Today Lauren Keen Aumond joins the show to share how she went from buying her first home in college to owning and living for free in the home of her dreams through the power of house hacking.
Lauren got started in house hack in 2014 when she bought her first home in college and rented a room. Since then, she has sold that home, bought a duplex to rent, and found the house of her dreams that generates enough yearly income for her and her husband to live for free.
Lauren’s First House Hack
Lauren started house hacking before she knew what it meant. She bought her first home, a single-family residence (SFR), for $125,000 during college and rented out a room.
Lauren’s Next Move
Lauren bought a second home and rented out the first home for $1,500 a month and discovered Bigger Pockets.
She sold her first home for $225,000 and bought a duplex for $170,000 cash from the profits of her first home. Lauren paid cash for the duplex because there is such high demand it’s hard to finance investment properties in Pinellas County, Florida.
Because she had lived in her first home for five years there were no capital gains and it didn’t make sense to do a 1031 exchange. Lauren immediately rented out for $1,800 ($900 for each side).
Lauren started thinking bigger and decided that her next home would be her next unit by using a lower interest mortgage to get rental income.
If she was going to move, she wanted a house that met her needs. Because both Lauren and her husband are working from home, they needed space for separate offices and guests.
To be near the bike trail and within walking distance to restaurants, she chose Tarpon Springs, Florida.
Lauren’s Current Home – A Multi-Property House Hack
Lauren considered getting a home with an above garage apartment and placing a permanent tenant to supplement the mortgage.
She found two properties that met her criteria: a 4 bedroom house with an above garage apartment and pool house in the best neighborhood in Tarpon Springs and a 3 bedroom house with 2 units and a mobile home in the back listed on the commercial section, income section of MLS.
Lauren went into contract on the 4 bedrooms for $540,000 but realizing it needed $200,000 worth of work, she terminated the contract.
Tip: How to find House Hacking Opportunities
Look at the income side of the MLS for commercial properties. Because most people look at the residential side you can discover some hidden gems.
She then went into contract on the commercial bed & breakfast for $330,000, the first of three contracted prices, on Friday the weekend the country shut down due to the pandemic. Lauren canceled the contract on Monday.
A week later after the seller fired the realtor, Lauren went back into a contract for $310,000. A home inspection revealed the need for a new roof and structural repairs totaling $45,000. She renegotiated the price to $280,000 with $5,000 in closing assistance.
Lauren put 20% down to avoid PMI and got a conventional loan because the house wouldn’t have passed an FHA inspection. The house was initially appraised for $245,000 but she contested the appraisal and got it reappraised for $300,000.
Because the seller insisted on having the house appraised as a multi-family property despite zoning of single-family multiple units per parcel, Lauren had to pay a higher interest rate of 3.75% on her mortgage of $1,700 including taxes and insurance.
Refinancing After Renovations
Lauren could have rented out her second home to cover her mortgage, taxes, and insurance but sold it and used the money to renovate her current home.
After renovations, Lauren decided to do a cash-out refinance to free up capital for her next purchase, possibly in 2022. Coincidentally, the appraiser was the same one who did the initial purchase appraisal.
Lauren explained the house was a single-family home, the appraiser adjusted it to reflect as a single-family home for $420,000. The new appraisal helped her get a lower interest rate of $2.99% and a mortgage payment with taxes and insurance is $2,100.
Insurance is a larger part of her mortgage because the main home has a crawl space, there are hurricanes in Florida and her short term rentals.
Lauren replaced the mobile home with a camper and decided to do short term rentals for the units in back because Tarpon Springs is a touristy beach town. She found local mentors who also Airbnb who suggested giving her units cute names, theme decorate, and advised her where to get the best sheets, towels, and soap
How Lauren Set Her Short Term Rental Prices
To price her short term rentals, she looked at current Airbnb rentals in her area and decided on a conservative estimate of 50% vacancy for the two cottages and a 90% vacancy for the camper.
Palm Cottage, a 520 square foot unit, rented within 6 hours, starting the next day for a month for $2,200 including a 20% monthly discount. Of this Lauren gets $1,830. This unit will rent for $85 a night during the week and $95 a night on weekends plus a cleaning fee.
Acorn cottage, the smaller unit, rents for $50 a night during the week and $55 on weekends. Lauren advertises it as the “cheapest self-contained property in Tarpon Springs.”
The camper is priced higher than the other units because it’s more fragile.
After $6,000 in costs for utilities, soaps, sheets, towels Laurens nets $20,000 a year. Her mortgage payment is $2,100 a month so at a 40% vacancy and 90% vacancy for camper they break even.
The Famous Six
What is your favorite personal finance resource?
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Your Money or Your Life
The Simple Path to Wealth
I Will Teach You to be Rich
What is your favorite real estate resource?
Bigger Pockets podcast and books
What has been your favorite travel destination so far?
What is next on your travel list?
Skiing at Big Sky, Montana
What is the biggest bucket list item you haven’t accomplished yet?
Expand what she does in the personal finance space.
Drink wine all across Italy.
What is your favorite life hack?
The house hack
Books mentioned in this Episode
How to Connect with Lauren
You can reach out via Twitter @adultingiseasy. Personal finance blog and podcast realadultingiseasy.com. Vacationtarponsprings.com Instagram @vacationtarponsprings
Bigger pockets real estate rookies podcast episode 42 –