ITF 57 | House Hacking


House hacking is something you can do over and over again, and it’s going to build wealth. Take it from Bryan Balducki. He became a rental property investor by accident, but now, he is one of The FI Team’s agents.

In this episode, Bryan talks about his very first investment property and how he got into rentals. While giving a breakdown of his 4 properties, he gets into a discussion with Craig and Zeona about 15-year mortgages versus 30-year mortgages. He also weighs in on the pros and cons of investing in a house and a townhome.

Listen to the podcast here


House Hacking Strategies With FI Team Agent Bryan Balducki

Z, how are you doing?

I’m good. I can always tell when you are going to drop the Z Money. You get all cheeky. I’m like, “What is going on with Craig because he is fired up?” You are excited.

I love saying Z Money. It is the perfect nickname for you. It didn’t take us long to come up with it, but I believe we questioned it for way too long.

I’m still questioning it.

The best thing about nicknames is you can’t choose them. Only other people could choose your nickname.

It is true and people love it. What is new? We are in between two conferences now, You and I. We were at FinCon. If people are thinking about going to conferences and you are a money geek, that is a great one. We are about to roll into BP Con. By the time this airs, it will already have happened but I’m hoping a bunch of you guys will meet us there and we will create more fun relationships and learn because you get so freaking inspired by people.

It is so easy to run away with shiny object syndrome. There are one million things you want to do after talking to everybody. One conference tip that I want to give everybody that may be going to conferences in the future. The most important thing you are going to get out of a conference is a relationship.

This is a common mistake. You never want to cut a conversation short with someone because you have to go see someone speak or go to the webinar thing. I can almost promise you; you are going to get more value out of a conversation that you are enjoying. If you don’t, you can also use it to get away from a conversation like, “I got to go see the speaker.” Use those webinars wisely. If you are talking to someone that you’ve wanted to talk to, don’t stop to go see the beginning of a presentation.

Speaking of presentations, we have got an awesome one here by Mr. Bryan Balducki. He is a FI team agent. He is a perennial house hacker and he has done four house hacks now. We are going to go through his story and it is a tried and true thing. It is like house hacking feels like it is fail-proof. You can do it over and over again. It is going to work and it is going to build wealth.

Let’s bring him on.

Bryan Balducki, welcome to the show. The funny thing is anytime Bryan ever gets introduced to anybody, he always says Bryan with a Y. I love that because you are always going to say, Bryan, then you always have that question is it a Y or an I? Anyway, Bryan, tell us a little bit about your story and how did you first hear about financial independence?

It is a long story but basically, I read the book Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich. It is an ancient book. From there, that pushed me on to Robert Kiyosaki’s famous book and I started reading like crazy. I started reading every real estate literature I could. I probably read ten books within a couple of months. During that point, I was also living at my first property condo downtown. My mortgage was too much for me to afford. I got into the real estate game on accident, you could say.

You bought this condo downtown and this was before you even knew about real estate investing or whatever? What made you decide to even buy that condo?

I was going to college and I basically spoke to my parents. I was like, “I would love to buy my first place. Can you guys help me out? I will pay you back in interest.” My mom found the deal and it was a condo right next to Metro State University, right Downtown. It was $160,000. The plan was she would purchase it then refinance it into my name once I could afford the mortgage and get a job. They are helping me with my mortgage.

Is that what happened? Did you buy this thing? What year did you buy this condo?

This was January of 2015.

You were in college at this point, in January of 2015. You bought the condo. You couldn’t buy it yourself because you did not have a job. Your mom came in and got the loan. Were you paying the mortgage to her or was she fronting it for you?

She was fronting it for me. I would help out when I could but because I was only working part-time, I didn’t have a lot of money at that time.

What did your mortgage come out to be?

My mortgage was about $1,400 but then there is also the HOA on top of that, which was $380 per month. We were looking at $1,700 a little bit over that.

That seems like a lot for a college student. What was your guys’ thinking when you were choosing that place?

At that time, it was basically to knock out my commute. The commute was very difficult to go back and forth to college. I didn’t realize anything about real estate at this time. Once I got my first job, it was like, “This is way too much for me to handle.” That got me into Airbnb and I started short-term renting my place out. It was a high-rise building, so I would go up to my buddy’s place and stay on his couch.

I love this. This is why you know so much about me, Bryan.

January of 2015, you buy this place. Your mom is helping you out with $700 a month, which sounds like a lot for a $160,000 place because the HOA was so darn high. When did you have that switch of, “I’m no longer going to invest in real estate to buy a home? I’m going to invest in real estate to help me achieve financial independence.”

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It took a little bit for me. The way I even found out about Airbnb was through an Uber driver. He dropped me off at my building and he is like, “You should try Airbnb.” That was the pay on my mortgage because I was living paycheck to paycheck. Now, after I did Airbnb for a while, I started seeing signs in the elevator that said no rentals under 30 days. Right away, I’m like, “I need to take down these Airbnb’s. I need to finish them off.” From there, I decided to rent it out month to month to cover my mortgage because I couldn’t afford it. Shortly after that is when I started diving into financial independence and, “This Airbnb worked for me. I should be able to do this at another property.”

Why did you decide to rent it versus sell it at that time?

All things happened and I was hit with a $27,000 special assessment. That up the HOA as well.

What is a special assessment?

A special assessment is when the HOA asks all the homeowners to pay a certain amount for a project that they are doing. They didn’t have the reserves, so they had to go to the homeowners to fund this special assessment. That got lumped into the HOA. The next thing you know, somebody reached out to me on Airbnb and they were like, “Can I live here long-term?” I was going through the special assessment, and I was like, “Yes, that would be great. Let me get out of this place.” I moved to my parents’ house, saved some money, and see if I could do this Airbnb thing again.

Tell us a little bit about the Airbnb numbers you were seeing. First, when you were doing it by-the-night, then when you started doing more like a month-to-month Airbnb.

By-the-night, I was making about $130 a night and that was still pretty cheap back in those days. Once I switched to long-term, I wasn’t even getting $1,600 a month. I also paid half of the special assessment, so I could bring my HOA down. It was basically breaking even on this condo after all was said and done.

That loops me back around to Craig’s question that if you have a special assessment come up, a lot of times, that is when people sell because they freak out about it. Generally, the seller is supposed to pay it but they don’t always do. Why didn’t you sell at that point? Why did you stick with it?

To be honest, I know they say, “Don’t fall in love with the property,” but I did like the place. It was very easy to rent and in a great location. It was like, “I can hold onto this. I can at least break even.” I should also add that it was a fifteen-year loan. I do plan to refinance into a 30-year loan then I will be able to cashflow on the property.

That was 2015. Now, we were in 2021. What does that renting for now? Has rent gone up or do you still have the property?

I do still have the property and I’m still renting it for the same amount. I have had a good tenant there. He also had to deal with a lot of the construction because the special assessment was to replace all the risers or the water pipes going up and down the building. He was living there during all this construction, so because of all that, I didn’t want to raise the rent.

Fair enough. You are a good guy, Bryan.

You are a better guy than me. I don’t think I have dealt with that.

I’m sure you have heard that before, Bryan.

It was a mess. He even had to move out a couple of times and I had other people move in. They were dealing with the water being turned off from 9:00 to 5:00. There were complaints and with the situation, I didn’t want to spike the rent with all this going on.

That is good. You want Bryan as your landlord. If you can find a house that Bryan lives, make sure you get that. You got this first one. It was an interesting one because it was unintentional, but I feel something in the back of your brain, like in your gut said, “I want to hold on to this thing,” before you even knew about the power of real estate investing. When did you start investing intentionally?

I would say the next property was when I was intentionally investing because I saw how Airbnb was doing and I wanted to do another Airbnb. I closed on a four-bedroom, two-bath townhome in February of 2018 and decided to Airbnb that by the room. It was a hustle.

There was a couple of years there. We are not sure what happened. Were you living with your parents with that time-saving money, hunkering down, and working a W-2 job?

I lived at the condo for a while and then would do the Airbnb. That lasted nine months and I eventually moved to my parents’ house and lived there for 3 to 4 months while I saved money and worked the W-2.

You went and bought this place in February 2018?


I should have brought this up earlier but I’m wondering if we could have a short conversation about why people do 15-year versus 30-year mortgages because I wonder if some of the audience are wondering that. I wanted to see if Craig had anything to say about it and I will chime in too.

Bryan, why don’t you tell us first?

The reason we did the fifteen-year is because the Federal credit union that we were working with offered good interest rates at that fifteen-year. It sounded great to have a place paid off by the time I was 40. At that time, I was coming from a Dave Ramsey mindset of, “Let’s try to pay this place off as quick as I can.” Now, things are different. I’m thinking about 30-year loans.

It all depends on their goals. That is where I come from. If you like Dave Ramsey’s approach and in fifteen years, you want to own your houses free and clear, then it makes sense on a fifteen-year mortgage. In the fifteen-year period, you are going to have a lot less cashflow if you put it on a 30-year period.

ITF 57 | House Hacking
Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century (Think and Grow Rich Series)

As interest rates tend to be so low now, a 30-year fixed might be 4%. A fifteen-year is maybe 3%. I think I would still take the 4% and you still get a lower mortgage payment so you can still cashflow. That is what’s taking you to financial independence. Not necessarily the equity in your house, which is what you get when you have a fifteen-year loan. Z, do you have anything to add there that I missed?

It is interesting. I was reading Money Honey from one of our friends and one of our past guests on the show. She had all the traditional financial independence wisdom in there. I agreed with everything and she came to a point where she said, “Get a fifteen-year loan and pay it down faster.” It is because that book is all about making the most out of all of your dollars.

If you are saying like, “I’m going to pay less than interest and this is the only property I’m going to get.” It technically does make sense but if you are looking at leveraging properties, as you said, what are your goals? You will do better with the 30-year mortgage because then you can leverage more. You have more distance you can go with your cash. I always think that having a loan and not worrying about when that gets paid off, as long as the cashflow makes sense. That is the direction I advise people.

I think it always makes sense to pay as little down as possible and make your mortgage payment as little as you can. That way, you can save more than invest it in. You are going to likely invest at a higher rate of return of like 4%. Your goal was to acquire it, then it goes quickly.

Back to you, Bryan.

Bryan, let’s get into this February of 2018 timeframe where you are buying your first real place.

I got into this townhome and I wanted to Airbnb it, so I was Airbnb-ing three rooms and living in one of them. I was going as short as one night.

Were you Airbnb-ing each room individually as three separate Airbnb listings?


Did your HOA in your city allow that? Oftentimes, it is only one per unit.

I checked with the HOA and they were fine with it. It was in Lakewood at that time and they didn’t have any regulations. They do now, but they didn’t at that time.

You get in before they can make rules. That was a great idea. That was like, “I will rent my room on steroids.” What are the numbers look like on that one?

I would make between $60 and $70 per night. If people booked a week, that would get stretched out to maybe $60 a night. It was booked all the time. I had a 98% occupancy. It was always full.

What did you buy that for? What was your mortgage payment and what did it work out to be on a monthly basis for your Airbnb income?

We bought it for $250,000. The mortgage was $1,400. It wasn’t too bad. On top of the mortgage, I was probably making a couple of thousand dollars a month. That didn’t last long. After about six months, I started having some Airbnb problems with some of the guests. I eventually transitioned over to rent by the room long-term.

You can’t say that you have problems and you are going to have to divulge that. What happened there? Why? Would you do that again?

I had one issue where I tried to replace the water heater myself. I don’t advise it to anyone but I YouTube. It was do-it-yourself. I was like, “It is the drip tube. Let me pull out the old drip tube and replace it with a brand new one. We will be good to go.” It never works out that way. The drip tube broke into the water heater and I had to isolate the water here. It sprung a leak. It was started leaking everywhere. It was a pressurized leak and the isolation broke off. I had to turn off the water to the house and I had to cancel six Airbnb’s.

As I was doing that, they would keep booking. It was like I’d cancel and another booking would happen within seconds. I had to cancel that one, but another booking. I had canceled probably eight reservations. I eventually had to call Airbnb and say, “You got to help me. Every time I cancel, they would book right away.” Airbnb canceled them and blocked out the dates for me, so that helps, but that was one horror story. Don’t ever try to fix the water heater yourself.

My question is, why did that matter because that was breaking up and rent by the room? Would you be dealing with the same issue? Why does it make you want to take down Airbnb and the stress of having to deny people?

It was that and I had a couple more bad guests after that. It was a trilogy of things happening.

Craig, one thing to realize is when somebody lives there long-term, they are a little more accepting that like, “You might not have water for one day,” but if somebody is there for three nights, everything has to work. You have to have running water, toilets and showers.

That’s true.

You are running slums, Craig.

No water, no problem. That makes sense, Bryan. I get it now. You went from Airbnb to rent by the room. Was there anything in that transition that you needed to do? Did you have to unfurnished places? What was that transition like?

It was easy for me because I rented the rooms out furnished, so that wasn’t too bad. I put them on Zillow listings and was immediately able to get those rooms filled.

What do the numbers look like as rent by the room?

For each room, I did $750 to $800. One room was $800. The other two were $750. The numbers were good and I was able to live for free, plus cashflow a little bit as well.

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Recap there. It is $2,300 in rent. You said your mortgage was $1,400, so you are making $900 over the mortgage. Was there HOA or anything?

There was an HOA. The HOA is at $320.

You are $1,720 or so. There is still cashflow a little bit after expenses and all that. When did you move out of that place? What happened when you moved out?

A year and a half later, I moved out and I bought a property up the street with you, Craig. That was a 5-bedroom, 2-bath. We closed on that in 2020, mid-pandemic.

Real quick, before we get into the pandemic. What did you rent out that last room and is it still rent by the room now?

It is still rent by the room now. I rented my last room out for $800 because that was the master bedroom and it had a big walk-in closet. I eventually hired a property manager to help me out with that.

Your cashflowing maybe $800 a month after the property management.

I want to point out that this is a townhome. I think a lot of people that do rent by the room think they have to have a house and it can’t have an HOA. The stars have to be perfectly aligned. I want to show people that even with an HOA, they might have more rules about occupancy and stuff like that. Even with an HOA, you can make this work and even in a townhome. That’s great. It gives people more options and even in a four-bedroom because often people want eight bedrooms but that is not easy to find.

The honest point is one pushback that we get a lot of for townhomes, and I agree many times, is parking. It is usually hard. You are not going to get four different parking spots. Did you get four different parking spots or what was that situation like?

The hardest situation with this property is that there is one spot and there is a couple of guest spots that are usually full. The overflow parking is across the street. I do have to explain to tenants that, “You can park across the street if the guest spots are full.” It is one reason that this property is not my favorite.

Do you charge more for that dedicated spot?

I do. I charge $25 a month for that extra spot.

Now, you have got some intentionality behind you, and rather than getting $27,000 assessments and losing money every month. You are making some money, which is probably helping you with your mortgage payment on your first one, but that location is so good. You are likely going to see a big appreciation bump.

I’m curious about this whole period because you have owned that other house since 2015. Why not refi into a 30-year fixed sooner? You are saying like, “I think we will do it now,” but why not this whole time?

Honestly, I should have refied sooner. I think I was dragging my feet on that. I had a renter that was making me happy. I’m breaking even but that is okay and with the W-2 income as well, I didn’t push it.

Isn’t it amazing how pain will drive someone to take action much quicker than an added benefit? You are not in pain now. That is why you are not doing it but if you were losing $400 a month and by refinancing, you would be cashflowing $100 a month. I bet you, you would be out refinancing a few years ago and it stuck. That was an interesting philosophical thing that I could take from that.

Have you looked at what it is valued at now? Could you do a cash-out refi and not have that much money in the property?

I have looked at the value. The value now is around $225,000 and that is pretty conservative. I have looked at a cash-out refi. I’m planning on taking $45,000 out and doing a 30-year fixed.

Your mortgage would probably only be $1,000 or might be less.

That would be huge.

Property number one, you bought for $160,000 and 5 to 6 years later, it is worth $225,000. You have got about $65,000 in that property. Property two, you bought that for $250,000. What is that worth now?

That one is worth about $325,000.

$75,000 add. Those two properties are doing nothing. It is renting it out. Even break even, you would be $130,000 richer. That shows you the power of real estate but now, let’s start talking about number three. Let’s get into number three real quick.

Number three is a five-bedroom, two-bath also over in the Lakewood area. I purchased that one for $420,000 with $5,000 back in concessions. The mortgage on that is around $2,000. I rent out each bedroom for $750. I was living there, so I was able to cashflow about $300 while living there. Now that I’ve moved out of that place, I’m able to cashflow $1,000.

You mentioned before that you bought this thing right in the heart of the pandemic. What was it like? May of 2020?

That was July of 2020.

Tell us about that. Did that have an effect? Were you scared? Were you like, “Screw it. I know house hacking works. I don’t care what is going to happen?”

ITF 57 | House Hacking
House Hacking: If you’re looking at leveraging properties, you will do better with a 30-year mortgage. You can have more distance, and you can go with your cash.


It was a little nerve-wracking, and it was weird walking around with masks, going into houses but I was ready for that next property. I wanted to get out of the townhome and keep the ball rolling, buy a property every single year. I went for it and it turned out to be a great decision because as we know, shortly after that, the prices went up like crazy.

I have a question about what you said about property every year. We talk about that to our clients. If someone has never bought a property, when you are like, “You could buy five in five years.” They are surprised. It seems impossible. Now that you are on this track, how does it feel? How has it been realistically for you?

It is exciting but it is also a lot of work. I feel like the last few summers have been crazy getting moved over to another property. It is all worth it in the end, but my summers are jam-packed with moving over here, doing renovations with the new property, and getting the old property rented as well. It is the room that I was living in.

Did you do any renovations to this third property?

I didn’t do a whole lot, but I did do some plumbing, faucets, and painting. Some small things ended up taking a lot more time than I thought they would.

Do you do that by yourself?

I did most of it myself. I have a handyman that helped me as well. He helped me build a closet but I did a lot of the heavy work, so that was cool. I built a closet in one of the rooms to turn it into a better room.

Didn’t you learn your lesson from the water heater?

No, I did not.

I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about the pros and cons now that you have owned a house and a townhome, how is it different for you? What are the things that you are appreciating?

I liked the house due to not having HOA. Obviously, the HOA payment is a bit annoying. At the same time with the house, I am having to figure out mowing the grass and keeping up with the landscaping, which is not very fun. Whereas the townhome, they do all that for me. I would say the townhome is a little bit more hands-off and the house I do have to keep up with.

That figure HOA pays for. Are you paying for convenience?


You mentioned that this property had increased tremendously over the course of 2020, which I think any market in the US has appreciated like crazy from 2020 to 2021. What do you think the thing is worth now?

It is probably worth close to $500,000.

That is $80,000 in a year. Bryan put in an example of how this compounding of house hacking and how powerful it can be because in your appreciation now, not including the couple of thousand dollars of passive cash that you have a month but that appreciation. You are close to $200,000 of net worth gained and you do nothing but on the property and wait.

Also, they help you save up for the next down payment because that is the thing that people usually get all freaked out about. It is like, “It took me so long to get this down payment. Now, if I’m supposed to buy a house in a year, how am I going to save that much?” If you have got 2 or 3 houses, you are not even trying at that point.

It helps and living for free. You can save a lot more.

Is there a fourth one?

I closed on my fourth. This one is also a 4-2. It is a single-family that I’m converting over to a duplex. I’ve already started building my kitchen downstairs and I’m going to be downstairs. I’m going to Airbnb the upstairs. I’m pretty excited about that.

I love that place. You have got the upstairs, downstairs, single-family, and converting it to a duplex. Now, I got a couple of questions regarding this. How much is it going to cost you to make it a duplex? Is it a legal duplex? Are you pulling permits and all that stuff? What is your strategy there?

I would say it is not a legal duplex. I did not pull a permit for the door or anything else so far, but my strategy is to live downstairs, my mortgage is around $2,000 a month, and I’m going to Airbnb the upstairs. As I start traveling more, I might even Airbnb the downstairs as well.

Why did you decide to not pull the permits?

To save some money. I’m in Unincorporated Adams County. I think they are less on top of it. I had a handyman, a close friend of mine, put in the door.

Can I give you an Airbnb tip?

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When you start traveling and you are like, “I’m going to rent out the top.” You should make three listings. One for the top, one for the bottom, one for the whole place because on occasion you can rent the whole place for a whole lot more and that door in between, they can unlock it. Even if it has two kitchens, they will enjoy the big space. Sometimes, you can get a lot more for a bigger place than you can for two little places.

That makes sense.

You are dropping bombs. I’m going to take that tip.

Create three different listings.

Back to the permit real quick. I, as a professional real estate agent and a “professional” would never, ever recommend anyone not pull permits, there is a risk. There are a lot of rewards and not pulling permits. You will get it done quicker and cheaper. Oftentimes, they are not very strict and oftentimes, they won’t catch you, but at the end of the day, that still is against the law. You are not going to go to jail. If you get caught, you may not even get a fine. You are going to have some more hoops to jump through. As a professional, I’m going to say, pull your permits. As a friend, I will say you can take the risk if you want to. Bryan was more than happy to take that risk, it sounds.

Craig, I have a feeling that you have been in trouble for not pulling permits before. Can you tell us a little story about that?

How long do you have? I got hosed multiple times but one time in particular for not pulling permits and it was a hell of a situation. I was doing rehab, basically. The rehab ended up over a year over $100,000 of expenses. My place was so not to code from the previous flipper but I had to go and update the electrical, and I had to pour a new foundation. I had to do some structural stuff on the inside. I had to do this and that. It was thing after thing and it was compounding.

I felt like I drew the extremely short straw out of all of the straws. Whereas many times, it is like, “You didn’t pull the permit. We got to open up the wall and make sure that everything was good. Patch the wall back up and you are good.” That could be the situation, but it also could be bad too. I don’t want to scare people but you need to know the reality of what may or may not happen.

I want to say that you got caught on somebody else’s not pulling the permits. It can also be something that you are handing over as a negative thing to the next person. Keep that in mind that at least if you are not pulling the permits, try to do stuff to code. Try to make it semi-good for the next person.

I agree.

Tell us about this place. It is an Unincorporated Adams County and you said there are not much rules and regulations there. Is that what you are used to this place? What was the purchase price, what do you think you will get for rent and all that good stuff?

The purchase price was $415,000. It was affordable in this market. For rents, my backup plan would be to rent out each unit separately and that would probably be around $1,600 to $1,700 per month each unit because it is a two-one upstairs and a two-one downstairs.

It is $3,200 a month. What is your mortgage payment?

My mortgage payment is $2,000 a month.

When you move out, you are going to make $1,200 over the mortgage. Now, you all know there is going to be some reserves built-in, maybe $300 or $400 of reserves. Your actual cashflow is probably around $800 but still good. When you are living there now, are you living upstairs or downstairs? You said you were going to Airbnb the upstairs.

I’m living downstairs and I’m going to Airbnb upstairs.

What is the projected income on Airbnb? Have you looked into it?

A little bit. I have associates that are also doing Airbnb in the area. I’m hoping to get $1,000 to $2,000 per month on top of the mortgage.

Do you have associates in the area? Who the heck is in there? I have associates. They all wear suits and ties and they have Airbnbs in that area.

I have talked to friends who do Airbnb in this location.

That is where they are coming in at. I think Airbnb is a good play to speed up your cashflow. I like to use Airbnb. If I ever decide that I want to stop doing what I’m doing. I could cashflow my properties more if I turn them into Airbnb’s or whatever. It is a nice backup plan in my head but we will see if I end up doing that.

Things to keep in mind is the cost of furniture. It is furnishing the entire place that can add to it.

I was going to ask you that. Have you started furnishing? How long is that going to take you? What is that going to cost?

I’m fully furnished at this point. I got most of the stuff from either American Furniture Warehouse, marketplace, or the dump even, believe it or not. I have been able to find some tables, chairs, and stuff at the dump.

I’m worried about what your place looks like.

Are they dumping like Goodwill? The actual dump?

Yes, for free.

ITF 57 | House Hacking
House Hacking: It always makes sense to pay as little down as possible and make your mortgage payment as little as you can. That way, you can save more and invest it at a higher rate of return of around 4%.


I have done some dumpster dives but that is all another level.

It works and it looks nice.

It sounds like you went the frugal route to furnish this place. How much did that end up costing you?

For all the furniture? I would say it was probably $3,000.

That is cheap.

In my downstairs, I got a three bed, one bath with a living room. I think I paid $7,000. I went to the lazy way and I ordered everything at Amazon and all that stuff. Again, you pay for convenience.

I was able to find that kitchen stuff. I found the sink and the cabinet and everything on the marketplace. I was able to pay $230 for all that.

That as awesome. A quick recap to your story. January of 2015, you buy your first place. It is that condo Downtown. In February of 2018, you bought the second place. It is that townhome, which you Airbnb and rent by the room, and you only did rent by the room. July of 2020, you are buying the third place, rent by the room and now you are here in September or maybe August, you closed in 2021. You got this place where you can now segment it out. You have got four very different houses across the board. After this fourth place is filled, what is going to be your total passive income?

After this fourth one, it is going to be around $3,000 to hopefully $4,000 a month. If I refinance with the condo, then that should bring that up a little bit.

Are you financially free at that point?

I consider myself lean-fi at that point. I can’t quite go on luxury trips all the time but I can at least afford all my expenses.

You can live your lifestyle now without having to work your job. I have one more question. The equity that you got in those properties, too, is probably $200,000 to $300,000. You have got the passive income and your equity all pushing you up. That is super exciting. I’m super happy for you.

Thank you. I appreciate that.

Bryan, what is your work? Are you an agent on the FI team?

I am an agent on the FI Team.

You got to plug yourself. What are we doing here?

You seem such a nice guy. We establish that and he is too nice.

That is also to point out that maybe that $415,000 was because you didn’t pay any agent fees almost you are on your side?

With my commission, I got the place for $400,000.

That is huge. One plus side of becoming a real estate agent is you can apply to your commission, so the purchase price or you get that cashback. I personally get the cashback and I can use that for the rehab versus reducing the purchase price. It is going to reduce your mortgage payment by something that is stupidly nominal. Before we head off into our final four, do you have any parting words of wisdom?

I would say make sure you are focused on improving yourself. I think that is something that I did a lot throughout these years, personal improvement and reading books, listening to podcasts, and doing everything I can to be knowledgeable in the space. I would recommend that to anyone. Improvement is key. Keep improving yourself every single day.

One percent is better every day, and that compounds too. I think I did it that one time. It was 37 times better over the course of a year. If you get better, 1% a day. Let’s get into the final four. Z, kick us off.

Question number one, what are you reading now?

I finished Retire Early With Real Estate by Chad Carson. He had some great stories of other people who reached financial independence through real estate. It was inspiring to listen to. It is on my wish list on Audible. I listen to Audible instead of reading books usually.

I love that and I also love Chad. If you haven’t read that book, that is a good one. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

ITF 57 | House Hacking
House Hacking: If you’re not pulling the permits, try to do stuff to code and make it semi-good for the next person.


I would say this comes from the Bible, ask and you shall receive. I think too many people are not asking. They are trying to do it all themselves. Me, specifically, I try to do everything myself and I don’t ask enough, but when you realize that you can ask for help here or you can ask for guidance in that area, you will get that. That is important.

Question number three, what is your why?

My why is to spread financial independence and financial freedom to as many people as I can. Seeing how it is affected my life now, I want to bring my friends on board. I want to bring anyone I meet onboard and teach as much as I can to others about what it means to be financially independent and what it allows you to do.

Why do you want to do that, Bryan? Let’s go deeper.

I think it will make a happier world, a happier society because if you are stuck working your 9:00 to 5:00 and you have to make a paycheck to cover your necessities, is that true happiness? Even if you do like your job and you want to continue to work, then continue to work but have that freedom to step away whenever you want to, that is going to bring us a better and happier society.

Do you think we need a happier society these days?

There is a lot of people that I talk to that are unhappy with their job or their situation and they feel stuck. I felt the same way. I was stuck in my 9:00 to 5:00 rat race, trying to make it by. If more people could be financially free, that would lead to more businesses and happiness in general. Families wouldn’t get broken apart as easily because a lot of trouble is with finances. People break up due to finances.

Last semi-serious question. If you could cancel one thing, what would it be?

That would probably be Chef Boyardee. I ate in college to the point where I would never eat it again. I think that needs to be canceled or taken out.

Let’s do it. Let’s call up our Gen Z friends. They will do it for us. I’m not a big Chef Boyardee person. Where can people find out more about you?

You can find me on Instagram. My name is @BryanBalducki. If you look that up, you won’t find another guy with that name. I’m also on Facebook, same name, @BryanBalducki. Feel free to reach out and ask questions and would love to help anybody learn more about financial independence.

Are you almost quitting your job?

I’m getting very close to that.

By the time this airs, Bryan will be jobless.

I hope so. I am trying to get all the ducks in a row.

We will hold you to it. Thank you so much for coming on. It has been a pleasure having you on. I spent a long time coming too because you have got a pretty compelling story and shows that doing this over the course of a few years can be powerful. We will talk to you soon.

Thanks for having me. I appreciate it, Zeona, Craig. It is great talking to you guys.

That was Bryan Balducki. Z, what did you think of Bryan with a Y?

I liked it. I think it is so fun to hear how people progress. It is the first one. You make all these mistakes. You don’t know what you are doing. You might have the wrong payment and all stuff, then how it gets more mature, figured out, and dialed in. That is great. One thing we didn’t talk about, which I love to see after you have a few properties, is how much you can make in equity and appreciation? You might have one property and you make $20,000, and you are like, “That’s cool.” Even from 1 to 2 properties, he had made $130,000. He is looking at quitting his job and if you can make that in a year, it is not promised, but it is so cool that you are making this income even by hanging on the couch.

ITF 57 | House Hacking
Retire Early With Real Estate: How Smart Investing Can Help You Escape the 9-5 Grind and Do More of What Matters (Financial Freedom (2))

Between the three properties that he bought, I think he said he was at $250,000 over five years. That is $50,000 a year. That is a normal person’s salary. He is making an appreciation that doesn’t include his cashflow, the tax advantages, the loan pay down, and also he is making money from his job and the rent savings. You include all that. By house hacking, you probably can make a $100,000 net worth difference every year and, obviously, compounds with more you get.

You are a winner.

Real estate is fun, isn’t it, Zeona?

Craig, do you have any parting words of wisdom?

Get out there, take action, and get ready to make mistakes. We are all going to make them. Go to these conferences, meet some peers, meet some cool people, and surround yourself with people that are getting into real estate. Don’t be afraid to fail because we have all done. We have all messed up and we all pick ourselves back up. That is what entrepreneurship is.

This is the perfect story for that. You could look at that first one and if he stopped there, it would be like, “I’m a failure. I never did anything in real estate,” but he kept going and now he is learned how to make that a winner. It is not over until it is over.

I think most people would have sold that property rather than trying to rent it out for a little bit of a loss. Thanks so much for reading, everybody. We appreciate you. If you haven’t already, please leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Let us know how we are doing. It is super helpful. This allows us to continue to bring you great content and great guests. We will see you next time.


Important Links


About Bryan Balducki

ITF 57 | House HackingReal Estate agent

🏡 Denver Investor Friendly REALTOR®
🔑The FI Team & eXp Realty
🔥Financial Independence Enthusiast
🏘4x House Hacker/Airbnb Super Host


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