Using data from the 2001, 2004, and 2008 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), this research examines the characteristics of households that invested in rental real estate during the 2000s. Given the tumultuous real estate market during that decade, rental real estate investment was investigated during the early part of the housing market boom (2001), the height of the boom (2004), and after the market began to decline (2008). Results reveal relative stability with slight investment increases in rental real estate (4.57% in 2001 to 5.00% in 2004 to 5.08% in 2008), and several investor demographic and financial characteristics consistently associated with the investment decision. Evidence of potential over-reliance on real estate investment by some households indicates that financial planners should work to educate clients who invest, or are seeking to invest, in real estate. Education would emphasize that overweighting portfolios with real estate could be deleterious to client’s wealth goals in times of slow rental or depreciating housing markets.

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