A quick bit of backstory, which may or may not be of interest. My wife and I became owners of a rental by accident back in 2011. We had purchased a home in 2006 and were looking to move to a larger home. Due to the market being in the gutter we were going to lose our shirts if we tried to sell our home (3 or 4 similar foreclosed homes within a mile radius) so we were able to rent it and (after a hellacious time getting a second mortage) move to another home. It has been rented since then with a PM company who we are happy with, it has been empty only about 10 weeks in the last 8 years. Our monthly portion of rent covers the mortage but cash flow is essentially zero (we profit maybe 100 bucks a month).
I have always viewed this as a free ticket to eventually owning the house, we will pay off the mortage in 7 years and then the rent would be "free money". Some repairs have had to be done, but we can pay both mortages with our current income and be fine, so if we go several months without renters the world won't end.
We now owe 55k on the house and it is worth somewhere between 130 and 140,000. I was planning on paying it off using the rent (7 years to pay it off), then saving the money we receive for rent for X months until I have a down payment and then purchasing another house in the area to renovate and rent, then using both rent payments to pay it off quickly. Then purchase another and so on. Maybe in 15 years have 3 or 4 homes fully paid off generating a nice income.
Recently I have been reading the reddit and learning about leveraged purchasing. I feel like I may be being far to conservative with what can be done in our situation. HELOC and purchase another unit immediately? What options are out there and what would you do if you were in this situation? I can't help but feel there is lots of money being left on the table, with the obvious caveat that risk would vary by strategy. I can provide any other info needed and I thank you guys in advance for reading this novel...