Landlording & Rental Properties

The Best Way for Millennials to Start Investing in Real Estate in 2020

Expertise: Flipping Houses, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics
44 Articles Written
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On episode 352 of the BiggerPockets Podcast, I asked investor Diego Corzo, “For those people that say, ‘I can’t find a deal. I can’t make it work. There’s no 1 percent rule properties in my area. Tell us how you overcame that.”

Here's how Diego recommends new investors get into real estate—a strategy that allowed him to quickly attain financial freedom and exit corporate America.

The Best Way to Start Investing in Real Estate

Podcast guest Diego Corzo is a "DREAMer," who moved to the United States with his family at a young age. When he was a little older, he jumped headfirst into real estate investing, fast-tracking his way to becoming a millionaire.

Diego explained:

I’m a millennial. So one of the best strategies for millennials, specifically, is house hacking. I was able to buy a home by putting down 5 percent, and I started living for free.

What that gave me is… I basically looked at the highest expense that I had, and it happened to be my housing expenses. So I asked myself, “How can I eliminate it?”

And in looking at the forums and all this stuff, that's when I found out about house hacking. I was like, "I could totally do that."

Diego went on to tell Brandon and me how he bought his first house in 2014. By 2015, he was able to quit corporate America and become a full-time real estate agent.

Soon after, Diego found himself living in Austin, Texas, where the real estate market was hot—1 percent properties were scarce. To work around this, he and a friend who also wanted to invest in real estate started renting houses out by the room in areas close to large employers like GM, Dell, and Samsung. They figured young employees would be fine living with roommates.

We started buying properties around there. So, it wasn’t like 100 percent passive income, because I was managing the properties. But instead of putting a family in there and the home would rent for $1,600, I was able to make $2,400 gross from a property.

That definitely gave me the biggest advantage to then later be able to buy properties in other areas for more long-term investment and just gave me that opportunity to just make money actively irrelevant.

“That’s so good,” Brandon chimed in. “In every area, there’s either a way to do it, or you can invest somewhere else. So you can take David Greene’s book, Long-Distance Real Estate Investing, and you could’ve went and bought in Memphis or in Oklahoma or whatever, right?”

“Or you can say, ‘Hey, what does work in this market? What is going to work? What is gonna provide cash flow?'”

Related: Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Investing

aerial view of houses and culdesacs and tree-lined streets

Next Diego broke down the numbers of his first house hack.

So, I bought a home in 2014. It was $170K. It was a 4-bedroom/2.5 bath.

What I have found is that, in renting by the room, it is better to buy a house with at least 2.5 bathrooms, so that if a roommate is taking a shower, somebody else can use the bathroom downstairs.

Bought at $170K, so my mortgage was going to be around $1,350. Bought that putting 5 percent down. By that point, I was a Realtor, so I was able to use my commission, as well. So my all-in with closing costs and stuff was $6,300. The best part was that I was able to rent out the rooms—three of the bedrooms—for $550 plus utilities. And that made my gross $1,650.

The extra $300 that I was making, a little bit of it went for repairs or maintenance or whatever, but it also covered my car payment. Because those were my only debts: my house and my car. (I couldn't get the "privilege" to get into student loans, because I couldn't qualify for anything.)

That changed my whole life, because I had other people paying for those expenses. And when that happens, you get a level of freedom that is amazing.

But here's what was one of the coolest parts: Because I was able to get roommates finding them on Craigslist, I was able to get them to sign the lease that day right after I bought the home. So by day one of me owning the property, I was making passive income.

And that was awesome.

Related: 5 Things Smart People Do When Starting Out in Real Estate

Key Takeaways

So not only did Diego get to live free, he made more money that then covered his car payment. He was also paying down the mortgage every single month, while the property was climbing in value, as well.

Plus, he could enjoy the tax advantages of owning a property—win after win after win.

Exactly. Especially like when you look at it from my angle, right. I’m a DREAMer, and if I could do this, I believe that anybody can do it. The opportunities are out there. It just, it takes a little bit of sacrifice.

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I always tell people in real estate investing or with just anything big in general, it will take a little bit of sacrifice.

My friends were telling me, “Diego, we make $5,000 a month at GM. Why are you living with roommates?”

Like I could afford a condo in downtown Austin and live on Rainey Street—have an amazing life or whatever. But I decided that instead of getting the brand new Cadillac, I got a 2009 Honda Civic, and I was living with roommates.

But that sacrifice right then allowed me to later, when people were asking me, “How were you able to quit corporate America?” I’m like, this is how I did it!

And not that corporate America is bad. Because like, if people love their jobs, then awesome. But it just gave me the options. It gave me the freedom to choose what I really wanted to do.

And that’s also awesome.

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Would you ever house hack? Why or why not? Have you house hacked? What was your experience like?

Comment below.

David Greene is a former police officer with over nine years of experience investing in real estate that includes single family, multifamily, and house flipping. David has bought, rehabbed, and man...
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    John Murray from Portland, Oregon
    Replied 9 months ago
    American success stories are the best in the world. To come with nothing but your hard work and savvy strategies is a testament to this great experiment we all are lucky to experience. Such a breath of fresh air, accountability, responsibility and logic. Well done Dreamer and a great attribute to your family and new country.
    Justin Merod Rental Property Investor from St. Louis, MO
    Replied 9 months ago
    David, I am planning to use this strategy and this gentlemen's numbers closely relate to mine, only I am looking at a duplex. Should have my first property this Jan 2020...and then there is no turning back! That elephant is mine! Thank you for your continued contributions.
    Colleen Martens
    Replied 9 months ago
    This is incredible and so inspiring! I’m a millennial as well - wish I had this much sense a decade ago, but excited to aggressively move into investing before this Spring! Congratulations, Diego!!! I love your story!! David - thank you so much for sharing this!
    Suki Chhoeun New to Real Estate from Vancouver, BC
    Replied 4 months ago
    So inspiring!