Today Torre Samonek shares his income suite house hacking story from Vallejo, California. 

House Hacking Case Study

Torre and his family decided to pursue house hacking to start their journey to financial freedom. Before trying house hacking, the family of three was renting a two-bedroom apartment in the East Bay Area of San Fransico.

Once they heard about house hacking, the construction superintendent and his wife started looking for viable properties. 

The House Hack

After looking at several properties, they found an older home with a basement that could be easily rented out on the MLS. With some surprises from the outdated home throughout the construction project, they are still working to completely finish the basement for a potential tenant. 

house hack

Torre's house hackThroughout the process, the couple has learned a lot about renovating a property that will serve them well in the future. 

Updating the Units

The property needed a lot of repairs in both the main house and the basement. In total, Torre spent $55,000 to update the property. Additionally, he and his wife put a lot of sweat equity to complete the renovations. 

Here is a list of everything that Torre and his wife had to tackle with this home:

  • Replace the main water line.
  • Replace the main electrical feeder. 
  • Remodel a bathroom that was stuck in the 50s. 
  • Increase the number of electrical plugs in each room. 
  • Add a full kitchen to the floorplan. 
  • Add new recessed lighting. 
  • Build a new bedroom and closet. 
  • Add a fence and new landscaping. 

Throughout the process, the couple learned more about renovating a home. With this experience, Torre recommends being very specific on the scope of work. Without a specific request, there is a lot that can be left to the discretion of the contractor. 

Take a look at the work happening below:

Renovations

Mid renovation

Bathroom

Bathroom in progress

The Tenants

Torre recently closed on the property and is still in the midst of renovations. With that, the couple has not rented out the basement unit yet. But they plan to have a tenant in the unit by February 2021. 

For now, they plan to use the help of a property manager to help find a tenant. After that, Torre plans to use Cozy to manage the property. 

The Numbers of the Deal

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

Financing

Torre and his wife used a conventional loan with 5% down to purchase the $500,000 home. With that, they put down $25,000 and an additional $8,000 in closing costs. 

In total, Torre's monthly mortgage is $3,053, which includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.

Rental Income

When the basement unit is ready for tenants, Torre expects to bring in $2,000 each month. 

  • Gross Rent:$2,000
  • Mortgage payment: $3,053
  • Cashflow before maintenance and vacancies: –$1,053
  • Housing costs before house hacking: $2,100
  • Total housing savings: $1,047

The cash flow of the property is negative. However, Torre and his wife are able to save over $1,000 in housing costs each month while building equity in a property. Torre plans to use the income to pay down construction debts and save up for the next house hack. 

The Learning Curve

After extensive renovations, Torre advises first-time house hackers to look for a house with new plumbing. For him, dated plumbing lead to a $13,000 price tag. He also suggests that you do a lot of research about potential properties ahead of time. 

He shares, “don't be scared to buy, you will make mistakes, sometimes that's the best way to learn. It doesn't have to be a perfect situation, it just had to be better than what you're currently doing.”

Overall, Torre is happy with his decision to pursue financial freedom with the help of house hacking. 

The Bottom Line

House hacking can help make a high cost of living area, like San Fransico, more affordable and change your financial future in the process. Imagine how your finances could change with lower housing costs. What could you do with the savings?

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.