Hi, it’s Jessie and I’m really excited to write a post from my perspective on our real estate journey! I’ve been a nurse for the last twelve years. Most of that time was spent working in the emergency room and in recent years working in case management. I have zero background in real estate. It’s almost embarrassing how little I knew about this topic before Erik taught me a few things. If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who has that spark in their eye when they talk about real estate investing, this post is for you. Hopefully you won’t feel as overwhelmed or out of the loop after this read.
Erik and I got married when we were 30 years old. Erik owned and lived on one side of a duplex. He suggested I move in so we could continue to house hack, but as a newlywed I wanted a new house. Young love really blinded me from practical decision making. Erik had a desire to continue to be involved in owning rental properties to grow our passive income. He suggested we buy a house and keep his duplex. I thought he was crazy! There was no need for us to have multiple houses. As I mentioned before, I knew absolutely nothing about real estate. I had never owned a home. I didn’t even have to pay rent at the places I lived the 7 years before we met. He gave me a price range for a home, and of course I picked out a house that cost 20,000 more than our budget. Erik is all about making my dreams come true, so before he said no way he crunched some numbers. The house I picked happened to have a garage apartment which rented for $400/month. If we used the $400 towards the mortgage, then we only had to pay $600/month for this beautifully renovated 3 bedroom 2 bathroom 2100 square foot home that I had to have.
I was terrified we would lose both houses. There was so much fear of the unknown. I am a perfectionist by nature and I hate it when things go wrong. What would happen if any of the units were empty? What if any of the 1000 other scenarios I could imagine happened? Would we go bankrupt and end up with terrible credit? (I’m still recovering from having a Dave Ramsey envelope system. No hate to Dave. That works great for lots of people) Erik assured me it would be easy to sell the duplex if we ever needed to avoid financial trouble. Plus, we had cash reserves in case anything bad happened. He showed me how we could invest safely by having a backup plan for these worst case scenarios. We took the time to talk through all the bad things we could think of that could happen, and discussed what we would do if any of those actually happened.
After a few months of owning both properties, Erik suggested we pay the total mortgage of our main house from our paychecks and save all of the rental income from the garage apartment plus the cash flow from the duplex. We did this for 2 years. At the end of those two years I really wanted to go to Europe for like 2-3 months because I was not yet a responsible adult. Erik also loves to travel, but convinced me we should use that money to take a shorter trip and buy another rent house. Luckily, I listened to him and we purchased another rental house. Don’t worry we still got to do an amazing 10 day trip to New Zealand and had enough for a down payment on our next property. Savings in those two years was around $25,000.
Our property portfolio has continued to grow slowly as we build our life together. We have added two amazing kids to our family, moved to a new state, and transitioned our careers. It’s been a lot! I know my personality…I would have NEVER been on board with having rentals without the baby step of house hacking that first home with a garage apartment. I was able to trust the process long enough to see the advantage it was to keep the duplex. We made sure to build up savings if things broke. We learned from other people’s mistakes and our own. We took our time and got familiar with the language and variety of ways to invest in real estate. We tried our best to be calculated and continue to make the best decision with each investment property. I have loved getting to take these steps together for our family. Have we done everything right? Goodness no! I almost wish someone would have convinced me to just move into the duplex when we got married or even picked a house in the right price range! I can’t go back and change those decisions, but I’ve learned from them.
There are so many different ways to invest in real estate. If you are a beginner like I was, where do you start? The most important thing to start doing is to educate yourself. You don’t need to try to buy a house right away. Take the time to learn so you can avoid beginner mistakes. Here is a list of resources that helped me learn the lingo, understand different routes to financial freedom, and clearly understand what my husband was talking about. Our story is unique, but it’s never too late or too early to start learning and investing in your future.
The Book on Rental Property Investing by Brandon Turner
Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat by David Greene
House Hacker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Bryce Stewart
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T Kiyosaki
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