How I Found & Financed My Second House Hack in the Hot Market of Denver, CO

by | BiggerPockets.com

In the past couple of years, I have talked to hundreds (if not thousands) of aspiring real estate investors looking to house hack. What have I found? Most can’t find a deal.

Why?

Because they can’t find a duplex within their price range. Or if they do, there is no way the rent from the other half will cover the mortgage. If this is you, don’t worry. You are not alone. I can confirm that there are thousands of you throughout the United States with the same problem.

The goal of this article is to help the aspiring house hacker solve this problem. Why me? Well, I live in Denver, which is a fairly expensive market. But for the past two years, I was able to get creative and house hack in such a way that I cash flow $1,000 or more each month for each property.

For my first property, I purchased a 2-bed/2-bath duplex (1/1 each). I made a quasi-bedroom out of the living room, where I slept. This enabled me to rent out the top unit AND my bedroom. For more details on this deal, check out this blog post.

I know this sounds crazy, and I do not expect everyone to do this. However, because of this, I was able to save up for my next property, and just like that, one year later, I purchased my second house hack.

The second one is a 5-bed/2-bath single-family property about 10 miles from the office. This article is going to dive into the second house hack. It will explain how I found it, how I financed it, and how I hacked it with all of the numbers.



Related: 6 Different Ways to Hack Your Housing (Find One That Works for You!)

How Did I Find & Finance My House Hack?

I found it on the MLS. With the strategy I was planning on deploying, almost all of the properties under my search criteria would have worked. So the golden nugget here is—what was my strategy?

Well, my plan was to find a single-family residence that I could do a 5% down conventional loan on. I wanted my own bedroom, so I knew that I wanted to occupy one room while renting out the other four. I knew I could get much more in rent by renting by the room, and I certainly did not mind living with roommates. I’ve done it my entire life.

With that being said, I am an agent so I set up my criteria to be a 1,900+ square foot house with 3+ bedrooms and 2+ bathrooms. I know I just said I was looking for a 5-bedroom place, so why would I set my search criteria for three?

There is a high probability that a house with more than 1,900 square feet either has non-conforming bedrooms OR an unfinished basement where bedrooms can be added. By either adding or conforming bedrooms, you add significant value to your house as well as the ability to increase total rent for the property.

With that search, I saw many properties pop up that I liked. I made offers on seven of them—and finally, one was accepted.

The Property & Numbers

Let’s do more of a deep dive into the property itself. I ended up finding a place that was a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom raised ranch on the Thornton side of the Denver/Thornton border. I intentionally purchased a place that was close to a bike path so I could continue biking into work.

The property was listed at $350,000, and we negotiated it down to $343,000. I put $17,000 (5%) down and then another $13,000 into the rehab. The rehab was not anything major—just a few minor things that added up, including adding a bedroom, installing a new garage door, putting ventilation in the downstairs bathroom, re-working some electrical, and adding a closet downstairs. After the rehab, I was all in for about $30,000.

With the 5% down loan, my monthly payments (includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) were about $2,000, and I was able to rent the other four rooms for a total of $3,100 per month. I set aside $400 to add to my reserves and am cash flowing $700 per month while living for free. Not too shabby.

Quick tip: In the Denver area, I have found that Facebook Marketplace has surpassed Craigslist in terms of getting people interested in renting rooms. So if you’re looking for or trying to rent a room, I strongly suggest Facebook Marketplace.

life-hacking

Related: How I Hacked a Half-Million Dollar House in LA as a Full-time Student & Violinist

Conclusion

There you have it. My second house hack. This really isn’t anything too out of the ordinary, which is why this has been one of my shortest blog posts.

To recap: I bought a single family home that was listed as a 4-bed/2-bath. I rehabbed it to turn it into a 5-bed/2-bath such that I could occupy one room and rent out the other four. I make about $1,100 over the mortgage and about $700 after I set aside the reserves. What do I do with that $700? I certainly don’t go out and buy the latest iPhone or Fitbit. Instead, I plan to save it for the next deal.

With that being said, stay tuned. I plan to buy another house hack in 2019 and when I do, I will be sure to share all of the details with everyone.

Any questions about this deal? Think it’s possible in your market?

Weigh in below!

About Author

Craig Curelop

After developing a huge love for real estate investing and personal finance, Craig decided to join the BiggerPockets team as a financial analyst. Over the past few years, he has looked at hundreds of financial models of startup companies. His experience will help BiggerPockets reach the next level as a startup company. Craig has a passion for helping others get out of their “comfort zones” to get what they want and achieve the “impossible.” In his spare time, Craig enjoys traveling, hiking, exercising, and sports of all kinds.

17 Comments

  1. Sarah Thompson

    Hi Craig, your ideas inspire me the most! I am curious when you leave, do you plan on continuing to rent it by the room and if so, how do you think about the personalities of the tenants mixing together when you consider a new applicant? Also, how do you handle house rules and responsibilities? I think I heard on a podcast that you rent to a lot of BiggerPockets employees, so maybe it’s less of an issue, but I wonder about the culture of a house when I think about that many adults living together. Can’t wait to hear about your next house!

    • Craig Curelop

      Hey Sarah – I am glad that the article leaves an impact on you. When I leave, at least for the foreseeable future, I do plan to continue renting by the room.

      When I put up a listing, I am sure to leave a description about the roommates and the culture of the house. Usually this tends to attract similar people and I have not yet had a problem…. granted I’m only on my first set of roommates. I’ll be sure to screen the tenants carefully, talk to them on the phone, and have one of the current tenants do the showing. That way they can meet their potential roommate and let me know what they think.

  2. Chan M Stagg

    Hi Craig,
    The numbers all make sense in your article. Of course, if you can find reliable people and rent out 5 bedrooms to each person with no problems then you have a small miracle on your hands. But then, what you dont get into is any details about how do you get a good loan with only 5% down on an investment property? I have been doing this for a while now and even hard money lenders that want to charge excess APR and points will not do a loan for only 5% down. Now I am in Florida, is it that much different for lenders in CO?

    • Craig Curelop

      Hey Chan,

      Thanks for the comment. I’m not sure it’s as an unlikely scenario as you may think. I know lots of people doing this and I have not had a problem renting out the place. Usually, the demographic of people are young professionals looking for friends and an inexpensive place to live.

      I know Fannie and Freddie offer 5% down, owner-occupied, conventional loans for single family residences. This is what I did and it worked out nicely.

      Hope this answers your questions.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hey Angela, great question! Yes – I did have $30k saved up and this is definitely the hardest part. I was able to save it up because I house hacked in year one and also rented out my car. By actually making money on my two largest expenses (housing and transportation), I was able to save well over 50% of my salary.

      If you are in search for your first house hack, you will need to buckle down and start saving likely for a couple of years before you have enough to put down for your first one. That comes mainly from finding the cheapest possible place to live, eliminating transportation through biking or walking, and being careful about how much you go out to eat.

  3. Paul A.

    Nice! What is your exit strategy in 5 years? When you have a wife and kids (maybe) or your life situation doesn’t warrant renting out 4 other rooms?

    Are you renting out to another family? Can you get similar rent? Or are you looking to sell it as an SFR? Hopefully the market stays hot up there?

    I’m living in a duplex now with 3br/1.5 ba and I know when I leave I just stick the for rent sign in the front lawn, but it is a little more tricky with renting rooms.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hey Paul – Yes this is certainly not going to be a forever scenario. I am just taking advantage of my situation right now. Young and single.

      When I have a wife and kids, my living situation will of course be much different. We will have a house to ourselves. Maybe I’ll put up a separate unit to AirBnb…. if I can’t resist haha.

      When I move out, I am going to continue renting by the room. This is simply because it cash flows much much better. Once I get to the point where I have enough properties to satisfy my living, I will start thinking about renting just to a family or perhaps selling all together? Who know?

      Yeah – I don’t have a “for rent” sign that I stick up. I just put an advertisement up on Facebook marketplace and that seems to do the trick.

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