How To Live For Free

how to do house hacking by spencer cornelia

A free guide on house hacking by an expert house hacker, Spencer Cornelia.

You can find Spencer’s videos on his YouTube channel and some of the videos explain house hacking like this video.

Module 1: Why This Model of Investing Works

Because you’re renting by the room, you are able to attain a higher income per house than if you were renting the entire house to a single renter.

In my experience, I’m able to charge $600 to $850 per month total for rent & utilities.  The more bedrooms, the more income.  Generally, a 4 bed house is going to be your break even point if you’re living in the house, renting all of the rooms, and have a low down payment mortgage such that you have a high monthly cost.  From what I’ve seen, most 3 bed houses will greatly diminish your costs but not quite break even.  4 bed houses bought at a good price will break even and possibly cash flow a small amount every month.  5+ bed houses is where the house should cash flow while you occupy it.

A common worry throughout real estate investing communities is how their specific strategy will work in various market conditions.

There will always be a need for affordable housing.  This model does not attract families looking for their own home, but there will always be a huge need for young singles looking for an affordable option who are comfortable living with roommates.

If you provide nice, affordable housing, the market will reward you.  As long as you have a pool of employed renters available, this model will work in any market.

Module 2: Finding the House

I’m going to keep this section brief as the process of finding good deals is a little out of scope of this ebook.

MLS

If you are not interested in any rehab work or looking for a discounted property, then the MLS will be your best option.  The MLS, Multiple Listing Service, is where all properties listed via an agent are posted for sale.  In the investing community, we consider these properties to be “retail pricing.”

The MLS does provide great options if you are new to investing and want a smooth first purchase.  Additionally, implementing the house hacking strategy will work at any price point.  The goal is to reduce all housing expenses to $0 and any vast reduction in housing expenses can be seen as a victory.

Facebook Groups

If you are interested in performing renovations to your house, then Facebook groups are a good place to start.  Wholesalers will post their deals on these Facebook groups giving you a chance to find deals off market.

An example are groups called “Wholesale Las Vegas Real Estate” (for Vegas) and “Greater Cincinnati Real Estate Investors” and “Cincinnati / NKY Real Estate Investors’ Group” (for Cincinnati).

These aren’t always the best options, but the goal is having access to many avenues to see all the deals available.

Craigslist

I found my first flip in Cincinnati on Craigslist.  To me, it’s a little more difficult to find deals on Craigslist but you will find more seller financing options, which is sometimes best for those of you who can’t qualify for traditional bank financing, but want to purchase your first house hack.

Make sure to view both options when viewing properties on Craigslist: “For Sale by Broker” and “For Sale by Owner”.

Off Market

If you are interested in renovation projects, buying a property at a discount, and are okay with the time/energy required to find a deal, then your best strategy (and typically most profitable) will be finding properties off-market.

When I purchased a 4plex in Las Vegas off-market using seller financing, I used a service called List Source to buy a list of property owners that fit a specific criteria.  After purchasing the list, I wrote mailers to every property owner asking them if they would like to sell the property.  Thankfully one did and was open to seller financing.

(2022 update: I spend all of my time working on YouTube so admittedly I’m not hustling for deals like I used to be.  I am an affiliate for Batch Leads which makes finding off-market deals much easier: https://app.batchleads.io/public/register?_fp_ref_id=spencer

Module 3: Criteria for Your House

I’m going to run through this section quickly as these are personal questions for you to consider.

How many bedrooms do you want?

The more bedrooms = the more cash flow.  I would recommend 4 bedrooms at least if your goal is to break even on monthly expenses.  From what I’ve seen, most 4 bedroom options should at least break even with 3 renters in the spare bedrooms at the market rate.

Some counties do have codes on how many unrelated adults can live in a single property at the same time so please check that number online before making any purchase.

Sidenote: I’ve never once cared about this code as I’ve provided affordable housing options to many people who were without other options.  Also, the city doesn’t care about enforcing this rule.  Consider this an extremely low probability issue.  And the worst case is probably just a small fine.

Double sidenote: My first year running my first single family house hack was full of headaches from bad tenants that were leftovers from the previous owner.  I have had the police show up multiple times to my house and not once did they care about how many people lived on the property.  Additionally, I’ve dealt with an insurance claim from a tenant committing arson inside my house and insurance paid out, even knowing there were 7 strangers living together under one roof.

How many bathrooms do you want?

This is an important question as the ratio matters.  Some houses in the midwest have three beds and one bath.  Are you comfortable living with strangers who all share the same bath?  Also notice the location of the bathrooms.  In the first house I flipped in Cincinnati, one of the two bathrooms in the house was located on the main floor next to the kitchen.  Very odd setup that I would not want to occupy.

The more people to each bathroom represents a higher likelihood of issues.  In most cases, no issues will arise.  But if one person takes long showers in the morning and blocks the others from using the bathroom, that could present an issue.  You may also run into issues with multiple genders using the same bathroom.  In my experience, most people won’t care at all about sharing a bathroom or who they’re sharing it with as long as the shower gets hot and the toilet flushes.

In my experience, it’s very infrequent that multiple people want or need to use the bathroom at the same time.  As long as everyone is reasonable with the time spent in the shower, there will never be any issues with people sharing a bathroom.

Lastly, I’ve had multiple instances of 3 people sharing one full bath and there not being any issues.  What is nice, if possible for you, is finding houses with an extra half bath that is easily accessible, in the event that the full bathroom is occupied.

Multi Family vs. Single Family

In some cities, small multi family buildings can be found in desirable locations.  If you’re in a city where duplex, triplex, or quadplex are located in a liveable area, then this may present the best and easiest option to house hack.

In Vegas, small multi-families are not located in a desirable location and 80%+ of them would not make for ideal house hacks.

In the midwest, many markets have small multi-families available for a great price relative to the rents.  Always make sure to check for 4plex in your market as these are typically great ways to begin in real estate.  Also, your lender should include rents in your loan application process if you’re buying a small multi-family.

HOA

HOA’s serve their value in many communities, but it could be an added expense and also a deterrent.  Some HOA communities will only allow a certain amount of cars parked in front of a house.  Some HOA communities will limit how many people can have entry keys through the guard gates.  Some HOA communities will have strict owner occupancy rules.

I’ll give you a real life example.  I owned a condo in Las Vegas Country Club that had a strict HOA.  They maintained a high owner occupancy rate in the community, which led to the community being so desirable.  You had to enter your name on the list in order to put your unit up for rent.  Meaning you needed to be #1 on the list for you to have the opportunity to rent your unit to a renter.  That owner was given two weeks to make a decision.  If they rented out their unit, then #2 on the list would become #1 and wait for a new owner occupant to purchase in the property, which would then give them the opportunity to rent their unit.

I put my name on the list when I first moved in knowing that I’d want to rent out the unit at some point whenever I wanted/needed to move.  After 27 MONTHS of living there, I was still near #100 on the list.  If I ever wanted to move out, I could not rent out my entire unit until I was #1 on the list.

I never considered HOA rules when buying my first property (the condo), but now I strongly do.  The strict HOA’s are generally found in high class neighborhoods and condo communities.  I personally would stay away from condo’s for house hacking.

Amenities

Think about what amenities you may use or are willing to pay for.  This includes a pool, guard gate, access to a golf course, gym in regards to the community.  Within the house, you may want to consider what could come with a house you’d desire.  More on this later.

Condo or Townhouse?

I personally stay away from condo’s as most have only 2 bedrooms, are expensive, and have prohibitive HOA rulebooks.

Townhouses are a good option in some cities where you can find a more affordable 3 or 4 bedroom option.

I personally would recommend a single family house in almost all scenarios.

Washer/Dryer in unit?

Remember to always look for the ability to have washer/dryer hookup or have the appliances in the laundry room already.

Module 4: Financing Your House

There are four options to finance your house hack.

FHA

FHA financing is best for borrowers with low amounts of cash and are willing to borrow 96.5% of the value of the home.  Lenders will allow for a 3.5% down payment and require that you live in the property as your primary residence for one full year.  The lender will charge you a monthly cost for PMI, aka private mortgage insurance, which is the lender’s way of reducing risk for non-payment.

FHA is a great option if you do not have much cash, but it does come with a higher interest rate and the PMI can really eat at your cash flow.  FHA financing will allow for a higher DTI number, sometimes as high as 45-50%.  DTI is calculated by adding up your total monthly expenses (debt) and dividing by your gross income.  Example: you have $500 each month allocated to your mortgage, $50 to taxes and insurance, $100 student loan, and $350 car payment & insurance with $5,000 monthly gross income.  The DTI would be $1,000 / $5,000 which is 20%.

Sidenote: if your debt has 10 or fewer remaining payments and the payment is 5% or less than your monthly gross income, it will be dropped from your DTI.  Confirm with your lender during the pre-approval process.

Conventional

Many lenders will have multiple down payment options when using conventional financing.  They will likely have a program for 5%, 10%, 15% and 20%.  The benefit of putting 20% down is that there will be no PMI.  Ideally, you will have enough for 20% down.  If you do not, then you will be given a higher interest rate and a PMI payment.

The DTI requirements for conventional financing will be a little tougher than for FHA financing.  You’ll generally see 36% to 43% DTI max.  Lenders will also have a reserve requirement for the amount of cash or assets you’ll need to show to qualify – typically 3 months of PITI.

Hard Money

If you are interested in flipping or renovating your house hack, then hard money will likely be the best option.  Hard money lenders will typically lend up to 70% of the value of the home after it’s been repaired.  The interest rate will vary between 10%-14% and you will pay 1-3 points at closing if you are a beginner.  These are expensive loans that are interest only and become due in 12 months.

Only use hard money if you have a mentor or have a pretty good idea with what you’re doing.  Since this is a course on house hacking and not flipping, I’m keeping this section minimal.  Something that many beginners don’t consider: when rehabbing and holding, you’ll need to make sure that you can attain financing when the project is done.  This isn’t as simple as you’d think.  Make sure to have long term financing established before taking on a renovation project.

Seller/Creative

Seller financing is the gold mine.  I have done two seller financing deals thus far in my career.

One is a lease purchase agreement with a friend and the other was seller carry for the 4plex investment property in Las Vegas.

Lease purchase is an agreement between two parties where the terms of the purchase are negotiated before entering into the agreement.  The lessor and lessee agree on terms for a lease period followed by a purchase contract.  In layman’s terms, the buyer of the property will be given a period of time to lease the property.  When that lease period has concluded, the buyer must pay off the loan at the already agreed upon price.

In my example, we agreed to a $300k purchase price, a lease period of 24 months, $1,500 payment to the owner every month ($1,000 was mortgage and $500 was cash flow), and I covered all utilities.  We agreed on an installment period for the down payment where I would send him a total of $60k as the down payment.  I would acquire a mortgage of $240k before the lease purchase agreement concluded.

Seller carry is where the current property owner owns the property without a mortgage.  The owner becomes the bank essentially.

In my example, I agreed to buy the property from the previous owner for $260k with a $20k down payment.  I would pay the owner 6.5% interest and the loan would be amortized over 30 years.  At the time of purchase, the property was worth roughly $305k.  

The final option is subject to where you take over a property subject to the existing mortgage.  Basically, you put the previous mortgage in your name and begin making payments to the bank on behalf of the previous owner.  If there are any liens on the property, then it becomes your responsibility to pay them off.  (it isn’t your legal responsibility, but that’s generally why someone would want to sell a property subject to)

Seller financing can be a little more complicated than traditional bank financing, but in my opinion, it’s worth every minute of your time studying your options and understanding how to offer seller financing to property owners.  This is where you hear about getting into properties without paying any money for a down payment.

This is a little out of scope for this eBook so make sure you know what you’re doing if you go down the path of seller financing.  (Check out Pace Morby on YouTube)

Lender Paid PMI

Ask your lender if they offer “lender paid PMI”.  This is when your lender will pay off your PMI at closing on the purchase.  What’s the catch?  You will pay a higher interest rate.

Example: for property #2, I signed up for lender paid PMI, which removed my PMI from my monthly debt.  The PMI would have been nearly $300 a month.  The increase in my interest rate only cost around $97 a month.  The difference was around $200 a month in cash flow today at the cost of a higher interest rate.

Was it a smart decision?  Of course.  The payback period was around 7 years.  Meaning, at around the 7 year mark is when my PMI would have dropped off naturally.  I’d much rather cash flow $200 a month EXTRA for 7 years and pay a slightly higher interest rate 84 months from now for the remainder of the loan.

Module 5: House Recommendations

This section is mostly for recommendations and not hard fast rules.  I will present many different challenges or decisions that I’ve faced.

Carpet vs lvp (luxury vinyl plank):  LVP is much easier to keep clean.  Carpet looks better and makes the house feel more like a home.  If you have carpet, make it very clear that shoes are not allowed inside the house.  LVP has nearly zero maintenance so that’s its benefit.  Carpet requires constant cleaning and will likely need to be replaced at some point.

In Las Vegas, many neighborhoods are full of houses with converted garages.  If you have the ability to convert your garage into another bedroom, then you can easily add an additional $800+ per month of cash flow.  A lot of houses don’t have the necessary plumbing hooked up to convert the garage to keep the costs low enough to justify converting into a bedroom, but if your area does or you are willing to front the cost, converting a garage can turn a house into a cash machine.  In my first single family house hack, my garage is converted with a long term tenant paying $1,050 per month total.  I paid around $18k total to renovate the garage so the revenue earned was easily worth the cost, but the garage already had plumbing, electric, and HVAC setup for a converted bed and bath.

You don’t necessarily have to convert your garage in order to add revenue.  Some houses have large dining rooms and living rooms.  You can convert at least one into a bedroom if the house layout allows for it: meaning analyze the location of the bathrooms and the number of bathrooms already in the house.  Getting creative with adding bedrooms can easily be the difference between breaking even and cash flowing.  Typically, adding a bedroom is as simple as adding one or two walls, which would require some drywall, painting, baseboards, and a closet.  This decision may only cost $3,000-$3,500, but could generate an additional $600 per month of income.  The payback period is only 5-7 months.

Some cities have many houses with a basement.  Could you possibly convert the basement into an additional bedroom and bathroom, or even better, an additional unit with their own entrance?  In some cases, you can convert a basement into an additional ‘unit’ that is put on AirBnB that generates more than $1,000 per month of net income.

With all of these recommendations, keep in mind that the area matters.  Always remember that it is possible that you will need to sell the house down the road.  Converting a garage into a unit makes sense in many neighborhoods in Las Vegas, but if you were in a higher class neighborhood where every house has a garage, then the house may not sell down the road with a converted garage.  Same goes with dining and living rooms converted into sometimes-awkward fitting bedrooms.  You’ll increase cash flow when living in the property, but may hurt yourself massively when it’s time to sell.

One mistake I made with my first flip in Cincinnati is not noticing that many of the houses in the neighborhood had a driveway and adequate parking.  I was able to sell the house, but many people didn’t offer on the house because of the lack of driveway and parking.  Every house is different so keep your eyes open to what is normal and ‘expected’ within a neighborhood.

Speaking of neighborhood, analyze the parking situation.  If you have 5 people living in a single house, you could have 5-6 cars at the house at any one point depending on tenants and their guest(s).  Some neighborhoods don’t have any parking and that could be a major issue at some point.  Also, some neighborhoods have strict parking rules per the HOA so make sure to analyze any and all details with parking for your specific house.  Having adequate parking for all of your tenants is mandatory.

I spent about $14k on concrete around my first single family house hack to ensure that everyone had parking while living in the house.  Previously, there was not enough space for everyone.

Make sure to do plenty of research on the areas within a city that have more rental demand than others.  Asking multiple strangers to live together works when affordable housing isn’t readily available.  It doesn’t work as well if you’re on the outskirts of the city and the difference in pricing for a room rental versus an entire apartment is minimal.  Living in the center of a city or high rental demand area is ideal.

Depending on your desired tenant class, access to public transportation may provide a huge bonus for your property standing out.  For a specific case, my first single family house hack is within a 2 minute walk to the bus stop in either direction.  I’ve had numerous tenants without cars so access to the bus routes made it an easy choice for those tenants to want to move into my house.  In some cities, simply having a short walk to public transportation may allow you to boost rent $50+ per month per tenant (while minimizing cars on your property).  Double bonus.

As previously mentioned when discussing HOA’s, gated communities are amazing for many reasons, but can present issues when renting by the room.  Some communities may only allow a certain amount of entry keys per household.  This is a rare occurrence, but I wanted to present the idea just in case you were looking at a 3 bedroom condo in a guard gated community that only allows 2 entry keys to owners.  You do not want to deal with this issue: three tenants but only two can drive in and out.

Module 6: Interior Upgrades

Everyone’s house is different so that’s why I have to leave this section vague and broad.

Renovations are the easiest way to upgrade a house and boost rental income.  People want to live in nice houses, period.  I am a huge fan of renovation projects, especially if you can buy a house that needs some cosmetic work and you will be living in the property.  This is a great way to gain experience with rehab work.

If you do not have any contractor connections, then you can always try Home Depot or Lowe’s pro services.  Every experience I’ve had with either has been fine.  They only hire reputable contractors who are licensed who also lose out on a lot of future business if they screw up your job.  They will cost more than your local handyman, but they are worth the price if you do not know anyone.

Some things to consider….

(2022 update: I included pricing below when this was originally written.  Pricing is likely different now and don’t have enough time/energy to change every number.  You’ll obviously always have pricing before a job begins so you’ll be able to evaluate if it’s worth it or not before spending money.)

Flooring

Luxury vinyl plank can be purchased for $4-$5 per square foot for materials and labor.  Carpet can be purchased for around $3 per square foot for labor and material.  Depending on the area, I would highly recommend not upgrading materials to the highest quality.  Remember that this is a rental and will be treated as such by everyone else but you.  The easiest to maintain and clean is generally what you’ll want to install.

Paint

Get many samples and use them!  I’ve made the mistake multiple times of thinking I know what I want and painting an entire room before realizing that it was not the exact color I wanted.

Painting is a personal preference.  I recommend going gray and keeping colors neutral, but I do like adding a little personality to a house.  Ask a designer friend or someone with a good eye about an accent wall.  They can really make a house pop when done correctly.

This is a picture from my current house with an accent wall that adds a really nice touch.

Bathrooms

Upgrading a (small-medium) bathroom will likely cost you $4k-$6k total but is well worth the cost.  I would recommend tile showers up to the ceiling.  Tile will cost about $2-$3 per square foot for material and around $1,500-$2,000 for labor.  Vanity, shower head, toilet, sink faucet will run you $500-$700.  Make sure to select the correct finish color on all of your appliances (chrome, brushed nickel, black, etc.).  Consider adding in a shower rod and a towel rod for hanging towels.  A mirror will generally cost around $100.  Also consider adding glass sliding doors: they’ll cost around $300 for materials for the stock supply at Home Depot and another $100-$200 for install.

I would recommend not having bathtubs and not using the insert showers.  I find them to be cheap looking and more difficult to clean than tile.  Only downside is some families want to buy a house with bathtubs in the bathrooms (if they have small kids).  Tile showers and shower pans as opposed to cheap insert tub/shower combo is much better for rentals and keeping them clean.

Always go with tile for the bathroom floors.  Around $100 in materials and another $100 for install.

Bathroom renovation completed in first single family house hack.  Everything you see is new.  Cost around $7k-$8k and was a HUGE upgrade from the previous arrangement.

Insulation

Hot or cold in the house?  When dealing with multiple strangers living together, you’re going to have to manage everyone’s comfort levels.  Because this can get difficult, you will want to insulate your house properly.

If you are unsure how to analyze your house’s insulation, hire a pro.  Insulating your attic will do wonders with your electric bill and everyone’s comfort.  You want as little wear and tear on your HVAC unit as possible and investing money into better insulating your home is money well spent.

The total cost of insulation for the entire attic in the first single family house hack (main house & garage) was $2,000.

“Insulating” your house can get costly so keep in mind the cost/benefit of every decision.  If you’re rehabbing from the studs, then always make long term decisions if your wallet allows for it.  Managing tenants/roommates is much easier when the house is well insulated and everyone is comfortable.

The greater the difference in temperature throughout the house, the worse the comfort levels will be throughout.  When the lease began in the first single family house hack, the house was very poorly insulated.  Due to the size (2,400 sq ft), room temperature varied by location.  Two story house with a converted garage means some rooms were cool while others were warm.  Keeping everyone happy is very challenging in that scenario.  Upgrading the attic insulation and windows was a no brainer and everyone is now a lot more satisfied.

I eventually added a mini-split to my garage unit for $6k-$7k total.  This allowed for the garage tenant to have their own unit and it removed ~350 square feet from the main house’s HVAC system.  The unit for the main part of the house will now operate more efficiently.

An easy fix within many rooms is adding a nice light/fan combo.  An interior fan will cost around $100 and any electrician will be able to install.

(2022 update: A nicer, newer house makes A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE with heating & air efficiency.  This is one of the benefits of buying a more recently built house.  Trust me on this one.)

Closet

In Vegas, a room must have a closet in order to qualify as an official bedroom.  Closets are easy to add to a room and won’t cost any more than $1,200-$1,500 for labor and materials.  If you are using an extra room in a house as a bedroom, it is worth the added expense to add a closet before any tenants move in.

If for any reason, you can’t insert a closet, then you can buy a standalone like this one on Amazon for a couple hundred bucks.

Washer / Dryer

This is mandatory!  Make sure you either have washer and dryers in the house or you have the hookup capability already.

Hundred other items

There are hundreds of small upgrades you can make within a house.  Adding a stove vent over your stove to assist with a roommate’s smelly cooking habits.  Upgrading the garbage disposal to the $1,000 option so you never have to worry about anyone clogging up a sink.  Adding small cabinets throughout the house to assist with extra storage.  Upgrading lighting throughout the house.  

Walk throughout your house with an inquisitive mind so you can always be thinking of ways to improve everyone’s experience while living on your property.  Happy tenants pay and stay, the two most important attributes.

What will likely happen is you will be confronted with requests from tenants and that will dictate your purchasing behavior.

Module 7: Exterior Upgrades

Solar

On the first single family house hack, I purchased three exterior upgrades involving solar: solar screens, a solar attic fan, and solar panels.

The solar screens are custom sized to go on top of the current windows.  They cost me around $150 per window for materials and installation and were a huge upgrade to the house.  If your house experiences direct sunlight and is located in a region of the country that has temperatures over one hundred degrees, then it may be worth the expense to help reduce direct sun exposure.

Solar screens are on all but one window and the solar attic fan is the circular object on the roof.

The solar attic fan cost $580 for materials + install and was a huge upgrade.  The installers cut a circle in the roof, placed the solar attic fan within the circle, and the fan runs off the solar energy so no electrical work is needed.  The purpose of the fan is to remove all of the heat from your attic.  I was able to raise the daily temperature in the house from 74 degrees to 78 degrees which is a huge savings on the monthly electric bill in the desert.

(2022 update: I have had solar panels installed on my roof for my first two properties.  I won’t go into detail here, but if you’re in a state where solar makes sense, then it’s a no-brainer in my opinion.  Buy solar panels, do not lease.)

Landscaping

One major upgrade for many properties is to add landscaping.  The exterior leaves guests and potential tenants with the first impression of your house.  Is it new?  Old?  Is it well maintained or worn down?  You want every potential tenant to pull up to the house excited to see the inside and move in.

I personally wouldn’t recommend flowers without a simple sprinkler system because of the required maintenance whenever you don’t live on the property.  You can’t trust tenants to maintain your yard if you are not on the property.

(2022 update: I just paid $7k to upgrade the backyard in property #3 + I have patio covers on the way for $5,900.  This may seem like a large expense, but it has made the house so much nicer in person and in pictures.  It also provides a better living experience for the tenants since they can enjoy some fresh air in a really nice and peaceful backyard.)

New house, before.

Once the patio cover is installed, this backyard will look like a bonus for the property.

Windows

If your windows are old, then they may be allowing the weather elements and noise to enter into the house.

My first single family house hack is an old build for Las Vegas (1969) and many of the elements of the house needed to be upgraded.  I decided to renovate numerous windows to the exterior which has led to a DRAMATICALLY positive improvement in air efficiency in the house.

Before upgrading windows.

After windows (notice decrement in size) and paint upgrade.

A generic window from Home Depot will run you around $200-$250.  The labor and install will be a couple hundred bucks.  It’s not an expensive fix given the benefits upgraded windows provide.  If you add nice trim on the exterior, then you can make the house even more appealing from the exterior.

In some cases, you may want to downgrade the size of the window.  In my case, that involved adding in stucco on the exterior and patching in the walls on the interior (insulation, drywall, trim, paint).  These are added costs that need to be considered.

If you are interested in upgrading the house to ensure higher rents and tenant satisfaction, then I think windows are a feature that shouldn’t be skipped.

Concrete

Concrete cost me around $14k total, which was around $6 per square foot for material and install – at single family house hack #1.

The added concrete around the exterior around the house served three purposes: it made the exterior of the house look much better than the previous look of dirt and rocks (aka Las Vegas landscaping).  The added parking will mean I will never have to worry about tenant and guest parking, which is a major concern when housing 7 people under one roof.  The third benefit was that the property would need to have concrete around the exterior if it were to ever be upgraded to commercial zoning.  This is a very specific use case that is unlikely for your case, but every house is different, and some you’ll have the opportunity for uniquely creative scenarios.

This is a before picture.

This is after.

Mindset

I know it’s easy to look at big expenses and hold off on them because you think your returns are going to be super low for the year.  In many cases, a big fix might neutralize all cash flow for a full year.

But properties are meant to be held for many years.  Real estate provides wealth over time, and in almost no situations will make you rich quickly.

Respect your property, maintain a pride of ownership, upgrade every element when financially and logistically possible, and my belief is that you will be treated with great returns OVER THE LONG TERM.

Analyze the properties in your area and you’ll probably see that older, more worn down properties don’t sell for the market rate and they typically take longer to sell.  Consistently making sure your property is in great shape will increase tenant satisfaction, maintain the value of your property over the long term, and decrease the amount of maintenance problems you will be confronted with.

And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not become a slumlord.  If you aren’t liquid enough to pay for maintenance and repairs, then please do not become a landlord.

Module 8: How to Establish Rules

House Rules Document

This is arguably the most important aspect of this endeavor.  I have attached mine to Appendix A at the end of this document.

The key to establishing a house rules document is to think about what you find extremely important and make sure to be stern with new tenants regarding those specific rules.  The purpose of the house rules document is to have all of your rules in writing.  In your lease, I would recommend adding a clause stating that tenants have three strikes with house rules.  On the first breaking of a rule, they receive a warning.  The second, they receive a second warning and a reminder that a third strike leads to eviction.  On the third breaking of a rule, you have to evict.

How you complete your house rules document is up to you.  In my opinion, the more strict the better.  Some of the rules you’ll read in my document may sound absurd that an adult has to be given rules, but you’d be surprised how awful some tenants or roommates can be.  You’re offering a lot of value to your tenants, make sure they understand that they must follow your rules if they want to stay.

In my experience, the absolute most important rules are establishing a quiet time where everyone can sleep in peace and quiet, in addition to staying reasonably quiet throughout all parts of the day.  A quiet house is best for everyone.  Once someone plays a tv or radio loud, then everyone’s volume will increase until it feels like a college dorm.  The second is people being accountable for cleanliness.  I still haven’t mastered this issue, but I’ve been working on it.

I’m considering adding a clause that tenants will need to clean the entire house if they make a mess in the house and do not clean up after themselves.  Not cleaning the house will result in a strike.  Three strikes and you’re out policy.  That’s just an idea I’ve been considering.

In Las Vegas, we are able to give a tenant a 30 day no cause eviction if they are on a month to month lease.  I am able to use this as leverage for tenants following the rules.

Module 9: Items to Buy

This is going to be an unordered list of items to consider buying…

Keyless Door Entry

This item is highly recommended for any exterior doors, especially the front door.  With a key-less door entry, you can change the code whenever a tenant leaves.  You do not want the added stress of having to worry about tenants giving back their key.  They will misplace the front door key more than you’d like.  This also reduces the issue of tenants not locking the door upon entry into the house.

Door Draft Guards

These are great at reducing noise entering into bedrooms.

Refrigerators

Depending on the number of tenants, consider buying an extra refrigerator or you can buy mini fridges for roommates if there is ever an issue with roommates eating each other’s food.  I think the maximum number of roommates per large fridge to be 3.

Furniture

I furnish every room in my house.  I add a queen size bed frame, box spring, mattress, and zippable mattress cover, nightstand, and dresser.  Thankfully, I have a small business owner that delivers and sets up the entire set as part of the cost.  The zippable mattress cover can be purchased from Walmart for $30-$50.  You will want zippable because some tenants won’t understand the value of the mattress cover and take it off during the first wash.

If you’re willing to go used and have the means to pick up used furniture, then you can shop on Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and Craigslist and probably get a furniture set for a low price.

(2022 update: I hired an interior designer friend to furnish and design house hack #3 and it was absolutely worth every penny.  I spent ~$21,000 on furnishing the house and consider that to be a fair price for the value delivered.  Don’t be afraid to hire someone to make your house pop and be the best option in the market for people looking to rent.)

Amazon Colored Key Chain

This is really helpful with keeping track of everyone’s keys.

Drying Pad for Kitchen Dishes

This is really helpful with drying dishes.  If a house does not have a dishwasher, this is a nice alternative for aiding with keeping dishes clean and out of the sink.

Additional Shelves

If you go for a house hack with 5+ people, it’s possible that you will run out of shelf space.  Consider buying cheap shelves from your local hardware store and adding to walls in the kitchen.  I would recommend buying paper towels, cleaning supplies, hand soap, dish soap, and toilet paper for the entire house.  You can buy in bulk and tenants will appreciate the supplies.

Swiffer and Mop

It’s likely that you will have at least a couple of people who aren’t the cleanest “adults” in the world.  It’s nice to have supplies ready to go whenever someone makes a mess.  The supplies help reduce the friction a tenant will give you if they have easy access to an item that will assist them clean up after themselves.

Standing Fans

If you live in an environment that gets really warm in the summers, you may consider having a couple of plastic fans available.  The fans will help keep a/c costs low during the summer.

Copies of Keys

Make sure to make at least one copy of everyone’s room key when you take over the house.  There will be at least one instance of someone losing their room key and accidentally locking their door.  Also, make a copy of the mail key or any other key provided to you at closing.

Grill

Some people really value a grill available in the backyard.  For around $250, you can purchase one from Home Depot.  Items like this aren’t necessary, but some people will enjoy living at your house more with items such as a grill.  The gas tank can be refilled at Costco for like $15.

Kitchenware

I would recommend stocking the house full of plates, silverware, and cooking utensils.  These can all be purchased at a local dollar general or Walmart for cheap.

Wifi

Buy the best wifi package and pay for unlimited data.  I would highly recommend not considering anything else.

Smart Thermostat

I would highly recommend upgrading your thermostat to a smart thermostat.  In Las Vegas, NVEnergy will upgrade your setup to a smart thermostat for free.

I buy Ecobee Smart Thermostats for all of my properties.  I am able to set temperature schedules and it makes it easier to manage with access from my phone.

Plastic Cover for Thermostat

You will likely have at least one tenant who will want to change the temperature in the house.  You want to have full control over the thermostat.  It’s a dictatorship in your house; what you say goes.  Buy a plastic cover for your thermostat if you aren’t able to lock the settings on the device.

Module 10: Security

Wyze Camera

This option is affordable and great for the interior of your house.  I have had multiple occurrences of a roommate eating another roommate’s food.  Buy this camera, download the app on your phone, and let roommates access your login to analyze the footage if they think someone is eating their food.  FYI: if you’re going to buy the Wyze Camera from Amazon, make sure to buy the memory card.

Google Nest or Ring

I bought a set of outdoor security cameras for $300 from Walmart that claimed to have a battery life of 365 days.  They ran out of battery after two weeks two different times so I returned them.

I have not purchased Google Nest or Ring security cameras but I’d like to think they work really well.  I’d recommend buying security cameras that are plugged in to the electrical outlet inside if possible.  Having security cameras running on battery means an extra task for you whenever they run out of battery charge.

The goal, as always, of this operation is to create a system that can run without you living in the house.  That’s when you can begin buying multiple houses and scale quickly.

(2022 update: I paid for Vivint’s service.  You can shop around for home security systems.  I would recommend purchasing something.  Tenants appreciate it and feel safer, even if your neighborhood isn’t “dangerous”.)

Module 11: How to Find Roommates

Facebook Marketplace

This is probably the best way to attract roommates.  I like having the ability to see someone’s profile, which gives me an idea of what the person is like.  Additionally, the messenger app provides an easy way to communicate with potential tenants that doesn’t involve having to exchange phone numbers.

Craigslist

Some of my best tenants have come from posting my rooms on Craigslist.  The downside with Craigslist is the inability to see someone before they show up to your house.  With Craigslist postings, you’re going to definitely want multiple references before having the person visit your house for a showing.

Roomster

Roomster is a paid option but is a great marketplace for posting your room for rent.  I’ve only used it so far in Las Vegas so I can’t speak about other cities.  It is an affordable price too.

Messaging Template

This will differ for everyone, but think of a couple of really important answers that you’d like to know before they visit the house and ask questions to elicit those answers.  Here are a couple questions I’ll ask:

“When are you in need of a room?” or “When are you looking to move?” — I’ll ask this because sometimes people will be searching for a room a couple months in advance.  If you’re looking to fill a room within a couple of weeks, then you will likely fill it before this person wants to move.

“Are you looking for a room for you and a significant other or just you?” — I’ll ask this if their profile indicates that they are in a relationship and/or if they have pictures with a significant other.

“What is your current living situation and why are you looking to move?” — This will give me a quick look into their background.  If the situation sounds sketchy, put your guard up.  If they give off the vibe that they are being evicted or they are someone that gets into messy relationships, keep your guard up.  If they mention that they are looking to downsize and pay a little less in rent, then that will probably be a solid option.

“What are you looking for in your next living situation?” — This is another inquisitive question if you want to dive a little deeper into their background.

I would recommend being very clear about your important rules before they ever visit the house.  For me, I will not accept loud noises and a lack of cleanliness.  So I make it clear before they arrive that I am looking for someone who is quiet and clean.  I think a better way to word things is “I am looking for someone who is….” and “A roommate will not be a good fit in this house if they [enter issues you don’t accept]”.

I also think it’s smart to mention that there will be roommates in the house and ask if they are cool living with others.

Module 12: Lease Agreements

Month to Month

In some situations, having the tenant sign a 12 month lease is ideal.  However, I’d argue that you should always sign every tenant to a month to month lease.  In Las Vegas, landlords can give 30 day no cause eviction to their tenants at any time.  This allows the landlord to cut ties with a bad tenant at any time.  When renting out a house by the room, a bad tenant will be exponentially worse than a bad tenant who lives on their own.  You do not want a bad tenant to negatively affect your other tenants and have them consider moving out.

You need to be able to handle bad tenants immediately.  I’m including a non-payer of rent within the category of ‘bad tenant’.  You need to have the ability to remove someone who isn’t paying or creating problems immediately.  By having tenants on a month to month lease, you will have the most leverage and flexibility at all times.  If they don’t follow your rules, they will receive a 30 day no cause eviction notice immediately.

Lay Down the Law

Make sure they are handed the house rules document upon moving in.  Include a clause in the lease that they will be given an eviction notice if they have 3 strikes against the house rules.

What you’re offering is extremely valuable.  In Las Vegas, I’m offering a nice house with a furnished room, upgraded bathrooms, no credit check, no security deposit, and only the first month’s rent due upon moving in.  I have the leverage to ask for tenants to follow my rules or face eviction.  Make sure you convey exactly what your expectations are for roommates in your house.

Credit Checks

I don’t do any credit checks, but this will differ between everyone implementing this system.  In my experience, I haven’t found any correlation between a good credit score and a good roommate.

Background Checks

I also don’t do any background checks.

What I Look For

I look for proof of employment and a referral from a previous landlord.  In my experience, I have not seen any correlation between credit/background checks and good tenants for this model.

For traditional rentals, credit/background checks are typically mandatory.  With this model, I have enough data where I don’t believe there’s any correlation between credit/background check and good roommate that fits within the system.

Side note: since I look for people with stable employment, those companies would have already done a background check on the applicant so technically I don’t directly do background checks, but I do indirectly.

Keep in mind that you’re asking tenants to live in a house with a bunch of strangers.  You’re likely not going to receive the most perfect applicants on paper.

Security Deposit

It’s up to you if you want to charge a security deposit upon moving in.  No matter what you decide, you need to have a clause within your lease agreements that explicitly states that tenants will pay for any damages incurred to the property.   If any damages are caused by a tenant, your best source of legal action will be small claims court.

Late Payments

It’s up to you how much you want to charge for late payments.  I personally wouldn’t recommend adding on expensive late fees to someone who is already struggling to pay.  If you play this game correctly, you should be cash flowing every month and can accept a late payment here or there.

Just make sure it doesn’t become a consistent issue.  I would recommend having a clause in your lease for late payments that way you can apply the rule to the tenant late on rent, but full payment is most important with this.  I’ve had multiple tenants pay me every two weeks as they receive their paycheck.  I was receiving full rent and they were reliable.  There wasn’t a need to charge late fees in those situations.

But this is entirely up to you.  If you’re living in a nice neighborhood and have a higher income tenant class with more reliable income sources, then I’d recommend charging late fees for late payments to ensure that they don’t take advantage of you.

Side note: when you become a landlord, you are in control of people’s living situation.  You have the power to kick someone to the curb and really mess up their life.  Always keep that in mind if they are struggling to pay.  If they can get you full month rent, but it happens to be a week or two late, then I think it’s in your best interest to work with them and not charge late fees.

Utilities

I charge every tenant $50 per month for utilities and I think this is easiest on everyone involved.

Module 13: Accepting Payments

I would highly recommend having every tenant make payments electronically.  I accept payments via Zelle, Venmo, PayPal and Cash App.  I accept cash too but I do my best to get everyone to pay electronically.

Paying via payment apps provides tracking for both you and the tenant on the amount paid and when the rent payment was made.  You do not want to get in a “he said, she said” battle with a tenant about rent being paid in full or not.

Accepting money electronically allows for an easier collection method on the first of the month.

Module 14: How to Handle Problems

There are going to be headaches when implementing the house hack strategy.  Multiple strangers will be living under the same roof and everyone has a different idea on how they want to live.  Some people are communal and think all of the food in the kitchen is for everyone to share.  Some people don’t think cleaning up after themselves is that important.  Some people want the temperature in the house set to an unreasonably high number during the winter.

By following what I taught in module 12, you will be getting ahead of the curve on any problems that exist in the house.  Be stern.  If tenants don’t follow your rules, you have to give them a 30 day no cause eviction and terminate the month to month lease.

If you do a good job of presenting the law on day one and making it clear that they will be evicted if the rules are not followed, then you will be removing a majority of the problems you could face as the landlord.

But problems will still arise.  The best thing you can do is to listen to any problems, not rush to judgment, ensure that you have all of the possible information at your disposal, and make the best decision you can.  Don’t be afraid to ask someone to come into your room and have a “real talk” with them.  You are the landlord.  You are the leader of the house.  All of the tenants will look to you to solve any and all problems.

One important thing I want to instill in everyone wanting to do this is to be the landlord that fixes problems immediately, no matter the cost.  Tenants will appreciate you a lot for doing it and showing that you care.  Please do not be a slumlord.

In my first single family house hack, I faced more problems than you can imagine.  I had the cops come to my house multiple times, I had to evict a tenant’s girlfriend due to her being snuck inside at night against my wishes, I had a tenant pass away in the hospital, I had to deal with a tenant who was a wannabe DJ and wanted to play loud music throughout the night.  I had bed bugs.  I dealt with a fire being lit inside the house from a tenant who went mental.  I had a tenant steal a credit card from my room and try to run it at a local convenience store.

Whenever confronted with a problem, I think it’s best to think of a long term solution.  You may be confronted with a problem, such as tenants bringing over loud guests, and need to upgrade your house rules to include a clause saying that any guests will be quiet or they will be asked to leave the property.  If the problem persists, maybe you ban guests altogether.

The point is that you won’t have an immediate solution for all problems presented to you.  The goal with this eBook is to provide the roadmap to eliminating the most common problems before they arise, but you will be presented with more.  Whenever you create a solution, make sure to think of ways that you can have that problem solved in the future.

Example problems: I didn’t have enough parking at my first single family house hack if all tenants drove a car.  The solution was to install concrete all around the house.

My house had a very different temperature downstairs vs. upstairs.  I eventually spent around $5,000 for upgraded windows, insulation installation in the entire attic, solar attic fan, and solar screens.  And an additional cost to add a mini-split to the garage unit.

I was confronted with having a tenant bringing over a guest that caused problems in the house.  I learned about the eviction process of unwanted guests when I had to evict his guest.  I also learned even more about the eviction process when I evicted him.  The experience with him taught me that I need to confront the tenant at the very first sign of them bringing over a guest that will cause problems.  I am comfortable telling a tenant that their guest cannot continue their behavior or they will be evicted from the property and never allowed back on the premises.

House hacking will be one of the easiest income sources for you when you establish good house rules, find a good group of tenants living in your house, and you understand how to manage that group.  Unfortunately, there will be times where you are confronted with problems and it’s up to you to solve them.  The goal is to solve them once and never be confronted with that specific issue again.

Module 15: Deal Analysis

This will be a skill set you’ll need to learn on your own.  Every market is different, everyone’s interests are different, everyone’s income is different, everyone’s goals are different, etc.

I’ll tell you what I look for…

My goal is finding 5 bed houses that allow for an easy conversion of a living room into a 6th bedroom.  I want at least 3 full bathrooms and one half bathroom.  I want the layout of the house to offer ease of use by all tenants.  Ideally the house is 3 stories.  I stick to the price range of $500k-$650k.

The last two properties I’ve purchased are from the same builder in the same area in Las Vegas.  The next property I want/will offer on is from the same builder and is right down the street from the two properties.

I’m fortunate enough to earn an income from YouTube that allows me to shop in this price range.  The cash flow isn’t as great as other options on the market, but I much prefer this quality of build, houses that were constructed within the last decade, this area, and the quality of tenants available.  I think this area will be one of the higher appreciating areas in Vegas over the next decade.

Module 16: How to Manage Hotel Hack (Rent by Room Model)

The goal of learning how to manage a house hack is to have the ability to manage a house when living elsewhere.  I call this business model hotel hacking: renting a property out by the room.  I think it’s important for everyone to use the house hack model when first beginning as you will be confronted with a lot of problems and will need to come up with a lot of solutions.  Hopefully this eBook will guide you through a majority of problems you will face.

Once you get comfortable renting by the room for your own property, you can then transition into owning multiple properties that are rented by the room.  From what I’ve seen in Vegas, most houses should cash flow at least $1k per month if purchased correctly.  Only 5 houses will give someone the median household income in Las Vegas using this model.  Put more simply, buying one of these properties every year will only take 5 years to provide a $60k/year salary that will be reasonably passive (when operating correctly).

(2022 update: I am now managing 17 tenants across 3 different properties.  Establishing a good system for your first property is key and will make managing new properties easier.)

Google Sheet

Keep a Google sheet with all of the necessary trades for handling repairs at your house.

Example:

PlumbingVegas Plumbing: 702-234-5689
PaintingDesert Painters LLC: 702-412-2980
HVACVegas HVAC Experts: 702-980-2413

You can leave the sheet on your fridge in the event that any of these businesses need to be called.

Module 17: Let’s Make Money

This eBook was probably 90% of all I know.  This should be enough to assist you with managing your first house hack.

The last 10% comes down to finding a deal and getting the push to actually purchase the deal and take on your first house hack.  Realistically, you don’t need me for that.  At some point, you’re going to have to make the decision to purchase a house and rent out the rooms to roommates.

The goal of this eBook is to assist you with managing your first house hack.  You’re likely going to face very few problems and hopefully what I provided in this eBook will help assist you with handling any of the headaches you will experience.

If you’re ready to buy a house, here are the main checkpoints before signing on the dotted line…

#1) You have adequate amounts of cash for down payment, closing costs, reserves, and any money needed for rehab or furniture.

#2) You are buying a property in an area where there is rental demand.  In most cities, any area with a reasonable amount of jobs will have demand for affordable housing.

#3) You do a good job finding solid tenants that will pay you every month and follow your rules.

In almost all scenarios, you will be able to greatly reduce your current living expenses while renting.  That’s the real goal of house hacking.  Reduce your living expenses as much as possible.  And if you play this game correctly, there are plenty of houses where you can live for free.

There are a lot of people in need of affordable rooms to rent right now in America, and they’re waiting on you to start providing that housing.  They cut their costs.  You live for free.  Win-win.  Go make it happen!

Module 18: Folder Structure

I would recommend using Google Drive for managing your properties.  I am including my folder structure so you can see how I do it.  Implementing structure makes managing these properties, posting the rooms for rent, and accessing your rolodex of contacts so much easier.

Inside my Google Drive, I have a folder specifically for “Real Estate.”  Each property has its own folder.  I include my house hack checklist here, which is attached in this ebook.  I also have a Google Sheet labeled “Team Vegas” which is all of my contacts – electricians, plumbers, landscapers, etc.

After clicking into one of the property folders, I have a folder for everything needed when listing a room for rent.  The house rules document is here, which you’ll find at the end of this ebook.  I include the leases, which differ based on room.  The Key-codes & Mail document is for keeping track of all key-less entry door codes and mailbox number.  Once you start growing, these numbers become harder to keep track of.

This is the folder for the room listings.  The “Other Pictures for Listing” folder contains the images that are not the specific room: front of the house, living room, backyard, kitchen, etc.

I separate each room into its own folder so it’s super simple when a specific room needs to be listed for rent.  The Room Post Descriptions Google Doc is the text I copy/paste into each listing. 

Module 19: Next Steps

Step 1: Reach out to a lender to begin the pre-qualification process.  If you don’t know any, you can Google “mortgage lenders [your city]”.  Setup a call and see what kind of loan options are available to you.

Step 2: Find an agent that has flipping experience.  Many agents aren’t knowledgeable about investing in any capacity.  I wouldn’t recommend hiring one who hasn’t done at least a few renovation projects themselves.  They’ll have a better eye on the quality of the properties while touring as well.

Step 3: Begin making offers.  Don’t be afraid of offending homeowners.  If you want to make low ball offers, then do it.  Once you get an offer accepted, you’ll be one step closer to making this a reality.

The process of buying a house:

1- Offer accepted

2- Due diligence period begins

3- Send earnest money deposit to escrow company

4 – Begin loan process by sending all documents to lender

5- Complete inspection

6 – Negotiate with the listing agent if anything from inspection needs to get fixed OR back out of contract (no penalty) OR everything is good and you proceed.

7 – Lender orders appraisal

8 – If house appraises (aka the appraisal indicates that the house is worth equal to or more than the purchase price in contract), then proceed.  If it doesn’t, then you will negotiate with the listing agent to alter the purchase agreement or threaten walking away from the deal (no penalty).

9 – Confirm with lender that you are set to close

10 – Lender will order closing to be done at title company

11 – Sign documents to close on day of closing at title company

12 – Go to bank and wire money to title company

13 – Lender will fund and record later that day or next day

14 – Receive keys and you are a new homeowner

Appendix A

House Rules

No shoes in the house.

If you’d like to play music, noise levels must be at a reasonable level.  A reasonable level is defined as being barely audible outside of your room with your door closed.  In the event that one roommate needs the noise to be turned down or off, other roommates must comply with their wishes.

You are not allowed to enter another roommate’s room without prior consent.

Quiet time is between 10pm and 8am.

Laundry is not allowed after 11pm.  Please plan accordingly.

Run the garbage disposal when anything but water is sent down the drain.

No oil/grease is to be sent down the drain.  If you have oil/grease in your cooking pot, please pour in the trash can and/or use a paper towel to clean.  The cost of paper towels is significantly less than the cost of replacing the draining system.

Please do your best to take out the trash whenever the trash has reached the ceiling of the trash can.  I’ve put a recycling bin to the right of the trash can for recycling.

Please do not leave anything in the kitchen sink.  I have provided plenty of material to dry your utensils.  A quick soap and rinse is enough to clean.  Leaving dirty items in the sink makes the kitchen messy and smell terribly.

If you have anything in the kitchen (utensils, cups, plates, etc.) that you would like no one else to use, please notify every roommate that said item is off-limits.

Please do your best to put kitchen utensils, pots, forks/knives/spoons away after they have adequately dried.

Please be mindful of the noise levels if you happen to bring over guests at night.  The noise rules still apply with guests over.

Keep windows and doors closed at all times during the summer and winter months as the electric bill will be significantly higher if we are blowing air to the outside.

Please do not eat others’ food unless given consent.  In the event that food was mistakenly eaten, please offer to reimburse the roommate for the food.

No cigarette or weed smoking inside under any circumstance.  I do not want to see any cigarette butts in the yard.  If you smoke, discard the cigarette in the trash properly.

Please do not leave the house when your clothes are being washed in the washer out of respect for others who may need to do laundry.  If you need to leave the house and your clothes are in the dryer, please provide a laundry basket for others to place your clothes in so washing can continue.

Take out dryer lint after use.  This is mandatory.  We are risking the house being burnt down if the dryer lint is not adequately removed.

Nothing foreign goes down the toilet.  This includes, but is not limited to, condoms, blunts, and food.

If you order food, please be alert for when the food delivery has arrived.

Lock the back door whenever you return inside.  This is mandatory to ensure safety for all roommates.

If there is an urgent need for anything that I have not provided, please text me asap and I will reimburse you for the expense.

If you are having any issues related to the house or between another roommate and don’t feel like you can settle it yourself, please let me know asap by text.

If you damage anything on the property, it is your responsibility to reimburse me for fixing the damage.

Every roommate is given three strikes.  If you break the rules, are disrespectful, or damage the property, you will be given a strike.  After three strikes, you will be given a notice to vacate the house in 30 days.  You must vacate within 30 days.

In the event that you are asked to leave in 30 days, if you are unruly or cause problems with any of the roommates, I will begin the process of eviction immediately and you will not be reimbursed for any days not living in the house.  If the problems are severe enough then the police will be called and you will be evicted immediately.

HOUSE HACK CHECKLIST

Final inspection walk through (before closing)

  • AC/Heat work
  • Hot water turns on in showers/sinks
  • Nothing obvious broken/malfunctioning

Remind previous owner that all mail needs to be forwarded or address change

Confirm receipt of all keys: front door, bedroom doors, garage doors, mailbox key

  • Make copies and add to colored key chain for labeling

Put utilities in your name

  • NV Energy, Las Vegas Water Department, Southwest Gas, Republic Services (trash)

Order internet

  • Cox will ship router
  • Highly highly recommend getting highest cost package + unlimited data ($50/mo)

Install smart thermostats

Install key-less door entry to all exit doors

  • If you don’t want to do this, make key copies at Lowes or Walmart (one more than rooms in the house, in case someone misplaces in first week or you want sanity key located outside)

Vivint security system – doorbell + camera

If you’re going to furnish…

  • Queen bed & boxspring ($300)
  • Dresser chest ($250)
  • Zippered mattress covers ($50)
  • 3” foam mattress topper if you’re feeling gracious ($97)

Second fridge if 4 or more tenants

Consumer goods to consider

  • Toilet paper, paper towels, air spray, soap for kitchen & bathrooms, trash bags
  • All cleaners (general, bleach, carpet cleaner, window/glass)
  • Plates, cups, and silverware
  • Pots, pans, cooking utensils
  • Kitchen plate drying mat

If more than 5-6 tenants, consider calling Republic Services and asking for second trash bin

Buy cheap hamper for laundry room

  • For moving laundry when a tenant’s laundry is done and they leave the house

Install fans in bedrooms without one

Create Google Drive folder for room listings

  • All pictures located here, separated by room
  • Create template for description and title

I’d recommend hiring maid service, at least 1x a month

I’d recommend keeping utilities at a fixed rate – much easier on everyone involved

  • I charge $50/mo flat

Supply house rules to prospective tenants when you’re showing property

  • Make your rules and standards very clear from the start, before they move in

Confirm everything is working properly

The Culture of the house is set by you and established on day 1

Conclusion

If you read the entire eBook, I hope this will give you the boost needed to start your real estate portfolio with a profitable house hack!

This strategy isn’t for everyone, but I’ve done it successfully and plan on growing quickly to the point where I’m comfortably making enough to retire at a young age.  I run a meetup in Las Vegas and have met many house hackers.  Some only want to do this with one property, some want to have many.

Whatever your plans, if you apply the system I provided in this ebook, you will be successful and make money.

Best of luck to you,

Spencer

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