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Alana Reynolds
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Jacksonville Florida
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House Hacking to the max

Alana Reynolds
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Jacksonville Florida
Posted Nov 11 2023, 07:12

Hello everyone. My husband and I met in the Coast Guard, married and just had our first baby. We are 25 and 24 yrs old. I used my VA loan to buy a 4 plex in 2020 and still own it today, it cash flows about 2k. My husband bought a home and renovated it while he lived there. He purchased it for 180k and sold it 2 yrs later for 330k. I got kicked out last year for not getting the covid shot. We moved to Florida on his orders and bought a home here. Spent most of the flip money on the house. I got back in active duty, they offered my job back a year after being out.

In our current home, we made the garage into a studio apartment and are renting both the 2 bed 1 bath side and soon the studio too. We made the mistake of buying a brand new Toyota and a 41 ft camper (financed). Should have bought used. The plan was to live in the camper while renovating homes so we are living in the camper on the same property we are renting out our "dueplex". The rents will cover the home mortgage and the car payment. 

Wondering if we should sell the Toyota and camper to get rid of debt and buy another VA loan house to hack or just save up money and stay in the camper.

If we bought another house the mortgage would be low 7% interest and on a 350k-385k home our mortgage would be about 3 thousand (Anything cheaper is a less desirable location or unlivable). We have a roommate lined up who would pay $1,100 towards it. In the long game, we will rent each bedroom if we have to in order to cover the mortgage when we move again. 

Looking for creative options too like an assumable mortgage. We live in the Jacksonville FL area if anyone has something they want to sell. 

Or we can stay in the camper and put 5k in savings every month. Only have 30k in savings currently, this would not be enough for a hard money flip or regular rehab. I want to keep it for reserves.  

The goal is to get financially free and sustained by rental properties asap. I want to be a stay at home mom and plan to get back out in 3.5 years So I need to make the best of the double income currently. 10k a month in cashflow from would be great, currently at about 3k. My goal was purchase 1 property a year and its about that time but I am worried about being over leveraged and uncertain about the market. It seems like a great time to sit on the sidelines and save up cash for when/if prices drop. What are your thoughts on this, I'd love to chat. 

May be an image of 2 people and baby

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Andrew Postell
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Andrew Postell
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Replied Nov 11 2023, 14:24

@Alana Reynolds read this HERE and see what you think.

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Andrew Postell
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Andrew Postell
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Replied Nov 11 2023, 14:26

@Alana Reynolds maybe this podcast HERE

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Vitaliy Volpov
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  • Albany, NY
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Vitaliy Volpov
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  • Investor
  • Albany, NY
Replied Nov 12 2023, 11:50

Hi @Alana Reynolds,

Honestly, I think you guys are already doing amazing! Being in the position you are already in at 25 and 24 years old is probalby ahead of 99% of people your age.  

If you are currently banking $5k per month from your rentals, you have a lot of room to breathe and don't have to rush into anything that doesn't feel right. You mentioned buying another house with a VA loan if you sell your car and your camper. If you did that, does that additional house have to be a single family? Can you find a multi-family house (2-4 units)? Would you be comfortable living in one of those units for a while with your growing family (congrats on the new baby btw!)? I would think that it would probably be more comfortable to do that than living in a camper, but maybe not as comfortable as a single family house.

I don't think any of your options are bad.  If you don't change anything you are doing for the next 12 months, you'll add another $60k in savings to the $30k you already have.  That's not a bad outcome and will give you even more flexibility 12 months from now.  Are you comfortable living in the camper with the baby for the near term?

I think you might be at a point where comfort for you and your family should play a bigger role than it did before when it was just the two of you.  I would factor that into the equation in figuring out your next move.  But, like I said, I think you're in a very good position and I don't think you can really go wrong from a financial standpoint either way.  
 

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Ryan Thomson#1 House Hacking Contributor
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Colorado Springs, CO
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Ryan Thomson#1 House Hacking Contributor
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Colorado Springs, CO
Replied Nov 13 2023, 07:57

@Alana Reynolds Nice work! Y'all are in an amazing spot at 24 and 25. Be proud of that. 

If your goal is long term cashflow and financial freedom than trading in two depreciating assets for one that appreciates and helps you scale towards that 10k vision in the future seems like the right move towards your goals. 

To your worry about being "over-leveraged". I know that's a scary word and probably one that family or friends (who probably don't understand what you are doing) have said to you in a warning of caution. However, if your cashflow is covering your assets that's a pretty safe position to be in. 

The equity from owning that next home can be used, down the line, to buy the next investment property/House Hack. The truck and camper are just losing value every month.


Enjoying life is also important and I bet that camper is a big part of that. However, based on what you stated your goals are I think buying the next house sounds like a better option to reach those goals.  

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Sean Hudgins
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  • Real Estate Agent
  • Chesapeake Va
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Sean Hudgins
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  • Real Estate Agent
  • Chesapeake Va
Replied Nov 14 2023, 05:53

As others here have already said, CONGRATS! You all are doing great and have a fantastic mindset. 

I love that you are in Jacksonville because you have a large military concentration there with the Navy base. If the end goal is financial freedom ASAP, trading in the depreciating asset for a cash-flowing appreciating one is a great idea. 

I would love to throw out an idea on how you do that. You have a place to live now in the camper; find a great agent in the area who is familiar with the VA Assumption process. You are in an excellent position to try and find an assumption deal since you have the eligibility to trade. The only thing that will slow down the process is only having 30k in savings. Be patient and try to find a deal where the seller has very little equity or look into a HELOC on one of the other properties or a lender willing to do a second position mortgage on a va assumption. However you approach it, take the time to find that assumption deal and get one of those low rates.

While you are in that search process, if you can find a big home that could support some rent by the room, it sounds like you already have a roommate lined up. You are also close to the beach, so have you considered STR or house hacking an STR home? You may want to keep the camper, buy a home near the beach, and stay in the camper on the weekends when you have Airbnb guests.

@Ryan Thomson has a good point as well. Don't worry so much about what your friends and family are telling you about being over-leveraged. You have a dual income and cash-flowing assets; now is the time to leverage and take a little risk. From someone who went from dual O-3 pay no kids to self-employed and a stay-at-home mom of 2, I wish I had taken more risk when we had the dual income.

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Julien Jeannot#5 House Hacking Contributor
  • CPA, Real Estate Broker & Investor
  • Seattle & Woodinville, WA
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Julien Jeannot#5 House Hacking Contributor
  • CPA, Real Estate Broker & Investor
  • Seattle & Woodinville, WA
Replied Nov 14 2023, 08:21

@Alana Reynolds

Well done. Keep it up!

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John Mausteller
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Outer Banks, NC
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John Mausteller
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Outer Banks, NC
Replied Nov 14 2023, 08:29

I will mimick what everyone else is saying!  Congrats!  


I think you have a variety of options and all of them are good paths. If you could find another multi family and get a VA loan on it, that is probably what I would choose. I think with having a new baby, I would rather the multi family than a roommate. While you wait for a multi family, I would continue living in the camper. Once you find the multi family, you could even keep the camper and place it for rent on something like Outdoorsy. Since you are in Jacksonville - you could offer to trailer it and drop it at various state parks nearby (Little Talbot Island State Park, Fort Clinch State Park, etc). I know people who have done this other places in Florida and end up making good money - that pays off the camper AND then cash flows and it is relatively easy! There are lots of people who want to go 'camping' but do not have an RV or do not want to trailer one. Having it dropped at the campsite, and picked up - is so easy. Plus once you are a stay at home mom - that could be your side income, easy to clean them after check outs. Just an idea...

Congrats on your new family and how far you all have already come at such a young age! 

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Alana Reynolds
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Jacksonville Florida
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Alana Reynolds
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Jacksonville Florida
Replied Mar 2 2024, 13:00

Hey I wanted to follow up with your comments. We ended up buying a home with the VA and getting a roommate to house hack. The camper I am renting on airbnb. The home we live in now we plan on renting on airbnb after living here for 1 year and moving again to another house possibly. We are still putting 5k in savings every month and feel pretty comfortable. It feels like a slow rate of growth but it is working for now.

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Wale Lawal
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Wale Lawal
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Replied Mar 4 2024, 05:43

@Alana Reynolds

Congratulations on your real estate journey and the steps you've taken so far! It's clear that you and your husband are ambitious and have a strategic approach to building wealth through real estate.

Here are some considerations based on the information you provided:

Risk Tolerance: Evaluate your comfort level with debt and your degree of risk tolerance. Leverage can speed up the accumulation of wealth, but it also raises danger.

Cash Flow: Keep your real estate investments centered around cash flow. Your properties will always have positive cash flow if they are bringing in enough money to pay for their costs and put money aside.

Networking: Take into account joining online forums, going to real estate meetups, or networking with nearby real estate experts. Local knowledge might be helpful, particularly when thinking about niche markets.

Expert Advice: Considering the intricacy of your circumstances, consulting a financial adviser or a real estate specialist can offer tailored recommendations based on your unique objectives and position.

Remember that every real estate decision should align with your long-term goals and risk tolerance. Evaluating your options, considering different scenarios, and staying informed about market conditions will contribute to making sound investment decisions.

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Vitaliy Volpov
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Vitaliy Volpov
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Replied Mar 4 2024, 11:12
Quote from @Alana Reynolds:

Hey I wanted to follow up with your comments. We ended up buying a home with the VA and getting a roommate to house hack. The camper I am renting on airbnb. The home we live in now we plan on renting on airbnb after living here for 1 year and moving again to another house possibly. We are still putting 5k in savings every month and feel pretty comfortable. It feels like a slow rate of growth but it is working for now.

Congratulations, Alana!

Vitaliy