How We Got a Million-Dollar Property Portfolio for (Almost) Free
BY BRAD LOHNES
(It wasn’t inheritance.)
Everything you need to achieve your dreams in life is available to you. All you have to do is find a strategy that makes sense, step up, and take action. Your life can change forever. Ours has.
But you do need a strategy. A plan. A formula.
On BiggerPockets, Brandon Turner has described an interesting investment strategy, which he eloquently calls the BRRRR strategy: Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat.
My own property investment mentor refers to this process as “recycling your money.” (Apparently, it’s even good for the environment.) Whatever you call it, at its core, it’s nothing more than a simple home equity loan. People use home equity loans every day to buy luxuries like boats, cars, and expensive vacations. My wife and I used it to get a million-dollar investment portfolio for free. I believe it’s one of the true “secrets” of wealth building.
Here’s how it happened.
We started with only some home equity. Honestly, it wasn’t that much, but it was enough. We borrowed money against our personal home, which allowed us to put deposits on two 3-bedroom single family residences (SFRs). These were in what you would classify as “C” neighborhoods — lots of renters and good cash flow if you know the math.
We did some minor rehab — more like redecoration than renovation. We only took on simple jobs like patching holes, fixing broken things, adding fresh paint and new carpet throughout, putting some new concrete in the driveway or adding a path, and maybe building a shed. That kind of thing. We still had to coordinate plumbers, electricians, builders, carpet and flooring installers, and more. We even had to remove a bit of asbestos from one house. But we also did a lot of the grunt work ourselves with help from friends and family. The main tasks we took on were painting the entire interior of each house, some exterior painting, and some landscaping.
Of course, you can go a lot further with this. Sometimes it isn’t necessary. Our goal initially wasn’t to make a fortune from the renovation. We made our choices primarily to make the properties attractive to potential tenants. Perhaps next time we will target the renovations a little more at achieving a better valuation.
We managed to rent both properties quickly and with positive cash flow. We did notice that the property that was on the more busy road rented more quickly and at higher rent than the one down a lane. This was despite the fact that the house down the lane is a nicer property. A lesson for the future, perhaps.
Another thing we learned here was to do the renovations while you are waiting on the property to settle. I’m not sure whether this is legal in all countries, but we negotiated it in as part of the contract for both properties. It worked like a charm for the first property — the tenants were handed the key on settlement day. The second property was a little more difficult since existing tenants needed to move out and we had to do the majority of the renovations post-settlement…
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