Jon Sanborn shares his room rental house hacking story today from Philadelphia. The profitable house hacking opportunity has allowed him to invest in several other properties over the last three years.

Housing hacking is a growing trend sweeping the nation and transforming finances everywhere. Through house hacking, homeowners are able to live for free! You can tap into this life-changing strategy completely legally! Grab a FREE copy of our House Hacking Quick Start Guide to get started – it can save you thousands with specialized information you won’t find anywhere else. 

House Hacking Case Study

As a real estate agent, Jon Sanborn was well equipped to try house hacking. He heard about the idea on a podcast and realized that it could be a game-changer. He quickly started looking for a property that would allow him and his girlfriend to live for free.

The House Hack

Jon spent several months searching for the right house hacking opportunity. Eventually, he moved forward with a 5 bedroom 1.5 bath house in a gentrifying neighborhood. The original cost of the house has $126,000. With some creative financing, Jon was able to obtain the house with only $2,500 out of pocket. However, he did put a significant amount of money and sweat equity into the home.

Updating the Units

The property needed some major renovations to prepare it for house hacking. Jon spent $40,000 and did most of the repairs himself. He completely gutted the kitchen and bathrooms, converted the half bath into a full bath, replaced some joists, installed new flooring, exposed the brick wall, and more.

While updating the house, Jon and his girlfriend lived in the space. With that, the second component of their house hacking story is the live-in flip. After all of these renovations, the property was appraised from $290,000. That is a big jump from $126,000!

Let’s take a look at some of his updates:

Kitchen before.PNG

The kitchen before

Kitchen after.jpg

The kitchen after

Stairs before.jpg

The stairs before

stairs after.jpg

The stairs after

The Tenants

Jon fills the rooms of his house hack through referrals, friends, Craigslist, and Hotpads. After they are living in the home, he uses Cozy to manage the tenants.

The Numbers of the Deal

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


Jon used an FHA loan with the seller assist option. Additionally, Jon’s commission as a real estate agent helped to offset the upfront costs of securing the loan. In total, he only put down around $2,500. The interest rate on the loan was 4.25% which lead to a monthly mortgage of $850. When you include taxes, fees, and insurance, the total monthly payment was approximately $1,000.

Rental Income

The units of the property bring in around $1,500 per month.

  • Monthly housing expenses before house hacking: $900
  • Gross Rent: $1,500
  • Mortgage payment: $1,000
  • Other expenses, such as utilities: $500
  • Cashflow before maintenance: $500
  • Housing savings: $400

Jon is able to live in this home for free while increasing its value. In 2019, he had the property appraised for $290,000 and took out a $116,000 HELOC to fund the purchase of other units.

Want to get paid to live in your home? Dive into housing hacking with our House Hacking Quick Start Guide. 

The Learning Curve

Jon is happy that he took the plunge into house hacking. Looking back, he wishes that he had bought the vacant lot behind his house before it got too expensive. After tackling this house hack, Jon has been able to buy 13 units with the savings and equity that he built.

Get In Touch

If you are interested in Jon’s story, then you can connect with him on Instagram @property_jawn or Facebook @JonSanborn. He loves to share this story!

The Bottom Line

Jon’s house hack shows that it is possible to greatly improve the value of a property with sweat equity and some cash. After improving the value of the property, Jon has been able to successfully house hack and use the equity to fund other purchases.

Check out the next written case study in our weekly series to see how Dan did his house hack.

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.