Getting My Partner (wife) Onboard

16 Replies

Tonight we passed on our first multi-family investment. The numbers look solid but after visiting the site, there are some obvious reasons why this wouldn't make a great "House Hacking" property. My wife is used to our neighborhood. Not high class but not sketchy. So now when we look at multi family properties that we could potentially own strictly as an investment properties in rougher areas, she is immediately out. I try to explain to her that certain areas are up and coming and investors in early make the big money. she said "what if you are out of town, and I need to bring the baby and fix a problem, I wouldn't feel safe here" And yes I explained the use of a property manager. How can I say no to that. I don't want her to feel in danger but I also don't want to miss great deals. Has anyone else out there had a resistant significant other? How did you get through it?

Originally posted by @Joshua Herald :

Tonight we passed on our first multi-family investment. The numbers look solid but after visiting the site, there are some obvious reasons why this wouldn't make a great "House Hacking" property. My wife is used to our neighborhood. Not high class but not sketchy. So now when we look at multi family properties that we could potentially own strictly as an investment properties in rougher areas, she is immediately out. I try to explain to her that certain areas are up and coming and investors in early make the big money. she said "what if you are out of town, and I need to bring the baby and fix a problem, I wouldn't feel safe here" And yes I explained the use of a property manager. How can I say no to that. I don't want her to feel in danger but I also don't want to miss great deals. Has anyone else out there had a resistant significant other? How did you get through it?

 I asked her to pick the paint colors. 

@Joshua Herald

So there are no house-hacking issues involved. These are strictly investment multifamily properties, and they're going to be under professional property management.

You are definitely going to need to get her together with one or more of the property management teams you plan to hire to explain the nature of the property management they will provide and assuage her worries that she's going to have to be on-site at these multifamilies with the baby when you're not available because they refuse to handle something.

If you're buying first and worrying about property management later, I agree, you have a real problem, but it's not your wife, it's your business model.

Thanks for this post Joshua. I think pursuing REI goals and being on board with a spouse is something that a lot of us have to think through here. Its good that you're asking this. Gaining clarity - would you still be house hacking and have a property manager?

This is just my take, but there shouldn't be a 'but' after a thought of your wife being in danger in a neighborhood. I think she has a legitimate concern (if I understand the scenario correctly).

I definitely see the value in house hacking in general, but I question whether the overall value is worth it considering the stress and difficulty it could put your wife (and, indirectly, you) through. Not sure what type of multifamily this is, but in general you're living next to much different people in these sorts of buildings - different than say conventional SFRs. That could not desirable in a rough neighborhood (even if it's up and coming). Think about what it might be like for her as a mother:  will the baby have health problems from the dust created by your neighbors smoking outside of their window, or from dust from renovation work, or mold in the house that you're having to treat?  Will the baby sleep if there are neighbors fighting next door (or above...or below)? What if she's having to go up and down stairs all the time with a baby in her arms (I did this and it's not fun).

I'm not at all trying to deflate a viable dream toward successful investing, but when it comes to marital success and real estate success I would encourage you to think how those two things can be done together instead of how you can bring your wife on board with your goals. What are her goals and dreams? How can hers intersect with yours?

I know this is said often, but it's very true:  happy wife, happy life. What good would investing in a MF property be if your wife will be miserable? 

Maybe there are other paths you could both be taking together in this? The beauty of real estate is that there are many diverse ways to seize opportunity and build wealth.

@Joshua Herald Having just celebrated our 39th anniversary, I have some advice to share.

She comes first.  Period.

If you coerce her into something she doesn't want to do, you'll regret it.  Maybe not today.  Maybe not tomorrow.  But you will regret it.

I'd make whatever adjustments you have to make to get her on board.  That might be as simple as using a PM company for your rentals so she can be completely hands off.

But if she's deeply resistant to REI, I'd recommend that you abandon it unless and until you can convince her that it's in the family's best interest.

@Joshua Herald First off i would take it as a good thing that your wife is open to a house hacking opportunity. Some significant others (both male and female) I have dealt with as an agent are not willing to explore this option at all.

When I sit down with clients who are looking for a house hack one of the first things I tell them in our initial meeting is even more than the numbers (not much more) they need to zero in on areas they feel comfortable living. Then evaluate specific opportunities from there. This keeps the client and their significant other from getting disenchanted with the home buying process because they can eliminate certain houses based on the area.

The sooner you can decide on areas that work and more importantly don't work for you, the smoother the process will go.

@Joshua Herald If she is not comfortable with house hacking, consider other options such as buying a rental property which is separate from your home. Start researching the market to see what you can afford and then start a discussion with your wife about how this could benefit your family to become a landlord and increase your income.
@Joshua Herald you need to find a balance between your comfort level and hers. Maybe the neighborhoods you’re looking in are not what she’s looking for. It sounds like she’s open, so I would have a property manager explain their roles and reassure her of her responsibilities if you would be unavailable. THEN you both can decide the areas you’re open to looking into. She’s your partner. It sounds like you’re definitely taking her into consideration, but as with anything, compromise is typically necessary.

I agree with what others are saying.  To add to it:

Make a nice spreadsheet of EVERYTHING finance related to the property you're either considering or a hypothetical in the area.

Transfer the highlights and make a simple PowerPoint to summarize.   Focus on the cash returns, and her concerns like maintenance.  Throw in a few funny pics to keep the mood light.

After the baby goes to sleep, pour her a glass of wine and ask her to take a look at your PowerPoint.  This helps take the emotions out of it.  No weird voice tones or body language... just simple information that she can objectively look at.

If she still objects then you're likely going to need to find a new REI strategy, as she's basically telling you no to this one.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this. Now that I have had some time to calm down and get over my first lost deal (we declined to make an offer), I agree with all of you. This is a business that I have invested thousands of $$ and many hours educating myself on REI. Working with her, she tends to lean on me to understand what the purchasing agent is talking about. I am shifting my focus onto duplex homes or SFH. We both realized that our nice house in a good neighborhood with off street parking and a nice yard is something we cant expect and are willing to make those sacrifices to become financially free. House hacking is one way we can start our portfolio and cut our teeth without jumping into a 20 unit building and getting things wrong. We have also been passing around the idea of a few flips to make some money for the downturn coming. I realize as I type this that we need to focus our energy onto a true business plan and stick to it. Again, thanks to all who contributed.

@Joshua Herald  

Is it "house hacking" or "strictly an investment". House hacking means you will live there and strictly an investment means tenant occupied. Two totally different situations. If it is house hacking, I side with your wife, strictly an investment and I side with you. If it is strictly an investment there is no situation where your wife would need to go to the property so her concern is unfounded. 

She made a comment that I don't necessarily  agree with. She said " I think that all of our properties should be ones that we would feel safe living at. Just in case something happens, and we need a place to stay, we wont be worried about it" 

I can't disagree with this any more. With the right property mgmt in place, we will never interact with a strictly investment property. 

For now Im going to look for a duplex that i can manage and then begin looking for strictly REI properties.

Originally posted by @Joshua Herald :

She made a comment that I don't necessarily  agree with. She said " I think that all of our properties should be ones that we would feel safe living at. Just in case something happens, and we need a place to stay, we wont be worried about it" 

I can't disagree with this any more. With the right property mgmt in place, we will never interact with a strictly investment property. 

For now Im going to look for a duplex that i can manage and then begin looking for strictly REI properties.

If something happens, you have the cash flow from this property to help you through the tough times.  

If you have to live there then I would agree with her because it's going to be tough to get her to buy-in to your goals moving forward when she resents her current living conditions.

Originally posted by @Joshua Herald :

She made a comment that I don't necessarily  agree with. She said " I think that all of our properties should be ones that we would feel safe living at. Just in case something happens, and we need a place to stay, we wont be worried about it" 

I can't disagree with this any more. With the right property mgmt in place, we will never interact with a strictly investment property. 

For now Im going to look for a duplex that i can manage and then begin looking for strictly REI properties.

Not sure where you live in the country. But you can with some effort find a place in a safe neighborhood wherever it is you live.  

Not saying what you should do, but given that you can house hack I would say do that to start. Find a 2/3/4 unit place where your wife will live for at least a year and go from there.  3.5% down on an fha is what better then 20-25% down on a investment loan and a investment loan is 4.5-6.5 and a owner occupancy loan is 3.5-4.75 right now.  

My wife is very hesitant to any investment ideas, but is ok with me doing whatever I want as long as it doesn't effect the family. If she doesn't feel comfortable with the locations and homes that you want to purchase through a house hack, I would suggest not doing it. There are so many different ways to invest, choose a different one. If you push her to accept something that she doesn't want, and something goes wrong you will regret it and it could cost you your marriage. 

Also, stay away from investing in bad areas. I don't like to speculate that areas are going to get better, unless you know some information that no one else knows. Otherwise invest in nice areas, and you will always be happy. The deals will be harder to find, but they will be worth more in the long run. 

Good Luck! Aaron

Suggest non MF. In our area duplexes start at 1.6M, 4 plex (if you can find 1) starts at 2-3M. Granted you may sit on a cash cow when rented. These are the roofers, plumber, candy machine vendors trucks, park left right, on the lawn. Fights, police etc. I do not think your wife is unique. Look at a better area. SFH, town homes. Your partner does not want to be a $3M slumlord.

Originally posted by @Joshua Herald :

She made a comment that I don't necessarily  agree with. She said " I think that all of our properties should be ones that we would feel safe living at. Just in case something happens, and we need a place to stay, we wont be worried about it" 

I can't disagree with this any more. With the right property mgmt in place, we will never interact with a strictly investment property. 

For now Im going to look for a duplex that i can manage and then begin looking for strictly REI properties.

Your wife is speaking from emotion and you are speaking from logic. Think about this logically, why would you need a place to live? The only situation I can imagine is if something bad happened, like you lost your job and could not find a new one. First of all, it is very unlikely it would come to that. The whole point of investment properties is to PREVENT this type of situation, by having supplemental income. Secondly, if this did happen, you would be in a desperate situation. You would be willing to live in a rougher neighborhood for a short period of time, because it is better than being homeless. Lots of people raise families in these neighborhoods and are perfectly happy. If something horrible happens, your wife will just need to adjust her expectations to meet your situation. The point is it will never come to that. This argument is illogical. Not only is it illogical, but logic says you SHOULD invest to prevent a situation like loss of job from hurting your family.

Do not tell your wife she is being illogical! That is not the point. Acknowledge her emotional concern and show her how owning rental properties will actually give your family MORE security. 

If your investment criteria is "houses my wife will live in", do not expect high return on your investments. It could even lead to failure in your real estate endeavors if you are not careful.