5 Bizarre Real Estate Investments

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So, you're a little hesitant about investing in the stock market. To quote Great White, even though the S&P 500 is up over 30% from its low three months ago, you're once bitten, twice shy. Plus, that overbearing uncle keeps cornering you at every family gathering and telling you that you should invest in real estate. "Son," he says (even if you're female), "God only made so much land, and he ain't gonna make no more."

So you've decided to take his advice, but where do you start? Well, you can start small, really small, or flip the script and go big or go home.

1. Parking Spaces

Parking spaces are nothing more than painted lines on asphalt, but some sell for more than $200,000. If you're convinced that this whole public transportation thing is just a fad, you might want to look into the lucrative world of parking spaces. Not parking lots, mind you, but individual spaces. Unfortunately, even owning just one space comes with a number of strings attached, like insurance, association dues, and, if you want to rent the space out rather than use it yourself, advertising. The great thing about being a parking space landlord, however, is that the eviction process is just a tow truck away.

2. A Room With a View (But Just One)

hotel-roomIf you're not ready to invest in a whole building, why not just try one room? At a variety of hotel properties throughout the world, investors can buy a single hotel room at a time. This isn't some timeshare, but a full ownership stake in a single room. For prices as high as $400,000, the owner is entitled to about 50 nights a year at the hotel plus a share of the profits from each night the room is rented by someone else. If you think about it, it's almost like owning a studio apartment that someone else cleans. It might be worth noting, however, that one of the main proponents of this type of ownership, U.K. based GuestInvest, has recently gone bankrupt. You know what they say, "Hotel room buyer beware."

3. Miniature Golf Courses

philly-golf.jpgUnfortunately, a tough economy means tough times for entertainment venues like miniature golf courses. However, having motivated sellers means rock-bottom prices on windmills, gap-toothed clowns, and dangling spiders. Whether you're just looking to gut the existing course of its putt-putt accoutrements or move in as owner/operator, miniature golf ownership might just provide the lusty, free-spirited, popcorn-scented life you've always dreamed of. Check out miniaturegolfer.com for just a taste of what's available.

4. Shipping Container Houses

shipping-containerWith timber and steel prices shooting through the roof and eco-friendly construction the desire of many new homeowners, building homes out of shipping containers might be the next big thing. That's right, shipping containers "“- those large, rectangular metal storage devices stacked by the thousands at ports all throughout the country. With the huge trade imbalance in America we have a glut of the 40-foot-long, 8-foot-wide containers just taking up space. The incredibly sturdy construction that results from these heavy-gauge, steel-frame monoliths is a perfect fit for seismically and meteorologically unsafe areas like California and Florida. [See more photos of shipping container houses at DeMariaDesign.com.]

5. Decommissioned Missile Silos

eddianaDespite the rather low odds of it ever happening, at one time the following sentence must have been uttered: "Honey, let's live in a decommissioned missile silo." Someone must have said it because, according to the website missilebases.com, living in an underground nuclear-hardened silo is all the rage. Ranging from over $2 million to under $200,000, there are decommissioned missile silos dotting the continental United States just waiting to be scooped up by the right buyer. According to the folks who run the aforementioned website, missile homes may just be the wave of the future. The one risk you run of course is that some old, poorly programmed, pre-Glasnost ICBM still has your new home set as its detonation target area. Otherwise, an old military-built missile hatch might be just the thing for the family that wants to get away from the rat race and jump headlong into the arms race.

This article is for entertainment purposes only and in no way constitutes a recommendation by mental_floss or the author as to the soundness, profitability, or appropriateness of any investment referred to therein.

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June 24, 2009 - 6:19am
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