Are these sound strategies for a buy & hold investor?

23 Replies

Hi BP,

I've come to you with a few questions about some scenarios I had in my mind. @Joel Florek helped me hone in on what exactly I need to do (thanks, Joel!). I come here in hopes of getting more opinions on if I have my head on right or not and what tweaks need to be made.

I will start by saying that I would like to be self-employed by 30 and when my first child does come in my 30s I will want (unceasingly) the desire to be a stay at home parent. I would like my portfolio to be majority buy and holds as I will need the cash flow to reach my goals. Here are some scenarios, let me know what you guys think.

Scenario 1: This is the scenario I have lulled on the longest. I do not have much capital ($15K>), but I do have a starting base that is encouraging. I am in a unique position where I have the ability to wholesale at very little cost ($200>;1k mailings). I had the idea of wholesaling up enough capital to have 5% down for a pretty decent house (3-family) in a nice neighborhood. I know of FHA but am not sure of the house quality. After speaking with Joel he thought it'd be pointless to waste time trying to wholesale when I could be using that time to build equity somewhere else (wise advice). My idea was to buy a turnkey property, one that didn't need much work at all. If any, minor or cosmetic at the most. Is this unrealistic? Should I be going the BRRRR route? What do you guys think?

Scenario 2: This is an idea that I initially had coming in. Buying a duplex and renting out the other apt, living for free and refi the next year. However, I shot that idea down because I figured (and was advised) a 3-plex would be better for my buck. But in relation to scenario 1, should I just go for a duplex, put in the time, build equity, refi next year and then get a 3-family? Thoughts on this?

Also, please let me know if I am misinterpreting something, but are refis' not as "attractive" with houses that are already in good condition? What is the difference between buying a home already in great shape vs not so great shape outside of the possibility to raise it's value? I believe I am missing a piece to this puzzle. Nonetheless, I'm confident you all can help. 

So to sum this up, I am now considering these 3 options, but #2 seems the best right now:

1) Wholesaling for about a year to build significant capital then buy a 3-family. (Reminder: my marketing costs are virtually non-existent and I could possibly mail 2x a month)

2) Buy a duplex relatively soon, rent it out, build equity, refi and then buy a 3-family. (Awesome advice, Joe!)

3) Buy a duplex and still wholesale on the side (this opportunity is almost too good to pass up). Could I then combine refi money and wholesaling capital to then buy an even better property? Thoughts?

Thanks!

All of your ideas are good, but what you need is an action plan with a true commitment and desire to do it. I personally like all of your ideas but I would go with what seems to be more feasible for you at this point and time. No one knows your personal life and situation more than yourself. You choose and make it Happen! As long as you have an action plan it will work. (Of course you need to know what you are doing to NOT lose money and time.) So be careful in your process and make sure you have a solid structure in place.   Best of luck to you. 

Originally posted by @Craig Moore :

Hi BP,

I've come to you with a few questions about some scenarios I had in my mind. @Joel Florek helped me hone in on what exactly I need to do (thanks, Joel!). I come here in hopes of getting more opinions on if I have my head on right or not and what tweaks need to be made.

I will start by saying that I would like to be self-employed by 30 and when my first child does come in my 30s I will want (unceasingly) the desire to be a stay at home parent. I would like my portfolio to be majority buy and holds as I will need the cash flow to reach my goals. Here are some scenarios, let me know what you guys think.

Scenario 1: This is the scenario I have lulled on the longest. I do not have much capital ($15K>), but I do have a starting base that is encouraging. I am in a unique position where I have the ability to wholesale at very little cost ($200>;1k mailings). I had the idea of wholesaling up enough capital to have 5% down for a pretty decent house (3-family) in a nice neighborhood. I know of FHA but am not sure of the house quality. After speaking with Joel he thought it'd be pointless to waste time trying to wholesale when I could be using that time to build equity somewhere else (wise advice). My idea was to buy a turnkey property, one that didn't need much work at all. If any, minor or cosmetic at the most. Is this unrealistic? Should I be going the BRRRR route? What do you guys think?

Scenario 2: This is an idea that I initially had coming in. Buying a duplex and renting out the other apt, living for free and refi the next year. However, I shot that idea down because I figured (and was advised) a 3-plex would be better for my buck. But in relation to scenario 1, should I just go for a duplex, put in the time, build equity, refi next year and then get a 3-family? Thoughts on this?

Also, please let me know if I am misinterpreting something, but are refis' not as "attractive" with houses that are already in good condition? What is the difference between buying a home already in great shape vs not so great shape outside of the possibility to raise it's value? I believe I am missing a piece to this puzzle. Nonetheless, I'm confident you all can help. 

So to sum this up, I am now considering these 3 options, but #2 seems the best right now:

1) Wholesaling for about a year to build significant capital then buy a 3-family. (Reminder: my marketing costs are virtually non-existent and I could possibly mail 2x a month)

2) Buy a duplex relatively soon, rent it out, build equity, refi and then buy a 3-family. (Awesome advice, Joe!)

3) Buy a duplex and still wholesale on the side (this opportunity is almost too good to pass up). Could I then combine refi money and wholesaling capital to then buy an even better property? Thoughts?

Thanks!

 Hi Craig-

Great approach - sounds like House Hacking 101 - checkout this awesome article:

(3) Secrets Everyone Needs to Know about using a 203k Loan - Its Easy!

Originally posted by @Al R. :

All of your ideas are good, but what you need is an action plan with a true commitment and desire to do it. I personally like all of your ideas but I would go with what seems to be more feasible for you at this point and time. No one knows your personal life and situation more than yourself. You choose and make it Happen! As long as you have an action plan it will work. (Of course you need to know what you are doing to NOT lose money and time.) So be careful in your process and make sure you have a solid structure in place.   Best of luck to you. 

Awesome answer. I am very opportunistic, that being said, even if I did go the duplex route the thought of having such an open opportunity to make additional capital with no real expenditures = crazy ROI. I have to make that leap...soon. I do not want to sit around thinking about what ifs. I would feel much better if I experienced it and then said ehh, maybe I won't do that. (This is in terms of experimenting not buying properties and seeing what happens). I just graduated college and I was given 1YR to be out and this was last May. The time is approaching. The kitchen won't be hot but I'd rather not linger especially if I can go one of these routes.

Here is my take on your situation. Wholesaling isnt as easy as just making it happen. There is a lot of work and time involved in building a buyers list and knowing how to evaluate properties, rehab costs, arvs, etc. This can be very tricky especially to someone new to real estate. Also you mention buying a duplex living in it for a year and refi and getting cash. This is likely not an option. Sounds like your plan for this is a low down payment, 3.5%-5%. If the property is turn key it isnt magically going to have 20-25% equity in it within a year. You wont be able to just take any amount of apprecitaion out of the property. No lender will allow you to take a dime out of the property with out having at least bare minimum 20% equity in the home. Now as far as a straight cash flow prospective it is a great idea to buy a duplex to live in and rent the other half out. Same goes for a tri-plex, 4-plex, etc. I def think you should try wholesaling, find a mentor in your area possibly to show you the ropes but dont count on making 10's of thousands of dollars right off the bat.

Originally posted by @Beau Ryan :

Here is my take on your situation.  Wholesaling isnt as easy as just making it happen.  There is a lot of work and time involved in building a buyers list and knowing how to evaluate properties, rehab costs, arvs, etc.  This can be very tricky especially to someone new to real estate.  Also you mention buying a duplex living in it for a year and refi and getting cash.  This is likely not an option.  Sounds like your plan for this is a low down payment, 3.5%-5%.  If the property is turn key it isnt magically going to have 20-25% equity in it within a year.  You wont be able to just take any amount of apprecitaion out of the property.  No lender will allow you to take a dime out of the property with out having at least bare minimum 20% equity in the home.  Now as far as a straight cash flow prospective it is a great idea to buy a duplex to live in and rent the other half out.  Same goes for a tri-plex, 4-plex, etc.  I def think you should try wholesaling, find a mentor in your area possibly to show you the ropes but dont count on making 10's of thousands of dollars right off the bat.  

 Thanks for your input, Beau. So I now ask, should I get a distressed property with a 203k loan and fix it up a bit? Would refinancing be possible then? What scenario would you do in this case? I see you mentioned wholesaling but anything additional?

Originally posted by @Steven Gesis :
Originally posted by @Craig Moore:

Hi BP,

I've come to you with a few questions about some scenarios I had in my mind. @Joel Florek helped me hone in on what exactly I need to do (thanks, Joel!). I come here in hopes of getting more opinions on if I have my head on right or not and what tweaks need to be made.

I will start by saying that I would like to be self-employed by 30 and when my first child does come in my 30s I will want (unceasingly) the desire to be a stay at home parent. I would like my portfolio to be majority buy and holds as I will need the cash flow to reach my goals. Here are some scenarios, let me know what you guys think.

Scenario 1: This is the scenario I have lulled on the longest. I do not have much capital ($15K>), but I do have a starting base that is encouraging. I am in a unique position where I have the ability to wholesale at very little cost ($200>;1k mailings). I had the idea of wholesaling up enough capital to have 5% down for a pretty decent house (3-family) in a nice neighborhood. I know of FHA but am not sure of the house quality. After speaking with Joel he thought it'd be pointless to waste time trying to wholesale when I could be using that time to build equity somewhere else (wise advice). My idea was to buy a turnkey property, one that didn't need much work at all. If any, minor or cosmetic at the most. Is this unrealistic? Should I be going the BRRRR route? What do you guys think?

Scenario 2: This is an idea that I initially had coming in. Buying a duplex and renting out the other apt, living for free and refi the next year. However, I shot that idea down because I figured (and was advised) a 3-plex would be better for my buck. But in relation to scenario 1, should I just go for a duplex, put in the time, build equity, refi next year and then get a 3-family? Thoughts on this?

Also, please let me know if I am misinterpreting something, but are refis' not as "attractive" with houses that are already in good condition? What is the difference between buying a home already in great shape vs not so great shape outside of the possibility to raise it's value? I believe I am missing a piece to this puzzle. Nonetheless, I'm confident you all can help. 

So to sum this up, I am now considering these 3 options, but #2 seems the best right now:

1) Wholesaling for about a year to build significant capital then buy a 3-family. (Reminder: my marketing costs are virtually non-existent and I could possibly mail 2x a month)

2) Buy a duplex relatively soon, rent it out, build equity, refi and then buy a 3-family. (Awesome advice, Joe!)

3) Buy a duplex and still wholesale on the side (this opportunity is almost too good to pass up). Could I then combine refi money and wholesaling capital to then buy an even better property? Thoughts?

Thanks!

 Hi Craig-

Great approach - sounds like House Hacking 101 - checkout this awesome article:

(3) Secrets Everyone Needs to Know about using a 203k Loan - Its Easy!

 Awesome post, Steven. I will begin looking into that.

Originally posted by @Craig Moore :
Originally posted by @Steven Gesis:
Originally posted by @Craig Moore:

Hi BP,

I've come to you with a few questions about some scenarios I had in my mind. @Joel Florek helped me hone in on what exactly I need to do (thanks, Joel!). I come here in hopes of getting more opinions on if I have my head on right or not and what tweaks need to be made.

I will start by saying that I would like to be self-employed by 30 and when my first child does come in my 30s I will want (unceasingly) the desire to be a stay at home parent. I would like my portfolio to be majority buy and holds as I will need the cash flow to reach my goals. Here are some scenarios, let me know what you guys think.

Scenario 1: This is the scenario I have lulled on the longest. I do not have much capital ($15K>), but I do have a starting base that is encouraging. I am in a unique position where I have the ability to wholesale at very little cost ($200>;1k mailings). I had the idea of wholesaling up enough capital to have 5% down for a pretty decent house (3-family) in a nice neighborhood. I know of FHA but am not sure of the house quality. After speaking with Joel he thought it'd be pointless to waste time trying to wholesale when I could be using that time to build equity somewhere else (wise advice). My idea was to buy a turnkey property, one that didn't need much work at all. If any, minor or cosmetic at the most. Is this unrealistic? Should I be going the BRRRR route? What do you guys think?

Scenario 2: This is an idea that I initially had coming in. Buying a duplex and renting out the other apt, living for free and refi the next year. However, I shot that idea down because I figured (and was advised) a 3-plex would be better for my buck. But in relation to scenario 1, should I just go for a duplex, put in the time, build equity, refi next year and then get a 3-family? Thoughts on this?

Also, please let me know if I am misinterpreting something, but are refis' not as "attractive" with houses that are already in good condition? What is the difference between buying a home already in great shape vs not so great shape outside of the possibility to raise it's value? I believe I am missing a piece to this puzzle. Nonetheless, I'm confident you all can help. 

So to sum this up, I am now considering these 3 options, but #2 seems the best right now:

1) Wholesaling for about a year to build significant capital then buy a 3-family. (Reminder: my marketing costs are virtually non-existent and I could possibly mail 2x a month)

2) Buy a duplex relatively soon, rent it out, build equity, refi and then buy a 3-family. (Awesome advice, Joe!)

3) Buy a duplex and still wholesale on the side (this opportunity is almost too good to pass up). Could I then combine refi money and wholesaling capital to then buy an even better property? Thoughts?

Thanks!

 Hi Craig-

Great approach - sounds like House Hacking 101 - checkout this awesome article:

(3) Secrets Everyone Needs to Know about using a 203k Loan - Its Easy!

 Awesome post, Steven. I will begin looking into that.

 Yes, much luck! Its all about getting the right team in place, once you got that, you can tackle any project, Also, check in with your state, they may have an additional program for first time owner occupants. 

What I see here is that you will get some good answers from knowledgeable people and groups BUT without a doubt you really have to make it a point to start your education in this arena. Find whom you will feel comfortable with and start the process of learning asap. Hesitation is not an option! Just Do It! I again wish you well and know you will succeed if you put forth enough energy and confidence. 

@Craig Moore , have you looked at Manchester, NH? Way more affordable than the Boston metro area and still within striking distance. No state income tax, to boot. Not sure what the commute would be for you but I bought a duplex as my first investment / house hack there in 2003 (overpaid since I didn't really know what I was doing) and still have it. My buddy has a 3-plex from about the same time and we both still own them. He makes good money on his while I am just breaking even (but the equity pay down is ramping up now) so if I had to do it again I would go 3-plex or 4-plex. My wife couldn't get behind the idea at the time so we started small. We did an FHA first time buyer program and I think we brought < $10k to closing.

Originally posted by @Will Chamberlin :

@Craig Moore, have you looked at Manchester, NH? Way more affordable than the Boston metro area and still within striking distance. No state income tax, to boot. Not sure what the commute would be for you but I bought a duplex as my first investment / house hack there in 2003 (overpaid since I didn't really know what I was doing) and still have it. My buddy has a 3-plex from about the same time and we both still own them. He makes good money on his while I am just breaking even (but the equity pay down is ramping up now) so if I had to do it again I would go 3-plex or 4-plex. My wife couldn't get behind the idea at the time so we started small. We did an FHA first time buyer program and I think we brought < $10k to closing.

Can you explain this equity pay down? What did you guys do the next year? Refi?

Hey @Craig Moore , we have not refi'd. We lived in it for a year then bought a SFH in Manchester as well. Then we bought another duplex in the center of the city. In 2006 we decided that we were done with winters and sold everything but the first duplex to move to California. I possibly typed without thinking when I said 'equity pay down' as I think it is more correctly 'principal pay down' or 'equity build-up'. My point was that despite getting in to the house for relatively low money down and not cash flowing much historically (plus we put a new roof on it, refinished the wood floors, new front porch, new side porch, etc.), real estate is a very tolerant business if you are in it for the long haul. We are now almost 14 years into the original note and the tenants have paid down about $70k of the loan amount. The ratio of principal to interest is now going up faster and each month we get more and more equity. Once it is paid off in 2033 (probably a couple years sooner since we applied extra principal the first couple years we owned it), we should be grossing over $25k/yr with no mortgage payment plus have $250k+ in equity. Not a big operation like some of the guys on the podcast but also not bad for a $10k initial investment if you can just be patient. If you can start with something bigger like a 3- or 4-plex then you could do even better than that.

I would recommend running the numbers for wherever you are considering in MA and compare to NH to see where it nets out and what you need to get into the property. I haven't lived back east in a while so maybe they work out to basically be the same. Or possibly you are going to get appreciation in MA that is not going to happen in NH which is more valuable to you personally. Our house is worth about the same now as it was when we bought it.

Hope this helps and good luck. Make it happen one way or the other!

I have a few thoughts: 

1.  a duplex, 3 unit, or 4 unit:  forget about deciding which one, and focus on finding ANY one that is in an area you want to live in (or can put up with) and has a property that fits your budget and criteria.  Personally, I wouldn't do the 203k loan because of the restrictions.  they are worse now than when I did one 20 years ago.  Find a dated property that is livable, but that can be gradually improved as you get the money and can do some of the work yourself.  Rent out the other units and improve them first to get increased rents.  Don't spend time agonizing over how many units, spend time looking for a property.  The right number of units is the property that you don't mind living in and can improve and rent out and can afford.    My take is that you are still in the "talking about thinking about it" phase.  Start doing.  Look every day.  

2.  If you want to start wholesaling after you have bought your first property, go for it.  But wholesaling is much much more difficult than everyone makes it out to be.  And requires lots of knowledge and time.  

Originally posted by @Will Chamberlin :

Hey @Craig Moore, we have not refi'd. We lived in it for a year then bought a SFH in Manchester as well. Then we bought another duplex in the center of the city. In 2006 we decided that we were done with winters and sold everything but the first duplex to move to California. I possibly typed without thinking when I said 'equity pay down' as I think it is more correctly 'principal pay down' or 'equity build-up'. My point was that despite getting in to the house for relatively low money down and not cash flowing much historically (plus we put a new roof on it, refinished the wood floors, new front porch, new side porch, etc.), real estate is a very tolerant business if you are in it for the long haul. We are now almost 14 years into the original note and the tenants have paid down about $70k of the loan amount. The ratio of principal to interest is now going up faster and each month we get more and more equity. Once it is paid off in 2033 (probably a couple years sooner since we applied extra principal the first couple years we owned it), we should be grossing over $25k/yr with no mortgage payment plus have $250k+ in equity. Not a big operation like some of the guys on the podcast but also not bad for a $10k initial investment if you can just be patient. If you can start with something bigger like a 3- or 4-plex then you could do even better than that.

I would recommend running the numbers for wherever you are considering in MA and compare to NH to see where it nets out and what you need to get into the property. I haven't lived back east in a while so maybe they work out to basically be the same. Or possibly you are going to get appreciation in MA that is not going to happen in NH which is more valuable to you personally. Our house is worth about the same now as it was when we bought it.

Hope this helps and good luck. Make it happen one way or the other!

 Thanks, Will! I guess I'm confused on one point. How did you guys continue to buy year after year? Did it have anything to do with your first purchase or was it capital saved from personal jobs? It's my understanding that the initial house that folks buy enables them to buy another the next year. Yours didn't cash flow as you stated so did I miss something?

Good question. Both my wife and I were working full-time W-2 jobs with no kids so we were able to put money aside in order to purchase the next couple. For those we went with conventional financing and put 20% down. I think the second duplex was < $100k so it wasn't a huge amount. While we were living in the first duplex, we had the other unit rented out at enough to cover the whole mortgage so we were more or less living for free and able to save up money. I think that is the real advantage of house hacking if you do it right. Not that it will provide for additional purchases, per se, but that not having a monthly rent or mort payment allows you to save more easily for the next one.

@Craig Moore

The strategies that you lay out are very dialed in and specific.  "Buy a 2-fam with 3% down, refi in a year..." versus "Buy a turnkey 3-fam..."   One key thing you're missing is world doesn't generally work with you so well!  You have to have flexibility to do different things to make a good deal work.  Especially in a market like this (at least in the NYC metro area) that has gotten more seller friendly.  

Looking at this from a higher level, I agree with @Al R.  I'm not saying be open to purchasing a strip mall or doing new construction, but go through the exercise of doing a detailed evaluation of a deal on a 2 or 3 or SF home you could buy now.  Taxes, rents, interest, mortgage insurance.   Talk to realtors.  Get on craigslist and look at competing rentals and see what things really rent for.  Doing this exercise is going to help you learn and ultimately will do way more to clarify your strategy as it fits for your life than any of our advice ever could.  

I guarantee people in your area make any and all of those techniques work for them.  The looked in depth and saw what fit their lifestyle, what was available/good deal, and what they liked and found their niche.  You'll find yours too once you just hold your nose and dive in like @Al R. said. 

Originally posted by @Ann Bellamy :

I have a few thoughts: 

1.  a duplex, 3 unit, or 4 unit:  forget about deciding which one, and focus on finding ANY one that is in an area you want to live in (or can put up with) and has a property that fits your budget and criteria.  Personally, I wouldn't do the 203k loan because of the restrictions.  they are worse now than when I did one 20 years ago.  Find a dated property that is livable, but that can be gradually improved as you get the money and can do some of the work yourself.  Rent out the other units and improve them first to get increased rents.  Don't spend time agonizing over how many units, spend time looking for a property.  The right number of units is the property that you don't mind living in and can improve and rent out and can afford.    My take is that you are still in the "talking about thinking about it" phase.  Start doing.  Look every day.  

2.  If you want to start wholesaling after you have bought your first property, go for it.  But wholesaling is much much more difficult than everyone makes it out to be.  And requires lots of knowledge and time.  

 Awesome response, Ann! I am ready to go I just feel like I have my eyes closed. I kind of want to avoid walking into a wall but do not want to be hesitant. I know I need to get started now.

Lots of good options - and I won't repeat what others have said.  

One point I've heard from investors regarding the difference between a 3-family and 2-family, is with a 3-family home, you feel much more like a landlord (more can go wrong, more things to fix, etc...)

On a pure ROI basis, you're usually better with a 3-family. Frankly, along this logic, a 4-family is still considered residential. Lots of ways to skin a cat.

My $0.02, is to take the option that not only has profit, but lower risk, even at the sake of ROI. Sleeping at night, and not worrying about problems (upset tenant, arguing over maintenance, vacancy on a unit and needing to make a mortgage payment, etc...) can be priceless!

Best of luck!

Originally posted by @Ann Bellamy :

I have a few thoughts: 

1.  ...  Personally, I wouldn't do the 203k loan because of the restrictions.  they are worse now than when I did one 20 years ago. 

 203Ks are a pain in the @$$ (take a long time to close, restrictive red tape, sellers generally hate them), BUT one thing to keep in mind is that its not a bad way for someone without renovation experience to start.  The bank looking over your shoulder means you cant really screw it up.  Its a bureaucratic safety net that will give a newbie a really good blue print on dealing with contractors, making a rehab plan, and keeping contractors to a schedule/budget/milestone list.   

That is only generally speaking of course.  Whether or not its good for you depends on several factors.   

@Craig Moore House hacking and BRRRR can be good strategies, however, Option 1 won't work for BRRRR. It leaves out one of the "R's". For that strategy to work, you have to be able to increase value by making repairs and improvements. You can't do that with a turn key or a property that doesn't need much work. You might want to focus on the house hacking financed with and FHA loan with 3.5% down.

@Craig Moore you really come off as motivated, man. I wish I had your mindset when I was younger. I'm also researching real estate investing in order to diversify my portfolio. I'd like to briefly mention the importance of good personal finance habits in order to achieve your investment goals. Make sure, if you're able, that you are putting all available dollars to work through investments. I save well over 50% of my income each year, and invest every cent of it that I can. Like you, I want to have the ability to be a stay at home dad, or just not be reliant on a 9-5. Save as much as possible while still making sure to not deprive yourself of things you enjoy. While researching real estate, don't be afraid to also look into books about investing in general because there are a lot of common themes no matter what asset you invest in. 

With that being said, I think your best bet is the duplex house hack with an FHA loan. Maybe you can find something slightly distressed that could use some minor, superficial work. Maybe a 203k could be used. If you can have a tenant cover costs for you, then you can focus on earning more money through your day job and utilizing leverage to your advantage for your next property. Investing requires patience, so don't rush into things. Be smart and make sure you keep your risk at appropriate levels, so you don't set yourself back too far if things go south. Good luck man.

Hi Craig,did you look into Mass Housing loan,5% down,but no PMI that an FHA loan requires.The APR is bit higher,but your final payment would still be lower than the FHA one.I am personlly pre-approved for a Mass Housing loan,but I still can't find the 2-family house where the numbers work.

I am just being patient,but also ready to pull the triger.

Hi Craig,did you look into Mass Housing loan,5% down,but no PMI that an FHA loan requires.The APR is bit higher,but your final payment would still be lower than the FHA one.I am personlly pre-approved for a Mass Housing loan,but I still can't find the 2-family house where the numbers work.

I am just being patient,but also ready to pull the triger.

Originally posted by @Sean Tracey :

@Craig Moore you really come off as motivated, man. I wish I had your mindset when I was younger. I'm also researching real estate investing in order to diversify my portfolio. I'd like to briefly mention the importance of good personal finance habits in order to achieve your investment goals. Make sure, if you're able, that you are putting all available dollars to work through investments. I save well over 50% of my income each year, and invest every cent of it that I can. Like you, I want to have the ability to be a stay at home dad, or just not be reliant on a 9-5. Save as much as possible while still making sure to not deprive yourself of things you enjoy. While researching real estate, don't be afraid to also look into books about investing in general because there are a lot of common themes no matter what asset you invest in. 

With that being said, I think your best bet is the duplex house hack with an FHA loan. Maybe you can find something slightly distressed that could use some minor, superficial work. Maybe a 203k could be used. If you can have a tenant cover costs for you, then you can focus on earning more money through your day job and utilizing leverage to your advantage for your next property. Investing requires patience, so don't rush into things. Be smart and make sure you keep your risk at appropriate levels, so you don't set yourself back too far if things go south. Good luck man.

 Awesome response, Sean! I appreciate your kind words and I too hope you achieve all that you set out to achieve. I was either looking at a duplex or a triple decker. But, for a starter, I may opt for the duplex. A slower, easier process for me. We will see overtime what happens. Hopefully I can get some seller financing.