Like most things in life, real estate investing comes with its own challenges and triumphs.  

In this episode, Craig and Zeona are joined by Cam Cooper, a former tenant, certified house-hacker, and co-founder of a Real Estate Pro Meetup group in Atlanta. 

Although relatively new in the game, Cam has already managed to survive every investor’s nightmare—a terrible tenant and the unexpected costs that come with it! 

Filled with key lessons that may smoothen their journey into financial independence, aspiring real estate investors will not want to miss this episode!  

Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here

Surviving the Ups and Downs of Real Estate Investing with Cam Cooper

We got the Big Cammie Whammie Jammie coming on the show today, Cam Cooper from Atlanta, Georgia. He came and he kind of delivered, he’s kind of a pinch hitter for us. We had a guy call in sick today and he was there to step in and he did such a phenomenal job. And, yeah, Cam’s got a great story, super inspirational. He had to deal with an eviction on his second house hack so definitely listen through to get there. And, yeah, and before we get to the show, I want to remind you guys that if you haven’t already checked out thefiteam.com and the resources we offer, there’s a bunch of things for house hackers.

If you’re in Denver area, we’ve got our list of contractors, we got a case study book so a bunch of people that have house hacked, you can see their numbers. We’ve got a whole house hacker starter kit, calculators, a whole bunch of stuff. Go in there, check it out, it’s all free to you guys. We want to provide value and make sure that you’re well equipped for your next house hack. So, go check it out. And, now, let’s get to the show.

Cam Cooper, welcome to the show, my friend. How you doing today, dude?

 

I’m excited. This is kind of like a dream come true. It’s just crazy when your idols become people here on a podcast, so I’m really excited to be here.

 

Yeah, dude. We got the same initials. You’re the man because we actually had a cancellation earlier and you friggin’ hopped in like the MVP that you are so we got a pinch hitter, which I was so excited to hear about your story, dude. Obviously, we’ve met kind of briefly over FaceTime. Z knows you. My boy Vince knows you. So let’s hear it, man. Where does it all start? How’d you first year about financial independence?

 

Yeah, so I kind of really found out more about house hacking before I got into the whole FI movement. A lot of my friends were purchasing homes in the end of 2020, around that time, so I kind of thought it’d be a good idea to get in. Had some money saved up during COVID, I bought my first primary residence with the intention of house hacking it in April of 2021 in the Atlanta area and then that’s when I like really dove in and gotten Craig’s book, actually, got that fully rented out, kind of did, and once I started getting more into Craig’s book and BiggerPockets, I kind of got more into the FI space, and then, from there, I’ve just kind of gotten more involved in the real estate investing meetup space in Atlanta and it’s really turned to into a movement on my end.

 

What is this Craig’s book you’re talking about?

 

The house hacking strategy by the premiere CC on this podcast.

 

I hear that’s one of the best real estate books of all time, maybe second best to 30-Day Stay, but we’ll see.

 

We’ll see.

 

Awesome. So we’re in April. You said April 2021, right?

 

Yeah.

 

And so give us a little bit of what the market’s like at this time. Is it crazy? Do you have to go in — or is this when things kind of slow down a little bit?

 

So this is kind of right when things started to pick up a little bit. Just to give you an idea, I put an offer in that got accepted for like 8 or 9 percent over list price at the time and that was kind of what set me apart from the other offers at the time. Interest rates are still pretty good so that’s kind of when it started to tick up a little bit.

 

Yeah. So was there anything at this time in your life that was like painful which made you think like, “Okay, I don’t wanna work a job the rest of my life”? What’s that like aha moment that happened in 2021?

 

Well, I mean, I had just hit 13 months or about a year of working fully remote. My whole team worked in Texas at the time and I had been living with somebody else and as part of their house hack and I figured there’s got to be a way that I can make this flexible work situation work a little bit better for me and that’s — he kind of got me into BiggerPockets and the notion of some of the podcasts and the books and that’s when I found Craig’s book.

 

It’s funny, it sounds like Craig, like when Craig started out house hacking, he would like convert all of his roommates into house hackers and like sell them real estate. It’s a great way to go.

 

Yeah. I mean, honestly, that’s such a good way to do it, right? Like it’s so cool to see you on here as a tenant of a house hacker now house hacking yourself. You’re like second generation, which is amazing. And I think we’ve all been roommates before and we’ve all paid people rent before and, yeah, it’s funny, that’s kind of how I got my behind the curtain story. I feel like I haven’t said this that much but when I was living in San Francisco, there was a mom with two kids living behind a curtain in her living room and I was in the bedroom paying rent. Yeah. And so I was like, “Damn, if this woman,” who is like, I call her my San Francisco Mom, we’re still in touch today, love her to death, I was like, “If this woman can do it, then there’s no reason why me at 24 years old can’t do it.” And so that was my inspiration for that and so same kind of story, right?

 

Craig, we all thought that you came up with the curtain and, really, you’re just a curtain stealer.

 

I don’t think there’s a new idea out there in real estate. And if there is, please let me know. It’s all been done before. Pretty much everything that we’ve ever done is just like rip off and duplicate, right?

 

Yeah, and, actually, a couple of my tenants slash roommates who’ve lived with me in the house hack since then have gone on to house hack as well so it’s kind of — it’s the positive pandemic that’s spreading. It’s just spreading the house hacking idea.

 

Okay, so let’s break it down. This sounds like it’s your…

 

The For Real Deal.

 

This is the first deal you ever did, intentional or not intentional, but for you, Cam, it sounds like this was a very intentional deal as a house hack. So, give us all the deets. Spill the tea. What did you buy? What was the price, mortgage payment, rent? Give it all to us.

 

Yeah. So, originally going into it knowing I was going to house hack, I was really trying to find small multifamily or something with like a finished basement, like a three-two up top, something like that, in Atlanta, those were really hard to come by at the time and those that were on the market was going way above asking price and, at the time, I was in a previous role where I didn’t have the salary that I have now so I kind of had to get a little bit creative and I didn’t really want to employ the rent by the room strategy, I kind of wanted to have my cake and eat it too and get right into a multifamily but it wasn’t in the cards at the time so I bought, it was originally a three-two that the previous owner converted into a four-three by enclosing the carport so that’s kind of where I lived and then the three-two was on the other side of the house so I had like my own exit-entry way and my own bathroom and was right next to the kitchen as well. So, the purchase price was $300,000, went and sold above list at that time, it was pretty hot market. The rate that I got was like 3.125 percent so it’s solid at the time, 5 percent down conventional, and I think, at the time, my mortgage payment was right around $1,700, like $1,710 and I rented out the other three bedrooms, at the time, I was renting it out for right around $2,100 so depending on the size of the bedroom and if it had a bathroom or not, it was different tiers of pricing but it overall came in at like 2,100 bucks.

 

So I love that you’re living in a carport, like it was fully converted, right? Like you got — do you have a kitchen? Like what’s your situation in there?

 

It was honestly just like a large master bedroom. There was no extra kitchen. There probably is the opportunity to put a little kitchenette in there, but it was just a large bedroom with its own bathroom. Pretty large bathroom too. There was no true closet, the closet was in the bathroom, but, yeah, it was just a glorified master bedroom.

 

How was the insulation and stuff in that unit? Because I suspect there wasn’t heat going to there unless you went ahead and added that, like was it cold? Was it hot? How did that feel?

 

The insulation was actually fine. There was — we still had AC kind of — what’s it called? From the ground AC. It was sat on a crawlspace, so we’re able to still get some AC in there. Light and water run through there totally fine. The one issue was I was hanging up my closet in the bathroom and it was on metal studs, because they had to kind of put it inside of the masonry of the carport so that was kind of an interesting find and I had to hang the closet and I did use like four or five different drill bits just to get the closet hung on the studs that were in there.

 

So, to get it to where you could rent it for $2,100, did you have to do any renovations or was it just ready to go?

 

The only major thing that I had to do was on the backside of the house, there was just like kind of like maybe a 48-inch drop off in the back door which is certainly a liability issue if tenants were to walk out the back door so I ended up putting like a 12 by 14 deck out there and that ended up being like a nice little amenity for the guests but that was really it. Unfortunately, I did that right during like Memorial Day weekend at 2021 when labor prices had never been higher, but, besides that, we repainted the interior and that was really it, just getting the deck built and painting. That was it.

 

Nice. So what were some things that you learned through this that you changed or did differently going into your next deal?

 

You know, it’s funny. I think I got all of my roommates off of Facebook in some capacity, like Facebook Marketplace. I was a little bit concerned that maybe I wasn’t as apt at screening those tenants as I would for the next property that I bought, which actually was totally the role reversal, which I can get into after this, but I was a little bit nervous about that. I think I was a little bit concerned about how to mitigate conflict between tenants, if that ever arose, because there were tenants who were sharing a bathroom. That was never actually really an issue and parking was totally fine. This was, by my standards, a pretty smooth sailing property, and still is today fully rented out.

 

Before we head off into the next one, I want to kind of get a feel for — so it sounds like you’re getting $2,100 in rent, your mortgage payment was about $1,700 so you’re living for free, what did you do about utilities? Did you split that up amongst the roommates? Did you include that in the rent? How did you handle that?

 

Yeah, so I split that up amongst the roommates. I worked for a AT&T utility provider so I got a better deal on some of the utilities that we received but we ended up — that was in the lease agreement that we would split utilities evenly four different ways and there was no real issue with that.

 

So at the end of every month, were you like looking at the water bill, looking at the electric bill, looking at the gas bill, adding it all up, dividing by five and sending Venmos out, is that kind of how you did it? And is that how you’d recommend doing it in the future?

 

Yeah, so that’s how I did it. I think that’s the way that I still do it now, even with the other room rented out. Some utilities have now moved into other tenants’ names. I haven’t really found a better way to do it, unless I bake it in, which I might start doing now once I get the new leases rolled over in 2023, I might just bake in the utilities into the rent, this might be easier than chasing people down for Venmo, especially if folks move out and stuff. That’s been the one kind of tricky situation.

 

Yeah, so when I was a property manager, I would give people just a set price, depending on house split, but you could just say, oh, utilities on average are $40 a month, and so just make it $40 for them and so that’s still separate from their rent, because if you advertise that as a higher rent, that’s like 50 bucks more, you might not get as many tenants just because of the rent price. So, just a tip.

 

I used to always tack on the utility fee and so, at the time, it was $75 but utilities are probably more expensive now so maybe $100 per bedroom and so you’re going to get $400 a month more in rent, which actually may look good when going to a lender and looking at your next property when your leases are $700 plus $100 of utility and they’re seeing those 800 bucks come in each month. So, yeah, I think there’s so many ways that you can do it. I wouldn’t say there’s a right or a wrong way, just whatever is more preferable to you. Yeah.

 

Good point.

 

Cool. So you were in this property for one year. You got most of your tenants for from Facebook Marketplace. Was it exactly one year when you moved out and bought the next one?

 

No. So I bought that April 2021 and then I ended up getting a little more involved in the Atlanta REI meetup throughout the rest of that year. I ended up partnering up with somebody on buying an investment property not too far down the street in December of 2021 with the intention of renting it out to a single family. That was a little bit of a train wreck for this first year. We can get into that, but I ended up staying in that first house until October of 2022 so about a month ago, and then I actually moved into the investment property that I bought kind of as a temporary stay for now.

 

So did you find your partner in the real estate meetup? Was it just somebody that you met as you were going there?

 

I actually found everybody else so I found my lender, my realtor, all of the contractors I needed for some of the rehab, but the partner was actually somebody, you know, extended family.

 

Okay. Want to hear about the train wreck. What happened?

 

Yeah, so, like I said, I bought this as a pure investment property long-term rental at the time when interest rates kind of allowed for that to kind of be a thing, but I bought it in early December of 2021 and it was totally turnkey. The previous owner was an investor who had flipped it. And it was a quick close. We actually closed right around Thanksgiving time of last year and that was kind of what got our offer accepted was the ability to close within like I think it was 16 days from getting under contract. And that time, basically, the first mortgage wasn’t until February of 2022 so I was like if I can get somebody in here, I can kind of like increase the cash flow for this year so I basically got a not-so-great tenant in there, which I thought was totally fine as I had screened them through Zillow. It ended up being a bit of a mess. I got rent for December, January, partial in February, late in March and then I never actually got rent from them again so I had to go through the whole eviction process, which was kind of brutal. On top of some other things, we had to replace a sewer line in that time, we had to replace the whole HVAC system, we had to do a lot of stuff that I wasn’t necessarily planning on doing because I thought — just stuff that I had missed on the inspection so it was a little bit of a financial lesson this year but I’m in there now and I’m ready to house hack that one too.

 

So, what was this partnership like with you and how did this go down? Because you had a partnership with someone in your family and you have all these unforeseen expenses that you probably didn’t warn them of upfront and so what was it like going to them and saying, “Hey, I need an extra 10 grand for the sewer? I need,” whatever it is?

 

Yeah, yeah. So, I guess the partnership was they were an equity partner so they basically provided funding for the down payment and then I was the managing partner and, basically, we split the equity that way. Actually, once we closed, I financed a lot. I financed the sewer and I financed the HVAC replacement as well so I just basically got zero percent interest credit cards for 18 months and kind of figured it out that way so that was, thankfully, I was able to do it that way and not really have to pay more with interest, things like that.

 

I feel like that’s really interesting. People don’t bring that up very often but a zero percent credit card is a good way to handle some unforeseen expenses. If you can pay with credit. Sometimes the sewer company won’t allow it.

 

Yeah.

 

That’s smart.

 

Thankfully, the sewer company had actually partnered up with a local credit union to kind of create that product or else I would not have been able to tick that ticket.

 

So, how did you find this deal? Was it off market or…?

 

So, yeah, it was actually on market, it was on the MLS at the time. I was actually — so, the guy who runs the Atlanta real estate meetup actually was my realtor, my buddy, Vince. He basically sent me a text. I told him that I was looking to buy by the end of the year, buy an investment property with a long-term buy and hold and I basically told him, I was like, “I kinda want to do this,” and he said, “Well, the week before Thanksgiving is kind of a pretty good time for buyers to get in,” because there’s not a lot of folks doing open houses, they’re kind of preparing for the holiday, so we went to go see it on a Sunday before Thanksgiving, got under contract on Monday, and Vince had a good relationship with the listing agent and was basically able to leverage the lender that he had kind of used in the past to get that quick close. So it was kind of a perfect storm at that time and, yeah, it was all really fast.

 

Yeah, I’m amazed you could get financing. So it’s like one thing if you’re doing like a cash deal, but you were able to actually get a loan in 16 days?

 

I’m trying to do the math in my head. I think we closed — sorry, we got in contract like maybe November 22nd or 23rd of last year and we closed on December 9th so that’s like 16, 17, 18 days.

 

Wow, that’s incredible for a lender.

 

Dang, that is really fast.

 

Yeah. During the holiday too, yeah.

 

Cool. So, now your new pivot is to go in there and do what you know how to do and just be like, “All right, screw it, I’m gonna house hack this because this single family thing is not really working for me,” is that right?

 

Yeah. So, the eviction process took a little bit longer than even I was prepared for, had just gotten the tenant out there in the end of October. It was a good opportunity to move in there with my partner for the time being because that was just the step we wanted to make, kind of a silver lining there, and then I’m planning to buy again at some point in Q1 of 2023 and I have friends who are moving up to Atlanta to live in the bottom level of the split level so it’ll end up being sort of a friendly house hack that way.

 

Let’s talk about the juice here. Let’s talk about this eviction. And so it sounds like you were kind of dealing with them from like February, March of 2022 all the way to October of 2022 and so why don’t you tell us, obviously, every state is a little bit different but evictions are something that happen in real estate and so can you tell us a little bit about like, okay, when did you decide that you needed to evict? How did you go about that process? What was that process like? I think that’s kind of like a mystery for a lot of people.

 

Yeah, yeah. It was definitely more of an emotional kind of test than it was even a financial one, I would say. It was one of those things where, as time went on, I kind of uncovered more details about who this tenant was. I realized that there was some falsified information on the rental application and some falsified maybe tax documentation on the screening process so I found that out after a while and then I got in contact with her old landlord, not the person that she put as a reference on the application, and found out that she had sort of done the same thing to him. And the timing worked out where she basically moved directly from his house to my place so I was sort of none the wiser at the time.

But, yeah, I mean, I got an attorney for the trial but it’s not something that you necessarily need, it’s something you can do by yourself. Click To Tweet

There’s agencies or companies that can kind of help you through that entire process. But, yeah, definitely, a test of patience but it all worked out.

 

I feel like you’re such a good sport about it.

 

Yeah, I know. How much did it end up costing you at the end of the day?

 

Yeah, so as far as like missed rents and things like that or just like — thankfully, the attorney that I used was actually a friend so I didn’t have to put anybody on retainer or anything.

I was able to use a lot of like free legal resources online. Click To Tweet

I think, all in all, the majority of the cost was certainly lost rent but I think, as far as with the courthouse and scheduling, the actual labor out there, it’s probably somewhere between $600 and $700 but the missed rent was like on the order of over $10,000.

 

Oh, man, that’s a bummer. So, why, when you were looking at the second deal, did you not want to do a rent by the room? I mean, I get that it couldn’t be a house hack because you couldn’t move that soon but just knowing the numbers on that versus single family, why did you make that choice?

 

I think, at the time, it was a little bit of a time crunch as well. I closed in early December, I was going to be basically unavailable for the last two weeks of December, first week of January, and I figured if I can get a tenant in there quickly and sort of like take advantage of not paying the mortgage for the first 45 days until it actually hit in February, I can maybe recoup some of that capital, some of that profit that I would have had with rent by the room so it was something that I’d considered but I didn’t necessarily have the time, which is not really a great excuse but, at the time, this just seemed to line up perfectly, if you will.

 

Therein lies the issue, man. Anything that gets rushed always ends up being worse than it is, like it’s just — I think everyone’s probably made this mistake where you’re trying to get tenants in as quickly as possible before your trip or before X, Y, and Z happens, especially before that first mortgage hits, and you always end up getting burned. It’s always — and now you lost six months of rent, right? So, the cliché in real estate is the only thing worse than no tenant is a bad tenant and a bad tenant really, really sucks. So, I guess if you’re listening to this, this is the lesson learned that even if you’ve got holiday and trip plans and your life is not — just wait it out, wait the two weeks, it’s better to lose two weeks of rent than it is to lose six months of rent so there’s the lesson.

 

So I don’t think we went into the numbers. Tell us what you got it for and what the mortgage is and then kind of what you’re thinking it’s going to be when you get your house hack buddies in.

 

Sure, sure. So, we closed on that in early December so I think the purchase price on that was 360 and the investor rate at the time was I think 4.3 percent. The property taxes were a little bit higher on this property so the mortgage payment was actually right around two grand or 2,050 and I was renting it out at the time for 2,600, which that area, that part of Atlanta, I anticipate we should see some rent growth increases, even if it was just a single family long term. When I do the house hack coming up, it’s going to be an interesting situation. Basically, my girlfriend lives there and then my best friend and his fiancé are moving into the bottom part of the split level. My intention, at least until I make my next purchase, is to kind of just break even so kind of split that to the 2,050 number amongst the other tenants until I find another place, the next house hack in February or March, but after that, I plan to rent the upstairs probably to get right back at that 2,600 number.

 

Nice.

 

So this is your second property, right? The one that you had a partner on?

 

Yes.

 

Okay, and so if you’re just breaking even on that, what is your partner thinking about just breaking even? I’m sure he or she wants some cash flow, right? Where do they stand?

 

Yeah. So, that’s kind of been a discussion that we’re kind of like working through is, I think in the meantime, primarily focused on the equity, I guess, during that time and it’s knowing that it’s a temporary, like this will only be for a couple of months and then we’ll get back to like that higher level of cash flow in Q1 of this coming year.

 

Okay.

 

So I’m going to pause for a moment to do an ad for everybody. So, if you guys don’t know, I have a meetup group called Airbnb Investing and, in that group, we are going to start offering a course and Cam here is actually going to be teaching it. So Cam does a similar thing with the Atlanta REI Meetup group. He does a course on financial independence, maybe Cam could speak to this a little bit better, and just beginner real estate investing. But this course is going to be on medium-term rentals and so Cam, Vince, and I are putting together the curriculum and then I will be popping in here and there for some Q&A and help but Cam will be teaching it so if you guys are looking for a course, let us know. It’s going to be available next year. And now back to the show. Cool. So, actually, Cam, why don’t you tell us a little bit about the REI pro thing that you do with Vince?

 

Yeah. So right after I purchased my first house hack, I had gotten little bit more involved in the meetup and I wanted to meet other house hackers who were doing this thing in Atlanta. There were a handful but Atlanta, at that time, was primarily just investment property BRRRRs and flips and things like that and I wanted to kind of make a little more of a cohesive network of folks who were kind of specifically house hacking or people who were kind of doing the same thing that I was doing. Vince ended up doing that for a little while as well. But we had gotten together and we had seen how there were some success in other larger real estate meetup groups in other cities that had this kind of smaller cohort of an accountability group, there’s another Atlanta REIA meetup where there’s like an accountability group and you can walk through, get into your first deal, groups like that, and we didn’t really have that so we got together and put together six months of curriculum and determined the meeting time, we had the in-person and virtual sessions, and there was a lot of folks who were looking to use that to kind of springboard into getting their first property. So, that’s something that Vince and I sort of created and it’s been a really great learning opportunity to get to know some of these folks in the meetup a lot better.

 

And so what kind of success have you seen through that? Do you feel like people are actually taking a little more action than they would have on their own or moving maybe a little bit faster?

 

I definitely think it’s an interesting time to see the transition for some of these people because I think there’s a little bit of fear in the market for some investors and there’s been a handful of folks in the group, there’s about 15 of us in the group right now and I’ve heard stories about people closing. I mean, there’s some very experienced people in the group. I mean, I know somebody who closed on a mobile home park last about two weeks ago. There’s also some folks who are looking to buy their first house hack and people are putting multiple offers and people have gotten offers accepted. 

So I think with the group working together and providing that support network, I think that if that hadn’t been there, who knows if they would have made that next step to action? Click To Tweet

 

I love it. Yeah, definitely. Craig and I both have meetups that we have here in Colorado, Craig’s teams got a lot of them, so if you guys are looking for meetups, they’re definitely a great place to just get you a community of likeminded investors, because a lot of people tell us, “Oh, man, nobody I know invest in real estate,” and everybody thinks it’s a bad idea so sometimes you just have to get around the right kind of people that can help you along your way. Awesome.

 

Awesome, yeah.

 

Well, Craig, what do you think?

 

Well, Cam, I want to hear right now a little bit more about your whole portfolio as of today. And so, what is that first house renting out for? I know you mentioned you probably raised the rents a little bit there, how much are you renting out that extra carport room? You’ve got the house hack that you’re living in now and so where’s your passive income at and where do you think you want to go?

 

Yeah, yeah so this past 30, 60 days has been interesting because I did finally, you know, getting some income from the eviction house, for lack of a better term, and I moved out of the other house so I rented out my bedroom for $900 so that’s bringing in about $3,000, maybe probably about $1,000 in cash flow after I put away for expensive things like that. I’m still sort of breaking even because I’m splitting the rent at the eviction house for now until the end of December when I get my other friends to kind of move in downstairs. So, as of right now, I’m still kind of where I was when I left the house hack. I will say if I wasn’t house hacking my first property, that eviction would have been probably catastrophic, not to dramatize the situation, but I would not have been in a situation where floating those two mortgages simultaneously would have been really tough. So, house hacking really, really helped me kind of make it through that time.

 

Yeah, and you’re going to have a situation like that where you are going to lose money for a little bit on a deal and you have to just float it and, of course, zoom out 5, 10 years and you won’t even notice those payments. But how did you float those? Obviously, the house hack, that’s giving you $1,000 a month, are you also working a W-2 job?

 

Yeah, yeah. So I work at W-2 job, I work in data analytics for AT&T, like I said, and, thankfully, I was offsetting a lot of those living expenses at the time, really just allowed me to make those payments. And we did our due diligence on the front end, me and my partner. We were pre-approved based off of what I would be able to pay if we were in this type of situation so we would have qualified for a much larger and more expensive home but we got pre-approved for what I could pay in the worst case scenario at the time.

 

Okay, that’s perfect. And so it sounds like you’re still — I mean, obviously, you’re still pretty early on in your journey, right? You’re kind of in year 2, going on year 3 here, and so when do you foresee yourself maybe — like is the ultimate goal to quit your W-2 job? Is that like the next big bogey that you’ve got?

 

I feel like eventually I would, you know, that is kind of the long-term goal. It feels kind of weird to say because I do talk to people at work about that sometimes and I’m like it’s weird to have a conversation with folks at work saying that I might not want to be there one day. 

It has nothing to do with the job itself, it’s just that there’s a passion that I have about real estate that doesn’t exist at my W-2 job... Click To Tweet

and that’s not to say anything bad about my job but I love working with people who are also trying to house hack or trying to get involved in real estate, like this REI Pro group is something that has become a bit of a passion of mine and I want to kind of chase that while it’s there.

 

Wait, so you’re telling me that you’re not absolutely obsessed with analyzing the electricity usage of people in Atlanta?

 

Blows my mind. You know, I think in a past life, I might have been, but not as much anymore.

 

No, man, I think that’s great, dude. I think you’re definitely well on your way. Atlanta is such an amazing place to house hack as well and you’ve got the right people around you. So, yeah, Z, anything you want to add?

 

Yeah, I’m just curious now, looking forward, we are here at like Thanksgiving week when we’re filming this and so you’re almost at a year with this other house and it actually doesn’t even matter because that one was bought as an investment. When do you think you’d be going into the next home and what kind of strategy do you think you would do after this?

 

Yeah, so the timeline for that, so I have tenants moving in in the end of December timeframe so that should be totally stabilized by January 1. I’m aiming to have something under contract about my birthday, which is in mid-February, and I’m still trying to do the house hack model but I’ve definitely been more and more interested in kind of doing an MTR myself so I’m looking specifically in a part of Atlanta that’s kind of near Emory and near Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Hospital and there’s a couple other hospitals in that area, like North Decatur, if you guys are familiar with it, and I’m looking specifically for kind of that split level — that up-down duplex style single-family home with a finished basement and renting part of that space out to a traveling nurse. So that’s kind of the main strategy I’m trying to employ on this next buy.

 

So, do you feel like my book is just like leaking into your brain? It’s like, “Oh, no, now, I need to do this strategy”?

 

I feel like in a combination of what I’ve experienced with the rate environment changing in this past year and understanding that what the eviction did as far as like my perspective on long-term rentals, it was kind of the perfect storm, the book coming along the way as well, I don’t know if you can see I got a couple of Post-It notes and stuff and I’ve been tearing into it.

 

All right.

 

But it makes a lot of sense. I think, not to totally go in a tangent here, I was originally — I would have been more interested in MTRs sooner if I wasn’t so maybe naively deterred by like furnishing costs, but like looking at it now, it makes so much more sense to do it that way. So I think it was one of those things that I was like, “I don’t wanna furnish it, I wanna have tenants move in there and do long-term rentals,” but looking at it now, it makes a lot more sense to, with the cash flow upset that you get with an MTR. And I don’t have — the tenant screening process kind of baked into the job so I know I’m getting a solid tenant who should be able to pay on time based off of their qualifications with their W-2. So, it just makes a lot more sense and the strategy has really spoken to me.

 

Cam or Zeona, I’ve got a question for you guys and maybe you both can answer, but what do you think is the payback of furnishing? So if you’re going to take $10,000 to furnish a place, how much more in rent could you get and how long does it need to be a medium-term rental for it actually to pay off?

 

So, the way I look at it is when I’m first moving, like I’m going to buy this place, I bake it into my cash-on-cash return so it’s just my upfront expenses and I still want to see a 15 percent cash-on-cash return. That’s like my level. I’ve talked to some people that just need 10 percent, everybody’s a little different, but if you are taking a property you already own and then you have to add that in, I don’t know if there’s a perfect way and maybe one of you guys will have a good idea but, for me, I look at it kind of like I have properties where I’ve added a hot tub and I go, “Okay, this is gonna be like $8,000,” but I think that it’s going to be bringing X amount more and maybe that takes me a couple months to pay it off or half a year to pay it off but, going forward, the hot tub’s not going anywhere so it’s just going to be returns down the way and I think it just brings more tenants through. So, yeah, I don’t know. What do you guys think?

 

Well, I think there’s also like a way that you can optimize the furnishing as well. I feel like there’s ways that you could get the most bang for your buck for the furnishing, as there’s like a cash-on-cash return of just the down payment or upfront costs for the furnishing as well and you could find high quality things for value and that’s something that I’ve begun to learn as I’ve read some of the chapters in this book.

 

Yeah, I think the thing to just stay away from is like not wasting too much time in pursuit of something really cheap. So what I tell people a lot is if you are house hacking and you’re like, “Oh, I’m gonna move into the next place,” either leave your furniture and rent that place furnished or bring your furniture to the next place and, like you were saying, if you have an up-down duplex, put the furniture that you guys personally have in that lower unit and rent it out to a nurse right away and you slowly get your furniture, because then you can get the perfect couch and wait ’til you find something cool, but don’t waste time keeping that unit empty when you could just rent it immediately.

 

Yeah, I mean, if you’re getting like 100 bucks a day or something and that’s probably pretty low, that’s a good $3,000 a month, you have to think about that cost, right? So if it’s going to take you three extra days to get a couch, you need to get at least a $300 discount on that couch, which you’re probably not going to do, and so, to Z’s point, very much time is money when it comes to furnishing and getting these things buttoned up.

 

Yeah. All right. Well, we need to transition to the second part of our show but before we do, Cam, do you have any final words of wisdom for the listeners?

 

I feel like my experience in this these last two years or so has been interesting in the sense that I had like a really awesome experience with house hacking and then a not-so-great experience with the eviction and long-term rental. I feel like there was just a massive testament to not necessarily real estate is not a get rich quick scheme, right?

It’s a testament to patience and getting to know people and getting to like empathize with your tenants. Click To Tweet

So, all of that learning has been wealth that’s been built along the way, if you will, and it’s made me a more shrewd investor in the future. So, there’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs but, overall, I think I’m still better for it all and it’s only made me hungrier to continue in that pursuit.

 

Yeah, I like that because, really, it’s kind of like you’re paying for your education. It’s almost like you go on to like real estate university and it’s like, well, that sewer was $10,000 and this was this, so you’re just paying for it in a different way and doing it over time but, yeah, you won’t be making those mistakes again so that’s the good part.

 

Yeah. And do a sewer scope in your inspection.

 

Oh, my gosh, yes.

 

I won’t make that mistake again. Please do it.

 

Do all of the inspections, like structural, sewer, like it’s just not worth it. A couple 100 bucks is not worth the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars later.

 

Oh, yeah.

 

Totally.

 

Yeah.

 

All right, Z, you know what time it is?

 

The Final Four.

 

All right, Z kick us off.

 

All right, Cam, so question number one, what are you reading right now? I think I know what you’re reading right now.

 

Well, I am reading 30-Day Stay and learning more about the MTR space. However, the book launch was rudely interrupted what I was reading before, which was Who Not How by Dan Sullivan. I actually just finished that up this week. Another great book about just kind of the value of your time and building and how important your team is.

 

Both those books are amazing. Second question, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

 

This one’s tough. I think something that somebody told me or I had read at some point in some book at some point, it’s just seek to be the most interested person rather than being the most interesting person. I feel like when we go to meetups sometimes, especially in the meetup space, people want to flaunt about how many doors, how much cash flow they have, which is great if you’re experienced and, obviously, people will flock to that, but I feel like when you truly make connections in that space is when you seek to be interested in everyone else’s success or what they’re doing or their questions. I feel like there’s a lot of folks who are afraid to even ask and I think a lot of people who are looking to make that first start need somebody who’s interested in them and what they want in order to make that first big step. So that’s something that I really worked on with the REI Pro group is seeking to be interested in everyone else and that makes you interesting.

 

I love that.

 

I really like that. Yeah, I feel like that’s something I need as a reminder is not the interesting part but I think sometimes being an introvert naturally, it’s like I get overwhelmed by people and so then it’s easy to just kind of like be a wallflower but if you can pick one person and just really be curious about them, it kind of helps you break down some of those barriers and, I don’t know, connect on a deeper level so I think that’s really great. Question number three, what is your why?

 

I love this. So, it’s kind of appropriate that this is happening while I’m down staying with my parents for the holiday. It’s just the freedom of choice. Having found real estate and having found financial independence, it’s definitely stirred up some conviction in me that I hadn’t really felt based on some of my professional endeavors in the past, so follow that passion and I wanted the freedom of choice to do what I want with my time. I don’t live in the same state as my parents or my sisters or some of my really close friends so I want to be able to spend as much time with them as I possibly can and I feel like real estate and financial independence really promotes doing that. I will say one other thing too, something that I talk about a lot with my girlfriend and my friends is something that we call porch time, which is every Sunday, we go to this local donut shop in Atlanta and we get coffee and we sit on the porch and we just kind of like put our phones away and we just kind of enjoy donut and enjoy some coffee while the weather’s nice and like that whole notion of porch time is like I want to be able to have porch time every day or whenever, doing whatever with whoever I want to have porch time with. So, porch time has been kind of like the symbol for my why with my family.

 

I feel like that’d be a lot of donuts, man. That’s a little too many donuts.

 

It’s going to roll out here before we know it.

 

Nice.

 

All right, Cam, last question, what is the best nickname that you had growing up?

 

Oh, man. This is a good one. I was not prepared for this question.

 

That’s the point.

 

So, okay, I’ll go with this one. My girlfriend’s good friend affectionately calls me “Big Time Cammie Jammie.” I do not know why.

 

Big Time Cammie Jammie.

 

Yeah, and that’s kind of spread like wildfire in the friend group so it’s not from growing up, it’s just from recently, but I’ll take it. I love it.

 

All right, Big Time.

 

But if I remember well, you’re pretty tall, right?

 

Yeah.

 

So maybe you’re Big Time because you’re giant.

 

And she’s very short so I guess it makes sense. Yeah. Checks out.

 

Yeah.

 

Big time Cammie Jammie. I love that.

 

Craig, did you have any weird nicknames?

 

Yeah, I had a couple. My baseball one —

 

Let’s do your best one.

 

Well, my baseball one was Cregor McGregor, so everyone called me Cregor McGregor, and then also one time I was like walking down the hallway and my Spanish teacher was just like, “Chacho Muchacho,” and I have no idea where that came from and so then my best friend was walking next to me and so he calls me Chacho. So I guess Chacho and Cregor MacGregor are my top two.

 

That’s so cute.

 

That’s funny.

 

I love it.

 

How about you, Z? You got one?

 

I feel like I give a lot of people nicknames but they don’t give me names.

 

Z Money is definitely one of your top.

 

Yeah, sure. I think my most unusual one is that my parents called me Smudge Bucket when I was a baby and so —

 

Smudge Bucket.

 

Yeah.

 

I love that.

 

Little Smudge Bucket.

 

All right, we got Big — what is it? Big Jamie Cammie Whammie? Big Whammie Cammie Jammie? Now we’re gonna get on and just collect through that from now on. Awesome, Cam. Well, so, where can people find out more about you?

 

Yeah. So you can find me on Instagram, my handle is @camhacksfi, and that’s probably the best place to get in contact with me. I try to use that account to keep me accountable for all the trials and tribulations of what’s going on in Big Time Cammie Jammie’s portfolio. And then you’ll also find me on Facebook, Cam Cooper, LinkedIn, Cam Cooper. And if you’re in the Atlanta area, the Atlanta REI Meetup is the Facebook group that you want to join.

 

All right. If you don’t already, follow Cam, @camhacksfi. Go check him out. Cam, thanks so much for coming on the show today, man. It’s a pleasure getting to know you a little bit better and I love hearing that it hasn’t been all unicorns and rainbows for you but you had some, like you said, trials and tribulations to get through, you got through them and, hey, on the flip side of it, you’re still happier, you’re still wealthier, you’re still richer, and you’re still getting towards that goal of financial independence so, congrats.

 

This is a dream come true. Thank you guys so much.

 

Awesome, man. Thank you. We’ll talk soon.

 

Thanks.

And that was Big Time Cammie Whammie, Cammie Cooper. Z, what did you think about Cam?

 

I really love Cam. So this is probably one of his first podcasts and maybe he was nervous but Cam is so fun and warm and sweet so if you guys do end up in Atlanta, go to the REI Meetup and meet Cam and Vince because they are really changing the way that Atlanta invests. I don’t know, it’s really exciting to be over there in the cutting edge and helping people get into house hacks and especially in a market that is so affordable, it just seems like there’s a lot of possibility. I think it’s a great market.

 

Yeah, I’ve got a good buddy, actually, who buys houses in Atlanta and just doesn’t rent by the room. I think he’s got like probably 12, 13, or 14 of them and he just like cash flows like crazy there. It’s one of those few markets where prices are still relatively low but rents are actually kind of high and you definitely can make some good numbers work, you’ve got the appreciation, like Atlanta is a great market.

 

Yep. Well, guys, I hope you learned a lot and I hope that you reach out to Cam and to us if you have any questions. If you don’t know, we can connect you with an agent anywhere in the US and so not only do we have our own agents on our team in other markets but we vet a lot of agents and we love to give referrals so please let us know if you need help. And with that, we would love a rating and review. This time, I’m actually not going to ask for it for our podcast, you guys already know we want those, but if you have read The House Hacking Strategy or 30-Day Stay, leave us a review on that, because those are really, really important to get them in the hands of the right investors that are looking for our information. So, yeah, we would love that. Thank you so much.

 

All right. See you guys all next week.

 

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