Meet my friend and first ever client, Alex Wald. In the fall of 2018 Alex moved to Denver, CO to start working at BiggerPockets as a growth hacker. What the heck is a growth hacker? Someone who dissects and split-tests an entire site to increase conversion metrics (i.e. signups, book purchases, etc.). That’s what he did for BiggerPockets.
Before starting at BiggerPockets, he was an avid listener of the podcast and kept hearing about the power of house hacking. We had a few conversations over some cauliflower wings, beer, and football. By June 2019, after he accumulated the capital needed to fund his first purchase, he was convinced and we were looking for his first house hack.
Wald was not super picky about what he wanted, but he did want something that would expedite his timeline to financial freedom. I explained to him all of the options.
“You can get a nicer place in Denver, but won’t cash flow as much vs. a larger place in the suburbs that you’ll be able to cash flow nicely.” Given all that he learned, he decided that he was most interested in cash flow.
I set him up with an MLS search for houses that had 4+ bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, 2,000+ square feet, that were priced under $370k.
During lunch breaks, before/after work, and on the weekends, Alex and I would go and check out properties that he may have been interested in. We started in Aurora, but after driving the neighborhoods and seeing the types of properties, we concluded that although Aurora is great for cash flow, but it does not meet Alex’s lifestyle standards given the distance from everything and the types of tenants he would choose.
Next on the list, was Thornton. I have a house in Thornton that cash flows nicely. Thornton is about 5 miles North of downtown Denver. While certainly not walkable, it is a short 15-minute ride with no traffic. This was a bit more appealing to Alex, especially as Thornton was in the path of progress.
While Thornton was nice, we just could not find a house that made sense for what he wanted to do. We did not toss Thornton out completely, but we also went to check some houses out just in between Denver and Thornton in a little pocket called Unincorporated Adams County.
Unincorporated Adams County is one of my favorite places to invest. It is a neighborhood tucked in between Denver, Thornton, and Westminster. The price per square foot is relatively low, you are within three minutes of every major highway, and can go anywhere with relative ease. A landlord’s paradise. To top it all off, the taxes are much lower and so are the rules and regulations surrounding Airbnb, occupancy limits, and virtually everything else.
Eventually, we ended up settling on a house in unincorporated Adams County.
The house we settled on was a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house that was again, close to every major highway in Denver, was completely redone, and listed for $350,000. As you can see, the location you can’t beat and prices have not skyrocketed like the rest of Denver. You can still find a 2,000+ square foot home for under $400,000 and that’s exactly what this was.
A newly renovated 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom home for $350,000. The basement was L-shaped so there was a clear space to put up a wall and add a 5th bedroom. After about 45 days and $1,600 the wall and door were added and the house was officially converted to a 5-bed, 2-bath.
Side note: adding bedrooms is the cheapest way to gain instant equity and add cash flow to your properties. After investing the $1,600 to put up the wall, he had increased the value of his house by a conservative $10k and increased his cash flow by $630. In other words, the wall paid for itself in under three months and almost 10xed itself in equity.
Between the street and driveway, the property itself had enough room for five parking spots, plenty of cabinet space in the kitchen, and he added an extra refrigerator downstairs. The house was completely remodeled so only minor additional work was needed such as hooking up a dryer vent, servicing the air conditioner, etc. That’s exactly what he was looking for. He did not want to put any work into the house. He wanted to move in, find tenants, and then carry on with his life.
Given the location and the newness of the house, Alex filled the three rooms with relative ease for $700 each. He took the largest room in the basement for himself while renting out the other three. Once the fifth room was finished, he had a friend that was moving into town fill the additional room for $630. So his total rent amount is $2,730.
Now that you know what was done to the house, let’s review the numbers!
Purchase Price: $350,000
Down Payment: $12,000 (3% down conventional)
Rental Income: $2,730
Mortgage Payment: $2,100
Cash Flow: $270 per month + $700 in rent savings = $970 per month
Annualized Cash flow: $11,640
Loan Paydown: $5,000
Total Net Worth Increase = $46,640
Total Money Invested = $14,000
Annualized Cash Flow = 83.1%
What do you think of Alex’s deal? To me, this is one of the better ones! He was able to add an easy 5th bedroom which increased the value of the house by about $30k. Not only that, but he was able to gain $630 extra in rent and $10k in equity by adding a $1,600 wall. He was paid back for this investment in less then three months! Now, he is fully living for free. It was a pretty turnkey house in a nice area that is ripe for appreciation. In fact, I own a property in this neighborhood as well.
As of May 2020, almost one year after Alex purchased this property, he has moved out early due to COVID-19 concerns as well as some roommate frustrations. They were good tenants who paid on time and never trashed the place. He is just an introvert and prefers to live alone. He now lives in an apartment closer to downtown where the rent collected from his house hack almost pays for his slightly more luxurious apartment.
Now, he is contemplating either purchasing another house hack in the greater Denver area or investing out of state.