Valery from the Dainty Dollar put her skills as an Operations Manager to use when she purchased a multi-family home to house hack. The property needed some repairs, but she was able to find tenants very quickly. Today we will learn more about her house hacking story from Bergen County, New Jersey.

Want to try house hacking for yourself? I highly encourage you to grab a copy of our House Hacking Quick Start Guide (free) as you read along. Not only will it deepen your learning, but it also includes a cost-saving tip most house hackers miss. 

House Hacking Case Study

Before purchasing their first home, Valery and her partner knew that they were interested in house hacking. Since Valery worked in real estate, she knew of people that had house hacked in various ways such as subleasing or renting out space in their home to students. She took the time to learn more about the concepts of house hacking in the months leading up to their first home purchase. After learning more, she started to look at properties in a different way.

The House Hack

When Valery and her partner bought their first home, their goal was to find a two-family home with enough space in their unit to rent out additional rooms within their unit. With that, they landed on a property that had an upstairs apartment and a basement that could be transformed to create an additional living space. They closed on the property in 2019.

Updating the Units

After closing on their home, Valery and her partner moved into the first-floor unit. Within a month, they were able to rent out the upstairs unit without any renovations.

The basement area required more intensive renovations before anyone could move in. The renovations included arrested two bedrooms, a living room, a full bath, a dining room, a laundry room, and a kitchen. Basically, they had to start from scratch in the basement, so it was a relatively expensive renovation. Overall, they spent approximately $22,000 on the basement remodel.

The Tenants

For the upstairs unit, Valery posted her listing through Appfolio. She had access to this service for free through her job which pushed the listing to over 30 platforms. Additionally, she posted on Craigslist. For the downstairs unit, some of Valery’s family members moved in.

Valery uses to manage her tenants on a regular basis. She recommends the service because there are no fees for the landlord or the tenants if they pay via ACH. It is an easy spot to keep track of everything related to her rental property.

The Numbers of the Deal

It’s time to find out exactly how profitable this house hacking strategy was!


Valery secured a conventional loan to purchase the property by putting 10% down with an interest rate of 3.875%. She was also able to cashflow 70% of the renovations and put the rest on a 0% interest credit card.

With that, the mortgage for the property is $3,382 which includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.

Rental Income

Valery was able to start renting out the units very quickly. The upstairs unit rents at $1,875. The basement unit rents at $1,000.

  • Monthly housing expenses before house hacking: $0
  • Gross Rent: $2,875
  • Mortgage payment: $3,382
  • Cashflow before maintenance and vacancies: –$507
  • Housing savings: $-507

Although they have increased their housing cost, Valery and her partner are happy with the house hack. The downstairs unit is being rented to family at a low rate but they enjoy having their family close by. If the couple was able to move out of the house in the future, then the property could potentially generate $1,200 per month.

Want to build equity in a property with someone else’s money? Dive into housing hacking with our House Hacking Quick Start Guide. 

The Learning Curve

For Valery, the entire experience has been worthwhile. They’ve even considered finding a roommate to fill a spare bedroom in their private unit. However, they may not choose to give up their privacy for now.

Although she is happy that she was able to help her family by renting out the basement at an affordable cost, she wishes they had considered helping from afar. The basement unit could easily rent for $500 more, but they have set rent lower to help out their family. Also, Valery says that waiting to do some upgrades might have been a good option. Although it is nice to get everything up to the right standard immediately, it can be difficult to cashflow a renovation of that size.

Now that they have their own home, they are focused on paying down debt and building their savings. Once they eliminate their debt, they are planning to save for another property and invest in the stock market.

Get In Touch

If you are interested in Valery’s story, then you can find out more at the Dainty Dollar. You can also follow her on Instagram @thedaintydollar or LinkedIn @daintydollar.

The Bottom Line

Valery’s house hack shows that a creative approach to house hacking can open new doors. Whether you want to help out family or build equity in a property, house hacking could be a great opportunity.

Be sure to check out next week’s house hacking case study featuring Norman.

If you are interested in creating your own house hacking story, then check out our ultimate guide, listen to our house hacking podcast, or read more case studies for inspiration. You never know how dramatically your life can change through this one choice!

If you choose to pursue a house hack of your own, then please share your story with us! We would love to showcase your success.