I met Kevin two years ago in Las Vegas on a whim because my best friend in the whole wide world, Mindy Jensen, told me he was in town. We became fast friends.
In the video and post below, learn Kevin’s whole story. Kevin doesn’t just work for BiggerPockets; he’s also a real estate investor. In fact, he was a real estate investor first. But through working and being involved in the community, he became a much more successful real estate investor.
With that, let’s meet him.
Meet the Investor: Kevin Leahy
What’s up, guys? I’m Kevin Leahy. I’m 34 years old, and I’ve lived in D.C. for 10 years.
I’m the senior podcast producer for BiggerPockets. So I’m the guy behind the scenes booking the guests, making sure the hosts are prepared for the shows, launching new shows, (like the Rookie and Business shows), and figuring out what you guys want to hear next.
Throughout my 20s, I worked really hard at my career in production—I worked overnight shifts, saved a bunch of money, didn’t quite know what I wanted to do with it. And then I discovered the BiggerPockets Podcast about 2016. After hearing person after person who had just committed to this path of real estate and made it work, it gave me the confidence to finally jump in and really choose this as the vehicle to build wealth.
I left my previous job. I was really looking for something I was really passionate about—and I actually got in touch with BiggerPockets.
I looked for jobs on the website. There was nothing that matched my skill set. But there was something that said “Your Dream Job.” It was basically, if your dream job isn’t listed, tell us what it is. Make the case for it.
And I got in touch with them. I talked with Mindy, Scott, and Brandon and wound up basically laying out my vision for the shows and where I think BiggerPockets could go. Now, the headquarters of all the BiggerPockets podcasts are right here in my house hack!
House Hacking a Duplex in D.C.
Let’s talk about my house hack in D.C. It’s a three-bedroom, one-bathroom downstairs and two-bedroom, one-bath upstairs. Try not to have sticker shock when it comes to the price—I can already see the comments: “We want to see the numbers!”
I’ll go through all of that. It’s a very expensive house in a very expensive market. But there are ways to make money in this market.
And when I move out of this house, it’s going to cash flow like crazy. I want to show you guys exactly how.
Working for BiggerPockets
People always ask me, “What is it like to manage the podcast at BiggerPockets?”
It’s basically just managing a lot of big egos, right? Big, tall, bearded egos. Sometimes guests like Alex have big egos, as well. A lot of divas, OK, but a lot of really great ideas, too.
My job is to try to take those ideas and turn them into stuff that’s going to benefit you guys.
Logistically, it is a big task. We have producers and editors pretty much around the globe, so I’ll be meeting with someone at 9 a.m. my time, but it’s 9 p.m. their time. They have a deadline the next day. It’s a lot.
But really what it’s about is bringing out the stories of the guests. We’ve all heard the cliches over and over—we’ve done 400 episodes. So how do we say something original, and how do I bring that out of a person? Because I know that people connect with that, and I know it makes a huge impact on people investing.
My Experience as an Investor
When I’m not producing the show, I’m a real estate investor myself. I own one condo that I used to Airbnb. I still hang onto that one—it’s a rental. And as mentioned, I have a house hack. I worked with my agent to find it, and I actually bought it for over the list price. So, it is not some 1% or 2% deal.
This was on the market, the numbers worked, and I pulled the trigger. It’s a duplex, which is really rare in D.C. It’s a three-bedroom, one-bathroom downstairs. That’s where I live with my wife. And it is a two-bedroom, one-bath upstairs. So there are tenants up there who came with the property.
They’re good people. And they have a Housing Choice Voucher Program voucher (that’s Section 8).
BiggerPockets Rental Property Calculator Report
Let’s take a look at the numbers for this property. To run your own report, visit biggerpockets.com/calc.
My monthly PITI is $2,989, and my tenants’ monthly rent is $2,300. Once we move out, the rent from downstairs will be over $3,000. Total, we should be bringing in about $5,400/month and cash flowing about $1,500 after all expenses are paid.
So, when someone tells you that you’re in an expensive market, rental properties aren’t going to work there… don’t listen. You have to adapt your strategy to the market that you’re in.
Like I said, in D.C., it’s pretty rare to find duplexes, but you could do this same thing with a single-family house. You could live in the basement, you could rent the rooms out, and you could actually do even better than I was doing here.
Again, if someone tells you that you can’t have rental property in an expensive market like D.C.—and I’m here in D.C. proper—it’s totally false. You just haven’t discovered the strategy that works yet.
Advice for New Real Estate Investors
I’ve met thousands of real estate investors by now and produced hundreds of podcast episodes about real estate investing. Here are my top three tips to make your real estate investing journey easier.
1. Save 50% of Your Income
Now, this doesn’t mean don’t go out and get a job that makes you more money, or don’t go out and get a raise, or don’t go out and get a side hustle. It’s great to make more money. But it’s more important to learn how to hang onto that money. Because plenty of people find ways to make a lot of money, but they don’t keep any of it.
You do need money to be in this business, especially the way that I did it. You don’t have to do it this way. But for me, I saved 50% of my income for several years before I jumped in.
2. Use Airbnb as Training Wheels
Start your real estate investing journey by Airbnb-ing. For me, I wouldn’t have had the courage to jump straight in with a rental property. Instead, I went out of town for a couple of days, and I Airbnb-ed my place out.
It’s my own place. I knew how to clean it. And plus it’s like training wheels on training wheels, because you’re solving problems in a day or two, and then the guest is out and you come back to your house.
You don’t have to deal with evicting anyone. It’s really not the end of the world. The horror stories are not that bad.
So, I learned so much about solving people’s problems. The heat went out. The wifi went out. How am I going to make that up to them? And all those things will come in handy if you’re going to be a landlord.
3. Go to Meetups
Find out what you want to do, then go to a real estate meetup and talk to every single person who does that strategy in your market. That’s what I did!
I was scared when I went to a real estate meetup. I’m kind of introverted, but I talked to people and I said, “I want to buy and hold rental properties in D.C. I have the patience for that. I don’t need the cash flow to quit my job. I want to keep my job. But how do I hang onto properties and get appreciation over a long period of time?”
A guy said to me, “I know the exact person you need to talk to.”
He walked me right over and introduced me. The power of that question: Who in my market is doing this thing? It will totally unlock a whole new series of possibilities.
It doesn’t have to be the most experienced person in your market. It just has to be someone who’s one or two steps ahead of you and can show you what they’re doing.
Real estate investing became possible for me when I connected the principles that are in the BiggerPockets Podcast with the people in my own market. So, go make that connection today.
What questions do you have about strategy?
Join the discussion below.
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.