It’s been a little while since I last wrote an article for this blog. That’s because Patrisha and I relocated the family from Lima, OH to Chandler, AZ, which has been a trip—especially considering we still have our portfolio in Ohio.
Upon arrival, we rented an apartment for eight months, and I got busy figuring out what to do about our permanent living arrangements, while Patrisha became an agent with Keller almost immediately. The second month in Chandler, we had what I can only describe as one of the most challenging months for our Ohio portfolio. We experienced issues with physical vacancy, economic losses, and CapEx. It was nuts! Ohio was saying goodbye to us.
And still, the issue of a permanent living situation loomed. Should I buy some investments first and bridge into a primary later? Should I not worry, rent, and be free? Should I do a traditional house hack? Should I do a live-in flip?
Well, before we go on, I must illuminate some realities to the likely readers. You see, if I were to take a guess, I’d say that much of the BiggerPockets audience today is very likely young and inexperienced. That being said, let me explain something to you.
When you grow up, you will hopefully meet a nice partner. They will support you and your dreams because they love you. More than likely, they will eat a lot of proverbial crap standing by you and facilitating your success. And when you do finally make something happen, it’ll be time to pay up.
If you are smart, you will have learned by then that you only get one mistake from them, and they already made it—they married you. They won’t make another mistake, and they sure as hell won’t make the mistake of sleeping on a futon so you can hack your way at life and save a penny. Won’t fly, friends!
But I know the two of you. Having someone pay for your life is in your DNA, as it is in mine, and that’s cool. I can’t blame you there. We can’t all be like Brandon Turner, buy the biggest house in Podunk, and fork the mortgage over out of our pocket.
But back to the story. Having landed in the middle of one of the hottest markets in the United States, I knew I had to do something creative, and my wife was not up for any of Scott Trench’s schemes. She needed a house, and it had better be a nice house. She got one!
Related: Meet Tim: How One Newbie Investor House Hacked a Duplex With No Prior Experience
What I figured out in the end surprised even me with its elegance (and I don’t often get surprised at my own brilliance, as I am quite used to it).
4 Theories on Home Buying vs. Renting
- Robert Kiyosaki says: Your house is a liability.
- Brandon Turner says: You are wrong! People need a place to live, and the only alternative is to throw money away on rent. Buy, people, buy!
- Grant Cardone says: Brandon, you are wrong. Today’s economy demands that we remain as unburdened as possible, and a house just ties us down. People have to go where the opportunity is. Freedom, guys!
- Ben Leybovich says: You are all right. And because of this, any thinking individual would want to take the best from all of you and synthesize it. And since I am a thinking individual (not when when my kids are on break, though), this is exactly what I’ve done! I’ve discovered how to bridge your differences and synergize your perspectives into a strategy that plugs all of the holes and amplifies the benefits of all of your approaches.
This article is the first installment in a series in which I will explore my version of “luxury house hacking.” It’s all about life design, but without the futon silliness that works for youngsters and no one else. I want my pool in the backyard. I want my tile, granite, and travertine everywhere. I want a nice garage for my Tesla. But I want someone else to pay for it—just like Scott!
Stay tuned. I’ll tell you how.
Is Robert Kiyosaki Right?
So, is Kiyosaki correct in telling you that your house is a liability?
Yes, he is correct, at least in the most pure sense. Kiyosaki is correct if we approach the definition from the standpoint of cash flow. The house does indeed cost money every month, quarter, and year, and so long as these losses are not offset with income, the house you live in is a liability.
However, if we flip this argument over, then we’d be correct in saying that as long as your house puts money in your pocket, it turns into an asset—right? I mean, if a liability is something that takes money from us, then something that gives us money is not a liability.
What follows is this: If my house makes me money, then I’ve addressed Robert Kiyosaki’s concern. My house is no longer a liability. The easiest way to accomplish this is to move out and convert your house into a rental, but if you do this, you’d have to sleep on Scott’s (or Craig’s) futon.
You could rent out a room in your house. When you are young and consume more beer than water, this may be a good option. Once you switch to wine—craziness!
Finally, you could buy a duplex and to live in one side and collect rent on the other. The problem is that 99.9% of the time, the location and quality of construction is not so good. For anyone looking to 10x their life, this is not an option.
Is Grant Cardone Right?
Cardone’s take is slightly different. Grant is a hustler and believes very strongly that “the hustle” is how a young person in today’s economy gets ahead. With that being said, Cardone believes that being able to move around freely is a huge asset. Therefore, in his view, buying a house is the wrong thing to do.
Grant is both right and wrong. More on this later.
What About Brandon Turner?
Brandon is also both right and wrong.
Brandon’s main point is that paying rent is akin to throwing money away. Why? Because this money buys neither cash flow nor equity, and as far as Brandon is concerned, this is wrong. He’s not wrong, but neither is he right. 🙂
What About Ben Leybovich?
I disagree with Brandon.
When considering renting versus ownership, the thing that jumps out is that ownership is a permanent destination, while an renting is a transient kind of a thing. Getting out of a house is a much more involved and costly proposition than getting out of an apartment. So is maintaining a house.
Unlike Brandon, I don’t see renting as a negative thing. Instead, to me, renting is akin to purchasing flexibility. It’s expensive, yes. It doesn’t build equity, no. But it buys a lot of freedom.
Thus, when you have more than enough cash flow and you don’t care about building equity because you’ve already made it, then you’ve earned the right to rent and be totally unattached, which is a privilege in my view. Six months here on the beach, and six months there in the mountains—whatever makes your heart sing. I hope to be there, but I am not there now.
Related: House Hacking 101: How to “Hack” Your Housing and Get Paid to Live for Free
I agree with Kiyosaki.
A house you move into is a liability, unless you can gear it to make money.
I disagree with Cardone.
As I mentioned, I am all for freedom and flexibility—but (and this is a big but) you’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to earn the right to be this unattached. You certainly cannot be living on W2 income, with no passive cash flow or substantive equity, and be renting.
So, What Does This Mean?
At the end of the day, unless you’re independently wealthy, you’ve got to buy a home. In many of your cases, it might be your biggest and best investment. But you can’t be the only one on the hook paying for it (unless your name is Brandon). In other words, you cannot buy a liability. You’ve got to buy something that makes you money.
That’s what I did. My house has brought in about $9,200 thus far. I anticipate being able to close out the first year at $15,000-$16,000. All of the money goes toward the mortgage and covers a really good chunk of it. I’ve achieved all of this without compromising on location, age of the home, amenities, finishing textures, or any aspect of my family’s quality of life.
This is a house hack formula unlike anything you’ve read about before, and in the following articles, we’ll discuss more of the details. I believe this is the best opportunity for most of you in the current cycle.
What’s your view on the renting vs. owning discussion? Are you on board with the house hacking strategy—or is it not conducive to your lifestyle?
Leave your thoughts below.