Diversifying Your Real Estate Portfolio


Many real estate investors find themselves drawn to the same well-trodden assets – single family homes and apartment buildings offering steady, reliable returns. However, limiting your portfolio to just these traditional options means missing out on many promising opportunities to diversify and maximize returns. Investing in alternative property types can provide unique advantages and open up all new possibilities.

As an investor, you always want to hedge against risk by broadening the makeup of your holdings. Rental income streams from traditional housing can certainly provide a solid foundation. But branching out into niche or unconventional real estate sectors can help grow your wealth and better position you against market fluctuations. The key is identifying alternative properties compatible with your investing style, risk profile, and long-term goals.

With an open mind to assets beyond the obvious, you gain the potential to capitalize on specialized markets and diversify your income sources. The array of alternative options is far wider than many realize. From manufactured homes to mixed-use commercial, self-storage units to vacation rentals, emerging real estate sectors abound with fresh opportunities. As we’ll explore, Richmond offers excellent prospects for those willing to look. By adding the right non-traditional investments to your portfolio, you can maximize upside potential while minimizing risk. If interested, take the time to check out the following option: Investing in Alternative Housing Types, College HousingSober Living HomesLow Income Housing, and Section 8 Housing.

Traditional Options in Richmond

Investing in traditional real estate options like single-family homes and apartments/multi-family properties have long been popular choices for investors in Richmond.

Single-Family Homes

Single-family homes make up a large portion of Richmond’s housing market. Investors enjoy the stability and demand that comes with renting out these properties to individuals and families. Owning a single-family rental home provides full control and customization for landlords. Properties can range from starter homes to larger luxury homes depending on the neighborhood and budget. While less units means lower cash flow potential, single-family rentals tend to attract long-term tenants and have lower turnover and vacancy rates compared to apartments. Maintenance and repairs are generally the responsibility of the landlord. Location and school districts are major factors in demand and resale value.

Apartments/Multi-Family Properties

Apartment complexes and multi-family properties like condos, townhomes, and duplexes allow investors to maximize rental income through economies of scale. By managing multiple rental units in a single building or development, investors can reduce costs and increase overall returns. Apartment complexes require professional property management, but workloads can be distributed across many units. Multi-family properties also diversify risk should one unit be vacant. Location near public transit, shopping, and entertainment as well as amenities like pools and fitness centers help attract and retain tenants. However, competition is higher among rental properties of this type, especially in urban centers.

Student Housing

Student housing has emerged as an attractive real estate investment, especially in college towns like Richmond that have large student populations. This type of rental housing is designed and operated specifically for students enrolled in nearby educational institutions.

Key characteristics of student housing include:

  • Fully furnished units with bed, desk, and other amenities tailored for students
  • Individual leases per bedroom instead of per unit
  • All-inclusive pricing that bundles rent with utilities, WiFi, and other services
  • Communal spaces and amenities like fitness centers, clubhouses, and study rooms
  • Proximity to campus, sometimes within walking distance
  • Leasing based on the academic calendar, with 9-12 month lease terms


  • Steady demand driven by continuous enrollment of new students
  • Lower vacancy rates compared to traditional apartments
  • Higher rental rates per square foot
  • Lower maintenance and turnover costs with furnished units
  • Demographic likely to have parental guarantors


  • Could be considered overdeveloped in certain college markets
  • Risk of changing university enrollment and admission patterns
  • Operational complexities of working with student population
  • Units sit vacant over summer if not leased to non-students
  • Lack of long-term tenants results in frequent turnover

Duplexes and Triplexes

Duplexes (two units) and triplexes (three units) are multi-family properties that can provide solid returns for real estate investors in Richmond. These homes have separate units but are contained in one building structure.


  • Higher rental income potential than single-family homes, with multiple units to rent out
  • Cost efficiencies in maintenance with shared walls and roof
  • Opportunity for appreciating property values if the neighborhood becomes more popular
  • Units can be rented separately or together for more flexibility
  • Separate units allow more privacy for tenants


  • Higher upfront purchase price than a single-family home
  • Responsible for more maintenance with multiple units/tenants
  • Separating utilities or sharing common spaces can get complicated
  • Not as easily converted back to a single-family home if desired later
  • Lending and insurance often more complex than single-family financing

Duplexes and triplexes can provide economies of scale over single-family rentals, with the advantage of higher rental income. But investors need to factor in the larger upfront costs and responsibilities of managing multiple units within one building. The pros and cons will depend on your investing goals, finances, and property management capabilities.

Alternative Housing Type: Mobile Home Parks

Mobile home parks can be an interesting alternative real estate investment in Richmond. Mobile home parks involve owning the land that mobile homes sit on and renting out the lots to individual mobile home owners.

Key Characteristics:

  • Lower costs to acquire than traditional housing
  • Established infrastructure and utilities already in place
  • Pre-determined lot sizes and layouts
  • Mix of land ownership and home rental income

Pros as an Investment:

  • Steady and reliable rental income from leasing out lots
  • Lower overhead than apartment complexes
  • Cost efficiencies from scale of multiple rental lots
  • Demand for affordable housing options

Cons as an Investment:

  • Less control over property since you don’t own the mobile homes
  • Responsible for exterior maintenance and landscaping
  • Need to comply with regulations for mobile home parks
  • Limits on raising rents due to affordable housing status
  • Lower asset appreciation potential than traditional housing

Financial Considerations

When evaluating different real estate investment types in Richmond, it’s important to look at the potential return on investment (ROI) across various housing options. Some key financial factors to consider include:

  • Return on Investment (ROI) – Single family homes traditionally have lower ROI compared to multifamily properties, around 8-10% vs. 12-15% for apartments. However, smaller multi-unit properties like duplexes and triplexes can achieve 15-20% ROI.
  • Purchase Costs – Single family homes in Richmond average around $300,000 to purchase, whereas small multifamily properties average $400,000-$500,000. High rise condo units can be purchased for $200,000-$400,000 on average.
  • Rental Income – Gross rental yields range from 4-8% on single family homes, 6-10% on condos, and 8-12% on small multifamily units in Richmond. Larger apartment complexes earn rents in the 10-15% yield range.


Small multi-family properties like duplexes and triplexes allow investors to get started with a lower investment amount than larger apartment complexes, while still benefiting from economies of scale compared to single-family rentals. However, they require more hands-on management than traditional large apartment complexes run by professional property management firms.

When considering alternative real estate investments in Richmond, investors have several unique options that go beyond traditional single-family homes and apartments. Each alternative brings its own advantages and disadvantages.

Manufactured home parks offer stable occupancy rates and strong returns from both lot rents and manufactured home sales or rentals. But they also require specialist expertise to manage properly. Storage units provide hands-off management but lower returns than housing rentals.

Overall, alternative housing investments can diversify an investor’s portfolio and provide options to match different investment goals and risk profiles. They tap into specialized niches and demographics not served by the mainstream rental market. With proper research and planning around regulations, location, and tenant management, they can provide solid returns.

For investors new to alternative housing, starting small is recommended to test out a specific market and property type before expanding. Consulting local real estate professionals and attorneys can help navigate the unique legal and zoning issues that may arise. While alternatives may seem unfamiliar at first, an open mind, patience, and proper due diligence can lead to rewarding investment opportunities beyond single-family homes.

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