Mutual Funds vs. Real Estate

Mutual funds provide diversification across various sectors and assets while Real estate offers tangible assets. Explore key differences between mutual funds and real estate investments in this blog.
Mutual Funds vs. Real Estate
4 mins

Mutual funds and real estate are two distinct investment avenues with unique characteristics and potential benefits. While mutual funds provide liquidity and diversification, real estate offers tangible assets and the possibility of rental income. In this article, we will explore the key differences between mutual funds and real estate investment, including their advantages, drawbacks, and suitability for different investor profiles. By understanding these differences, readers can make informed decisions aligning with their financial goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon, whether opting for the flexibility of mutual funds or the stability of real estate.

What are mutual funds?

Mutual funds are investment portfolios that collect money from a large number of investors to buy a variety of securities like stocks, bonds, etc. They offer diversification, liquidity, ease of investment, and professional management. However, they also come with certain risks, such as market volatility, fund manager’s performance, and fees and charges. Mutual funds are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and are subject to various tax implications depending on the type and duration of the fund.

Read more about, what is a mutual fund?

What is real estate?

Real estate is any property that you buy or invest in, such as land, residential, or commercial spaces. Real estate investments provide tangible assets, potential rental income, and tax benefits. However, they also involve higher upfront costs, maintenance expenses, legal procedures, and low liquidity. Real estate investments are influenced by various factors, such as location, demand and supply, infrastructure development, and economic conditions. Real estate investments are not highly regulated and are subject to capital gains tax and stamp duty.

Differences between mutual funds and real estate

The ongoing discussion between mutual funds and real estate is a prominent topic in the investment landscape. Both avenues offer opportunities for wealth accumulation, drawing significant interest with their distinct merits and obstacles. Discover the fundamental distinctions between mutual funds and real estate below.

  • Risk Factor: Mutual funds are subject to market risk, liquidity risks, interest rate risk, credit risks, liquidity risks, etc, which means that the value of your investment can fluctuate depending on the performance of the underlying securities. Real estate investments are subject to various risks, such as property damage, legal disputes, encroachment, fraud, and market downturns. However, real estate investments are generally considered less volatile and more stable than mutual funds in the long run.
  • Liquidity: Liquidity refers to the ease of converting your investment into cash. Open-ended Mutual funds offer high liquidity, as you can redeem your units at any time at the prevailing market price. However, you may have to pay exit load for early withdrawal in some cases. Real estate investments offer low liquidity, as it can take a long time to find a buyer and sell your property at a fair price. You may also have to pay brokerage and other charges for selling your property.
  • Investment: Mutual funds require a low initial investment, as you can start a systematic investment plan (SIP) with as low as Rs. 100 per month. You can also choose from a wide range of mutual fund schemes that suit your risk profile and investment objective. Real estate investments require a high initial investment, as you need to pay a large sum of money as down payment, registration fee, stamp duty, and other charges. You also have limited options to choose from, depending on your budget and location.
  • Gestation period: Gestation period refers to the time taken for your investment to grow and generate returns. Mutual funds have a shorter gestation period, as you can see the growth of your investment on a daily basis. However, you need to stay invested for a long-term period, preferably more than five years, to get the best returns from mutual funds. Real estate investments have a longer gestation period, as you may have to wait for several years to see the appreciation of your property value. However, you can also earn regular income from your property by renting it out or leasing it.
  • Tax liability: Tax liability refers to the amount of tax you have to pay on your investment returns. Mutual funds are subject to different tax treatments, depending on the type and duration of the fund. Equity funds are taxed at 15% for short-term capital gains (less than one year) and 10% for long-term capital gains (more than one year) above Rs. 1 lakh. Debt funds are taxed at your slab rate for short-term capital gains and 20% with indexation for long-term capital gains. Real estate investments are subject to capital gains tax, which is as per slab rate of the individual for short-term capital gains (less than 24 months) and 20% with indexation for long-term capital gains (more than 24 months). However, you can also claim various deductions and exemptions for your real estate investments, such as interest on home loan, principal repayment, stamp duty, and registration charges.

How do you decide between real estate vs. mutual funds?

Here are a few details before deciding to invest between real estate and mutual funds:

  • What is your objective: Your objective refers to the purpose and goal of your investment. If you are looking for a regular income, tax benefits, and a tangible asset, then real estate may be a better option for you. However, if you are looking for diversification, liquidity, and professional management, then mutual funds may be a better option for you.
  • Capital: Capital refers to the amount of money you have to invest. If you have a large amount of capital and can afford the high upfront and maintenance costs, then real estate may be a suitable option for you. However, if you have a limited amount of capital and want to start investing with a small amount, then mutual funds may be a suitable option for you.
  • Liquidity: Liquidity refers to the ease of accessing your money. If you need your money in a short span of time and want to avoid any hassles, then mutual funds may be a better option for you. However, if you do not need your money for a long time and are willing to wait for the right opportunity, then real estate may be a better option for you.

What are the ways to invest in mutual funds?

Here are common methods for investing in mutual funds:

  • Direct investment through AMCs: Investors can buy mutual fund shares directly from the fund management organisation, often resulting in lower costs and a direct link to the fund source.

  • Financial advisors: Many investors work with financial advisors who recommend suitable mutual funds based on their financial goals and risk tolerance, assisting with the purchase and sale of fund shares.

  • Online platforms and brokerages: Numerous online platforms and brokerage firms offer a wide array of mutual funds, allowing investors to create accounts, trade fund shares online, and access research tools and other resources.

What are the ways to invest in real estate?

Real estate investment offers a range of options for individuals seeking portfolio diversification or passive income. Here are some unconventional methods to invest in real estate:

  • Direct ownership: Acquiring tangible properties such as residential homes, commercial buildings, or land to generate returns through rental income and property appreciation.

  • Real estate investment trusts (REITs): Investing in publicly traded REITs listed on stock markets to access real estate assets without owning physical properties.

  • Real estate crowdfunding: Participating in platforms that pool funds from multiple investors to finance real estate projects, providing exposure to a diverse portfolio through smaller contributions.

  • Real estate partnerships: Collaborating with other investors to pool resources for larger real estate ventures, involving shared ownership and responsibilities.

  • Real estate mutual funds and ETFs: Investing in mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) focused on real estate securities, enabling diversification across various property types and locations.

How to decide between real estate vs mutual funds

Deciding between real estate and mutual funds requires careful consideration of various factors to align with individual financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment preferences. Here's a detailed exploration of key aspects to consider when making this decision:

  • Financial goals: Evaluate your financial objectives, such as wealth accumulation, income generation, or long-term growth. Real estate investment may be suitable for those seeking rental income and property appreciation, while mutual funds offer diversification and potential capital appreciation.

  • Risk tolerance: Assess your risk tolerance level, as real estate investment often involves higher initial capital outlay, illiquidity, and property market fluctuations. Mutual funds, on the other hand, offer liquidity and diversification, making them potentially less risky.

  • Time horizon: Consider your investment time horizon, whether short-term or long-term. Real estate investments typically require a longer time horizon to realise significant returns, while mutual funds offer flexibility for short-term or long-term investment goals.

  • Capital requirements: Determine the amount of capital available for investment, as real estate often requires substantial initial investment for property purchase, maintenance, and management. Mutual funds allow for investment with lower initial capital requirements and offer fractional ownership opportunities.

  • Market conditions: Analyse current market conditions and economic trends to assess the potential risks and opportunities in real estate and mutual fund investments. Real estate markets may be influenced by factors such as interest rates, supply and demand dynamics, and economic growth, while mutual funds are impacted by overall market performance and fund management strategies.

  • Tax considerations: Understand the tax implications associated with real estate and mutual fund investments. Real estate investments may offer tax benefits such as depreciation deductions and capital gains tax advantages, while mutual funds may provide tax-efficient investment options, depending on the fund type and investment duration.

  • Diversification: Evaluate the level of diversification offered by real estate and mutual fund investments. Real estate portfolios may require active management to diversify across different property types and locations, while mutual funds inherently offer diversification across various asset classes, sectors, and geographic regions.

By carefully weighing these factors and conducting thorough research, investors can make informed decisions to choose between real estate and mutual funds that best align with their financial objectives and preferences.


Mutual funds and real estate are both popular investment options that can help you achieve your long-term goals. However, they have different features, benefits, and drawbacks that you need to consider before investing. The choice depends on your personal preferences, risk appetite, and investment horizon. You can also invest in both, if you want to diversify your portfolio even more.

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Frequently asked questions

What are some ways to invest in real estate in India?

Some ways to invest in real estate in India are:

  • Buying physical properties, such as plots, apartments, villas, etc., and renting or selling them for profit.
  • Investing in REITs, which offer exposure to a diversified portfolio of real estate assets with lower entry barriers and higher liquidity.
  • Investing in real estate mutual funds, which are funds that invest in the stocks or debt instruments of real estate companies or REITs.
  • Investing in real estate crowdfunding platforms, which allow investors to pool their money and fund specific real estate projects in exchange for a share of the returns.
Why do investors prefer to invest their money in real estate?

Investors prefer to invest their money in real estate because:

  • Real estate is a tangible asset that can appreciate in value over time and provide capital gains.
  • Real estate can generate regular income through rent, which can also increase with inflation and demand.
  • Real estate can offer tax benefits, such as deductions for interest payments, depreciation, maintenance, etc.
  • Real estate can act as a hedge against inflation and currency fluctuations, as the value of property tends to rise with the general price level.
What is the major advantage of investing in mutual funds?

The major advantage of investing in mutual funds is that they offer diversification, which means that they invest in a variety of securities across different sectors, markets, and asset classes. This reduces the risk of losing money due to the poor performance of a single security or sector.

How is India’s real estate sector regulated?

India’s real estate sector is regulated by various laws and authorities, such as:

  • The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, which establishes the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) to regulate and promote the real estate sector and to protect the interests of consumers and developers.
  • The Transfer of Property Act, 1882, which governs the transfer of immovable property by sale, gift, mortgage, lease, etc.
  • The Indian Stamp Act, 1899, which levies stamp duty on the registration of property transactions.
  • The Registration Act, 1908, which makes it mandatory to register property deeds and documents to ensure the validity and authenticity of the transactions.
  • The Income Tax Act, 1961, which imposes tax on the income from property, such as rent, capital gains, etc.
Why real estate is better than mutual funds?

Real estate may offer advantages like potential for rental income, property appreciation, and tangible asset ownership, making it preferable for some investors seeking diversification and long-term growth.

Is index fund better than real estate?

The suitability of index funds or real estate depends on individual investment goals, risk tolerance, and market conditions. Index funds offer diversification and low fees, while real estate provides tangible asset ownership and potential for rental income.

What is the return rate of real estate?

The return rate of real estate can vary widely based on factors like location, property type, market conditions, and investment strategy. On average, historical real estate returns have ranged from 5% to 10% annually.

Which is best real estate mutual funds in India?

Some of the best real estate mutual funds in India include those offered by reputable fund houses with a track record of performance, diversified portfolios, and professional management expertise.

What is the average return on mutual funds?

The average return on mutual funds depends on the fund type, investment strategy, and market performance. Historically, mutual funds have delivered average annual returns ranging from 7% to 12%, depending on factors like asset allocation and fund category.

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