You’ve come to realize that your retirement – and your children’s and grandchildren’s future – depends on what you do today. That’s good, but though it pushes you in the right direction, it doesn’t tell you what to do today. Whether you just got your first job or have been sitting on an underperforming 401(k) for years, it’s time to decide whether you’re ready to invest in real estate.

1. You’re ready to invest for your family’s future.

This one might seem obvious at best and repetitive at worst, but it’s important. First of all, let’s talk about the word invest. Investment is more than just saving: it’s growing your money. People often have skewed perceptions of investment. Some are overly cautious and risk averse; these people usually keep up with inflation but don’t make any waves with their money. Others fear no risks and invest almost recklessly in assets they know little about. These people sometimes get lucky, but they also often end up with only a little more than they started. In effect, they’ve only saved; they haven’t invested. Investing for your family’s future is thoughtfully using the money and assets you have now to leave something substantially more valuable for your children. If you’re ready to do that, you’re ready to invest in land.

2. You have practical investment resources.

Though you can use leverage to invest in real estate, you should start by having capital, good credit, partners, etc. Then you can think about leverage. People like to advertise something-for-nothing investment, but “no money upfront and no hassle!” isn’t the best way to go when investing in real estate. If you have some resources to begin with and you can manage debt wisely, you’re ready to invest.

3. You’ve already built an investment portfolio, and you want to diversify.

Your investments might be stagnant, but they might also be doing well. Maybe you’ve invested in stocks and bonds with your IRA, and you’re looking for a more tangible, long-term asset that will balance out some of your market risks. You are in an ideal position to invest in real estate, especially land. Land banking gives you a new kind of control over your investments. Firstly, you can research assess the purchase in person – you can’t do that with the company offices in which you hold stock. Also, you can reach out to real estate experts for third-party professional opinions on your purchase.

4. A team of real estate experts is available in your area.

This point can’t be emphasized enough. When you invest in real estate, the best thing you can have is a group of people (not just one advisor) who know about the land you’re thinking of purchasing and the area in which you’re looking. Seek out people within your extended community who know about real estate investment and have participated in it. Talk to them. Do they make you feel confident about your investment? Do they make you see real estate in a new way? If not, look elsewhere – the area you’re thinking about probably isn’t a good idea.