Real estate is one of the most reliable investments you could ever make. The year-over-year value growth of single-family homes alone should tell you that.

But then there’s investing in property other people inhabit, or work in—rental property. That’s the kind of investment that can really stand the test of time. However, you’d better know what you’re getting into.

Small rentals. Anyone who’s owned a rental house or duplex will tell you: Expect the unexpected—broken doors, plumbing leaks, appliance breakdowns, renters simply destroying brand-new carpet. It goes on and on. So, know what you’re buying and who you’re renting to, and know those things well. Especially for first-timers, invest in properties that have stood the test of time and, if possible, come with long-time renters with good histories. Your dollars invested and earned from rent will go much further in the long run!

Group investments. And then there’s always real estate portfolio investments (with groups like Fundrise) or real estate investment trusts (Starwood, for example). Investing with groups like these minimize your risk—no frantic midnight calls about pipes bursting—by lumping your investment with that of many others while someone much more qualified manages the properties and the portfolios. Average annualized returns for Fundrise, for example, have run between 8.7 percent and 12.4 percent in recent years.

Real estate investment isn’t for everyone, but with a history of healthy returns relative to many stocks and bonds makes it a very tempting option for those looking for reliability and growth.