College students wanting to house hack

23 Replies

Hello Bigger Pockets. My wife and I are currently studying at BYU and we are wanting to get into real estate as soon as it makes sense for us. We both have part-time jobs, working a combined 40+ hours a week, on top of being full-time students. We are paying cash for all schooling expenses and don’t have any debt. I’m an avid listener of the podcast and will be watching the webinar hosted this week on the topic of buying small multi-family properties.

We are hoping to find a duplex where we can live in the basement and rent out the top floor of the home. Neither of us have family or many connections in Utah outside of other college students. We are wondering what recommendations everyone has in finding a realtor and what the first steps would be in this process? What are some books/forums you would recommend for us to read and prepare ourselves for the day when we are ready to purchase a home? Is there any other advice you would give to young couples looking to get into the real estate world?

Thanks for all the help!

@Derek Herbst - I think it is brilliant that you are thinking of this while still in college and trying to figure out how to get into real estate at a young age. I agree with Daniel, talk to a few lenders to see what you need to qualify for a loan. When my wife and I started out the first thing we did was put together a budget and tracked it religiously. This made a huge difference in our financial lives, we quickly realized some places where we could cut back and save money. We set it up so we live on 70% of our income and save 20% for savings and investing and then give 10% to charity. When we did this we already had a home and a couple kids. With you being in college and both working full time, you could potentially live on 50% of your income or less. That would make a huge difference in saving up money for a down payment to get into a home. Good luck in your search.

@Derek Herbst - Purchasing a multi-family in Provo is challenging because you are competing against a lot of other investors.  If you aren't having any luck with a multi-family, you may want to consider a single family home with a mother-in-law/accessory apartment.  Check with the city first and follow the zoning laws, but this could allow you to get into a place for much cheaper and have much less competition.  The main drawback in these is if you decide to move out, you technically can't rent out both units since you no longer live there.

Find a real estate agent that will work on your schedule and not pass you off to an assistant. Ask about this in your first call. If they cant agree, find the next one. As far as renting out a portion, ensure that everything is official and on paper. As you are student some people may assume this is a flexible situation and maybe they can go home and break the lease when the semester ends. Ensure they are aware that they are in a lease with actual terms.

@Derek Herbst I’ve had a lot of success with referrals from people I trust when looking for a lender/realtor/CPA/etc.

So you are already pre-qualified ?

@Derek Herbst First things first, I love ambitious couples! I would search for investor-friendly agents on BP in your area and just start talking with them. This will allow you to ask questions, weed them out and find a good fit for you. Here in Texas, I have a lot of difficulties with my clients trying to house hack with FHA because sellers shy away from that type of loan. This is just something to keep in mind. It's great you guys don't have debt but make sure to try and leverage your money as much as possible so it ends up working for you in the end. Keep listening to podcasts and browsing the forums for information! Good luck!

@Derek Herbst

I'm doing the same thing. I would recommend having as much money as you can so that when you have a property that you also have the reserves in case something happens or to be able to make improvements to the home so you can increase rents (like the BRRRR Method). The best way to have 10s of thousands ready for this would be to do summer sales. I'm currently interviewing with a couple companies to see who can teach me the most about real estate (mentor) as well as help me get the capital i need. I figured that if I sacrifice 1-3 of my Summers, then I could start investing a lot faster than working a W-2 job without a degree. Reach out if you want to know more. 4253448116 I've been studying real estate non stop since May.

@Derek Herbst this is an awesome idea. i house hacked a duplex when i was younger and rented out all of the other bedrooms. it is almost hard to mess that up. i miss house hacking! let me know how i can help. happy to share experiences. i have written a few BP blogs on rent by the room (which is all i do these days), so you may find that helpful. the blogs also detail some of my experiences. feel free to send a message too. 

Originally posted by @Derek Herbst :

@Daniel Haberkost

I should have mentioned in the post. We have met and discussed financials with one lender, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to talk to others. What’s the best way to research different lenders?

I would just google local credit unions in provo/orem and call a few of them. I have had good experiences with credit unions and they can be better to work with. If you have a costco membership you can also get quotes through their website. I did that on a refinance once and had a really good experience.


I've written two pieces on student housing you might find helpful, which might make sense for you given you're, well, currently students:

I hope that helps!

@Derek Herbst - The first step in this process is finding a good lender. You want to get pre-approved so you can tell your agent what you can afford. In terms of finding a good agent and lender, I would recommend going through BiggerPockets. You can go to the Network > Real Estate Agents. There you will find a bunch of agents who care enough to be on BiggerPockets. 

I would start with agents who post a lot and have a lot of votes. That means they are going above and beyond the call of duty. Additionally, read what they post. If they have some sort of investing experience that's always a plus. Look to see how many deals they've done, if they are investors themselves, etc. 

At the end of the day, finding a realtor is a funnel. The more people you meet, the higher odds that you will get the best one. So I would recommend reaching out to 3-5 realtors every day. Set up a call or a coffee meeting and meet your match that way. 

@Derek Herbst welcome to the Provo real estate world! Lots of solid advice already on here from others, but wanted to add a few other cents:

-If you like, send me a message and I can refer you to a local realtor and lender that we've enjoyed working with and have had good success so far on 2 deals 

-I'm also an advocate of rent-by-the-room, especially here in Provo. It IS harder and a little more awkward when you are married, but it can be well worth the inconvenience. My wife and I have rented out the extra rooms in our current home for the last 5 years to friends, students, relatives, and other married couples... and we have loved not paying a monthly! 

-The Book on Rental Property Investing here at BP is a great book to start with. Gives you an overview of all the different aspects of real estate and tons of general advice which can help you narrow down where you want to start. Like many have said, pick something that interests you and focus on it until you become an expert at it. 

Good luck! 

@Derek Herbst I'd make sure to work with a realtor that has a an investment understanding and also connect with someone that can help you run numbers on properties.  A local meet up might up might connect you with someone that will teach you the correct vacancy and insurance estimates into your numbers. I'd pay someone for the spreadsheet they use with local  factors so you quickly run the numbers on deals that pop up on the market! 

@Derek Herbst Your comment is packed full of questions!

First, yes and yes, I think you and your wife should go for it!

To answer your questions

We are wondering what recommendations everyone has in finding a realtor and what the first steps would be in this process?

I think you can start looking on and filter to Multifamily and then start reaching out to agents. You can find the properties first and then the Realtor. That is ok

What are some books/forums you would recommend for us to read?

In Investing in Duplexes, Triplexes and Quads: The Fastest and Safest Way to Real Estate Wealth by Larry B. Loftis is my all-time favourite for Small MF!

Forum: You are already one of the best if not THE BEST: BiggerPockets!

Is there any other advice you would give to young couples looking to get into the real estate world?

Appreciate that it is a long term process to build wealth and it is ok to make mistakes along the way. Of course, coming on here is ONE way to mitigate your risks but at the end of the day, we all would learn by doing too!

@Derek Herbst Welcome to BP! We have alot in common - my wife and I are finishing up at BYU and are currently doing a house hack here in Provo. I've helped many other BYU students house hack here in Provo/Orem as a real estate agent. Feel free to reach out - I'd be happy to share about our experience and how to create deals in this market. 

@Derek Herbst

You don't need another book right now. You sound ready for action. Save up that down payment and start talking to agents and lenders. An FHA loan is probably your best bet, although if you can swing 5% down conventional may be better.

HOT TAKE HERE , but I speak from experience: College is the absolute best time to start and take that initial risk. You are living for cheap, don't have a family depending on you, don't have kids or a spouse (likely), and you have a lot more time than you think. That's what made me jump in so young. I started with wholesaling, but then realized rentals aren't that scary if you can find a seller financing deal. My advice, start trying to source your own deals, even if you don't want to wholesale. It's likely these will be the best deals you will find. Try to get a seller financing deal, and if not, FHA might be a good option. Rentals, and especially house hacking, isn't that scary. Find a deal that works for you - don't search for the "perfect" deal, because there's never one. Jump in, and take that initial risk while nobody is depending on you. It's going to be hard to fail a house hack!

@Derek Herbst  So much good advice here!  I agree with the others that now is the time for you to take action!  My husband and I bought our first property quickly after we got married, and we later converted that into what has been a great rental.  It really set us up for success, but we could have done so much better if we had chosen to house hack instead.  Not ever paying a mortgage will set you up for success and acquiring more investments and is a great move.  It's a great strategy in our current market, whether you decide you want a traditional multi-family or a mother-in-law/apartment property.  I rent my basement in my current home and absolutely love it!  I only wish I had done it sooner.  I am happy to talk anytime about what I have seen in our market and what I have been doing as well.  Best of luck! 

@Derek Herbst - hey Derek, contests to you and your wife for thinking big so early in life. Check out government-supported, FHA loans that require only about a 3.5% downpayment. Also, if you live near a metropolis, see if you can chunk out some time to go to local real estate investing meetings. There is a large off-market inventory of homes where can end up saving money on possibly some realtor fees, even if you want to work with your own realtor for help navigating this territory. Consider that it can be done without a realtor, but you'll want someone trustworthy to make sure you get the right inspections done, rehab estimates, and a good handle on the market value of versus purchase price of your home.

Also, Chris Hubbel (sp?) of Inked Realty here in Michigan has some great educational videos for first time home buyers. He may have some content to start you off in thinking about purchasing and working with a realtor.

Good luck!