How to Live in Your Home for Free (House Hacking)
The real estate term “house hacking” refers to your ability to create a situation in real estate where your bills get paid for by the income producing property, making your cost of living there FREE.
House hacking a great strategy to consider if you want to get started as a real estate investor and is easy to implement. Learn more in today’s YouTube video I made and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel for daily uploads on investing.
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The basics of house hacking…
House hacking is when you create a situation where your bills (mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities) get paid for by your tenant so to make this situation possible, you need to find a multi-unit property like a duplex or triplex or quad-plex or decide to rent out extra space in your home.
For example, you may live in a 3 bedroom home currently, so you would rent out the additional 2 bedrooms to roommates so you can collect rental income from two tenants to use to pay the cost of owning the real estate, and you’d be living there free essentially.
Or in the case of a duplex, you’d live in one unit and rent out the other unit of the duplex and use the rental income to help pay the bills for the duplex.
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The benefits of house hacking…
Since you’ll be living in the property, it is considered “owner-occupied” by banks and the government. This can help you qualify for better financing options with the bank and you also get better tax treatment from the government.
You also are living at the property, so you can make sure things are being taken care of better and make sure your tenants are doing their part to be responsible and not damaging property.
And of course, the main benefit is it helps make your cost of living free or as close to free by using the rental income to pay for the mortgage, insurance, and maintenance / repair costs of the property.
How to Get Started House Hacking
Step 1: Contact a Real Estate Agent
First, get in touch with a realtor who can start looking for potential multi-unit investment properties. Or if you already own a property, they can help you find tenants by putting the house for rent on the MLS.
Step 2: Get Pre-Qualified
Talk with a lender about loan options for buying an owner-occupied investment property. Interest rates tend to be more favorable for owner occupants helping you save money on interest payments each year for the loan.
Step 3: Tour Houses / Multi-Unit Properties
Once you have financing lined up to purchase a property, start going on showings with your real estate agent so you can see the inside of potential homes or multi-unit properties.
Step 4: Make an Offer
Once you find an ideal investment property you want to use for house hacking, make an offer to the seller through your real estate agent. Make sure to include inspections in your contract so you can have time to inspect the property and back out of the contract if you find anything major that is a deal breaker.
Step 5: Perform Inspections
Once the seller agrees to your offer, you’ll have usually 30-45 days until closing date when you’ll take possession and become the new owner of the investment property.
This gives you time to get inspections done on the property:
- Whole house inspection
- Well / Septic inspection
- Roof inspection
- Radon test
- AC/Furnace inspection
The results from these inspections can give you additional ammo to go back at the seller with and further negotiate the price of the property lower to credit you for repairs you’ll have to make. Or you can request the seller make certain repairs prior to closing day or else the deal is OFF.
Step 6: Move In Day
On closing day, you become the official owner of the property and can start moving yourself in. Pick which unit you want to live in and which unit(s) you’ll be renting out.
Step 7: Determine What to Charge for Rent
Look on rental websites like Zillow, Air BNB, Realtor.com, Craigslist, Apartments.com to see different rental units available in your area and what landlords are charging for renting these similar properties to yours.
If the unit you’ll be renting out has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, then try to find comparable properties with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom to use as rent comps to justify the rent you’ll charge your tenant.
Step 8: Find Quality Tenants
Make sure to screen applicants thoroughly so you can get rid of bad quality tenants and avoid headaches down the road.
You want a reliable tenant to rent to. Someone who pays their rent on time, keeps the property clean and sanitary, has a job or income source, has decent / good credit history, and will not cause problems for you since you’ll be living with them or next door to them.
Overall, those are the best tips on house hacking, a real estate investing strategy for beginners to get their first property and learn the ropes of being a landlord.
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