Sean House Hacking

From Working on Space Shuttles to Launching a Real Estate Career

May 18, 2021 | Guest Posts, House Hacking Podcast

Today Sean Pan  joins the show to share how he went from working on space shuttles to launching a real estate career.

Listen Anywhere


Download Our House Hacking Guide

The quick start guide helps you understand how to live for free.

I was searching for a way out. How can I escape this life I don’t want to be in.”

Room Rental House Hacking

The Famous Six

What is your favorite personal finance resource?

My First Million Podcast

What is your favorite real estate resource?

Bigger Pockets and joining different Meetup groups

What has been your favorite travel destination so far?


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

If he really wants to do something, he just does it

What is next on your travel list?

Eastern Europe

What is your favorite life hack?

To-Do List. The day is wasted without a to-do list.

Discussed In This Episode

  • Use Your Downtime at Work
  • House Hacking is More Than Having Your Entire Mortgage Paid
  • Why Consider Investing Out of State
  • Cultivate in Person Relationships

Show Notes

Sean started house hacking by accident five years ago. He bought his mom’s house after graduating college in 2015 and rented rooms to college friends. The rent pays his mortgage and utilities and sparked a desire to have more properties and generate more income.

Growing up frugal, his mom saved money to pay for three years of college. Sean got an internship with Boeing which paid for his last year of college. They sponsored him to get his Master’s Degree under the provision that he work for them for two years.

During this internship he saw how unhappy his coworkers were, he used his downtime at work to build up financial education. He bought Rich Dad, Poor Dad and listened to podcasts.

When he graduated, Boeing couldn’t offer Sean a competitive package. He accepted an offer from Northrop Grumman and negotiated a bonus so he could pay back Boeing.  

Sean’s House Hack

Sean bought his mom’s house a 3 bedroom, 2 bath single family residence with a converted garage area for below market value, using a conventional loan with 20% down. The closing took longer than normal because the first mortgage lender had an issue because it was not an arm’s length transaction. 

His monthly costs were $1,800 ($1,600 mortgage and $200 for flood insurance). At the time of purchase, his house was valued at $750,000. The house is worth $1.15 million. 

Sean had planned to rent out the home. After spending $30,000 on renovations he decided to live in it and rent out the extra rooms. Not wanting to live alone, Sean only charged his roommate $600 a month, $300 to $400 below market value. 

He added a second roommate six months later, also charging him $600 in rent. With the $1,200 rent from his roommates, he only had to pay $800 a month towards his mortgage and flood insurance. This is a bargain in Northern California and Sean was getting appreciation, equity paydown, and a tax write-off.

Four months later, Sean rented out the garage for $600. The rent covered his mortgage and flood insurance and he was living for free within a year. 

Sean’s Next Move

He and his first tenant started going to real estate events and Sean bought his first rental property in Jacksonville, Florida in late 2016.

Sean chose out-of-state investing because the prices were better in Florida. If he bought a $750,000 home in California, the 1% rule wouldn’t apply. Because he wouldn’t be able to charge $7,500 a month in rent.

Renting out of state is different than house hacking because you have to rely on people you’ve never met.  

What Sean’s Doing Now

House hacking gave Sean freedom to do what he wanted. He found more value in going to real estate meetups than in his electrical engineering career. When the project he was working on ended in 2019, Northrup wanted him to move to Southern California. 

By then Sean had flipped houses and owned additional rental properties that brought in enough cash flow to pay his bills so he left, started a podcast, YouTube channel, and Meetup group. He now works as a hard money lender. 

He’s been buying more out-of-state rental properties, duplexes, and fourplexes, and is considering buying 10 or 20 unit complexes. 

What He Did Right and What He’d Do Differently

Sean started early and was exposed to coworkers who hated their job which drove him to find a different path. He wished he hadn’t gotten overzealous and overleveraged and went into contract on four properties at the same time and lost money.


Tip: Automate Rent Collection & Rent Increases

When house hacking, you should automate your rent collection. Use Cozy so they can pay automatically. Implement automatic rent increases so there aren’t any awkward conversations. Using a property management tool makes this easy.  


More From Sean

You can reach out email at or his website, Instagram @im_seanpan, YouTube Channel, or his Meetup group 

Download Our FREE House Hacking Guide

Save THOUSANDS each year on your housing costs!