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How To Earn Your Way Through College Using Real Estate in Three Steps

What used to be a realistic and reasonable path forward for graduating seniors to ensure their futures is now out of reach for many. The cost of higher education has skyrocketed in the last decade, creating steep barriers to entry for students without scholarships or grants. Student loans saddle you with a debt burden that may take decades to repay.

Investing in residential real estate offers a way forward to help you earn as you learn. It provides an opportunity to leverage money into a lucrative investment that provides an income stream as it grows in value. Anyone in Nevada over 18 years can get an FHA mortgage with reasonable credit, a reliable job and a 3.5 percent down payment. In lieu of qualifying for the loan based on your income, you can use a co-signer, like your parents, to secure the mortgage.

Current lending rules allow down payments as gifts from family members. You’ll have to produce a letter that provides details of the gift, along with the provision that the money isn’t a loan and the donor never expects to be repaid.

Under FHA rules, your entire down payment can come from your parents, siblings, or grandparents as long as your credit score is over 620. If it’s lower, you’re responsible for the entire down payment yourself.

Looking for a home is hard work, especially when you’re searching for an income-producing property that the FHA will insure, like a multiple-unit dwelling that will serve as your principal residence and investment property at the same time. FHA has strict qualifying guidelines for both income and attached properties and working with a Realtor who specializes in turnkey and investment properties will save you time.

Depending on your skills, you may find turnkey properties makes the most financial sense, since the real estate agency handles most of the details, from finding suitable homes through the leasing and day-to-day property management processes.


The best types of property for this kind of investment are duplexes, triplexes and four-unit properties, where you can live in one of the units and lease the remaining. Since the FHA doesn’t insure loans for investor-owned properties, you’ll have to live in the property for 24 months after closing. The rental income from the other dwellings will cover your mortgage payment and the utilities that you provide your tenants. Given the rental rates in the Las Vegas area, that rental income should also cover your tuition.


During the two years you occupy the property, save as much money as you possibly can to increase your real estate portfolio. The next loan will have to be conventional whose interest rate will be slightly higher because the FHA only issues loan guarantees for owner-occupied units. As you increase your holdings, your monthly income stream will increase and rather than going into debt for school, you’ll be generating a positive income stream to cover your expenses and more.


Pay attention to the news reports whether from the local newspaper or online to track real estate trends in the area. Local real estate agencies are on the front lines of the market and are often good sources for market information.

Over the years, the Las Vegas housing market has had its ups and downs, and you’ll want to sell as close to the peak of the market as possible to realize the best appreciation rates for your properties. Don’t count on the same boom cycles that the city saw in years past, but look instead to a solid local economy with steady job growth and advice from the experts.

The Results

Building a solid foundation for your financial future may be within your reach through real estate investments. Starting small and being conservative with your money will help you meet the financial demands of the future, especially if college is part of your plan. Emerging with your degree, license, or certification without debt gives you substantial advantages and broader choices that can better your future in countless ways.

Want to talk with a Las Vegas real estate expert for advice?