BiggerPockets Podcast 178: From House Hacker to House Flipper & Landlord with Charlie Kao

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Trying to build a real estate portfolio when you are brand new and work a full-time job can be tough. That’s why today we are excited to bring you an interview with an investor (and moonlighting stand-up comedian) with a remarkable story of using various “house hacks” to jump into the game. Charlie Kao, who hails from the Detroit, Michigan market, covers his entire investing journey, from condo investing to house flipping to landlording and more. And don’t miss Charlie’s powerful — and incredibly unique — strategy for finding deals through networking! Today’s show is sure to bring new strategies to your business, and the humor will leave you smiling all day!

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Where Charlie comes from
  • How he learned real estate from his dad
  • Thoughts on starting off with $5-40k houses
  • A discussion about Detroit
  • The details of his first deal
  • How he realized how to live and flip via working at the bank
  • What exactly an underwriter is
  • Charlie’s first true flip in Grand Rapids
  • Thoughts on valuing your time when it comes to flipping
  • Tips for living in your flip
  • How he started out as a househacker
  • How he lived in the house for two years
  • How it might be difficult to live and flip with kids
  • Tips for getting your spouse on board
  • How to flip while having a full time w-2 job
  • How many flips Charlie has done so far
  • How he finds properties and the price range he looks for
  • The mailman and the foundation specialist as sources of leads
  • How he manages to get stated income loans
  • Some of the worst deals he’s had
  • What would have he done differently if he started all over again
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “The more tools you have in your toolbox, the more projects you can take on.” (Tweet This!)
  • “This is going to be the last time I make this mistake because I’m going to learn from it.” (Tweet This!)
  • “It doesn’t matter how many things you’ve done; there are always things that could happen.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with Charlie

About Author

Thanks for checking out the BiggerPockets Real Estate Investing & Wealth Building Podcast. Hosts Joshua Dorkin & Brandon Turner strive to bring top-notch educational content and interviews to our listeners -- without the non-stop pitch prevalent around the industry. With over 180,000 listeners per show, the BiggerPockets Podcast has become the biggest real estate podcast in the world. But don’t take our word for it. We’re the top-rated and reviewed real estate show on iTunes — check it out, read the reviews on iTunes, and get busy listening and learning!


  1. James Ihssen

    Nice Bobbleheads! I have seen people successfully use the “principal residence exclusion” over and over to maximize profits on longer term types of flips. This is especially beneficial for the flips with six figure plus margins. You can buy and live in a nice house while you fix it up, sell it for a profit and pay no tax on the gain!!

    Take that cash and roll it into the next one and you could be a millionaire in no time with proper planning and diligent investing! By ‘no time’ I do mean ten plus years but that is not a bad time frame for financial wealth!!!

    What a fantastic way to build wealth ‘part time’!!

    Best of Luck!

  2. Daniel Collins

    Question: Can you make a cash offer on a property before you have applied for a cash out refinance. I was recently looking at a foreclosure that was cash only. We have a condo that is paid off and we would be able to pull enough equity to cover the cash cost of the property but I wasn’t sure if I could make a cash offer without having applied yet? I was told the loan would take up to 45 days to go through.

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