My very first post on Bigger Pockets. Been reading books and listening to the BP Podcast like crazy. I've recently gotten a serving job, and in my first month have put away $2,200 in savings ranging from my IRA to my first property down payment (huge "You Need A Budget" plug here www.youneedabudget.com).
First of all, I know I'm young, but I'm here to learn. I'm a 21-year-old in AFROTC who will graduate in May 2019. I don't currently have much saved up, been putting most of it into a Roth IRA, but I plan to have somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000 saved up by the time I commission. I'm hoping that this will be enough to put a down payment, and have some cash reserves left over. I don't think I can use the USAA loan or the new lieutenant loan because it would be for investing purposes. Anyone have insight on this?
I'm posting to military investing because I'm curious if anyone has used the following technique: I want to buy a quadplex either where I live now or at my first base, live in one of the units, and landlord the other 3. Has anyone done this before, what are the pros and cons? What did you do once you PCS'd to your next base? How much did your property management company charge you to take over, or how much do they usually charge? If I could have a cash flow that covered my rent, plus more, plus BAH, I'd be elated, but of course this is all hypothetical because it could be 3 years before I reach my first duty station (Intel. Tech School is super backed up).
Great idea @Jonathan Westerdale I wish I would have started that young!
Jonathan, great job squirreling away money toward a goal you've done a pretty good job of sketching out. I'd say your general idea is very much viable. Typically you need to serve on active duty for 6 months to qualify for a VA Loan. Since it sounds like you'll have some schooling post commission, you should be fine qualifying for a VA Loan once you finally make it to your first duty station. That'd allow you to put 0% down on up to 4 units. The max VA guarantee typically covers a mortgage of ~$426k, but it can be higher in more expensive areas. This is a great post on using the VA Loan to build up a rental portfolio.
So, depending on where you end up, you could use a VA Loan to buy a quadplex for very little money out of pocket at your first duty station and occupy one unit while renting out the others. The USAA Career Starter Loan can be used for whatever you want, really, and only takes a few clicks (or at least it did when I took mine out in 2013). I used mine as the down payment on my first rental. It sounds like, in your situation, you could use it as funds toward fixing up/improving your quadplex. So, yes, you can use it for investing.
Once you PCS, you'd rent out the unit you were living in. Darrell (who wrote the post linked to above) self manages his units, which isn't all that uncommon. Elizabeth Colegrove has written a bunch of stuff on this site and has been on the BP podcast and she's managed her family's rental portfolio long distance while living a military family lifestyle. So, if you want to continue to manage yourself, it's doable.
You could also turn it over to a property manager. The details will vary PM to PM, but typically: placement fees (finding a tenant) range from 1/2-1 month's rent, monthly fees range from 8-10%/month, tenant renewal fees are a couple hundred bucks, and a repair/maintenance fee could be 10-20% of the cost of the repair. You'd work out the details with a property manager in the Property Management Agreement you sign with them. There is also the option of hiring out just the tenant placement, where you'd pay a realtor or property manager a fee to find and place a tenant and you'd do all the rest. This isn't meant to give you all the answers, but to show you that there are a lot of options out there to pull from in order to make something work for your situation.
This is more general info, and I encourage you to check out the other forums and member blogs to read about people operating in residential multi-family and landlording. I'd also check out all the relevant BP podcasts and the BP books and if you haven't already, check out every real estate investing book you can find in your local and/or school library. As you read through the forum posts, you'll probably find a few people who reliably post answers to questions you have. Those folks would be worth reaching out to with a colleague request. Most folks are on BP to help and are more than willing to share their experience. You can also get a whole education by just reading certain people's forum responses over time. I liken it to reading all of Warren Buffett's shareholder letters - I've learned more about business and investing from the several hours I've spent reading those than I did in 4 years of business school.
Hopefully this is a good starting out point for you. What you're envisioning is definitely doable. Start wearing out that search function on BP, diving into the resources available to you, and build up the knowledge you'll need to be ready to take action when you commission and finally make it to your first duty station.
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