I would like to receive emails from you about product information and offers from The Fool and its business partners. Each of these emails will provide a link to unsubscribe from future emails. More information about how The Fool collects, stores, and handles personal data is available in its Privacy Statement. Don’t miss our special stock presentation.It contains details of a UK-listed company our Motley Fool UK analysts are extremely enthusiastic about.They think it’s offering an incredible opportunity to grow your wealth over the long term – at its current price – regardless of what happens in the wider market.That’s why they’re referring to it as the FTSE’s ‘double agent’.Because they believe it’s working both with the market… And against it.To find out why we think you should add it to your portfolio today… There’s a ‘double agent’ hiding in the FTSE… we recommend you buy it! Image source: Getty Images Buy-to-let property used to be a surefire way to build a sizeable financial nest egg. Unfortunately, tax and regulatory changes over the past few years means this is no longer the case. As a result, I think buying a basket of cheap UK shares could produce better returns in the long run. Today, I’m going to highlight the three reasons why I believe this is the case. 5G is here – and shares of this ‘sleeping giant’ could be a great way for you to potentially profit!According to one leading industry firm, the 5G boom could create a global industry worth US$12.3 TRILLION out of thin air…And if you click here we’ll show you something that could be key to unlocking 5G’s full potential…Buy-to-let returnsThere are two ways investors can profit from buy-to-let property. Rental income and capital gains. Many investors rely on rental income to cover mortgage payments and costs, such as decorating and emergency repairs. The income covers the day-to-day expenses, and the real profit comes from capital gains. However, over the past few years, rental yields have dropped significantly. The average rental yield in the UK is now around 3.5%, although it’s possible to achieve higher returns. At the same time, the lucrative tax breaks to that used to be available have been eliminated. All of these factors have squeezed the amount of income buy-to-let investors received. According to one study, after stripping out all costs and mortgage charges, the average buy-to-let investor receives an income of just £2,140 a year on a property worth £183,278. That’s a return of only 1.2%, excluding capital growth.Over the long term, UK home prices have increased at a rate of around 2-3%. That suggests a buy-to-let investor can look forward to a return around 3.2-4.2% every year. By comparison, over the past 100 years, UK stocks have produced an average annual return of around 7%. That’s one of the reasons why I reckon a basket of cheap UK shares could be a better investment in the long run. Buying cheap UK sharesI think the best investments to buy instead of rental property are high-quality blue-chip stocks. Some examples include healthcare giant GlaxoSmithKline and tobacco giant British American Tobacco.Both of these businesses have unique competitive advantages and economies of scale. They also currently offer significantly higher dividend yields than the average rental return on property.Glaxo supports a dividend yield of around 5% right now. Meanwhile, British American yields around 8%. Owning these equities in a Stocks and Shares ISA could also produce significant tax benefits. It’s impossible to own rental property in one of these tax-efficient wrappers. If you are not interested in picking individual equities, owning a tracker fund could be another alternative. For example, the FTSE 250 has produced an average annual return of around 12% over the past three-and-a-half decades.To replicate this return, all you would need to do is buy a low-cost FTSE 250 tracker fund. There would be no extra costs or charges, and you can buy the fund inside an ISA. The bottom lineSo those are the three reasons why I’d ditch buy-to-let property and buy cheap UK shares instead. Stocks have the potential to produce higher returns, can be owned inside a tax-efficient ISA, and are generally easier to manage. By comparison, rental property can be expensive to manage, tax-inefficient, and returns have collapsed over the past few years. Rupert Hargreaves | Saturday, 10th October, 2020 Our 6 ‘Best Buys Now’ Shares Enter Your Email Address Renowned stock-picker Mark Rogers and his analyst team at The Motley Fool UK have named 6 shares that they believe UK investors should consider buying NOW.So if you’re looking for more stock ideas to try and best position your portfolio today, then it might be a good day for you. Because we’re offering a full 33% off your first year of membership to our flagship share-tipping service, backed by our ‘no quibbles’ 30-day subscription fee refund guarantee. Simply click below to discover how you can take advantage of this. See all posts by Rupert Hargreaves Rupert Hargreaves owns shares in British American Tobacco. The Motley Fool UK has recommended GlaxoSmithKline. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. 3 reasons I’d ditch buy-to-let property and buy cheap UK shares right now Click here to get access to our presentation, and learn how to get the name of this ‘double agent’!