ITF 42 | First House Hack


Matthew Nora is all about taking action. After working in accounting for 2 years and realizing that it didn’t make him happy, he moved out to Denver. Determined to make it as a broker, he slept on a mattress in an unfinished basement for about a year. After getting his first property, he immediately househacked it—during the pandemic.

Matt looks back on how he got into real estate and met Craig. He breaks down the steps that he took to close his first deal and rent the rooms out. He also shares a horror story about an aggressive tenant. Sometimes, you can make money in odd situations. Stay tuned until the end because Zeona and Craig offer advice on running Airbnbs and doing house hacks.

Listen to the podcast here


First House Hack With Commercial RE Guy Matt Nora

I’m here with my co-host, Zeona McIntyre. What’s up, Z-Money?

I’m starting to feel jealous about your Hawaii-ness. It is a beautiful blue sky day in Colorado, but it started off pretty glum.

It’s a rare overcast day in Hawaii. I still haven’t seen the proper rain now since I’ve been here for over a month now. Maybe you took some of that blue sky with you, Z.

This guy is one of your former clients. He is a Craig fave. He loves you.

I try to only bring people that absolutely love me because it does boost my ego and makes me feel good. That’s what this podcast is all about. Matt has a pretty cool story. He’s got an interesting house hack setup. He had a crazy tenant situation that is definitely interesting to read about. He’s looking at number two and hopefully number three a year from now and looking to build. It’s a great episode. Z, anything to add before we get into the show?

No. Read until the end because he does talk about a horrible Airbnb story and those are what’s fun to hear. People have to ask me about those and I don’t have too many. This is going to be a good one.

Z is too good for bad stories. She does her screening.

Most of the time.

Let’s bring Matt on the show.

Matt, welcome to the show. How are you doing?

I’m good, Craig. Thanks for having me on. I’m excited to be here. I love what you’re doing. I love hearing your story. This should be great.

It’s going to be fun having you on. It’s been a minute since we caught up. Your hair is longer and also neater. Looks like some good things have happened in your life. Before we do a whole lot of catching up, why don’t we rewind a bit and see where you first heard about financial dependence?

I’ll give the quick story of how I ended up here in Denver and got connected with you. I was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs. I went to Illinois for college. After school, I was working at Deloitte in the audit group for 2 or 3 years. I did that and learned a lot but that was a tough job. I was 25 and pretty miserable doing what I did not want to do in life. I ended up needing that life change.

I loved Colorado. I had some family out here. I always loved the mountains and the quality of life so I made the move to Denver about more than two years ago. I wanted a complete 180, so I switched from the accounting corporate world and got a job in tech sales at a startup at a company called Apto. That’s where things started to flow better for me and that was a straight, cold-calling sales job. I was making 100 calls a day and a lot of people would find that miserable, but I loved it. I like sales and talking to people. Things started to flow for me out here a bit more.

What that company was is we sold a CRM to commercial real estate brokers. After a few months of doing that, I started to learn more about commercial real estate. I know you’re on the residential side, but I started to realize that’s what I wanted to do. I ended up starting to ask people for coffee, go into more networking events, and eventually made that transition over to commercial real estate to become a broker.

The problem with that was similar to what you’re doing in your building a book of business, you make no money for the first few years. You’re backed to the bottom there. Those first few years are tough. It’s your back to the bottom. To make it through that, I had a friend of a friend who was leasing a house for 4, 5 years and he pretty much flopped a mattress on an unfurnished basement and I was able to stay there. I was full commission trying to make it and slowly build that book. I was staying for $500 a month in an unfinished basement so the quality of life was not good from that but it was freedom. I was doing what I wanted to do. I found a career I was passionate about and I was able to budget so I could slowly start that life as a broker.

That story right there is incredible. If you don’t know about Deloitte, I’ve got a corporate finance background as well so they’re one of the crème de la crèmes of corporate finance companies out there, auditing or consulting or whatever it. You took that high-paying, probably close to a six-figure, cushy job in Chicago and said, “Screw that. I want to take this risk when I go live a better life.” You got into sales.

Sales is a hard job. You don’t make a lot of money. Even at Apto, I’m sure you didn’t make a whole lot of money in your first couple of years unless you’re a prodigy. You said, “I don’t want to be outside of the commercial side,” and you jumped right into the commercial side. It’s the risk you took or the sacrifice you made. Where were you living when you were living at Deloitte? Are you living in a $500 mattress on the ground dungeon? Did you squat back your life?

Things work better when you kill people with kindness. Click To Tweet

I did a couple of years at home saving money that way but no, I was doing the Downtown Chicago thing. It was great and it’s the same here. For people who go that corporate route, it’s impressive but it wasn’t a fit for me and you worked so many hours. I like working hard but it wasn’t a natural fit for me. You’re in spreadsheets for twelve plus hours every day versus on the sales side, you have to put the work in, but it was a natural flow for me where my quality of life increased.

All of a sudden, when I was happier on the work side, other aspects of my life started to flow better socially. You’re able to almost take that step back and realize this is something more I want to do or you could start those side businesses and build those other avenues that you want to explore. When I had time to take a brokered exam and look into others, I always had that entrepreneur drive in the back of my mind, but I never had that golden idea or what I wanted to do. That’s where I feel real estate is a great fit for where you can build your book of business, but you’re still helping other companies start from a small warehouse to grow from 1 location to 5 locations in that.

You went to the commercial side. You skip the residential piece, which I feel a lot of people go residential, then commercial. You have to base where the home run is. Those are the bigger deals, then you’re getting paid more per transaction. What was your strategy in becoming a broker there?

In the company that I worked for, we sold a CRM. Essentially, it’s database management. It’s a way to organize data for brokers. I was cold calling brokers every day. I was never exposed to the residential side. I also had a lot of family members who were back in Chicago who were brokers or industrial brokers specifically, but you’re locked to the area. You won’t leave the area that you focus on.

If I was going to be a broker in Chicago, I’m going to be locked there for X number of years. I didn’t want to live in Chicago. I wanted to be out west with the quality of life in Denver, the mountains and all that here. It’s a little bit like that. Plus, I like the business side of it. I like working with businesses rather than maybe individuals or families who want to build a home. It’s more straightforward. You need a 10,000 square foot warehouse with dock loading and drive-ins versus you’re not worried about the countertops or this or those more detail-oriented items.

When did Craig, your fairy godmother, come into your life?

Fairy godfather. Let’s get the gender roles straight.

It depends on the day.

On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I’m male. Maybe we can record on these days.

Craig, I’m impressed by what you built and have done here. I’m on the commercial side. From my accounting, business background, I know owning property was always in the back of my head. Given the point of life that I was at, it wasn’t realistic. I listened to these BiggerPockets podcasts when I was doing busy work and working on some of my commercial real estate transactions. When everything was going well, I was able to manage that almost full commission life that I live in for $500 a month.

About two months before the pandemic and the world went to a crazy place, the owner of that house, the person who I was subleasing from, had suddenly wanted to sell the house. All of a sudden, it was a mad scramble and I was in that situation where I was like, “What am I going to do?” What did I want to do? In the back of my head, I wanted to live at that cool apartment downtown with the pool but it wouldn’t make sense. When you look at that, I wouldn’t have made it by spending $2,000 a month. That’s what those places cost if you get a 1 or 2 bedroom in Highlands, LoHi, or wherever.

I heard Craig on that podcast, it all started to click with me right then. I called him the next day. A couple of days later, we had a phone call. I was like, “I don’t know anything about the residential market in Denver.” He walks me through it like, “You can’t live in LoHi Highlands. You can’t buy a house there but you could go ten minutes west to Lakewood or Barnum West.” That’s where I ended up buying my first house hack and it started to click. From there, when I heard Craig on BiggerPockets and it paired exactly where I had a six-week window where I was in a situation where I was like, “Do I sign a lease for a year?” I heard Greg on the podcast and realized it was realistic to start building this real estate investment side of my life concurrently.

Can you give us a little bit of a breakdown of the timeline? You had six weeks to move out, you heard Craig on the podcast, and you called him within a couple of days. Are you saying that you were able to find a house and close within that period before you had to move?

It went quickly. Just because I’m listening to BiggerPockets and those others, it’s a mindset-type podcast. I’ve learned that from doing sports growing up. It’s how I operate. It all went quickly and it made sense. The numbers made sense and I’m all about taking action. Even having the ability to cover if I was able to afford the down payment, and realizing you could put 5% down and rent out rooms to hopefully cover the mortgage payment, as long as I could break even the numbers made sense. I was going to take action.

I’m glad my episode was able to inspire you. Give people a little bit of clarity. You reached out to me in January of 2020. It was pretty early 2020, maybe the end of 2019. We locked you in. We closed in mid-March of 2020. It was about that six-week period. My question to you is, you were a commercial broker. That is a 1099 type job, no steady W-2 income, how were you able to qualify for the loan?

The financing piece is always the hardest part because I had 2 or 3 years of W-2 experience from Deloitte but then switched to 1099. I had to have my parents guarantee the loan but from living at home, and saving money, I had to have my parents guarantee the loan. I was able to do the down payment and financing through my savings from the previous jobs.

Why don’t you take us through that deal? You let me know in January. We got you into something out a couple of months later. Let us know how closing went? How did you find the place? What did you like about it and we can get into the numbers as well?

I knew I wanted to take action so getting the criteria on the MLS and balancing. I was focused on cashflow, breaking, and not having to pay rent every month. What we did was we had a search tract on the MLS and targeted about 10 or 12 properties. If we looked at them all in a day, we had the financing set, and we narrowed it down by the end of the weekend. We toured it on a Friday, narrowed down the list by Monday, and submitted a contract for the house. On Monday, we were in contract by the next week. It went pretty smoothly. I was in a crunch. I needed something and had that hard deadline where I had to be out of the house that I was currently living in by March 1st, 2020.

There are definitely some hiccups in that process but looking back now it couldn’t have gone any better. The hardest part was getting over that uncertainty, having that knot in your stomach where you think, “Is this a mistake,” and getting over those normal emotions that you’ll have during that process and staying cool and collected through it. I leveraged a lot of your advice on it, Craig.

ITF 42 | First House Hack
First House Hack: You’re having hard conversations all the time, but just following the attitude and mindset that the bigger pockets preach, you’ll be able to free yourself from a lot of stress.


There are a lot of unknowns going into your first deal and that’s why it is also super important that you are investing with an investor-friendly realtor that can guide you. If you’re reading this and you haven’t invested before, you want to lean on your realtor as a mentor and be able to ask them questions. Also, have them guide you not just through the transaction but also after it closes, how you get tenants, and all that stuff. Matt, we looked at 10 to 12 houses. What did we put the offer at? What do we get it at? Let’s get into some of that juicy stuff.

At this point, I was all in. I spent the last year living in a mattress in the basement so like, “Anything’s going to be better than that.” What I want to do is scale this. My goal is, hopefully, every year I can do another house hack and mirror what a lot of people on BiggerPockets have done. We found the house in the Barnum West neighborhood. It’s right on the west side of Denver. It’s pretty close to Lakewood but still in Denver. It was a five-bedroom house. It’s not technically a duplex but it’s a three-bedroom that’s attached to a two-bedroom ADU. That’s how it was built out.

What’s good about that is having more privacy. When you get five people in a house there’s so much commotion but it’s almost like a three-bedroom house attached to a two-bedroom house, but not labeled as a duplex. It’s labeled as an ADU. That almost helped us. Given how competitive the Denver housing market is, the house did sit a few weeks on MLS. It was laid out perfectly where I had flexibility on that ADU side. My original plan was to lease it out on Airbnb and try and make that as passive as possible because the goal was to make it hands-off, but still renting by the room, you can make more money than renting the whole space as one.

I’m curious why you didn’t go the Airbnb route. There’s nothing passive about Airbnb. If people think that that’s a passive route, it’s definitely different than traditional landlording. You have to think of it as hospitality. You’re creating experiences. In that, you earn more, but you also have a lot more work.

Can I tell you my first horror story, the first mistake I made in this process?


It went pretty smoothly. We were all business. We got the inspection report back, fixed the roof, fixed some things, and fixed others. When we close, I furnished the space.

One thing I want to mention. I’m not even sure about this or not but I do remember pretty clearly that we had some issues with the appraisal on your property because the appraiser would go into that. Typically, in Denver, we have these up-down duplexes, separated by a door. This was different. He has this 3-bed, 1-bath in the front, separated by a wall, and you have to go outside to go into the back additional dwelling unit. The appraiser went in and said, “I am not appraising this property. It’s a zoned single family but it is clearly a duplex. There’s no way to get from each unit on the inside. Therefore, it is a duplex.”

The appraiser would appraise it and without an appraisal, the lender can’t do their thing. This thing did get delayed because of this and I was like, “I hope we can get another appraiser who understands that this is a single-family with an ADU and all this stuff.” I’m not sure how much you were in the weeds with that but I remember pretty clearly that it was a big issue. You said the closing was pretty smooth. If it was for you, that’s great but on the back end, there was some stuff that went on. It ended up happening, we ended up closing.

Just to let people know that, when you are seeing these units that are zoned single-families that look like a duplex, you may run into the issue of an appraisal. Ways around that are cutting a hole in the wall and making it a door, at least temporarily for the appraisal, then you can put it back when you’re done or whatever.

I know some people who had an uptown duplex. They had to put a hole in the floor of the upstairs, and put a spiral staircase in for the appraisal. When the appraiser came and left, they took the stairs out and redid them. It’s a $10,000 project or something to pass the appraisal. Just so everyone is aware that stuff can happen. Z, do you have anything to add there?

If you have a good agent, it should feel smooth because we’re supposed to hold all of that for you and make sure that it does go over, we get you a different appraiser and it’s all going to be fine. If it felt smooth on your side, Matt, that means that Craig did a good job with it because that’s what we do. We’re making dreams happen.

Now that I think back about that 30-day contract period, that was a stressful time. I was under a tight deadline, the house that I was living in with how to lease was under contract to close and I had to be gone March 1st. Because of that appraisal, instead of it being a 30-day contract period ended up going over to 40, 45, or something in that range. That meant that I didn’t have a place to live. We officially closed on March 17th so then I was calling the realtor who was representing the person who purchased the place I was currently staying at. I reached out to that new buyer and I was like, “Please. I’m desperate.” I was killing her with kindness so she would let me stay an extra two weeks. I had to give her some money. I was like, “I’m closing on this house.” Now that I think back about it, that was stressful. No question.

That lady bought a house and it came with a troll in the basement. It’s like a sneaky guy on a mattress.

It was an unfinished space. I have a space heater because it was winter. It was so bad but I’m scrapping and doing what I had to do. I had that vision for where I wanted to be. I feel like those are the moments when you’re looking back on and you’re going to be like, “It will hopefully pay off ten years later.” The house that I was living in was not in good shape. They bought it for $500,000 and they completely redid it and now it’s a $1 million house. In that two-week period, I was still working a full-time job. There were roofers who were coming in and the house was shaken at 7:00 AM. It’s easy to look back and be like, “That was easy,” but no. Now that I’m thinking about it, that was stressful. No question.

You keep saying unfinished basement but was it an unfinished basement? Unfurnished you have no furniture. Unfinished, you have no drywall so it’s cement-y and concrete floors. Was that what it was like?

It was so bad. It had concrete floors and a bench press next to mattresses. I was in a full commission job. If I wasn’t making it, I’m moving back to Chicago. I couldn’t have been more motivated. I sucked it up for that period until you could get the finances in check. I was motivated.

It sounds like something Craig did living by a curtain. What’s cool to hear about this is there are lots of house hackers reading and they have sometimes odd spaces, sometimes you’ll have an unofficial bedroom with no windows or something like that. If bedrooms go for $600 or $700 but you can put somebody in an unfinished or no window room for $500, it’s good to know that there’s some flexibility. It might not be a year lease, but sometimes you can make money in odd situations.

One thing, I want to add to that is, I’ve definitely rented out rooms that didn’t have the windows and all that stuff. You can rent them out and they’re a little bit cheaper. I want to cover all bases but there is a liability there if the bedroom was not to code with an egress window and all that stuff, or if something were to happen and they were stuck in the room, you, as a landlord may be liable.

If you just have those open conversations and see where other people are coming from, so many things can work out. Click To Tweet

The risk of something happening is extremely low but the consequences are extremely high. Do what you want with that. Matt, why don’t you take us through the deal and the numbers of it. What did you purchase the property for? What was your mortgage payment? What’s your strategy? How are you renting it out, and all that good stuff?

It started on the MLS at $450,000. It must have sat there for a month or so. The owner lowered the price to $435,000 and I’m doing the classic thing where it’s like, “We should go ask,” as per Craig’s advice, you could touch on this. On the residential side, everything normally goes for over asking price. That’s how competitive it is in Denver. We went on a standard 30-day contract at the $435,000 value. We put 5% down, the interest rates weren’t as low as they are now but, anything below 4%, the numbers work.

We got a 3.625% interest rate that came out to roughly $2,200 for monthly payment. I still do my taxes to finish up the exact numbers. For the two sides, I stay on the one side of the duplex and I have a good friend with me so I rented out the two rooms on my side to pretty close friends of mine from my network here. On the other side of the duplex, I was intrigued by Airbnb. I thought it was cool to use the Airbnb platform. I could go into my first tenant horror story of using that.

Do tell.

I can match any bad tenant horror story with this. You also have to remember the time. I closed on March 17th, 2020. If everyone remembers, that was St. Patrick’s Day, which was pretty much when the world shut down for months. It’s easy to look back now when every housing price in Denver is one up 10% from 2020 but at that time, you have those bad thoughts and like, “This is going to be like 2009 and ’10 again.”

I have all those bad thoughts and I’m like, “The world is the most depressing state ever.” I had this intention to rent that out on Airbnb, I still wanted to try it but travel was shut down. I moved in on March 17th. Remember, we were all working from home, which worked out nicely because I had time to hang all the blinds and those little set up things. I furnished the other side of the duplex and had my two friends living with me on my side and on the other side, I threw it on Airbnb.

The first tenant I got was this shady contractor who stayed there for a week. I clicked the pets allowed button and I’m thinking that the world is ending at the time as I was going to be sitting on vacant units for the next five months. I’m a lot more seeking where I would take it. I was like, “I need to get this rented. I’m in trouble otherwise.”

This guy has got two giant Pit Bulls but not the family kind. My sister has a friendly Pitbull. These were ferocious dogs that were massive. He comes in and I’m making first-time landlord mistakes. I’m a lot more lenient, and I let him push me over a little bit. He was in his 60s and a rough around the edges guy. He stays for the week. He’s fine and respectful. I could tell in his eyes that he was shady. The world was shut down but he was hanging in our front yard or porch. He comes up and he whips out $1,000 cash. He says, “We love the place. Do you mind if we stay here for a couple more weeks?” I’m like, “Let’s do it through Airbnb. I want to make sure you’re going through the proper mediums.”

In that moment of weakness, this guy walked up with $1,000 cash and asked if he could stay at the end of the month. I’m completely unprotected. I don’t have a lease and I don’t have this. As soon as I accept his money, the next day, he flips. He starts treating the place horribly. He moves in with his three grandkids. He had a son who was my age, who was a jerk. He had another Pitbull so there were three Pit bulls. There were nights where there were nine people staying in this 800 square foot. It was a disaster. I was getting pushed over. It was that classic horror story.

This is the pinnacle of it. After a week or two, it’s bad. It was an eerie feeling. I knew I messed up. I poked in and saw how dirty the place was. This is the end of April now the world is in a horrible place so all the gyms were closed. I like to exercise so I have a backyard weight setup and to exercise during the day. Everyone’s working from home. I made a makeshift gym in the backyard that I was working out. We had little boxing gloves and free weights.

I’m in the backyard working out and the guy comes back from work one day and I asked him in a nice way to clean that place. He gets extremely aggressive and gets up in my face. He’s like, “Do you want to go right now?” He took the boxing gloves and he was trying to fist fight me in my backyard. This is two weeks into me being a landlord. What do you do to deescalate the situation? I did not fight back. It was such a disaster. That’s a long version. That’s the horror story of that.

That sounds like a miserable thing. In almost every horror story that I’ve ever heard, it can always be put back on the landlord or the property owner, yourself for acting in a fit of scarceness and irrationally. Even during a pandemic, you’ve got to hold your standards. It’s so easy. Every single person that I’ve talked to that has taken $1,000 upfront rent, six month rent upfront cash, or whatever has regretted it. It’s never worth it. If they can’t pay you the rent monthly like a normal person, it’s never worth it.

It’s a classic rookie mistake. I remember that Saturday night when he handed me $1,000. I’m like, “I’m rich. This is awesome.” I will never do that. Always have a lease, protection, and a security deposit. No exceptions.

Z, do you have anything to add there?

One thing I will add is that anytime is under 30 days. Don’t take it off the platform. For other people that are reading and stuff, if you’re going to do something with Airbnb, you want to have a short-term lease or something like that. Do something more month to month. Under 30 days, it’s not even worth writing a lease for that short of time. If they can’t do it through Airbnb, that’s a red flag for sure.

Lesson learned. In reality, that was a funny story looking back on it.

This is why we have a podcast. These are lessons that you hope that other people won’t repeat, even though they probably will because these $1,000 caches are tempting. How did you get this guy out? Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’re doing with it now and what those numbers look like?

In reality, and this is stuff I learned, it’s knowing how people operate. It works better to kill people with kindness so that’s what I did and you left at the end of the month, which was four days after that. In reality, he left and it essentially was a $200 cleaning fee. I learned a good lesson. To regroup, I’ve got to be a lot smarter. What I ended up doing is, it ended up being summer and Facebook Marketplace is incredible. Even from furnishing, getting a grill, furniture, and putting my listing on Facebook Marketplace, I’ve had the most success with that.

Everyone’s moving to Denver so people who graduate college are a great little niche I have and people who want a cheap, affordable living where they don’t have to necessarily be locked into a one-year lease. I usually like to do a six-month lease, or sometimes something a little more flexible. I learned that three months that I don’t want leases to end, January, February, March. Those are the hard months to fill but everything else makes sense for both parties. It’s the cheapest rent in Denver. You’re not going to live in LoHi and/or RiNo, but you can pay $800 a month and live ten minutes from all the cool young people spots. Denver is a great setup for that. I like being on the west side of town because it’s closer to the mountains.

ITF 42 | First House Hack
First House Hack: You can either have a fear of failure or a fear of regret. It’s better to just fail and land flat on your face than have that regret of not even trying and taking action.


When you got these tenants in, you were saying that your mortgage is $2,200 a month. What were you renting each room for?

I put it on Facebook Marketplace. My next few tenants were people who graduated college who are going to be a senior in college and they did internships in Denver. I rented the two summer interns. There’s one room that’s slightly larger so this is what I did. I bake in all the additional fees. Including all the additional fees, for the two other sides, it’s $900 and $875. One room is slightly larger than the other. You have to remember that there are five people total and the five additional fees are Xcel energy, internet, water, and sewer. At least a few times a year, you’re paying for common area maintenance, meaning leaves, snow removals, and stuff like that, that I usually pay someone.

I don’t know exactly how to bake in those fees. It roughly comes out to depending on the month. It could be $70 and $90 a month. Even when I market it, tenants don’t realize what those costs are. I have a spreadsheet that tracks it all but marketed at $75 below and I post on the ads saying, “$75 utility fee,” and I can break that up with a spreadsheet at a later point. I do an all-in cost for that reason.

A real quick high level, we’ve got $900 for one bed and $875 for the other beds. That’s in the three-bed that you’re living in. You’re occupying one bedroom in that three-bed aspect of the house.

That’s the duplex side.

What are you getting for your side, the three-bed?

I live in one of the rooms and the two other rooms on my side are slightly smaller so it’s $675 plus the $75 utility fee, which is for internet, water, and sewer.

It’s $750 for both sides.

For the two on my side.

You’re making $3,200 in rent-ish on a $2,200 mortgage, plus you’re living for free. You’re cashflowing $1,000, plus you’re living for free, plus who knows what that thing is worth now. It’s probably closer to $500,000 given the appreciation in the past year. Yes, you were scared. Yes, the pandemic hit but by sticking to your standards, getting good renters in, and even giving your buddies maybe a little bit of a discount at that $750, you’re still able to cashflow swimmingly and all that. What happened after you’ve got this place settled? Were you focused on your job on being a commercial broker? What happened then?

That’s definitely where I spend most of my time and energy. I’m prospecting, calling, and working in industrial real estate deals. Things have been going well on the industrial brokerage side but that early summer was a scary time. Everyone was in a hold pause position. If I didn’t have that house, I would be so much more stressed out about money. I don’t know if I would have made it living at the fancy cool apartment downtown. There’s a lot of chaos and tenants constantly turning over. You have to have hard conversations a lot of times.

One of the tenants had her boyfriend move in and we had to have that conversation. Another guy was a great guy down on his luck. He was working in the retail and bar industry. He was dealing with those layoffs. You’re having hard conversations all the time but you’re following the attitude and mindset that BiggerPockets preach. I would be so much more stressed out if I didn’t pull the trigger and take action on this. If you work a full commission job not having to pay rent has been a game-changer for me from a stress management perspective financially.

If you look towards your future, now that you’ve been there over a year, are you starting to think and plan about your second house hack? Do you feel like you can’t do that yet?

100%, I’m all in. A lot of people don’t want to manage the chaos of all those headaches. It is work. The furnace went out so was another thing we had to deal with in January and that whole fiasco where you can’t have no heat for your tenants. There are always little small breaks here and there like a sink or something. My mindset is to do it while I’m young. The numbers make so much sense.

You can put 5% down. It’s even shocking how most people don’t know that or they think you have to put 20% down. They don’t know the power of debt. The government prints money and you could lock in an interest rate now below 2.5%. That’s the best investment you could possibly have. Based on my accounting background, inflation is going to be more than what you could lock in a loan from my economics courses. I’m trying to scale but I need to close more deals on the industrial real estate side.

You’ve got to save that money up so you can get that next down payment. Because you’ve eliminated your rent expense, you can set that up a lot quicker. I’ve got a handful of properties. I have maybe fifteen or so doors that are basically single-family and small multifamilies. I’m looking to get into some of the commercial stuff, maybe what you’re doing or whatever.

The triple net lease stuff is what I’m looking into next but I’m still going to house hack because there’s no better way to spend $30,000 in every market than to house hack. It’s the best return on your investment you could possibly get. I wanted to throw that out there. Matt, we’ve got to get into the final part of the show. Do you have any other quick words of wisdom and we’ll head on over?

That’s the nuts and bolts of it. I want to hear more about your potential future commercial pursuits but that might be another time.

We’re running out of time here. We’ll have to chat about that offline. Let’s get into The Final Four.

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Matt, what are you reading right now?

I’m reading an incredible book and I’m almost done. I’ve got a chapter left but it’s Shoe Dog, so this is by Phil Knight, who created Nike. It’s such a good book and it hit home with me so much. This is Nike in the ‘60s and ‘70s when Adidas and Puma were the big corporate ones. He was an athlete in Oregon and he loved traveling. He was traveling the world after he graduated and made this connection with a manufacturer in Japan.

It’s how this guy slowly built his team and he was selling shoes at a high school and he also worked in a big four accounting job too while he was doing that on the side. I was so inspired by the story and how he builds his team. It’s such a good book. His manager at Deloitte ended up coming on board with him, and his business partner was Phil Knight’s track coach, who helped them along the way. It’s how he slowly builds his team. That book is incredible. I’d recommend that.

I haven’t read that one yet but it is on my list of things that I should probably read. Second question, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

This is related to a more of the mindset thing. There are two mindsets, fear of failure versus fear of regret. Ten times out of ten, I’d rather fail and land flat on my face than have that regret of not even trying and taking action is 100% how you get over that.

I relate to that. If you follow me on Instagram and all that, you probably saw that I bought a van, tried to fix it up, failed, sold the crappy van, bought a new van that was already fixed up, and tried to live out of that for a few months. I honestly ended up not liking that as I continued to grow business so I ended up selling it and now I live in a house like everybody else. It took me a couple of vans, iterations, pain in the butt, buys, sales, and all that to do that. It’s like what you said, that’s exactly it. I was afraid. I had that itch that I wanted to try van life.

Van life is great if you’re going to be traveling and you’re going to wake up to the Grand Canyon every day, but when you’re waking up in your backyard, it’s less fun. The itch has been scratched. I don’t have a desire to do that anymore, so that feeling of not regret, yes it cost me some money but it was so worth scratching the itch. I wanted to relate to that.

I too want to experience van life. I too want to live in a van.

Scratch the itch.

It’s so popular nowadays.

Z, do you want to kick us off with a question?

What is your why?

I was getting all intrinsic about my life and what I wanted. This is how I want to answer that question. It’s like, “Talk about what’s your greatest fear in life.” I used to think my greatest fear in life was living a boring life. Maybe this was back in my accounting days where you grew up in Chicago, moved to the suburbs and got married. I had an intrinsic experience in my life. My greatest fear in life is not living up to my full potential. I know that’s ambiguous. I don’t know what that means, but not to be cliché but my why is I want to do something great, this or that. I don’t know exactly what that is.

It’s almost when I graduated and was doing the Deloitte CPA accounting route, I knew that would open up doors, but I didn’t know what exactly would open up and that helped me get to where I am now in this. It opened up doors. Now with the house hacking and the financial independence, I don’t know what it will be, but it will open up freedom for that time or moment when I could capitalize on it because I won’t be worried about money hopefully if I get more house hacks.

Living up to your full potential sounds super cliché, but I heard it in an interesting way. I was reading Ed Mylett’s book, #MaxOut. It’s this wicked small book. What he said was, “When I get to the pearly gates after I die, I want to meet the man that I could have been and see if I am the man that I am. I want to meet the man I could have been, and I want those two people to be the exact same person.” That’s how he framed it. The way he framed it. For me, I never thought of it that way and I’m not even a religious person but the way you think, “This is my max potential,” you want to be the exact person in that. It resonated with me so I don’t know if that might be something. What you said reminded me of that.

That’s such a dude way to look at it. To me, every second of every day you make decisions, so there would be thousands of versions of you that you could have been. We’ll never be at our full potential. I don’t believe in that crap. Come on, Craig.

It’s a chic way of saying it.

Your values change over time so the person that you could be that’s your truest potential if you get all intrinsic, then it could be something totally different. Maybe halfway through you’re like, “I want to be a priest.” Your life could totally change. I’m smart.

This is a long conversation.

ITF 42 | First House Hack
First House Hack: The risk that something might happen may be extremely low, but the consequences to that could be extremely high.


This could be a podcast within itself.

What is the meaning of life? I’m trying to figure

What are some fun and interesting alternatives to war that countries could settle their differences with?

This is a surprise question. I like killing people with kindness. That’s so cliché and basic. If you have to have those open conversations and see where other people are coming from, it works. While I was saying that I thought of a better answer. This is good for my life goal, life bucket list of mine. Olympics. You have an Olympic showdown of the winner of the Olympics. The reason I thought about that is it’s coming up in 2021 in Tokyo, and I made a life path with all my good friends I grew up with that we’re going to go to every single summer Olympics until we die. We went to Rio. That was right after I graduated. Before I started working full-time, I spent the summer down there, which was the first time ever

I imagine that there are countries that are never going to get their way like Turkey or something. Maybe you’re super athletic and you’ve got to go against the US in swimming, basketball or something like that. There’s no chance. That’s funny though.

You unite through sports. You bond through that and you realize that the people on the ground have been on the same page. Usually, those problems arise from some BS politicians.

Where can people find out more about you?

I’m on all the social media outlets, Facebook and LinkedIn it’s Matt Nora. I hate Instagram. I want to quit but I’m addicted. I’m @MNora165. It’s all those or google. I’m on all those social media outlets.

If you guys want to reach out to Matt and learn about his tenant experiences, the first house hack that he went through, and how we had some obstacles but got over them feel free to reach out. Matt, thanks so much for coming on the show. I appreciate you having you here.

Thanks, Craig. I appreciate it.

That was Matt Nora. Z, what did you think of that?

I loved hearing how committed he was and being able to live on a mattress in a basement that sounds dark and sad. It sounds like he did that for an entire year to get himself to where he wanted to be. In the hardest times of the pandemic, he had $1,000 of cashflow carrying him through and free rent. That is a cool experience for him to have and boosts him towards the future.

That’s a glorious part of house hacking. It does allow you to take those bigger and better risks. He was done with the corporate world and is now in a sales job. If he doesn’t make a sale, he doesn’t get paid, and now, he’s doing a lot better from what I presume. I love how genuine and authentic he is. He’s a normal dude who bought a house hack. Now he’s living for free and is building some serious wealth. It’s phenomenal.

If he can do it, anyone can. That’s what we’re trying to show people. It’s not as hard as you think it could be. You’ve got to get in there and try.

That is it for this episode. If you enjoyed this show and enjoy the podcast, please leave us a rating, review and comment. Hit us up on Instagram. I’m @TheFIGuy and Z is @ZeonaMcIntyre.

I love that you have that memorized.

Look at me go. Let us know if you like it and whatnot. We always respond to our messages. We’ll see you all soon.


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About Matthew Nora

ITF 42 | First House HackMatthew Nora is a Listing Broker/Agent, Landlord Broker/Agent with Lee & Associates Denver. Matthew has transacted 4M square feet with a value of around 5M. Currently, Matthew has 3 listings available in Castle Rock, Wheat Ridge, Evergreen, Englewood, and Denver