Over the past few years I’ve begun to appreciate a side of real estate investing that doesn’t get a lot of play, and that I honestly didn’t anticipate.  As investors we love talking about earning income while we sleep, or retirement plan, or freedom of time from a 9-5. Normally this is what we use as the great things about real estate.  Yet the part I’ve most began to love is: the creativity. If anyone has ever said there isn’t any creativity in real estate, they are dead wrong.

Now I’m not talking about creative financing or the like.  What I love about real estate is the imagination it fuels in me.  Trips to Menards, Home Depot, are fun. I love browsing the light fixtures, bath vanities, and countertops.  When I pass the paint section I often zone out for a few moments dreaming of repainting the exterior of my buildings.  I don’t want to give you the impression I’m a ‘rehab addict’ per say. I don’t let my imagination run away with my cash flow in hand.  

I even like contemplating the more irrational or aggressive imaginative ideas.  The thought of converting an upper/lower unit into a SFR with 3 bdrms, mother-in-law kitchen and large rec room. Or restoring a Victorian buildings common areas to truly Victorian with original floors, woodwork that is stained and not painted, etc.  Many of these won’t come to fruition but it keeps me passionate about real estate investing.

When I’m walking around a city or passenger in a car I look at vacant or blighted buildings.  I take a few moments to let my imagination run wild with how I would “save” the building, how I would restore it.  I begin to imagine what’s it’s best use would be. A small building located along a river downtown would make a nice pub or coffeehouse.  An old firehouse used as a restaurant. A historic church turned into a banquet hall.

This creativity often ends up leading to useful ideas.  From these moments of imagination I’ve made plans for landscaping a backyard, adding “metal” backsplashes to my kitchens for less grease damage and easier cleaning, and pulling up old vinyl out of sheer curiosity to find an original  geometric mosaic tile pattern from the 20s in good condition.

Whoever said there’s no creativity in real estate never took the time to appreciate it.