Real Estate vs 401K

SVVRE | A better kind of brokerage.

April 4, 2023

Wooden miniature house on top of a printed paper and near a set of keys

Everybody wants a comfortable retirement. Investing now and living off returns later is one path to accomplishing that. Real estate investing may be an excellent way to build wealth and is a tried-and-true strategy. A popular alternative, despite being more contemporary, is 401(k)s. This makes it necessary to consider the details of investing in real estate vs 401(k).

Real Estate vs 401(k)

A vital part of accumulating wealth and ensuring a pleasant retirement is investing. Choosing the ideal investment vehicle for your goals and situation might be challenging because of the myriad options available. However, in recent times, real estate and 401(k) retirement funds have been the main options.

So, which investment strategy is the best in light of this? In the way of your own unique goals and circumstances, each has various factors that will impact how valuable they are to you.

Two storey house with a blue roof and cream colored facade with a wet pavement

Real Estate

Real estate investing is buying and managing property to produce income and capital growth. Types of this investment include:

  • Land 
  • Commercial structures
  • Rental properties

Understanding the market and focusing on the right investments in the right places for significant long-term gains are prerequisites for making money from landed properties. Investing in landed property has numerous perks and should always be approached as a business. 

Savvy investors diversify their portfolios to scale the business and identify successful properties that can produce positive cash flow and long-term appreciation.


A 401(k) retirement savings plan is a tax-advantaged retirement account offered by many employers in the United States. With the help of these plans, employees can save a portion of their salary before taxes, which allows them to save more for retirement. Since contributions to a 401(k) lower your taxable income, this has an immediate tax benefit.

Payroll deductions are frequently used to make 401(k) contributions, and many employers will match those payments up to a specified percentage of an employee’s salary. Taking advantage of corporate benefits and accelerating your retirement savings are benefits of this matching contribution. This implies that you can save for retirement with no effort at all.

The Comparison Between Real and 401(k)

Both are popular investment options and are similar in some ways. However, they differ in their characteristics and potential benefits.


Here are the similarities between these two popular investment strategies:

Long-Term Investment Horizon

Both require a long-term investment horizon. Although you can purchase and sell stocks or property through your 401(k), the most significant gains often come from holding your investments for a long time. This means you must be willing to leave your money in investments for many years, potentially decades.

Potential for Growth

Both have the potential to increase in value over time. Property can increase in value over time, particularly if you invest in a region that is seeing rapid expansion or make improvements to the property. 

Graphic image of a man carrying a yellow sack with a label of 401k

When the value of the underlying stocks and bonds rises, a 401(k) can likewise grow over time. While there may be differences in the possible rewards, both present potential for growth.

Tax Benefits

Both have tax benefits. Tax-deferred growth is possible in a 401(k), so you only have to pay taxes on your contributions once you take the money out. Tax deductions for costs associated with the property, such as:

In addition, if you sell a property for profit, you can benefit from a 1031 exchange, which lets you postpone paying taxes on the sale if you use the funds to buy another investment property.

Inflation Hedge

Both options can act as inflation hedges. Investments in landed property offer a stream of income that grows over time, reducing the effects of inflation. A 401(k) can also be used to invest in stocks and bonds anticipated to outperform inflation in the long run.

The best way to invest as a commercial property investor is with the help of experts like Si Vales Valeo Real Estate. We have vast experience advising and handling commercial real estate transactions. We are your best shot if you are looking to invest in the Cincinnati MSA. 


Here are the differences between both investment options:

Risk and Returns

Regarding risk and potential returns, investing in property differs from 401(k) retirement savings. Investing in properties might be risky since property prices can change depending on local market conditions. Rental demand or tenant turnover changes can also impact income streams.

However, investing in property can also result in larger profits, particularly over the long run. On the other hand, 401(k) retirement funds often carry lower risk and provide lower returns.


Generally speaking, a 401(k) is more liquid than landed property. This means that selling stocks and bonds is easier than selling property. A 401(k) permits withdrawals without penalty after age 59 1/2, however, landed property often necessitates a longer-term investment plan.


A 401(k) plan can offer a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, which can reduce risk. Property investments, on the other hand, are typically less diversified and more focused on particular assets.

Although you can invest in various landed properties, including residential and commercial properties, each is still subject to the risks associated with that particular market.

Wooden miniature house on top of a printed paper and near a set of keys

Tax Benefits

The tax treatment of both investments varies. Tax breaks for mortgage interest, property taxes, and depreciation are available to property investors. By reinvesting the profits from selling one property into another utilizing a 1031 exchange, they can also postpone paying capital gains taxes.

On the other hand, 401(k) plans are tax-deferred, which means that while contributions are made before taxes, withdrawals made in retirement are taxed.

Which Investment Strategy Is Better?

Real estate investment and 401(k) retirement savings have pros and cons, so choosing between them is not a one-size-fits-all decision. High profits, rental income, and diversification outside of conventional investment options like stocks and bonds are all possible with investment in landed property. Although it is subject to market and tenant risk, it needs:

  • A sizable upfront investment
  • Maintenance 
  • Management

401(k) plans come with the ease of employer-sponsored programs, tax benefits, and various investment alternatives. 401(k) plans can also offer automatic contributions and employer matching, simplifying retirement savings. 401(k) plans may not offer the same potential profits as investing in landed property and may be exposed to market risk.

If you pay close attention, real estate investing is a better kind of investing. Compared to 401(k)s it has produced more millionaires. Unlike 401(k), which provides few possibilities and only produces passive income, it allows you to invest your money and build a business. Everyone can start investing in real estate and create a successful business for long-term financial independence and stability.

Related Questions

What Are Some Good Alternatives to a 401(k)?

Some good alternatives to a 401(k) are traditional and Roth IRAs. IRAs bear some similarities to 401(k)s in that they also have certain tax advantages for people saving up for retirement. Before choosing to opt for either IRA option, be sure to evaluate your present and future tax situation.

Why Is Real Estate an Ideal Option?

Real estate is an ideal option because you can use equity as leverage, build wealth, and enjoy a hedge against inflation because of its appreciation. Real estate also boasts a predictable cash flow if you opt for rentals, and it is generally less volatile, which makes it a safer option.

Can I Take a Loan from My 401(k)?

Yes, you can take a loan from your 401(k), depending on the plan. However, before you do this, ensure that you have measures in place on how you intend to pay back. This is because if you are unable to repay the loan and interest based on the loan terms, the unpaid portion morphs into a plan distribution.

Final Verdict

The ideal investment plan can change depending on a person’s objectives, risk tolerance, and financial situation. A balanced strategy can incorporate both investment options to diversify the portfolio and take advantage of each option’s advantages. It is important to seek individualized counsel from a financial advisor and refrain from making snap judgments based on momentary market changes.

More News

Wooden miniature house on top of a printed paper and near a set of keys

Real Estate vs 401K

Everybody wants a comfortable retirement. Investing now and living off returns later is one path to accomplishing that. Real estate investing may be an excellent

Read More »

You May Also Like

Client’s Bill of Rights

based on ORC 4735.62

As your partner, you can expect from us the following fiduciary duties:

  • Accounting: We will account for all funds entrusted to us by you, the client, and not commingle your funds with personal and/or business funds.
  • Care: We will use all of our skills to the best of our ability on behalf of you, the client.
  • Confidentiality: We will keep confidential any information provided by you, the client, especially information that may be damaging to you in a negotiation.
  • Disclosure: We will disclose to you, the client, any information received that may benefit your position in a negotiation.
  • Loyalty: We owe undivided loyalty to you, the client, and put your interests above our own.
    Obedience: We will obey all lawful orders given by you, the client.