The methodology behind investing in an income property is focused around making money now. Not everybody can invest money in real estate and hope for a huge return 15 or 20 years down the road. For investors that dont have a big stash of cash laying around waiting 15 or 20 years for a return on their investment is not a viable business plan.
Thus, as you might expect, an income property is a property that returns positive net income from month to month. For example, the typical income property for small real estate investors is a single family dwelling. Suppose a person much like yourself decides to invest in house that is being sold at or below market value. The business plan is to make minimal investments fixing up the house, and then rent out the house to somebody with sub par credit that cant get a loan for their own house. To initially pay for the house a mortgage loan is taken out. The monthly mortgage loan payments are calculated to be $850 and you plan on renting out the house for $1100 since there is a shortage of rental homes in the area. Right off the bat you have a gross operating margin of $250 on this income property. Of course there will always be other expenses, such as maintenance and taxes, which you must pay. However, these additional expenses will still leave a nice little cash flow of profits for your efforts. Bigger investors follow this methodology and buy an income property like an apartment building and will make larger profits thanks to economies of scale.
The methodology behind an investment property is a bit different. Rather than focusing on current profitability like an income property investor, an investment property investor focuses on the big picture. The investor will buy an investment property which allows him to at least break even or perhaps make a small profit from month to month. However, his primary interest is holding onto the property for the long term and selling the property when the market value has risen significantly. Over a span of 15 to 20 years, it is not unreasonable to expect investment properties in hot real estate markets to double or even triple. Thus, the typical investment property investor has two resources. He has lots of money on hand as well as time to play the waiting game.
The investment property investor is not terribly interested in making money on his investment right now. That is not to say he is willing to lose money on the property from month to month, but he is willing to operate at much lower profit margins than your typical income property investor. The real objective of the investment property investor is to strike it rich down the road when he finally decides to the sell the investment property.
Both of these investment strategies serve as viable business plans. What suits you best will depend on your needs as well as your resources. If you have lots of money and time then an investment property could be way the go, but if you need to make money now an income property might be your best choice.