Oil prices are plummeting, taking energy stocks down with them. Meanwhile, financial experts such as Harry Dent and Robert Shiller say the U.S. stock market is overdue for a correction. Shiller recently noted in Forbes that the market is 65 percent overvalued, mainly fueled by “irrational exuberance.”

Many investors today are yield-starved savers who are losing their earnings power to inflation, increased taxes, and persistent low interest rates.

As a result, they are being forced to take risks by investing against their better judgment into markets where they have little to no control, and for the majority, can’t afford to lose their money in another stock market crash as they did in 2001 and 2008.

A growing trend among those seeking to beat the bear is to channel investments into real estate, he says. Not the kind of venture that turned many into reluctant landlords during the housing bust, but another type called hard money lending.

Here’s how it works. Investors act like a bank and make short-term loans to small businesses that buy and repair distressed properties, refinance them with conventional bank loans and repay the short-term loans at higher interest rates, generating more profitable returns for the original lenders.

I’ved identified four ways to get the most out of this lucrative investment. shop localShop local.  

All things being equal, private investors are often served by small, perhaps localized real estate private partnerships that throw off real cash flow than by global, publicly listed full-service investment brands where an alignment of interest between investors and these corporations may be deficient or missing. crowd fundingExplore crowd funding. 

With the advent of crowd funding and federal rule changes since the last real estate cycle, more people with less money can participate in deals that they may have never been able to get into before. flight checklistHave a pre-flight checklist. 

The best time to worry about a real estate loan is before you make it. Always have a list of items to review before committing capital. These include job history, experience in rehab property, education, and most important, credit quality. Always read the entire credit report as the devil is in the details. Also make sure to accept reports from a third party, not the borrower as they can be faked. borrowAlways ask how your interests are aligned with your borrowers. 

If they are not going to make any money, neither will you. The loan will default, and you’ll both be discouraged.

Individual investors are looking for a more intimate method of managing their own money, insulated from geopolitical shocks. They don’t want to wake up in the morning blindsided that they’ve lost a good chunk of their portfolio because of something that happened overseas. Real estate keeps climbing higher and higher in some markets. And people implicitly trust real estate; it’s a very bankable asset class.