Expert Interview Series: Sonia Booker about Investing in Real Estate During Retirement

Investing in real estate during retirement

“With rents going up, there are so many upsides to consider purchasing real estate to live; and in the long run, this purchase will provide a big boost to your retirement portfolio,” explains Sonia Booker.

In addition to owning and running her eponymous website, Sonia is an innovative entrepreneur, author and real estate investor. Below, she shares her thoughts on a variety of retirement and real estate issues, including the one thing that you can start doing today to help with your own retirement.

What is your professional background?

I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last 20 years, starting as one of the youngest insurance agents for Allstate. I later sold the agency and went full-time into real estate.

I’m always excited to share how to invest in real estate the right way to avoid losing your shirt, which led me to write the book, Real Estate & Wealth: Investing in the American Dream. I speak all over the world and consult with people who have large real estate holdings or who are looking to make a significant investment and want the proper guidance.

Do you think investing in real estate is wise for most people who are thinking about retirement?

Real estate is a wise investment for anyone who is thinking about retirement and would like a boost to their portfolio. It is better when purchased as a long-term wealth-building strategy, especially to supplement your retirement.

Exercise your wisdom and get a lot of information regarding what areas you should invest in. Take time to write a plan; this will help to keep you focused on why you’re investing, whether that’s short-term for cash flow or long-term for income.

What is one thing someone can start doing today to help with retirement?

Start thinking about it. Wherever you are, stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, and begin to envision your retirement. What does it look like, what are you doing, at what age, where are you living, are you traveling? Get a clear picture in your mind of how you want this special time to look for you.

Now think about your daily decisions; do they match up? I always joke that I would rather know now what my retirement will look like rather than finding out when I’m 60 without much time left to do anything about it.

What are some of the biggest challenges that people are likely to face when planning for retirement that may be far in the future?

The challenge of not having enough money to retire is very real. The earlier you begin planning for retirement, the better off you will be.

How do you think investing in real estate for retirement should be seen differently by millennials?

Real estate should be a part of the overall retirement strategy, whether that’s investing in a REIT or making direct investments. So many millennials start out in a large amount of debt and are staying single a lot longer. They should consider purchasing real estate such as a condo or townhouse with low maintenance and renting out a room or two in lieu of just renting an apartment for long periods of time.

I also think that millennials are open to creativity in real estate investing, such as partnering. I’m also a fan of crowdfunding, and you can make some really good returns. There are many real estate investing sites that take all of the work out of it for you and allow you to start investing with as little as $100. Crowdfunding allows you to participate in transactions that you may not have otherwise heard of or been able to invest in.

I encourage millennials to think outside of the box when it comes to real estate investing.

What is one thing that you think most people don’t understand about investing in real estate to prepare for retirement?

Most people don’t understand that starting with just owning your primary home is a great start; this is the asset that most people hold their wealth in. For example, if I were 30 years old and had been investing in a 401(k) and stock portfolio, but I own my home and purchased one modest investment property; in 20 years, my real estate equity could be upwards of $300,000-$500,000 (given an average home price of $229,000 plus an investment property). If these properties are paid off as I go into my retirement, I could have a nice addition to my retirement portfolio.

Most people think that you need to invest in a lot of real estate; the reality is, you just need one or two good deals.

Most people think that it’s much harder to get started investing in real estate than it is. Attend some investor meetings, seminars, webinars or (if you are serious) consider getting a real estate investing coach or someone who can help mitigate your risk with their knowledge.

What are some of the things that have contributed to your success? What are some of the things you learned along the way?

Having an early appreciation for real estate has served me very well. My family owned land and rental properties. I remember at an early age picking up rental payments with my grandfather.

Later, as an adult, I began to understand equity and the power of other people’s money to build my wealth. I wrote the best-selling book Real Estate & Wealth: Investing in the American Dream as a step-by-step guide to investing in real estate to help others to be successful. Everything I’ve learned I’ve put it in the book!

Here are 5 things that I’ve learned in my 13 years investing:

  • Invest in real estate for long-term wealth and retirement building.
  • Be diversified, yet invest where you are comfortable.
  • Invest in real estate with the end in mind.
  • Be quick and decisive.
  • Location will always be key.

The main goal of my website,, is to provide a hub for blogs, social media and events. You can also go there and find out more information about real estate investing coaching webinars and one-on-one sessions.

Follow Sonia on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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