I guess I just don’t understand why the specific importance of focusing on “dividends” instead of focusing on the total return of your investment, including stock appreciation. I don’t really care if a company decides to issue a dividend or not; presumably, if they don’t issue a dividend, then they’re doing other things to increase the value of the company, which will be reflected in the stock price of the company. As an investor, I can make money by selling a percentage of my holdings or collecting dividends, and I don’t really care how that’s divided up – it’s an artificial distinction.
I own several rental properties in the mid west and I live in CA. I have never even seen them in person. With good property management in place (not easy to find but possible) it is definitely possible to own cash flowing properties across the country. Not for everyone and not without it’s drawbacks, but it seems to be working for me so far. I’m happy to answer any questions about my experience with this type of investing.
Anthony, nice setup! To your question about the rental mortgages, you haven’t said what interest rate you are paying. As a start, if you are paying more than the risk free rate (Treasury bills) which you probably are, then a true apples to apples comparison would be yes, pay off the mortgage. But, if you are comfortable taking more risk, you have other options to invest in which you *hope* will yield you more over the coming years. You also didn’t say whether the rentals generate net income and if so, how much? What is the implied rate of return on the equity you have invested in them? If you pay the mortgages off, you’ll have even more equity tied up, will the extra net income make that worthwhile? Maybe you should use the money to buy more rentals instead, if purchase opportunities still exist in your town. … this is less of an answer than a framework to analyze the decision, hope it is helpful.
Active investors are those who operate their investment properties as a business. The majority of their annual earnings come from their rental properties and they spend 750 or more hours throughout the tax year operating the property as a business. Active investors are also termed “real estate professionals” by the IRS, since their rental property businesses are considered their primary occupation.
You need to decide which machines you want to run, get the necessary licenses to operate them (you're selling items so you need to get sales licenses and whatnot from your state), buy the machines and a truck for the items in the machines, find a supplier of the products, and then finally you can secure locations. Finally, you need to service them periodically or hire someone to service them.

Real estate investments generally are considered passive income – unlike income from a job, which is considered active – because revenue is generated from the money you invested rather than from the work that you do. You have to pay taxes on your income regardless of whether it's active or passive. Money earned from real estate investing is reported on the Schedule E form and gets carried forward to line 17 of your 1040 tax return. It's then included with your other income and is subject to regular taxes.
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When I purchase an existing online business, I look for cash flow over the past year and where the money comes from. I want the sources to be more passive so that it does not take a lot of my time. Also, typically I will make an offer that is 18 – 24 months of profit so that I know that I will get my money back within the next two years. I hope that helps!
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