HOUSE HACKING .. what is it?

10 Replies

Ok I've been seeing the term "house hacking" more and more lately, can someone explain to me what it is? It seems as though there are different variations. 

House Hacking is generally when you purchase a property and you live in while you also rent out part of the property.

Say you have a duplex you've purchased, while you are still fixing it up, you rent out part of it.

You can go to the following link and learn more about it:

Hope that helps answer your questions. 

Have roommates rent rooms so you arer left with a small mortgage payment (or make money). 

I have two roommates that pay 1500 a month and I'm now able to save a lot because of it.

It is when you take a chainsaw to your living room... JK 

It seems it has been used rather broadly to talk about cutting down your personal expnces through realestate investing.  Example: roommates to share lease, live in flip, buying a live in multifamily. 

@Joshua D.  

 Thanks guys! That was quick. That's what I thought it was, but I've seen others use the term in different situations so thought I'd get clarification since I'm a moderator, I need to keep up! 

Hello BP! My first official post! I suppose I'm a house hacker. I've been renting rooms in my home for the past 10 years. I currently charge $800 per room. I have two rooms, so that's $19,200 a year. My goal is to save for a down payment on a second home - move in (sorta), and rent the spare rooms. The first home, I would continue to rent the rooms, and also rent the master bedroom. Then, after I've met the 1 year requirement, I'll rent the second home out, and move back into the first. This keeps the friction of moving all my stuff back and forth, and allows me to retain my housemates in the first home. Then, I just rinse and repeat until I reach my goal of (5) homes - four rentals and 1 primary.


1. Does this sound feasible?

2. Should I find a third tenant for the second home once I move back to the first home,  or find a family? I'm leaning to a family for the stability of that. Also, I wouldn't have to "keep an eye" on the place as much as three separate tenants.. Thoughts?

Just wondering how your plan is going.

Hi Karen,
Brandon turner wrote a post on this called house hacking 101. It should answer your question.

In the Utah market, the distinction lies in "owner occupied accessory apartment" vs "legal duplex."  It is common to live in a home and rent out a basement or portion of the home - and most municipalities have Planning and Zoning language that defines and supports this, but to assume one can later move out of said property and rent out various, multiple "chunks" of the home is a fallacy, if it is not a legal duplex.  (At least, if you are planning to do it legally).  

Have others found the same dichotomy in their markets?  I've even gone to see properties that were listed as "Legal Triplex," only to find out that it's just a glorified "accessory apartment" that can only be rented out IF THE OWNER OCCUPIES the property.  (Even the realtors are caught up in the conundrum - and the less educated ones (or less ethical) are exploiting the system).

My .02

Arlington, VA has what "they" call an "Anti-bordello" law which stated no more than 4 unrelated people can reside in a single family zoned house. Interesting way and historical 'reason" now used to prevent out of control group rentals in neighborhoods. We like these type rentals a lot. We have one, which we bought in 2000, and have 4 unrelated renters, and have never had a SINGLE DAY OF VACANCY in the 17 years ! Why? Because we make ALL sign the lease and each of the 4 is therefore individually and severally liable for the entire $2,600 monthly rent. It makes them seek out and find replacement tenants when necessary all on their own, subject to our approval, of course, and then the new one also must sign the lease. The house is worth over $700K, in a upscale neighborhood (many years ago the Secretary of the Navy lived 3 doors down the street, etc). (I bought it with seller financing for $167K and put $40K into rehab and creating an apartment in basement). Our rent is probably $400 under market, and has not changed since we owned it. Never a complaint either, and the tenants are mostly professionals in their 30's. Amazing.

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