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Meet the Investors: How I Live for (Almost) Free by House Hacking With Kelly Marburger

Meet the Investors: How I Live for (Almost) Free by House Hacking With Kelly Marburger

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Alexander Felice

Alexander Felice is a U.S. Army veteran who works as a financial analyst and underwriter for an SBA lender.


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Today I’m going to tell you about the perfect house hack in a big city. My friend Kelly, we met on the BiggerPockets Forums, which is a testament to that community and how you can use it to leverage your network and meet great, fantastic people with amazing stories.

In this edition of Meet the Investor, Kelly is going to tell you about a house hack she did in Baltimore. It’s a fantastic house. She got the downstairs tenants to pay for all of it, which is incredible. And she’s going to tell you that it’s easy, which might seem implausible.

Kelly shares the numbers, how she paid for it, and everything you really want to know. With that, let’s go meet her right now.

Meet the Investor: Kelly M.

Hi, I’m Kelly. I invest in Baltimore, Maryland. I just bought my first house hack—you can check out the amazing building in the video above. It’s 120 years old. I’m super excited about it.

I got into real estate for so many reasons. I came from a family of architects, developers, planners, and brokers—it was kind of in my blood.

Related: Meet the Investors: $1,500/Month Cash Flow Per Door & Tenants Who Stay 10+ Years—Here’s How I Do It

How I Got Interested in Real Estate

I moved to Baltimore 13 years ago, and I saw these beautiful houses. I was like, “I’m going to buy houses in the city!”

I realize how expensive they were, and so I thought why don’t I just buy a fourplex? There are so many of them, but it was still a little bit more challenging than I thought. It finally happened, though—it’s been amazing. And, you know, I don’t pay anything for rent. I’m able to put that money back into the house or put that money back into another investment.

How BiggerPockets Helped Me Get Started as an Investor

When I started getting into investing, I had a little inkling about it. I started Googling stuff. I wanted to know more. And I found BiggerPockets just in a Google search. I was like, wow, this website has a lot of information and they’re not trying to sell something. And that was amazing. So, I started using it a lot.

I also started listening to the BiggerPockets Podcast because I was super busy working for over eight hours a day. So, I would just listen to the podcast on the way to work, on the way home from work. And I was learning so much from that.

Then, when I started getting ready to buy my first house hack, I used the calculators. That was really what gave me the confidence to go into a deal. I could use those calculators on every house that I analyzed.

The journey has been interesting. Nowadays, I’m really connecting with people because I have more confidence. People have been reaching out to me. Who am I?

But it’s been great.

Related: Meet the Investor: Cash Flowing Rentals Despite an Incredibly Expensive Market With Russell Brazil

My First Investment Property: 4-Plex House Hack

In the video above, we go through the house. There are four units—I live in one. The other three are occupied.

Finding the house was definitely difficult. I went through a lot of properties. I put offers on properties. I went through three different agents. Finally, I got to the agent that really worked for me as an investor looking for a house. It’s kind of a specific thing.

So, it took me a long time, but it was worth it. And talking it out with support from BiggerPockets members and other people around me really helped get to that point where I was able to find the right house. It’s worked out.

The Numbers Behind the Deal

  • Purchased: $430,000
  • Financing: FHA loan
  • Down Payment: 3.5%, or $20,000
  • Units: 4 total, 3 rented out
  • Rents: $650; $1,000; and $1,200
  • Mortgage: $2,870
  • Total Paid by Tenants: $2,850
  • Total Paid by Me: $20

value add multifamily

Related: BiggerPockets Podcast 356: 30+ Rentals (in a Pricy Market) Through BRRRR and Section 8 with Joe Asamoah

My Advice to Other Investors

Trying to get my first house was definitely a challenge. There were some key things that really helped me get there.

Build a Team

I was new. I barely knew anyone, but finding at least a few connections at first and then slowly growing, that is really important. Your agent is really important. Friends, people on BiggerPockets, people who support you—not even just people who are going to actually help you buy that deal.

Somebody that’s going to say, “Go for it! Keep trying.” Those were really important people.

Work Hard

I am a bit of a workaholic, and that really paid off with real estate. I found certain things that I really wanted to focus on. And I was just like honing in on them every day, late at night, working on this stuff. And not everybody’s like that. So if you find something that you are really into, lean into that. Keep going with that. It’s going to definitely pay off—especially in this real estate world.

Related: Meet the Investors: Husband & Wife Flip Team Aims to Win Big With Nate Cross

Be OK With Failing

Everyone’s going to fail. And I wake up in the morning and I remind myself: “You’re going to screw up.”

It’s going to happen, and it’s OK. I’m kind of a perfectionist, so it’s been really hard for me. But that’s kind of my mantra. You’re going to screw up.

I mean, things are always going to happen. You’re never going to be perfect. There’s not a real estate jail. You’re going to be OK.

The Bottom Line

I’m Kelly. I just bought my first house, and somebody else is going to pay for it.

It’s not that complicated! I did it. You can do it. Go do it.

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