Stock or Real Estate – Which Is the Best Investment in 2024?

Stock or Real Estate - Which Is the Best Investment in 2024?

The debate between stocks and real estate as the better investment option has raged for decades. There are good arguments on both sides, and the decision often comes down to your financial situation and risk tolerance. However, there are some key factors to consider when determining which asset class may be favorable in 2024 specifically.

The Debate – Stocks vs Real Estate

Stocks represent ownership shares in public companies whereas real estate involves owning physical properties. Over long periods, both have generated strong returns for investors. However, on a year-to-year basis, their performance can diverge wildly based on economic and market conditions. This leads to the ongoing debate over which is the superior asset class.

When making this decision, here are some key aspects to consider:

Factors to Consider


Real estate tends to be less volatile than stocks in terms of pricing. Property values move more slowly while stock prices can have wild swings. However, real estate carries risks in the form of high upfront costs, lack of liquidity, and involvement as a landlord.


Over the past 50 years, stocks have outperformed real estate slightly in terms of total returns. But performance differs significantly during various decades. This makes direct comparisons difficult.


Real estate has higher upfront transaction, financing, and maintenance costs. Stock trading costs have fallen drastically over the past decades. Portfolio management fees still apply in most cases.


Owning both asset classes has historically lowered portfolio risk due to their low correlation. But this benefit requires properly balancing your allocation between each.


Here is a deeper look at some of the key considerations around owning stocks:


The risks around stocks include high volatility, the potential for major drawdowns, and heavy losses during economic recessions or bear markets. Diversification across companies and sectors is key to mitigating some of these risks.


While past returns are no guarantee of future performance, stocks have generated around a 10% annualized return over the past century. Returns can sometimes be even higher during strong bull markets.


The emergence of low-cost online brokers and index funds has made investing in stocks very affordable. Trading fees can be as low as $0 while fund expense ratios average around 0.5% or less.

Real Estate

Now let’s examine real estate more closely:


Leverage amplifies the risk for real estate investors. Other risks include illiquidity compared to stocks, tenant problems, property damage, and pricing declines during housing downturns.


Rental Income

Generating rental income from investment properties provides positive cash flow along with potential appreciation over time. Income and appreciation together have resulted in strong total returns historically.


Real estate values have increased by around 3-5% annually on average, faster than the rate of inflation. But there have been multi-year periods with significant property depreciation as well.


Purchasing and owning investment property carries high upfront and ongoing expenses including a down payment, closing costs, mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance, and repairs.

Diversification Between Stocks and Real Estate

Maintaining a balance between stocks and real estate investments is considered an important portfolio allocation strategy. Here are some of the key benefits this type of diversification provides:

  • Mitigates overall risk due to low correlation between the asset classes
  • Exposure to both the public equity markets and private property markets
  • Balances liquidity considerations
  • Provides multiple potential drivers of returns between dividends, appreciation, and rental income

Diversifying across stocks and real estate has been shown historically to lower portfolio volatility and enhance risk-adjusted returns over time. The key is finding the right balance based on factors like your personal risk tolerance.

Which is Better in 2024?

Determining which asset class looks more appealing for the coming year depends on the economic backdrop and projections moving forward.

Economic Conditions Favoring Real Estate

Current conditions suggest commercial and residential real estate could outperform stocks in 2024:

  • Interest rates are expected to decline after sharp Federal Reserve hikes, boosting housing affordability
  • Rental demand remains very strong across most markets
  • Property price growth is forecasted to continue outpacing inflation

Concerns Around Stock Valuations

Meanwhile, stocks face challenges:

  • Equity valuations still appear inflated relative to earnings
  • Recession risks loom which could hurt corporate profits and share prices
  • The bull run since 2009 has been unusually long by historical standards

These factors seem to give real estate the edge as we head into 2024. However, both asset classes have merits within a diversified portfolio.

Tips for Investing

If you decide to invest in stocks or real estate next year, here are some tips:


  • Prioritize stable, blue-chip stocks rather than high-growth with inflated valuations
  • Consider value stocks trading below historical price-to-earnings ratios
  • Utilize dollar-cost averaging to scale into positions over time

Real Estate

  • Focus on cost-effective REITs rather than direct property ownership to gain exposure
  • Target markets positioned for above-average appreciation like Austin or Nashville
  • Factor in property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and other ownership costs

Conclusion and Summary

Determining whether stocks or real estate offer better returns in any given year is difficult. The best approach is maintaining an allocation to both asset classes within your portfolio based on your individual goals and risk tolerance. This balances overall risk and return.

As we look ahead to 2024 though, real estate valuations appear more favorable relative to stocks in the current environment. However, staying diversified across multiple investments is key to long-term performance.


What are the main benefits of owning both stocks and real estate?

Owning both stocks and real estate provides portfolio diversification, which reduces overall risk and volatility. The low correlation between the asset classes enhances total returns over long periods.

What real estate investment options exist besides direct property ownership?

Investing in real estate can be done indirectly through real estate investment trusts (REITs), real estate mutual funds, and real estate ETFs. These provide exposure without the hands-on management involved with owning physical property.

Which stocks tend to perform better during periods of rising interest rates?

Value stocks with lower price-to-earnings ratios typically hold up better when rates are rising relative to higher growth stocks trading at elevated valuations. Rising rates can pressure growth stock multiples.

Is real estate always a hedge against inflation?

Over very long periods, real estate values tend to rise along with inflation. However there have been periods where property prices declined substantially even during inflationary environments due to economic conditions. So there are no guarantees.

Which metro areas could see above-average home price growth in 2023-2024?

Housing markets like Austin, Nashville, Tampa, Charlotte, and San Antonio are forecasted to deliver above-average home price appreciation over the next two years according to most experts. The Sun Belt regions continue demonstrating strong demand drivers.

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