By: Jim Sheils

A few years ago, I traveled to Ireland to uncover my roots. I come from an Irish Catholic family, and that means big families and deep roots!

The trip was a revelation. I stood at my great-grandmother’s grave. I sat with my oldest living relative, who had over 200 years’ worth of letters, documents, and photos of my family history. I saw the source of my entrepreneurial spirit in my great-grandfather’s little Irish country store.

That trip, and the self-insight that came with it, was made possible by our real estate investments. 

What surprised me most, however, was what I learned about real estate itself. In Ireland, I saw the house my great-grandfather and grandfather grew up in. He had the house built for a few hundred dollars almost 150 years ago, and it’s still in the family. It’s gone from Sheils to Sheils to Sheils to Sheils. From Michael to Eddie to Oliver to Michael. My second cousin still owns it. That’s a 142-year buy-and-hold!

Quick Gains Versus the Stability of Long-Term Investments

I think we all feel the allure of the short-term win. But standing in Ireland in front of a century and a half of history in one house—that was the most powerful long-term symbol I’d ever seen. My early days of flipping took timing, risk, and struggle. Here was an incredible win for my family, and all it took was the passage of time. The house in Ireland not only appreciated in value over the centuries but has also provided my family with stability and emotional grounding. This is the power of buy-and-hold real estate investment—allowing time itself to multiply the initial investment manifold.

If you bought an investment property the day before the crash in 2007, you would have bought on what arguably was the worst day to buy in the last century.

And yet, by simply holding the property, you’d have more than doubled your money by now. Plus, you’d have the tax advantages, debt reduction, and cash flow while you waited!

Many people still try to play the old Real Estate 1.0 game. They buy the cheapest property they can find so they can make money tomorrow instead of investing in quality that lasts and generates true passive income for the long run. 

Savvy investors are now focusing on acquiring quality properties that promise long-term returns. This shift isn’t just about securing financial gains; it’s about building a portfolio that continues to deliver benefits for years, if not generations.

In Ireland, I saw firsthand the multigenerational benefits of such investments. The house built by my great-grandfather provided not just financial security but also a sense of identity and continuity for my family. This realization has reshaped my approach to real estate, steering me away from short-term gains toward investments that grow and improve with time.

The longer you hold good properties, the better and better things get. Your luck gets better. Your safety margins get bigger. Your wealth grows. Short-term is just the opposite.

It’s clear that the most sustainable and rewarding real estate strategy focuses on the long haul. Just as my ancestors planted seeds for future generations, modern investors should focus on cultivating properties that provide lasting value.

Build-to-Rent Real Estate: A Sustainable Alternative

Build-to-rent properties are typically designed with the long-term in mind, focusing on durability, low maintenance, and tenant appeal. This attention to quality can lead to lower turnover rates, reduced maintenance costs, and higher tenant satisfaction, which are crucial for the long-term profitability of real estate investments.

Another significant benefit of build-to-rent is the potential for scalability. Investors can expand their portfolio by acquiring multiple properties in different regions, diversifying their investment and mitigating risks associated with local market fluctuations.

Real estate is more than a commodity; it’s a cornerstone of family heritage and financial security. By choosing to hold properties over extended periods, investors not only reap greater financial rewards but also contribute to the creation of lasting legacies that endure well beyond their own lifetimes. Like my Irish ancestors, we avoid the short-term thinking trap. We plant seeds for the long term so that we can harvest for generations.

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