Chris Hutchins House Hacking

Chris Hutchins From All The Hacks: House Hacking Experience

Aug 9, 2021 | Guest Posts, House Hacking Podcast

Today, Chris Hutchins from All the Hacks joins the show to share his house hacking experience. He has spent the past decade house hacking in San Francisco.

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We did what I still continue to believe is my favorite real estate hack, which is if you feel confident in yourself and your research abilities…I’ve just gone to the seller’s agent and said, ‘Hey, I’m not going to go get my own agent, I’ll use you and let’s find some way to credit something back to me, so you don’t have to credit 2.5% to someone else.’


Discussed In This Episode

  • Andrew shares the new partnership with Rentometer
  • Tenancy in Common Arrangement
  • House hacking in the Bay Area
  • Decision to move away from house hacking

Show Notes: Chris Hutchins from All the Hacks

Chris Hutchins, host of All the Hacks and head of new product strategy at Wealthfront, dove into house hacking with his wife in an untraditional way. The couple was living in a small loft apartment in the Bay Area. One weekend, they decided to look at open houses with his parents as a way to pass the time. On their tour of houses in the neighborhood, they found a house one block away from their apartment that piqued their interest.

At the time, they hadn’t been seriously looking for a property. The upstairs portion of the house had two bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. But the house had a downstairs master bedroom that could be easily separated from the rest of the living space with a locked door. The couple thought this property could provide a creative way to upgrade their living space in an affordable way with the help of the income-producing suite. 

Rentometer Partnership

For the intro of the show, Andrew shares how he has turned down multiple partnership opportunities over the past year. This was in part because they didn’t fit with the show (like a men’s grooming company), or from it being with a company he didn’t believe. 

Over the summer Andrew put together a special partnership with Rentometer, a company that he has been using since 2016. Andrew uses Rentometer to analyze current, local rents when he is in the deal analysis process of buying a new property, or when he is getting ready to market a property for rent.

If you have never used Rentometer before, you can get a free trial today at By using this link, it lets Rentometer know you heard about them here, and that helps with getting further support for the show.  

Closing on the House Hack

Once the couple found the house hack, they had to get creative to close. The property was considered a Tenancy in Common. With that, the property had two units that needed two buyers to come together on a single deed. Once Chris and his wife were interested in the property, they had to meet a second couple that was interested in buying the adjoining unit.

After meeting the couple, they worked through some of the details of the tenancy in common agreement. One thing that had to be changed was the ability to rent out a room to short-term renters. The other couple agreed to allow for a rental room within Chris’ unit. Finally, the major portion of the tenancy in common agreement allowed the property owners to apply for a split deed after 12 months.

Beyond the details of the tenancy in common agreement, the couple had to find a way to pay for the property. In terms of savings, they were able to put down 3.5% of the purchase price of $770,000. In  order to close on the property with a bank, they also had to borrow 22% of the property’s price price from their parents.

When they closed on the property, the monthly payments were around $3,600 with a 3 year adjustable rate mortgage. Through an $25,000 process, the tenancy in common arrangement had converted into a regular deed for their condo. At that, point, they took out a 10 year adjustable rate mortgage with a similar monthly payment.

House Hacking for 10 Years

Immediately after closing on the property, the couple bought a new lock for the downstairs bedroom. Once they could lock the door from their side, they listed the unit on Airbnb. That worked well for a few months.

But eventually, they decided that managing the Airbnb was too much work. With that, they started looking for long-term tenants. Over the ten years they lived at the property, they had between 7 to 10 long-term tenants. Over the years, they enjoyed some funny experiences, like the time a tenant did their laundry for the very first time at their house. Also, some less enjoyable experiences like dealing with screening tenants without breaking any Fair Housing Laws.

By 2020, they had been living in the property for 10 years. At this point, they were pregnant with their first child and considering a change.  But an out of town experience and COVID accelerated their plans. While out of town, a tenant was using the laundry machine in the couple’s part of the property. The agreement allowed for the tenant to use the laundry. But throughout the weekend, the motion sensors in the house alerted Chris and his wife to the tenant dancing around their house naked, eating their food, and putting their shoes on the couch.

When they returned from the weekend, they gave the tenant an option to leave the lease early. When the tenant left early, they decide to start looking for a bigger home that could accommodate their growing family and work from home needs.

In 2020, they sold their first home and moved to another part of town. Although they aren’t house hacking now, they are childcare hacking with a room for the live-in au pair.

Tip: Don’t Ask About Service Animals

As a landlord screening a tenant, you cannot ask about someone’s disability or why they have a service animal. With Fair Housing Laws, you cannot ask any questions that could leave you open to a lawsuit about potential discrimination. For example, you cannot ask about a potential tenant’s age because they may misinterpret that as age discrimination. 


More From Chris Hutchins

You can connect with Chris on All the Hacks. 

On social media, you can connect with Chris on Twitter @hutchins or Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn @chrishutchins. 

The Famous Six

What is your favorite personal finance resource?

All the Hacks

Animal Spirits

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What has been your favorite travel destination so far?

Syria and Japan

What is the biggest bucket list item you haven’t accomplished yet?

Make the front page of the newspaper for something good. 

What is next on your travel list?


What is your favorite life hack?

Most recent hack, Block FI’s high yield account through over collateralized cryptocurrency. 

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