Let me start by saying that this strategy is not for everyone. Not everyone wants to be 100% leverage and not everyone has access to the loan product I used to purchase my first multifamily property with zero down. So, I’ll talk about how I did it and other ways you may be able to replicate my success.
How My Journey Began
My Journey began listening to BiggerPockets like most, but I took what I read and listened to, to heart. I thought my path into the real estate game was buying a duplex, triplex, our quadplex with a zero down VA loan, and house hack by living in one unit renting out the other units. I almost made it happen.
During the summer I moved to Panama City, my fiancé (now wife) and I were scouring the market for a small multifamily property that we could get with a VA loan. We were set on a VA loan because I knew we could get in for zero down. As a fresh out of college, green-behind-the-ears, rambunctious person I was at the time we didn’t have much, so we needed a zero-down loan. However, I knew that we would be better off if we bought a property that we could house hack because we would have reduced living expenses, which would help us starting out. It’s hard enough starting out on your own, throw a big mortgage or rent payment on top and things can get overwhelming. That was what I trying to avoid by purchasing a house hack property. And it worked. Not exactly the way I anticipated though.
After our honeymoon in Jamaica, I flew to Europe with friends. Nicole couldn’t go because she was a couple of months into her doctorate program. All along the trip, in Ubers and on the trains, I had my phone out searching for new properties coming on the market. As we were traveling through Trieste, Italy I noticed what looked to be a single-family house – but it had a second kitchen. Upon further investigation, I noticed that one side of the house looked to have separation from the main living space to include the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and its own private entrance. Jackpot!
Nicole and I frequently traveled taking small weekend adventures here and there, and when we did we would always stay in Airbnb’s. We usually selected the cheaper option because we had to. In doing so we got to stay in some pretty unique spaces: Extra bedrooms, basement conversions, bungalows, tiny homes, you name it. Many of these were under-utilized spaces on someone’s primary residence. I always thought it would be cool to have something like that of our own. And then never thought about it again – until I saw this house with the extra unit, or additional dwelling unit (ADU)!
I put the offer in that day, from somewhere in Italy. That’s what I love about real estate – if you analyze and find a good deal, and buy right, it is forgiving. I did surprisingly little due diligence on that property, but I needed a place to live that would supplement our living expenses. But it worked out because up to that point I had analyzed hundreds of deals and knew this was a good one. After a little negotiating I was able to add in the closing costs to the purchase price so that we did not have to pay those out of pocket either.
While living there, that extra unit allowed us to cash flow around $100 every month, after ALL expenses all the way down to the Wi-Fi. Now that we have moved out of the property cash flows around $1,000/month. Not a bad first purchase. That’s why taking action is imperative. Learn to recognize a good deal, and once you do, act on it!
Where You Can Start Your Journey
My journey began with a zero down VA loan – but that doesn’t mean yours has to. After all, what if you aren’t in the military? Here are some other ways you can get started with low down.
This is a government-backed loan by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It is normally 3.5% down. This loan option comes with private mortgage insurance though. Make sure you account for that in your analysis.
This is where someone you know lets you borrow the money for a predetermined interest rate (or more creative terms), usually backed by the property. Private money can come from a friend, a relative, or someone you meet at a real estate meetup. The key is to tell everyone what you do so that when you get a good deal you know who has money they want to put to work.
This is similar to the above, but you split the equity and the responsibility (not always) of the deal. This is most often when one person brings the deal and the other brings the money. These are the two parts of the equation that are needed to make a deal happen. You have to have the deal and the money, but not always both.
Hard money is similar to private money. The difference is that a hard money lender usually does that as their business, and usually charges a higher interest rate and (usually) points. They are quick at underwriting deals and provide up to 90% or 100% of the purchase and repairs. They are good for speed, but the additional cost must make sense for the deal.
Wrapping it Up
I have used all of these methods myself, so I know they all work. They might not work for every deal, but that is why knowing each one is important. When hard money costs are too expensive, maybe the only route is to pay all cash, and maybe the only way to have all cash is to do some wholesale deals in the meantime to build up your cash (I have done that as well). The point is, knowing your options is important, and finding a good deal is paramount. Having a good deal to work on opens the door for you to use whichever option works best for you and what gives you the best profit.
Blake Dailey is a multifamily real estate investor and host of the Multifamily Journey Podcast. He has reached his financial independence (Passive Income > Expenses) number through investing in real estate and aims to help others do the same. He helps passive investors impact their lifestyle and wealth by investing in multifamily real estate through his company Growth Vue Properties. Growth Vue seeks to help investors achieve the ultimate asset – Time – by making their money work so they don’t have to.
Find out about investing in multifamily with Blake at thegrowthvue.com or learn more about Blake, read his articles, or connect with him through his website at multifamilyjourney.com.