Investing in property isn’t only about buying a home to live in or rent out – there are several different ways to put money into bricks and mortar, and you don’t necessarily need a big lump sum to get started.

The best option for you will depend on your investment timeframe, the amount you have to invest and your financial goals.

Here, we explain some of the main ways you can invest in property, and the pros and cons of each.

Buy to let

Putting your money into a buy to let property is one of the most obvious ways to make money from bricks and mortar, and the hope is that it will provide you with a regular income from rent, and also capital appreciation over time. However, investing in physical property to let out to tenants can involve a lot of work, and is not without risk.

Many landlords like the idea of owning a buy to let property as it’s a tangible asset, unlike stocks or funds. If you prefer to be less hands-on when it comes to managing the property, you can enlist the help of an estate agent to take responsibility for dealing with tenants and handling paperwork. 

Of course, there are downsides too. Buy to let is a big financial commitment, particularly if you end up taking out a buy to let mortgage to cover the purchase. Mortgage rates have risen sharply in recent months following a series of increases in the Bank of England base rate. This has made life tougher for landlords and their tenants, whose rental payments also go up to cover higher borrowing costs.

Buy to let mortgages also typically require a larger deposit than a regular mortgage, and lenders will need to be confident that the income generated from the rent you’re charging will be more than enough to cover your repayments. Learn more in our article Understanding buy to let mortgages.

If you’d like to see how much you might be able to borrow for a buy to let property, simply enter your expected rental income in our buy to let mortgage calculator to get an estimate.

There are plenty of costs to factor in when investing in a buy to let property. For example, you’ll have to pay an additional 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) when you buy an additional property such as a buy to let property in England and Wales. If you live in Scotland, you’ll have to pay an extra 4% Land and Buildings Transaction Tax. Read more in our article Stamp Duty explained

Any profits could be eroded by the tax you’ll pay on rental income, and other outgoings you’ll incur, such as mortgage and maintenance costs. 

Another risk of buy to let is that you can’t predict with certainty what’ll happen to the property market, and price falls in the area could see the property lose value. You could find that you  cannot let or sell the property for as much as you would like, or struggle to let or sell it at all.

You also should be well aware of your responsibilities as a landlord before diving into buy to let, so you know what to expect and are aware of how much of your time it can take up. Read our article What are my responsibilities as a landlord? for the full breakdown.

To learn more about the ins and outs of letting a property and whether it might be right for you, check out our article Is buy to let a good investment?

If you’re looking for expert mortgage advice, you can speak to an independent mortgage broker with Unbiased. Every advisor you find through Unbiased will be FCA-regulated, qualified and unconnected to product providers – so they can offer you truly unbiased advice.

Get expert buy-to-let advice

If you’d like to discuss your options with a buy-to-let expert, why not speak to an independent mortgage broker with Unbiased? Every adviser you find through Unbiased will be FCA-regulated, qualified and unconnected to product providers – so they can offer you truly unbiased advice. Your first consultation is free.

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Holiday lets

Investing in a holiday home is another way you could make money through bricks and mortar.

You’ll have an investment that could improve your quality of life if you are able to use it occasionally, and also provide you extra income.

Furnished holiday lets typically provide greater income than buy to let property investments, although this income is often seasonal. Depending on their location, you can often charge per week the same as the amount you’d receive in rent per month from a buy to let property.

Holiday lets are classed as a business rather than an investment, and as such the tax rules differ to those which apply to buy to let properties. You can, for example, deduct 100% mortgage interest costs from your rental income to reduce your tax bill. However, new rules are due to come into effect from April 2023 which will mean holiday let properties must be rented out for 70 days of the year in order to qualify for business rates and to avoid paying council tax. They must also be available to rent for a minimum of 140 days. It’s also important to bear in mind that you may find there are several quiet months with little to no interest from holidaymakers, when the property is generating no income and you’ll still have to pay the bills. Spring and summer, by contrast, may be particularly popular, especially if you have a seaside property.

These peak seasons can be incredibly lucrative, but also involve a lot of work. For example, you will need to have the property cleaned between stays unless you are willing to do this yourself. If the property is some distance away from where you live or even in another country, you may have to hire someone more local to help manage it. Holidaymakers typically have high standards, and you’ll have to deal with any negative feedback or issues.

You’ll also need a special kind of mortgage for a holiday let, as you can’t use a residential or buy to let mortgage. These are called holiday home mortgages, and are typically only available from specialist lenders. These mortgages require a sizable deposit, and you’ll need to show that you have enough income to cover repayments during the quiet months. You’ll still pay the 3% Stamp Duty Surcharge on a second property, too, which can add a substantial amount to your buying costs.

Read more about this kind of investment in our article Holiday let or buy to let: which is better?

Shares and property funds

If you don’t have a large lump sum to put down as a deposit on a buy to let property or holiday let, or you want an investment that requires little upkeep, you could consider investing in property shares or funds.

These can form part of a balanced investment portfolio, provided you’re comfortable with the risks involved. Read more in our article Is investing right for you?


You may decide that you want to invest in individual shares in property companies, such as building and construction companies, property management, or commercial property firms.

This effectively means buying part of a company or several companies and becoming a shareholder in these businesses, in the hope they perform well over time and your shares rise in value. Bear in mind however, that there are no guarantees, so you must be comfortable accepting the risk that you could get back less than you put in. As a shareholder, you might be entitled to dividend payments which can be reinvested to increase your returns, or paid out as an income. Dividends are basically a slice of company profits paid out to shareholders, and are typically paid a few times a year.

You can shield up to £20,000 of your investments from the taxman each year with a stocks and shares ISA. Read more about how these work in our article Everything you need to know about ISAs

Find out more about how shares work in our article Savings accounts or shares – which is the best option?

Property funds

A property fund pools your money together with contributions from other investors, and has a manager who makes investments on your behalf. They will usually invest in dozens of commercial properties, such as office spaces, retail, and leisure facilities, rather than residential property companies.

These types of investments typically perform better when the economy is doing well and there’s plenty of demand for business space. However, during a recession, commercial property investments may not be so lucrative, as demand for these spaces falls when the economy is stagnant.

Beware that property funds come with particular risks as you may be prevented from withdrawing your money if the investment performs poorly. This is typically because the   fund simply cannot rent or sell enough assets quickly to give you your money back. This was a common problem during the pandemic, when a lot of UK commercial properties stood empty.

Real estate investment trusts (REITs)

Real estate investment trusts are a kind of investment trust which mainly invest in commercial properties. To be eligible to be a REIT, a company must earn at least 75% of its profit from property rental and must distribute at least 90% of its property rental income to investors.

A REIT’s share price is determined by market demand, and can move either above or below the value of the assets it holds, known as the Net Asset Value, or NAV. If the price rises above the value of the fund, it is set to be trading at a premium, but if it falls below it is said to be trading at a discount. Demand for REITs tends to reduce when interest rates and borrowing costs are rising, and grow when rates are falling and it’s cheaper to borrow.

Find out more about how investment trusts work in our guide How do investment trusts work?

Property development

You could try your hand at property development if you’ve plenty of money to invest and you’re willing to do up property to rent out or sell on. You’ll usually pay less for a property that needs a lot of work. However, with the right renovations and refurbishments, you could potentially make some big financial gains when it comes time to sell or let to tenants.

However, don’t underestimate how much property improvements can cost. Renovations usually require plenty of time, money and effort, whether you are doing the work yourself or hiring builders. The cost can also rack up if any unexpected problems  arise, and if you’re not careful, your development project could end up a money drain. There aren’t any guarantees that you’ll be able to sell the property on either, at the price you want.  If the property market takes a tumble while you’re doing a property up, this will also impact on your sale price.

You should ensure that you thoroughly understand a property’s issues and exactly how you’re going to solve them – including how much each step will cost – before you think about fixing it up.

There are a number of different ways to finance property development, such as equity release, remortgaging, or a refurbishment loan. Read more about equity release in our equity release section and about paying for home improvements in our guide How to pay for home improvements.

What’s the best kind of property investment for me?

Ultimately, the right property investment for you will depend on your financial situation, time you have to spare, your skillset, and your goals.

For example, buy to let or property development may be suitable for you if you’re willing to put time and effort into your investment, and you have a large lump sum to invest as your deposit.

However, if you’re seeking a property investment that will add to your lifestyle as well as providing returns, then a holiday let may be more suitable. Alternatively, if you’ve less money and time available and you’re seeking a long term profit, property funds or shares may be a sensible choice as part of a diversified investment portfolio.