SFH + SFH or House Hack - 1st Time Home Buyer

8 Replies

Hello BP Community,

This is my first post, so be gentle. My question is one of general strategy. Given the following choices which do you think is the smarter option for a 1st time home owner with REI aspirations.

Option 1 (SFH + SFH):


Purchase a SFH (Condo, Town home, etc.) @ $125 - $200k utilizing a low/no down payment mortgage vehicle (FHA, NACA, etc.) because you have to live somewhere and then follow up with an additional purchase of a rental property @ $150k - 200k using a conventional mortgage.

Thinking behind option one: I would keep the bulk of my savings using low/no down payment mortgage for my personal residence to then be able to use said reserves on the down payment for a conventional mortgage on a buy and hold rental property.

Option 2 (Multi-family House Hack):

Purchase a Duplex @ ~$300 - @400k utilizing FHA mortgage. I would plan to have the additional unit managed by a third party as I know next to nothing ... actually nothing about managing a property.

Thinking behind option two:  I know this to be a very popular method; however, for me the cost is significantly higher as I would prefer a duplex that is close to the heart of the city (north of or right in the middle of ATL). FHA would be only mortgage option as I could not put down a full 20%.

Quick Facts:

No debt / exceptional credit (800+) / W2 working stiff 9+ years same company 

I don't even know if the 1st strategy is feasible. Is there some cooling off period between mortgage applications? Is the prospect of owning a SFH while simultaneously acquiring a new rental SFH foolish? I live in Atlanta and work in the heart of the city. While SFHs abound the choices for duplex are pretty slim. There seems to be a pretty wide margin between old rundown but still expensive duplexes (due to proximity to city center) vs more modern still extremely expensive duplexes (due to a combination of things).

While I realize a good deal can always be found I would just like to know if both plans are sound strategies. I need to focus my efforts in one direction or another (or do I?).   I am now hunkering down and streamlining my budget to have as much liquid cash as possible to execute in Q4 2018 when conventional wisdom seems to think sellers become a bit desperate. 

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

It really depends on what your goals are. If you want to accelerate your investing I would say to continue shopping around for lenders and rates. There are some that offer conventional financing with less than 20% and start analyzing 4plexes. Try and find what the better deals look like on the MLS then go find some off market ones yourself. Finding off market may require more involvement with your lender but could get a better deal.

I am not going to try and speculate anything and I don't know your market but if you buy a property that cashflows vs your personal residence, you will be better off if any market correction looms in the next few years.

Hello DMac7

Actually, NACA is still a possibility for you in Option 2.  Just as with FHA, you may purchase up to a four unit property through NACA, but are required to live in one of the units as long as you have the NACA loan.


Tim Trumble

Online Operations, NACA

@David McCulloch

You have both options and they will be dependent on the specific deal. Both could be sound strategies. You seem to have thought through them.

There is not necessarily a cooling off period. Getting the two loans will just depend on your lender, DTI and credit. I'd recommend going ahead and talking with some lenders.

If I were in your position, I would hope to focus more on the 2-4 units with FHA mortgage. Although more expensive initially due to the higher purchase point, you would like to believe you would be bringing in a larger portion of your mortgage (potentially fully covering) with the multi unit vs the two SFR.

To answer your question, I do think both options are viable. I'd be happy to chat more offline. Happy New Year!

Tim Truble: what is a NACA loan? Thanks

To begin you need to realise that buying a personal home is a life style decision, it is not a investment. It will cost you more during a lifetime than it will ever be worth except in some areas where appreciation is not based on value or logic.

On the other hand if you wish to invest with a house hack approach then your desire to buy close to the hearth of the city is counter productive.

You need to determine your priorities. Personal home, investment property, convenient location or profits.

What ever your choice it will impact on all other options.

@Walter Roby jr :

Walter I appreciate the focus the direction to focus on the deal and the advice to focus on cash flow. You also made mention of searching for off market [duplexes]. While I will definitely conduct my own due diligence in searching these forums and podcasts is there any specific research (article, specific podcast/webcast) that you think is an ideal resource for learning how to find such properties?

@Tim Trumble

Thanks for the clarification Tim. I was rather confused regarding the maximum mortgage limit NACA offers. When I put in zip codes on the website it seemed as if the mortgage would always top out just under 300k for the Atlanta area. I thought this had to do with whether or not it was in the proper area (I forget the term). That said I went to a workshop ages ago, and plan to setup a first meeting with my counselor in February as I've been told the process can take 6 months to a year and I want to be ready for EOY 2018.

 @Josh Hooper

Josh thanks for the vote of confidence and I may very well take you up on the offer to chat offline. I'm still at the point where I am trying to consume more knowledge to converse with the greater REI community in a way that doesn't waste anyone's valuable time.

@Colleen Arends

The question wasn't directed at me but I can say that if you put "NACA mortgage" in google the first result that comes up will be your answer. Tim may very well have a nice succinct way of describing the mortgage, but there is a lot to it. If I had to summarize; it is a potentially awesome no down payment mortgage product with stipulations. For example, one of the stipulations is that you must reside in the property as your residence for the life of the mortgage.

@Thomas S.

Thomas I really appreciate the reality check regarding proper perspective.  One portion of your reply has left me a bit confused though.  You wrote "On the other hand if you wish to invest with a house hack approach then your desire to buy close to the hearth of the city is counter productive."  To be clear that is not an emotional decision for me.  My desire for it being close to the heart of the city ties directly to rental rates and possible appreciation.  The proximity to my job while nice does not really factor into this.  I will admit that I definitely need to do some more thinking as to what my specific goal is outside of knowing I hope to one day match my salary with an equivalent in rental income.  

@ Tim Trimble   

Thanks for the input. I will look it up, I had just not heard the term before. 

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