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Turnkey Real Estate Investing

4 min read

This is What Turnkey Investing REALLY Looks Like

Thu, Mar 28, 2024

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The term “turnkey” isn’t regulated in this industry. The original concept is clear enough – turnkey properties mean you can “turn the key” and step right into a new or fully renovated property ready to earn passive income. But not everything advertising “turnkey” is doing the same thing. Because the definitions vary and the word is used purely for marketing, investors need to know what they want from a “turnkey” experience.

What do turnkey investing companies ideally do, and what are the signs that something might not really be turnkey? Keep reading to find out.

5 Things Fully Turnkey Companies Do (So You Don’t Have To)

#1 – Find Properties

Many investors that go turnkey do so because they want to invest remotely. Maybe their local market isn’t ideal, or they want to diversify adequately. Regardless of the reason, finding and assessing potential investment properties from a distance is challenging. You don’t know the neighborhoods or demographics, and keeping your finger on the pulse from far away is almost impossible.

A turnkey company already has a roster of investment properties to choose from – properties selected with intention.

#2 – Buy Properties

Truly turnkey partners own the properties they’re selling. That sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. Some so-called turnkey partners act more like brokers than anything, selling properties for someone else. This is an incomplete (and potentially deceptive) way of doing business. This is key for investors to understand: a turnkey company worth your time practices what they preach. They’re following and fully invest themselves in their model. That means they own, renovate, manage, and earn passive income through their properties. 

When they sell a property to an investor, they pass that cash flow on!

#3 – Renovate Properties

Sometimes, turnkey companies have their own in-house renovation team. Others will have an established network of trusted contractors and vendors, ensuring consistency and quality. Regardless, they – not you – coordinate timelines, conduct renovations, and double-check the details.

#4 – Manage Properties

One of the greatest incentives to invest in turnkey properties is that you don’t have to play landlord. Some people want to take on that role, but many have no interest in being actively involved in the day-to-day operations. Instead, a property management team will handle resident requests and complaints, property maintenance, and daily tasks that maximize cash flow and minimize costs.

#5 – Layer a Team

This isn’t something investors always think about. When dealing with investment properties, the left hand must know what the right is doing. That means all your teams – from the advisors and reno crew to the managers and beyond – work in sync. They’re all on the same page. This is tough to do if you’re curating different partners and vendors. It’s even more complicated when multiple properties and markets enter the picture. Your turnkey provider should have everyone working in tandem to produce the best results. 


With all that said, investors can still be lured into the guise of a turnkey investing experience – one that doesn’t deliver and demands more from you than you bargained for.

4 Signs a “Turnkey” Company Isn’t Really Turnkey

Sign #1 – They’re just brokering.

We can’t stress this enough. The company you work with needs to own the properties they’re selling. Otherwise, you’re just working with a middleman looking to make a sale. Ask them outright – do you own your properties? Are you investing yourself?

Sign #2 – You still have to hunt things down.

A passive investor should not have to find their own properties, hunt down reputable vendors, or coordinate management and reno work. When you choose a turnkey partner, it’s not just about the property. It’s about the services provided. Ideally, you’re forging an ongoing partnership, not just performing a real estate transaction.

Sign #3 – The property inspection isn’t stellar.

What about the property itself? What makes it turnkey? Because we know you’re a savvy buyer and don’t forgo inspections – pay extra close attention to them. Turnkey doesn’t mean livable. Turnkey means as pristine as it gets, with every detail accounted for. No loose or clogged gutters. Solid doors and windows. Properly installed fixtures. The cosmetic flaws should be next to none, and there shouldn’t be anything that could threaten the value of your investment. If your inspector gives you an extensive to-do list for a supposedly move-in-ready property, run! 

Sign #4 – They’re rushing you.

When a company rushes you to buy, they only care that you make a purchase. This point doesn’t mean their model isn’t turnkey, but it’s still a red flag to look for. The ideal turnkey partners wants what’s best for you and your financial future. They want you to be ready to make moves, not pressured into them. Look for a partner that wants to be the right fit – not just the first choice.


Turnkey is often a marketing term rather than a proper descriptor. Every investor must look closely at potential partners to ensure they get what they sign up for!


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Chris Clothier
Written by Chris Clothier

Entrepreneur, writer, speaker, ultra-endurance athlete, husband & father of five beautiful children. Chris puts these natural talents on display every day. As a partner at REI Nation, Chris addresses small and large audiences of real estate investors and business professionals nationwide several times each year. Chris is also an active writer, weekly publishing real estate, leadership, and endurance training articles.