Case Studies

Joel Owens Generating over 6-Figures in Income from BiggerPockets

Tell us about yourself

I am a principal broker and investor who's real estate career started out in 2004 as an agent. I had owned a few businesses before and had always been an entrepreneur from a young age. When I first entered real estate I worked on a few residential deals but quickly discovered I did not like working with buyers purchasing houses or the hours involved. A friend talked to me one day about how a developer had approached them to buy their laundry mat for a big retail mixed-use development going in. After talking for awhile he wanted me to represent him. We met at the meeting room with the developer and I outlined all the problems in the contract. The developer mentioned on a call after words in private I was one of the few he had ever seen to catch all of the outs in the contract. He then offered for me to work with him on the project assembling all 20 parcels of land on 25 acres for a 625,000 sq ft mixed use project with an after build value of 150 million dollars. I spent the next almost 3 years learning about land development and how projects are put together.

After that project when the market crashed in 2007 everyone was chasing value add deals instead of building from the ground up. I switched gears and started focusing on existing investments instead of raw land as that is what most buyers were after at that point in time. Over the last 6 years since 2007 my focus has been on investment properties specifically multifamily buildings and triple net leases. I enjoy analyzing numbers for myself and investors and helping them with investment decisions. I get up everyday eager to do what I love and enjoy which is commercial real estate.

How did you come to BiggerPockets and why did you join?

I remember years and years ago when Bigger Pockets had a page about REO banks on their website and that was it. No forums that I knew of or anything else. I looked at the site a few times and never thought anything else about it. Flash forward about 3 years and I run across the site I had forgotten about in a random search I was doing on Google. What I found was really amazing. The whole site had grown and transformed into something truly inspiring. The new forums were buzzing with all kinds of quality discussions and information on various real estate investing topics. As much as I felt I knew about real estate there was so much more to learn from this site and real world experience of the investors on it. To this day years and years later I go to the site everyday and learn something new and exciting that helps me with my business. People say they learn a lot from my posts on the forums but I learn just as much or more from them.

How do you engage and participate on BiggerPockets?

The forums are by far my number one choice. I enjoy talking to people in real time and connecting with them and hearing what kinds of real estate they are looking to invest in or a deal they want analyzed. I truly just get joy out of helping people with commercial real estate.

What value do you derive from BiggerPockets?

Just from sharing my knowledge on the forums with the expectation of nothing in return I have connected with many people who are now my clients. Sometimes people read a post on the forums that is indexed in the search engines and contact me that way -- and they are not even members of BiggerPockets.

The basic account at $5 dollars a month and the pro account at $15 dollars a month are a tremendous value. I have closed deals by just being a part of BiggerPockets and the income made from those connections has been substantial (let's just say over 6 figures and counting). The key is not to ask for business but just help people and be genuine and authentic in who you are and people will gravitate to you naturally.

James Vermillion Finding Connections, Funding, & Answers

Tell us about yourself

My name is James Vermillion, known by many friends simply as “V”. I live in the lovely Bluegrass Region of Central Kentucky and absolutely love it! As a proud Kentuckian and Alumni of the University of Kentucky, I am one of those nutcase members of the Big Blue Nation. I work in the Bourbon industry, which I find complete fascinating. I also support the bourbon industry as taste tester and spreader of the bourbon gospel. And like most Kentuckians, I love horse racing. No day is more fun than tailgating at Keeneland Racetrack followed up by watching the thoroughbreds battle around the final turn and head for home.

I am a Veteran of the US Air Force. As a military brat I grew up watching my Dad come home from work, in his fatigues and wanted nothing more than to follow in his footsteps. I had the opportunity to do that when I received a full ROTC scholarship to UK. After graduation I commissioned into the Air Force as a Munitions Maintenance Officer and was stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. Aside from the opportunity to serve my country, I was lucky enough to travel around the USA for various training and exercise events, and even deploy to the Pacific with the B-52 Bombers (the BUFFs). I left active duty in July 2012 to return to horse country.

When I am not at work, or at the track I am likely doing something real estate related. Whether looking for the next property, checking the progress of a current project, analyzing a potential deal, or catching up on real estate news, few days go by that I do not spend a good portion on real estate…and I love it!

How did you come to BiggerPockets and why did you join?

I found BiggerPockets like most new members, desperately searching the web for real estate information and answers. I was deployed to Guam and in the process of working with a friend, Ryan Kenimer, on starting a real estate investing venture. The only problem, neither of us had any real estate or business experience. The only thing I knew for sure was I was not willing to spend thousands of hard earned dollars to learn something I was sure I could find for free. I had little luck until I stumbled onto BiggerPockets, but once I found it I latched on to several members, bugging them with questions and messages. I was very surprised to see they not only didn't mind my nagging, but they were going above and beyond with their advice and recommendations. It wasn't long before I knew BP would be my internet home for real estate investing.

How do you engage and participate on BiggerPockets?

There are very few 24 hour periods in the last 3 years where I have not spend some time on BiggerPockets. You can find me most often on the forums, where I enjoy the dynamic conversations, debates, and sharing of real estate strategies, tips, tricks, successes and failures. I enjoy welcoming new members to the community and ensuring they understand that there is an army of real estate investors ready to help them in any way possible.

In addition to the forums I frequent the BiggerPockets blog, and have even contributed articles on occasion. That is the beauty of BP, there is something for everyone. Between the forums, blogs and now the podcasts, BP is gives members options and endless opportunities for real estate education.

What value do you derive from BiggerPockets?

Fact: My business would not be where it is today without BiggerPockets! From small things (finding excellent paint colors for our flips) to game-changers (finding lenders for our projects), BiggerPockets has been instrumental in our early success. Beyond the forums and blogs, BP is a community, and those people who participate reap benefits they did not imagine when they joined. I have learned a ton about real estate investing, tweaked and improved our business plan, and met an amazing group of like-minded real estate investors thanks to BiggerPockets.

Learn more about James, his successes, and how BiggerPockets has helped his career by checking out BiggerPockets Podcast 023: Flipping While Working a Job, Partnerships, and Military Investing with James Vermillion

Karen Margrave Exploding Your Traffic and Real Estate Network

Tell us about yourself

I am Karen Margrave, and I'm a licensed real estate agent and general contractor and developer. I am part of a family owned real estate development company, that specializes in the development of commercial investment properties in Orange County, CA, which we sell to investors.

How did you come to BiggerPockets and why did you join?

After the market crashed, our adult kids relocated from northern California to southern California (something they'd wanted to do for a long time) Without all of them around, we were lost; and decided to make the move too. Starting business in a new location was intimidating. I was scouring the internet looking for like minded people, and hit the jackpot finding BiggerPockets!

How do you engage and participate on BiggerPockets?

I am a moderator, and frequent poster. Starting this week I will be a regular blogger contributing to BP. Having over 25 years experience in the business of real estate, as an agent, developer and contractor, every day there's someone asking a question that I know the answer to, and I'm always happy to share.

What value do you derive from BiggerPockets?

No matter how long you work in this business, nobody knows everything. BP has a wealth of knowledgeable people that work in niches I'm not as familiar with as they are, and I can pick their brains for free! It's incredible. Everyone is so generous. From financing, social media, type of property, SEO, marketing, etc. it's here!

My website has seen a tremendous increase in traffic since I've been participating on BP. It's about building relationships and networking. I've been contacted by people from other countries that have seen my blog posts, and come to my website through BP. I'm currently working with a client in finding her very first home to purchase through meeting on BP (though I don't actively work real estate, but since she's from BP, I've made an exception.)

I might add, that I don't try to 'sell' anything, and that any benefit I get is solely because I've taken the time to make myself available to answer questions and participate on BP. BP isn't someplace to come hawk your wares, but 'share your experiences', I'm addicted!

Jimmy Hong Networking, Learning, and Deal Analysis

Tell us about yourself

My name is Jimmy Hong, 37 years old, married with an infant baby now 7 months old. I grew up in Northern Virginia, product of Virginia Tech University, and moved to Irvine, CA 12 years ago. I'm self-employed and my wife worked for an ad agency as graphic designer. We were a dual income family until last year when we had our baby.

My wife has always been interested in real estate and I owe my real estate involvement to my wife. She is the one who convinced me that we both have the ability to be good at it. My strengths, being an entrepreneur and a risk taker, has always been in numbers, stats, and negotiations. This complemented well with my wife's talents, from an art background, being creative, design sense and ability to assess our local market.

After our baby arrived, my wife wanted to spend more time with our baby and decided to quit her day job. Knowing we needed to replace her income, we decided to get into the real estate game. We were able to raise some family capital and together with our savings, we were in position to purchase our first property.

How did you come to BiggerPockets and why did you join?

My plan was to accumulate as much knowledge and information as possible. Before I found about BP, I read Marty Boardman's book "Fixing and Flipping Real Estate: Strategies for the Post-Boom Era" and "Foreclosure Investing for Dummies." I then subscribed to Sean O'Tool's "Foreclosureradar" and followed the foreclosure market and prices. Every morning for 6 months I was at the courthouse steps, learning and planning our strategy to acquire our first property. During this time, I found BP, its podcasts, blogs, and of course the forums. I found BP while I was googling a question about real estate. I was listening to other real estate podcasts but it was no where near the quality of content that BP podcasts were talking about. I found BP's podcasts refreshing because they were discussing detailed strategies in real estate investing.

How do you engage and participate on BiggerPockets?

My daily schedule was as follows:

  • Morning: court house steps, trustee sales
  • Day: my self-employed business
  • Night: reading real estate books and BP blogs, articles and forums.

Throughout the day I would listen to BP podcasts whenever I was in my car (my wife complains that Brandon and Joshua should do two shows a week because we listen to it so often).

What value do you derive from BiggerPockets?

The value I received from BP is pretty much priceless. Honestly, I don't know another place (online or off) where I could network with this many like minded investors. Willing to help each other without agenda and willing to answer questions from strangers and newbies. I've asked the BP community about the deals that I've found and received their experienced analysis and I know I couldn't get that from anywhere else at this point of my RE career.

When my wife and I first decided to get into the game, we were only focused on the fix and flip model, but now we understand the importance of passive income. We are closing our first fix and flip property by end of June, we are also closing our first buy and hold property by end of July (property in contract), and currently seeking our 2nd property for another fix and flip. My wife is also currently hired to rehab another property (not ours), which will be completed by mid July. Someone we know was so impressed by my wife's work they hired her to rehab their $1.25 million dollar home in Los Angeles.

Charles McNally Qualifying Deals & Getting a Real Estate Education

Tell us about yourself

I work full-time as a Mechanical Design Engineer by day and am a self-proclaimed, borderline obsessive real estate hawk when I'm not at my day job (and sometimes when I am). I have really only been involved in REI for about two years now, since I choose to not count the five or so previous years it took to decide to rent our 1st property. We currently are Buy & Hold property owners with a goal of acquiring three rental SFR's per year (or more if possible) until we own 20. As of this letter we own six rentals plus our home.

My girlfriend and I bought our first house together in 2004. I knew nothing about real estate and was oblivious to the fact that we were buying into the most expensive housing bubbles known to man. All I knew was that we needed to get out of the rental apartments we were living in as conditions and safety ware becoming concerns. The house was a tiny 2/1 and needed A LOT of work but I had a pretty significant construction background and knew I could fix this thing up…maybe even resell it at a profit. (Insert laugh-track here). I obviously spent way more on the purchase than the house was worth and I spent tens of thousands more in repairs, then the bubble popped. Long story short, in 2011 still WAY upside-down, we decided use dollar cost averaging and rent it out at a loss and buy a couple more rentals at the now discount prices to offset our rental loss on our first home.

The best and worst way to learn the definition of an “Accidental Landlord” is to become one. The worst, being that I didn't choose it to happen that way and the best being that I absolutely fell in love with RE, shopping, hunting, negotiating, networking, learning, growing, failing, succeeding and all that goes with this type of work.

How did you come to BiggerPockets and why did you join?

I wanted to learn everything I could about renting, land-lording, managing property, repair costs, legal agreements, renter & landlord rights and state laws before making the plunge but to my satisfaction, there is a boat-load of information on the internet freely available to anyone willing, able and motivated to learn. I had seen the term “bigger pockets” a couple times back then but at the time didn't know what it was or even that it was RE related and overlooked the website.

Brandon Turner's "Real Estate in your Twenties" website was one of the first that caught my attention as he had a short but memorable (and free) pdf e-book that described how a beginning investor could make 1 million dollars in a year by buying rental properties. The way Brandon's book laid out the math and the 1031 exchange behavior was a paradigm shift for me. I contacted Brandon and introduced myself and told him my story.

A couple days later, I saw another link somewhere with an image of that familiar little red & blue image of a pants pocket that I kept seeing everywhere. This time I clicked on it and haven't looked back since.

How do you engage and participate on BiggerPockets?

I found everything I was looking for here and I am well on my way to achieving more that I could've imagined just a couple years ago. BiggerPockets satisfied all the hunger I had for information, networking & learning. I read almost every blog post all the way back to when Josh Dorkin was writing short, single paragraph posts.

What value do you derive from BiggerPockets?

I learned how to qualify deals, how to utilize realtors, inspectors, property managers, lenders, title and insurance agents and build my team of experts, how to create my own spreadsheet to qualify deals and returns and so much more. I am now a daily visitor of BP and am looking forward to the day that I can afford to quit my day job and maybe contribute a bit more to the BP community.

Mehran Kamari Networking, Education & Motivation

Tell us about yourself

I'm Mehran Kamari, a real estate investor here in sunny Los Angeles, CA. Right now, I'm working full-time in the healthcare industry in a Histopathology laboratory. I do get paid well, but I can't really see myself doing this for the rest of my life. I've always been a big dreamer and I have this burning desire to become financially independent. I believe REI is the best path to realizing this and my goal is to replace my earned income with the passive cash-flow from my portfolio. One day I'll be able to say bye-bye to the J.O.B. and truly be free to live my life the way I want. I'm hoping to achieve this within the next 5 years, maybe sooner. I'm on track and these are real exciting times!

How did you come to BiggerPockets and why did you join?

I stumbled across BiggerPockets while searching for an answer to a mortgage underwriting question I had... Thank God! I was in the research and planning stage on buying my first home and had been reading a few books on the whole process. Needless to say, I found the exact answer I was looking for. I signed up after I saw how helpful everyone was since I knew I would have many more questions down the road. I felt good and reassured that I wasn't just on my own when it came to buying my home.

How do you engage and participate on BiggerPockets?

I'm involved here on BP in many different ways these days. I take part in discussions on topics that I'm familiar with and can offer advice. I'm also asking questions and using the search tool to get help with subjects that I need to learn more about. I read many of the blogs and listen to all the podcasts! I spend a fair amount of time analyzing people's deals and networking with other investors as well.

I really like to take the time to welcome new members that are just introducing themselves to the forums for the first time. I remember how it felt to be received with arms wide open when I first joined. Now I try and welcome people the same way.

If I'm not careful, I could spend the whole day on the site and neglect all my other responsibilities!

What value do you derive from BiggerPockets?

Straight up, no hype real estate education is important to me. I definitely get it here! Learning from the success, failures, and experiences of the seasoned investors who so freely give their advice here on the forums is the thing I value most here. I've also been able to network with other investors in different markets that I would never be able to venture into otherwise.

BiggerPockets has been pivotal in my development as a real estate investor. Someone once told me that if I wanted to be successful in a particular field, I have to get around the people that already are. On BP, I stay connected with other like-minded people, investors ranging from newbies to the most experienced players in the business, all motivated towards the same goals, every day! Now I see the true value in the advice this person gave me.

Frank O. People, Knowledge, Planning & Cross-Functionality

Tell us about yourself

I'm 27 years old and live in Columbia, MD. By degree I'm a Manufacturing Engineer, focusing on business process and efficiency development within factory systems. By day I'm a New Products Introduction Engineer for rooftop products for a solar power company in San Fransisco. I develop racking structures that hold the solar modules at specific tilt angles for commercial rooftop applications (Kohls/Staples/etc). I tele-commute from home quite a bit (Boss is in SF) which allots me a fairly loose working schedule. I do travel quite a bit so being a landlord was just not an option.

My fiance, Meggie, and I currently rent and read "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki and felt RE investing was a better way to grow and retain our retirement wealth than by purchasing our own home. Stock market volatility and bubbles never sat well with me and to be perfectly honest I didn't guess them very well. I now know I was just speculating since I knew nothing about market or stock fundamentals. Lesson learned.

I got my degree (and met my future wife) at RIT (Rochester Insitute of Technology) in Rochester, NY. After doing some market and deal analysis we decided to focus our RE investing there. Our goal is 10 properties to cover our personal expenses in 15 years. Knowing the power of compounding we know this goal is conservative. We want to have kids and buy our own home and do things together that will slow our investing and we understand that. I'd rather meet the goal extremely early and readjust than be disappointed in the end. Overall I think we'd like to settle on a 25 property portfolio.

We purchased our first SFH rental in April 2012 after a year and a half of reading, learning and paralysis. After the wedding in August we will be looking at the personal financial situation including looking at some creative financing options to take down our second property.

How did you come to BiggerPockets and why did you join?

I found Biggerpockets through a coworker at my job who also referred me to "Rich Dad, Poor Dad". He mentioned this site has some decent information but he never invested the time or energy into utilizing it. Once I found it I never looked back.

The wealth of free knowledge on BP will save anyone who joins hundreds of dollars in books and thousands of hours in time looking for the information they need from reputable sources.

I did a search on the site to see how many other investors in the area were from my target market of Rochester, NY and found quite a few. At this point I had tried to work with two local realtors in the area but neither of them were of integrity or like-minded to myself. My BP search continually yielded a single contact over and over and I decided the best way forward was to contact him via BP and ask for some time to discuss RE. His name is Mark UpDegraff and he's been a big contributor to BP and a large conduit of my success on my first deal.

Mark has answered all my questions and as a licensed realtor was able to set me up with an MLS filter to my e-mail. I hawk those MLS listings all day every day, looking for properties in my neighborhood and price point. Mark has been my eyes, ears and boots on the grounding viewing these properties at all hours and with strong and fast offer we were successful. Mark has also been my property manager, filling the property with students from the local university and mentoring me in a great many things locally and in business. I can't thank him enough and we plan to partner in the future so I can bring more value to his business than the commission of sale and management fees. Worth every penny.

I understand now that being a RE investor is half mastery of a certain investing concept and half understanding the basics of all investing concepts. IE: doing something extremely well but knowing enough about other investing techniques to know how that puzzle piece might fit better elsewhere. I've used BP to arm myself with basic knowledge on flipping, tax liens, short-sales, hard money lending, etc. Now when reviewing a deal if it doesn't lend itself to my personal preference of buy & hold I have outlets to pursue it if I can't let it pass, or outlets to let it go if my deal goes sideways (exit strategies). This knowledge would have cost me a lot of time and money to collect individually. It brings me the confidence and security that a new investor needs to take the plunge. Knowledge is power.

How do you engage and participate on BiggerPockets?

I listen to every BiggerPockets Podcast to learn about these other topics and scour the BP newsletter and blogs for interesting information, discussion and topics. I find most of my questions have already been answered on the forums and I'm still in a mind-like-sponge mentality. One day I will be more focused on growing my business through partnerships and networking and BP will be my first stop.

I utilized the people search to connect, I have had conversations with other members about my home market in Maryland and have learned about numerous opportunities. I should post on the forums more but I find I'm so busy learning and the open-questions are answered so professionally and completely that it's simply not required. If I find an open post where I think I can help I am more than willing to do so.

What value do you derive from BiggerPockets?

People. Which is the heart and center of RE investing. Networking for a mentor, advice on market analysis and general topics of discussion are invaluable to success in RE.

Knowledge on most RE investing techniques. Which makes RE investing a lot less intimidating and overwhelming.

Planning. BP always stressed a holistic approach that proved to me it wasn't a guru site looking for a payday. Creating a business plan was a monster brain-shift for me. Understanding buy & hold deal analysis including budgeting for vacancy and repairs has shown me that even the rental property I live in currently isn't cash-flow positive, though I'm sure the owner thinks it is.

Cross-functionality. As an engineer who is focused on process development and efficiency it has been awesome to reapply my skills in growing my knowledge and business. I just have to find a way to profit off solar on my rental properties now...

Sam Craven Finding Buyers, Knowledge, Partners & Financing

Tell us about yourself

I'm 28, my wife and I live in Houston, TX. I have an Engineering Degree from Texas A&M university. While at university I was very active with Formula SAE and the SAE club. All through college I helped build the Grassroots Challenge program that would serve as a stepping stone to train the drivers, mechanics and engineers for our world class Formula SAE program. While going to college I worked full time with Ferrari Challenge and Star Mazda race teams as a mechanic and crew chief.

As I was finishing school my path was pretty well set. I would become an engineer for a professional race team (dream job). Having 4 years of experience within the industry and traveling as much as I had it wasn't as appealing as it once was and I got a job in technical sales after graduation. In 2011 we purchased our first primary residence, a wonderful crack den in a well-established part of town. After signing the documents at closing and doing some updates/repairs, I realized that on paper our net worth had increased significantly and it was an epiphany.

My Dad and I went into business together in July 2012 and as of July 2013 we have purchased $2.1MM in distressed real estate over 27 properties. All properties were either wholesaled or renovated and sold retail.

How did you come to BiggerPockets and why did you join?

After we purchased our home and I had the epiphany I hit the web to try and learn more and see if we could do this again. Came across BiggerPockets, lurked the forums for a while and then introduced myself and started asking questions. The community helped me out quite a bit in the beginning and as my questions have become a lot less obvious the members never fail to deliver.

How do you engage and participate on BiggerPockets?

Since BP has given me so much I check the forum daily to see if I can add any value to any investor. I have even set up 3 different networking events for BiggerPockets members around the Houston area. Just like networking at an event, I use the BP community to network online and build my circle of influence. There are a lot of smart people on BP who are willing to help.

What value do you derive from BiggerPockets?

BiggerPockets is great not only for the wealth of information but also in its ability to attract great people. I have sold a few wholesales to BP members, networked for private money and even found a long term partner. Myself, and my business are better because of BiggerPockets and its members.

Learn more about Sam, his successes, and how BiggerPockets has helped his career by checking out BiggerPockets Podcast 033: How to Close 27 Deals in Your First Year While Working Full Time with Sam Craven.

Brandon Turner

Tell us about yourself

My name is Brandon Turner. Although most people know me as the co-host on the BiggerPockets Podcast, I actually grew up, investing wise, here on BiggerPockets. But I will get to that in a moment. I am a real estate investor from Western Washington, and I have been doing this since I was 21 years old. My plan was to go to law school, but then BiggerPockets got my way. I will explain...

How did you come to BiggerPockets and why did you join?

After I had bought my first house, I realized how much I loved real estate. Although I was getting ready to go to law school, I decided to drop that and become a full-time real estate investor. My parents thought I was crazy, and everyone told me I would have problems. Which, of course I would.

But that is when I discovered BiggerPockets by searching online for help. I realized that they were answers to all of those questions that everyone has about real estate. At that point I committed to reading everything I could on the side and eventually started writing for bigger pockets as a volunteer, and now I am the VP of Communications here at BP.

How do you engage and participate on BiggerPockets?

Besides the work I do for BiggerPockets as part of the team, I also actively engage on BiggerPockets to help with my investing. Whenever I have a question involving tenant drama, financing ideas, or other questions I'm not sure about, I post them in the Forums. I also use the PM system extensively, networking with dozens of individuals every day. Finally, I LOVE the Keyword Alert system, which notifies me whenever someone mentions certain words I've set up, like my local town names. I've met tons of local investors this way.

I have also used The Marketplace to advertise my deals and constantly check for new opportunities there. And, of course, I've borrowed money from private lenders on the site as well, which has helped me grow my real estate portfolio over the past several years.

What value do you derive from BiggerPockets?

A ton of value. I have saved many thousands of dollars by reading The Blog and The Forums and learning better ways to rehab properties, better ways to finance properties, better ways to find deals, better ways to raise money, and more. In addition, I have made some lifelong friends on the site that care about the same kind of things that I do.

BiggerPockets has been hugely instrumental in my life and I'm proud to be part of the company now so I can give back to the community to help get me to where I am today.

Scott Trench Buying a First Duplex and Living for Free

Tell us about yourself

I work full time as the Director of Operations here at BiggerPockets. Prior to working here, I worked full time at a Fortune 500 company doing Financial Planning and Analysis. I'm a huge personal finance nerd and love helping people learn how to maximize their net worth and rapidly build up a strong financial foundation for their lives.

I started my adult life with a net worth very close to $0 and a college degree. This was a huge advantage over many other folks out there who start with substantially negative net worth in the form of student loans, medical expenses, or other forms of debt. By living frugally, I was able to save up $20,000 on a salary of less than $50,000 in my first year out of college, and I used those savings to purchase and fix up a small Duplex close to downtown Denver, CO in December 2014.

At this point, I have a tenant and a roommate that kindly pay down my mortgage, allowing me to live rent free. I'm not a huge fan of paying rent every month, so this seems to be a pretty sweet gig to me. I'd highly recommend this approach to others looking to save some money over the long term. Because I live rent free, its my goal to use those savings to purchase more properties - hopefully 4 units in 2015, and 8 additional ones after that in 2016.

How did you come to BiggerPockets and why did you join?

I've always been interested in investing and creating passive income for myself. In my first year of work, I tried every means I could think of to generate side income - including working side gigs, starting small business ventures, investing in the stock market via various creative strategies, and anything and everything else I could think of.

I also started listening to Podcasts, and eventually came across BiggerPockets. I think that the hosts, Josh and Brandon, make these shows incredibly information packed, but also incredibly fun and easy to listen to.

After listening to the Podcasts for a while, I started visiting the site regularly and reading the blog. The turning point for me, and where I was able to turn the corner and commit to investing came with reading Brandon Turner's “House-Hacking” article - which illustrates the inarguable advantages of living as an owner occupier in a small multifamily and renting out the remaining units.

How do you engage and participate on BiggerPockets?

Every day, I peruse the forums and look for topics that I'm passionate about and engage with other site users to offer value. Honestly, most of the time, I just try to post quality information about sound personal finance strategies, and I try to answer any and all questions I feel capable of answering. It's amazing that so many doors open up and opportunities seem to come to me just because I'm positive, consistent, and helpful to the community.

I also receive a lot of value from others in helping my own business. I ask questions that might be awkward to ask anywhere else (“How much should I charge in pet fees and additional security deposit per cat in this neighborhood in Denver, CO?”) and I get in touch with professionals that help me with my business. I actually met a wonderful real estate investor friendly agent through the forums - the agent that I ended up working with to get into my first property.

What value do you derive from BiggerPockets?

I learned how to look for deals, met my realtor, analyzed my closing costs, asked random questions, and built up the general knowledge I needed to do effective due diligence on my first purchase. That was all before I was actually an investor.

Now that I own property and am looking to start scaling my business, BiggerPockets has become even more important. I routinely ask questions and look for discussions on topics relevant to my goals, and work with investors on the site all the time to hone my thinking, discuss deals, and build my network.