By day, Anthony is an instrument technician at a wastewater facility. By night, he is a successful house hacker that is working towards financial independence with one rental unit at a time. Today, Anthony shares his and his wife Stephany’s house hacking story from Riverside, California.
Anthony & Stephany’s House Hacking Case Study
Anthony first heard about the idea of house hacking in 2016. The idea came from a casual mention from a coworker that lived in a multi-family property and rented out the rest of the units.
At the time, he and his wife were under contract to purchase their first home. Instead of pulling the plug on their starter home, the couple decided to continue on with their original plan of simply living in the home that they bought for themselves. Plus, Anthony rented out a room to his in-laws. That allowed them to cut down out of pocket costs to $900 each month.
Two years later, the idea of purchasing a multi-family home was back in discussion at Anthony’s workplace. The second time around, the idea of house hacking ‘clicked.’ Anthony and his wife quickly sold their single-family home and bought a multi-family property instead.
The House Hack
Anthony and his wife closed on their multi-family property on November 1st, 2018. The property had 3 homes with tenants in place on a half-acre lot. Plus, a mobile home on site that was essentially a fourth unit.
Two of the homes on the property were one bed/one bath with 500 square feet. The third home on the property is also a one/one but it is 700 square feet. Each of the units is completely separate from each other which gave all of the tenants their own yard area. However, the homes were older and in need of some updates.
Since the three homes were already occupied, Anthony and his family moved into the mobile home. Anthony and his wife have a four-year-old daughter. Plus, three dogs. So it was a challenge to make their new home livable for their situation.
Although the mobile home was not exactly ‘move-in’ ready, they found a way to make it work. The first couple of weeks were not easy. Anthony had to renovate the bathroom of the poorly designed mobile home. While the bathroom was being redone, the couple had to use the shower in a toy trailer that they owned. The beginning wasn’t exactly glamorous, but they were able to start bringing rental income from day one.
When they bought the property, Anthony and his wife inherited the tenants that were already living there. At the time, every tenant was on a month to month arrangement with no physical lease. Here’s what steps they took to create a better arrangement:
Drafting A Lease
Their first step was to draft a new lease and increase the rent by $150 to match the market rate. Within the lease, they including new rules that were intended to create an environment that Anthony and his wife were more comfortable with. Although each tenant signed the lease, they had some trouble adapting to the change in ownership.
Updating the Units
Over the course of the past several months, Anthony and his wife have been remodeling each of the homes on the property.
As old tenants move out, Anthony has been completely renovating each home. The updates included new landscaping, fencing, interior and exterior paint, new windows, new A/C units, new flooring, new lighting, repainted kitchen cabinets, and even removing some of the walls. Overall, the goal is to give each unit a fresh and modern look.
Anthony and his family have been able to do most of the renovations themselves. Although they hired out some tasks, such as the framing work and some plumbing.
In 2019, Anthony spent around $40,000 on the materials to update these units. But the cost should pay off in the long run. By updating the units, they have been able to increase their rent prices as well.
The First Unit
The first original tenant to move out was the occupant of the 700 square foot home. They left because they were not allowed to keep their vicious dog on the property. When the tenant moved out on December 31st, Anthony decided to do a full renovation on the unit. The renovation included adding a second bedroom and converting the master bathroom into two separate bathrooms.
Luckily, Anthony was able to complete the renovations within two months. After listing the updated rental on Facebook in March, they found a new tenant within two weeks!
The Second Unit
The next tenant to leave was in one of the 500 square foot houses. Anthony and his wife were forced to evict this tenant because they continued to smoke in the home, which was against the rules of the new lease.
After giving the tenant 60 days’ notice, Anthony renovated the second home by August 2019. Again, he was able to find a new tenant on Facebook extremely quickly. It only took three days to find the next tenant!
The Third Unit
The final unit had an older couple living in it when Anthony bought the property. Unfortunately, they were unable to adapt to the new rules involving a clean yard. After repeatedly asking the them to take care of their home, the older couple decided to turn in their 30 day notice. They moved off the property in October. Anthony and his wife are currently working on these renovations. The goal is to finish the project in March
The Numbers of the Deal
It’s time to find out how profitable this house hack really is!
Anthony and his wife bought the property for $444,000. Since they were planning to be owner-occupants, they were able to take advantage of the FHA mortgage program. However, it was a multiple unit property. With that, the FHA required that they put down 10% instead of the typical 3.5%. That required saving $44,000 as a down payment for the home.
With some creative financing solutions from their lender, Anthony was able to secure a 3.75% rate. That lead to an original monthly mortgage of $2,654. Currently, their monthly mortgage is $2,700 due to a slight increase in taxes.
On the day they moved in, Anthony and his wife were about to collect $2,450 in total rent! Although the rent was below market rate, it was a great place to start their house hacking adventure.
After completing their renovations, they will be able to bring in $4,200 in gross monthly rent. Currently, they have two of the renovated units rented for a total of $2,850 each month. That income already covers their mortgage of $2,700. Once the third renovation is complete, they will start bringing in $1,000 each month. Plus, they are living on the property for free!
The Learning Curve
As new landlords, Anthony and his wife had a lot to learn. Let’s take a closer look at some of his top tips to beat the learning curve of house hacking.
Advice Finding New Tenants
Anthony has been able to find new tenants extremely quickly. Mainly, he uses Facebook to find these tenants. Not only is it effective, but he can also look at their Facebook profile to determine whether or not they are a good fit.
He shares, “We like Facebook the best, we can easily go through interested parties profiles and in a way screen them before talking to them, for instance, if they have a picture of themselves smoking, automatically disqualified.”
Additionally, Anthony uses Smartmove to conduct a credit and background check on all potential renters.
Anthony says that he won’t change a thing about his house hacking journey. He only wishes that he had started sooner!
Currently, Anthony and his wife are reinvesting their savings into their property with the hope of refinancing this property into a conventional loan. The goal is to use the FHA loan to fund their next house hack. The family plans to continually house hacking until they reach financial independence.
The Bottom Line
Anthony’s house hacking case study shows that it is possible to house hack with a family. Although it required some creativity, the family is making it work and enjoying their path to financial independence.
Overall, Anthony would highly recommend this strategy for anyone. He shared, “House hacking is, in my opinion, the best way for anyone to get their foot in real estate investing with little money down and learn a whole lot in the process!”
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