critical role in real estate investing, and the performance of properties can vary significantly from one area to another. 
  • Uncertain Returns:
    – Real estate investments, like stocks, come with uncertainties. While property prices generally appreciate over time, there is always a risk of selling a property at a loss, as exemplified by the 2008 financial crisis. 

Investing in Stocks


  • Liquidity and Transparency:
    – Stocks are highly liquid investments. The value of your investment is easily ascertainable at any given moment, providing greater transparency compared to real estate.
  • Diversification Accessibility:
    – Diversifying your investment is more accessible with stocks. Stocks offer a more straightforward path to building a well-diversified portfolio of companies and industries, often at a fraction of the time and cost. One of the simplest ways is to invest in mutual funds, index funds, or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which hold shares in a wide array of companies, providing instant diversification to fund investors.
  • Reduced Transaction Costs:
    – Stocks typically entail fewer (if any) transaction fees. While you’ll need to establish a brokerage account to trade stocks, the competition among discount brokers has driven down stock trading costs to zero in most cases.
  • Tax-Advantaged Growth:
    – You can facilitate the growth of your investment through tax-advantaged retirement accounts. Acquiring shares through an employer-sponsored retirement account like a 401(k) or an individual retirement account (IRA) can enable your investment to grow tax-deferred or even tax-free, providing potential tax benefits over time.


  • Higher Volatility:
    – Stock prices exhibit significantly greater volatility compared to real estate. The prices of stocks can experience rapid fluctuations, which can be emotionally challenging unless you adopt a long-term perspective for the stocks and funds in your portfolio. 
  • Capital Gains Tax Implications:
    – Selling stocks may lead to capital gains taxes. When you decide to sell your stocks, you may be required to pay capital gains taxes. However, if you’ve held the stock for more than a year, you might qualify for lower tax rates. 
  • Emotional Decision-Making:
    – Stocks can trigger emotional decision-making. Although buying and selling stocks is more accessible than dealing with real estate properties, it’s not always advisable to do so impulsively. During market fluctuations, investors often make decisions based on emotions, such as selling during periods of uncertainty, when a patient buy-and-hold strategy typically yields better returns.

In the realm of investment, the choice between real estate and stocks is not a matter of one being definitively better than the other, but rather a reflection of your individual circumstances and objectives. It’s crucial to weigh these pros and cons carefully, considering your risk tolerance, financial goals, and investment horizon. 

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Want to invest in Real Estate?

Contact the Lauren Paris Group and we’ll guide you through the real estate process.