What Is ‘House Hacking’? How Savvy Young Professionals And Investors Are Becoming Real Estate Investors

What Is ‘House Hacking’? How Savvy Young Professionals And Investors Are Becoming Real Estate Investors

house hacking

Photo credit: dolgachov / iStock

House hacking — having tenants pay for one’s primary residence — turned into the beginning of a real estate investing career for Peter Keane-Rivera, a Seattle millennial who owed $45,000 in student loans when he bought his first property at age 25.

Keane-Rivera now owns two properties with nine rental units, grossing more than $100,000 a year in rental income. His first investment was a three-bedroom house, which he lived in while renting out the two rooms and finishing the basement. His second investment was a five-bedroom home, also with an unfinished basement which he finished.

With the high cost of housing, house hacking is a modern twist on using an asset you already have — your home — to make money while you build equity in it.

Keane-Rivera was studying for his master’s degree in aeronautic and astronautic engineering at Purdue University in 2017 when he said he realized, “I don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to make the most money.” He started reading about wealth creation including Robert Kiyosaki’s book, “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” Armed with new information, Keane-Rivera set a goal of buying a home as soon as possible after he graduated.

With a six-month deferral on his student loan repayment, Keane-Rivera moved to Seattle to work after graduation and saved as much as he could. When the student loan payments kicked in, he paid the minimum. “Instead of paying down that debt, I used that money to buy a house, which has appreciated hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said in a Business Insider interview.

House hacking is a way to reduce living expenses temporarily to afford a lifestyle, put money into savings or buy more real estate investment property, according to online mortgage loan provider Rocket Mortgage.

The house hacking strategy you adopt has a lot to do with your skills, your lifestyle, your needs, your flexibility and the zoning laws and HOA (homeowners association) rules in your area.

If you are handy around the house and don’t care where you live, a live-in house flip might be the right house hack for you. If you live on a property with a garage or large barn or you have an empty lot, you may want to rent that out.

Rocket Mortgage gives a hypothetical example of a duplex bought for $400,000 with a 20-percent downpayment and a 3.5-percent 30-year fixed mortgage. If the owner lives in one of the units and a tenant pays $2,000 monthly rent, that could cover the mortgage money left over for homeowners insurance, taxes and repairs.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 74: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin returns for a new season of the GHOGH podcast to discuss Bitcoin, bubbles, and Biden. He talks about the risk factors for Bitcoin as an investment asset including origin risk, speculative market structure, regulatory, and environment. Are broader financial markets in a massive speculative bubble?

After five years, the total owed on the mortgage could be $287,030.63. In a seller’s market, the value of the duplex could be $481,999.69. Selling it could yield a gross amount of $194,969.06.

Student loan expert Robert Farrington gives an example of a friend who bought a four-bedroom house when starting college at Arizona State University. The house hacker lived in the master bedroom and rented out the three other rooms. The rents he collected covered all his expenses so was living for free and building wealth while attending college.

“By choosing an unconventional primary house (or unconventional living situation), you can set yourself up for extremely low living expenses now, and massive cash flow expenses in the future,” Farrington wrote on his website, The College Investor,

Here are some other ideas for house hacking courtesy of Rocket Mortgage:

Offer rooms in your home for short-term rentals aka AirBnB.

Build an accessory dwelling unit on your property, aka a mother-in-law apartment, converted garage or basement.

Provide rental space on your property: For example, you could allow someone to park their RV on your property, or you could move into an RV on your property and rent out your home.

Do a live-in flip if you don’t mind living on a construction or remodeling or refurbishing site.

Photo credit: dolgachov / iStock