Need help with your expenses while getting started on your real estate journey? How does house hacking sound? In this episode, guest Colin McAlpine shares how he got into real estate as a means to achieve financial freedom. After a decade in corporate finance, Colin realized that the income he got from the time and effort he put into his work no longer seemed worth it. Today, he chats with Craig Curelop and Zeona McIntyre on how he figured out minimizing or eliminating time from the income equation altogether. With a start in house hacking to now closing long-distance deals, tune in as Craig shares how you, too, can emulate his success with helpful, practical tips.
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House Hacking, The BRRRR Method, And More Ways To Achieve Financial Independence In Real Estate With Colin McAlpine
Z, how are you doing?
I’m doing well. It’s nice to have our fearless leader back.
It has been a wild month for sure. I developed a cyst on my vocal cords from using it too much. I know I should not talk so much. I then got COVID and Christmas happened and all this crazy stuff. I’m back. Honestly, it’s crazy, but COVID didn’t wipe me out too much. The vocal cord thing has been way more annoying than anything. I’ve learned I’m going to ignore it and hopefully, it goes away at some point.
Is your voice ever going to be back to normal? Is that part of it?
I hope so, but if not, I’m going to look to get into some smooth jazz music or something like that and be the next whoever smooth jazz singer is. What’s with you, Z?
We’ve been dealing with the dishwasher from hell. I don’t know if you know this, but we had an Airbnb guest here over Christmas. Somehow, she fell on our open dishwasher. That was the first for me. She took a corner with socks on her feet and fell, which looked painful because there were a bunch of dents. Long story short, we had to replace the dishwasher. We got an upgrade and she paid for it and that was all great, but then my partner thought, “It’s only a dishwasher. I’ll install it. No big deal.” It’s been a week of multiple trips to Home Depot, ordering parts on Amazon, getting our handyman over to give us some idea of how to make it happen. It is in, so I think it’s going to be fine, but it has been humbling. We will always pay for this going forward.
The $90 installation is worth it every dime.
I’ve done that. I’ve learned that lesson probably 90 times. It’s worth it all the time. Speaking of every time, Colin McAlpine is a friend of mine and fellow alumni of Northeastern. He’s got a cool story. Start it off with a house hack in Denver. It seems like a lot of people like to house hack to get financial independence, but he took a step back and saw some clarity, which I love that he was able to do that with his fiancée and took a different approach, which was, “We’re going to house hack in Denver. We’re going to keep that, but we’re going to go out of state and keep our investments out of state so we can stay in one spot and do burst,” which I thought was interesting. What’d you think?
It’s great that he took a step back and reevaluated his needs and goals because it is easy to get stuck in doing the same thing over because you know how, and he did. He put a lot of work into it. He said he read two books three times, so you’ll hear more about what it took for him to do it. Once he found his great team, it was very easy. I’m excited to hear that that’s working out for him.
Let’s bring him on.
Colin, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
Things are going good. What about yourself?
Things aren’t good. I’m super excited to have you look. It’s been a long time coming and we haven’t caught up in a while, so this is going to be a fun episode.
I’m looking forward to it.
Why don’t you kick us off with how did you first hear about financial dependence?
I had a little bit of a jump start when you think about financial independence because my parents were landlords. Growing up, I got to see the business early and often. It was funny. The first time I realized it, there was a specific event I always think about. I was twelve years old. We were watching American Idol. All of a sudden, throughout the duration of the show, six tenants came by and they all started dropping checks off. I was like, “Mom, how much money is that?” She was like, “$7,000.” Years ago, like $7,000 coming in on a Saturday or Tuesday at the time. I’m like, “Wow. You got to love that passive income, don’t you?” After that, I caught the bug. It took me a very long time to get into it.
You’re sitting down. It’s a Tuesday night. Kelly Clarkson is belching at the top of her lungs or whatever season that was. You see people coming by and dropping off money. You were twelve. I get you probably don’t fully understand it, but you understand that they’re paying you money. What question did you ask your mom? Was it like, “That must be nice? How did you earn that?” Were you curious or were you like, “Whatever? It will pay for groceries.”When you’re trying to get rid of your PMI, you want to follow what’s in the bank’s best interest. Click To Tweet
I was curious how they kept it afloat. I’m one of four and they used all of us kids basically like ranch hands around to keep everything running. I got to see how the business operated. To me, I was like, “That $7,000 is a function of me and my brothers and sisters. We’re all going painting, mowing.” That’s some of the fruits of the labor that helps keep the light on. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I sat my parents down. I was like, “Show me the books. How does this work from what’s your bills to that $7,000? How much do we net every single month?”
How old were you when you got to being interested in the financial part of it?
Probably even until I was around sixteen.
You’re probably getting a better sense of making money. What did you explore when you saw the books for the first time? What were your takeaways from that?
What started it was reading Rich Dad Poor Dad. After that, I started trying to get as educated as I could about money and finance and went down the real estate, bullion, and stock avenue to see what made the most sense.
I’m curious, what was your parents’ strategy? Were these all single-family homes or were they doing apartments? What was their thing?
They were in true form of the whole house hacking method, except what they would do is they bought houses by one of the biggest hospitals in Portland, Oregon, where I’m from. It’s now an awesome Cancer Research Institute, but it was growing at the time. They would plex the heck out of these houses. Any house with an unfinished basement or an abnormally large space for one unit, they would cut it in half, flipped garages because the amount of housing in the area was so small for students and doctors. They wanted a place to sleep and so their goal was like, “How do we turn 10 houses into 30 units?” That was their motto.
They were house hacking before it was cool. I love it. They’re living in a different era. A single-family home, you’re probably like, because they’re single-family homes, it’s a little bit more digestible for a sixteen-year-old. If you drove by a Trump tower or something and you’re like, “My dad owns that.” You’re seeing these books. The takeaway is that you make these investments, they give you some passive income, you see the $7,000 a month coming in. Did you ever see your parents stressed about it or was there any downside that you saw growing up?
All the time. The thing that my parents did is they worked in the business a lot and they were a great team. My mom was awesome with the books and my dad could build anything. As a consequence, between her running the books and managing the tenants, they were the full-time property managers and maintenance staff. They were stressed about it because they had the role of like the deal-maker and the actual portfolio owner on top of the property management and the maintenance. It was a lot for them to manage successfully and scale. That was the biggest thing that they struggled with. As a consequence, they plateaued in how much they could do because it was all a function of their time and energy.
That’s like a Boomer mentality. My parents were the same exact way. They owned a catering business. My dad was a cook and my mom did the books. I remember them vividly always saying, “No one can cook it as good as I can. No one can run this business as good as I can.” That limited mindset is probably true, but if someone can run it 90% as good as you, you can scale infinitely. That’s something that this generation, Millennials and Gen Z-ers and even Gen X-ers, that’s the net we have. The prior generations did not. Z, do you have anything to add to that?
I’m wondering if Mr. Money Mustache is a Boomer. He’s still a Millennial, but we’d have to check.
He’s a Gen X-er.
He made me feel like I couldn’t scale because he was very much like, “You’ve got to do it all yourself. That’s the frugal way and bootstrap it.” Maybe that is leaking into Gen X from the Boomers, but there is something in that frugality piece of thinking that you can do it all and you don’t need to pay.
It’s also like, what type of business do you want? Do you want to scale? Do you want your freedom? Do you want your job to be going around and fixing leaks once in a while and collecting rents and all that?
That’s the most important question to ask. What’s the end goal? You could be managing 10, 100 or 1,000 units. Each one is a completely different role and responsibility and it yields a different lifestyle but do you want to put in the work and mindset change to do that? The answer is always different. For me, getting started and getting into real estate, the frugality was a requirement in order to pull off the house hack successfully, but as I’ve tried to scale and as I focused on my commission-based job, it’s so difficult for me to take myself out of the business.
To be like, “I know I could mobile on. I know I can paint that wall,” but if I can make $300 an hour at my job, why don’t I pay someone $30 an hour to do those tasks? The only reason I was able to come to that conclusion is like, “My goal is not to stay at four units. I need to be way higher than that.” I can only do that by focusing on my highest dollar-per-hour task.
There’s a quote out there, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” Building your team and having that team is how you get your freedom back and how you can operate in your genius. How you can make the most money is by focusing on your 80/20. There’s not a single person in the world that’s great at mowing lawns, cleaning the house, managing the business, getting tenants. No one’s good at all those things, so figure out what you’re good at. Focus only on those things and hire the rest out because you’ll grow way faster that way.
Let’s hear about your first deal, Colin, because it sounds like we’re doing these like conceptual ideas of what you’re doing, but we want to get into that nitty-gritty of your numbers.
The first deal, we did this with Craig. I was starting to hit rubber to the road and I went to Northeastern. I was in Denver. I’m literally reading the book as I’m looking for a realtor. I was like, “This is my guy.” I reached out. We were poking around at first. This was in July of 2020. This was right when peak COVID fear was still there and it had not yet been inflation and the hype had not been baked into the market.
When we were making offers in Denver, Colorado, which some of my friends now paid $100,000-plus over asking. My fiancée and I were like, “$5,000 over asking. That will get it done. No problem.” We ended up buying a single-family that had a fully separate entrance. We got lucky that the basement was completely finished. The guy and gal that lived there before was a single-owner home from when it was built in the ‘60s. He was a glorified DIY.
At the time, I thought that was a good thing because I was like, “This guy’s handy. He’s done a lot of work on the house,” but what that turned out into as we got into the house was, “This guy is handy and he did a lot of patch jobs to make it work throughout the house.” That’s fine for a house hack as long as you don’t tend to try to get everything 100%. When we moved in, we ended up buying it for $585,085. We did 5% down. We did 5% over the FHA 3.5 because we knew we were going to rehab the top unit, then we were going to refinance out of it with the goal to take PMI off. If you get the FHA, then taking that PMI is a little bit harder.
I’ll talk about that in a little bit, but basically, the lesson that I learned when trying to get rid of PMI is that you want to follow what’s in the bank’s best interest. When you’re trying to get rid of property mortgage insurance, it is not in their best interest to take that off your loan. That’s something I am still dealing with a little bit. From a numbers perspective, we ended up renting out the basement for $1,260 and our mortgage payment is about a little bit over $2,500. Our rent used to be $2,000 plus and now, we are way less than half of that and we split it.
A quick recap, you bought this property. It was a large single-family home. You had a downstairs unit separate entrance. It’s got a kitchen, all the work. You can separate this puppy and make it into two separate units. The top is where you’re living and you’re rehabbing at the same time. Your mortgage payment, you said $2,400, $2,500. You’re getting about $1,250 for the bottom. Half your mortgage payment is covered from that bottom unit. You’re not living for free. Why is that?
We are not living for free, but we have a huge 3-bed, 2-bath. We have an awesome backyard and 2-car garage to ourselves and we’re having somebody paid on our equity. When we move out, this top unit is going to rent for $2,500 to 2,600. The rest will be clean clash cashflow in the basement.
I’ve got a house in the same neighborhood, 3-bed, 2-baths upstairs. Yours is nicer. Mine is rented now for about $2,500. You’re getting a $2,500 place to live at a $1,200 value and that right there is $1,200 in savings. That is the power of house hacking. A lot of people think that you need to live rent-free in order to establish a successful house hack but that’s not true. Especially if your requirement is you have your own living space because it’s a lot harder to do so when you have your own living space.
The other thing that I think is nice about, at least the Denver market, in any high appreciation market, is this 5% down that we put in, plus a little bit for rehab. It quickly is going to turn into a deal with a lot of equity that we’re going to be able to borrow cheaply against because of the appreciation we’re going to see in that market. It’s going to make it a heck of a lot easier to use that money for my long-distance deals and where I’m only going after houses for $100,000.
You mentioned long-distance deals. I’m curious if you did any deals before because you had mentioned you got excited at sixteen and talked to your parents. Didn’t you think you might want to buy something in college or something like that?
I thought about it. I got wrapped up in the idea of going to school, getting a good job, get a good diploma. That became my focus for a couple of years. I ended up going pretty deep down the corporate rabbit hole. I was doing corporate finance at Amazon, working 80 to 100-hour weeks, making the straight paycheck no matter how much more I worked. After, I had to go in and get my teeth kicked in a little bit and realize what the alternative was until I was ready to figure out how to get out of that.
Northeastern does that to you. Honestly, a lot of colleges too. They wrap you into that safe, easy lifestyle making $100,000 a year at Amazon like, “What a glorious living in Seattle. What an amazing life.” Honestly, it’s good for everyone to go to a job that they hate for a year, then your motivation to achieve financial independence is through the roof. That’s what my motivation was. I did not want to do a job that I hated.
I suppose this is a question for you. What inspired you to go live in a walled-off living room? Did you have the hate from the prior job and be like, “All right, this is worth it.”
I hated my job. It was that Hercules, which if you are a Northeastern person, you know that’s a pretty good VC that people would love to get that job, but I hated that job passionately and needed to get out as soon as I could. It was in San Francisco. I was living in San Francisco and my roommate at the time was a single mother of two. The family of three was living behind a curtain in the living room in a small apartment in San Francisco. I was like, “If this woman can do it, I sure as hell can do it as a 23-year-old single male.” That gave me the inspiration to do so in Denver, but that’s my story. We’re here to talk about you, my friend.
We all think that Craig is brilliant and he came up with the curtain. Now, the truth is out. You stole the curtain from your roommate. You didn’t invent that shit.
Almost every idea I’ve ever had has been from somebody else or some derivation of someone else. That’s why I’m trying to move on quickly.If you can maximize how much value you bring to people, you’ll be able to make more money with your time and effort. Click To Tweet
You owe that lady royalties.
I still talk to her. I love her to death. Colin, to recap your story a little bit because we skipped a few years there where you read Rich Dad Poor Dad at sixteen. You probably get the mentality. You see what your parents have been doing. They’ve got that passive income interest in mind. You fall into the way most Americans go, where they go to high school. You graduate, go to college, get a diploma, get a degree, get a job, and start to hate it. You start jumping back on the financial independence path. What got you back onto the financial independence path around age 27 or 28 or whatever. Was it the job you hated?
The financial independence path was paid for me once I decided to figure out how to run my own business. That happened after college. My goal was, “If I’m going to run a business, I’m going to need to know how to generate leads. I’m going to need to know how to close those, bring those in, nurture those.” That’s how you get reoccurring revenue. It’s the same thing that you do with pretty much any other business. It wasn’t so much I wanted financial freedom, but I knew when people own successful companies, that came as part of the package. I hadn’t quite figured it out yet. I focused on that and took my first sales job in New York. It was a massive pick up and I lived downtown. I was scraping two pennies together.
The goal was how do I correlate my effort to basically how much value I can bring to people. If I can maximize how much value I bring to people, I’ll be able to make more money with my time and effort. Once I started doing that, my commission checks started to get big enough to a point where I could make sense of my first deal. It was important for me to get to a point where I could directly be like, “Here’s $10,000, $20,000 or whatever.” Go and turn that into a real estate deal versus, “Let me sit on my paycheck and sip off 20% and have enough for a deal a year and a half from now.”
How did you get from New York to Denver?
I don’t talk about this very much, but Becca and I had been doing long distances for months and we’re taken trips back and forth. I didn’t love it in New York. I was trying to figure out the best way to get there. I got fired from my job and I called her that night. I was like, “I’ll see you on Monday.” I drove out and landed back on my feet pretty quickly. It only took me four days to find another job. It was funny. That’s where I got started. After that, I started listening to BiggerPockets like most people do. Two years later, I found the idea of house hacking.
The most important thing for me was taking that first step from, “I’m listening. I can do something to run the numbers, creating actionable goals to look at to run a comp analysis a couple of times a week.” All of a sudden, once I started doing that after Bigger Pockets put me in the right direction, then we started looking at houses and we talked to you and a couple of other realtors. Quickly after taking those first few steps, it was like, “Holy crap. We put an offer on the house. How did that even happen? What are we going to do now?”
Now that you’ve been house hacking, what would you say are some of the pros and cons you’ve experienced?
The pro is that it helps mitigate lifestyle creep because so much of the people’s biggest expense is rent. When you have somebody else paying a majority of the bills, it’s a lot easier to have more money to focus on other things. The biggest pro is more of the conceptual change that happened to me. Also, the conceptual change that happened with Becca, my fiancée, because I knew that I wanted to dig into real estate. I knew that was my industry, but it’s one thing coming off as an idea guy. Every other week, I’d be like, “I have this new idea. Let me go run with that.” I was a chicken with my head cut off and I could never focus.
This was the first thing to where I could be like, “Here’s a result. Here’s money coming to me in every single month and this works.” That was step one for her to be like, “This can work. How do we scale this up? You have my support,” versus, “That’s another idea.” The biggest con is if you want to raise a family, I know that we’re not going to do it at a house hack. We’re probably going to have to find another house for going to do that.
Was there any convincing at first before the concept was proven? You were listening to BiggerPockets. You were convinced. I suspect Becca was not listening to BiggerPockets. What tips do you have for someone that needs to convince, persuade or get the spouse on board?
Speak to them in their language.
What do you mean by that?
Tell her how many shoes she can get?
If that’s what you go, that’s probably how I would sell it. At the end of everything, everything is a sale. I had to get clear. I had to sell Becca on myself and my business model but pitch it in a way that made sense to her. My spouse is direct to the point, wants to know that I’m organized. I’ve thought of all the factors. We sat down for an hour. Once we ran through the numbers and said, “Here’s what our debt’s going to be. Here’s where our income is going to be. Worst case on both of those. We’re still going to be way out ahead. If it doesn’t work out.”
That was always the thing. The question of like, “If this house act doesn’t work out, what can we do? We go buy another house and we have an asset as a consequence.” Once you think about and talk through all of those worst-case scenarios, it’s hard for someone to turn a blind eye for that if you’ve done your due diligence and you can sit down and have a conversation about it.
When I was asking you about the pros and cons, I was trying to set you up for telling us all about how she never saw your roommate for six months. Now you got to tell us that.
That part was pretty funny. Our entrance to the back is through like a side door. It’s all gated. They enter in the basement. You never hear from them or you ever talked to them. Our tenant works in landscaping. He would leave at 6:00 in the morning and he’d come back in the middle of the day while we were on work calls. I don’t know how it worked out but after he moved in, all of a sudden, Becca was like, “There’s more money in our account. Great.” We never heard of the guy. Six months later, she’s calling like, “I finally met the tenant. He’s a super nice guy.”
I’m thinking to myself, like, “He’s been living in our basement for months and you’ve never met him?” I know it’s an ideal scenario and not everyone runs into it but I was worried about it when we first got started like, “How much noise is this guy going to make?” As a consequence, I made sure that I rented to somebody who was single and loved to play video games.
You can hear video games.
Especially if you get into it like Call of Duty, people get too into that game.
Are both of you speaking from personal experience now?
I am speaking from the experience of living in a condo where I could hear somebody playing some super-intense games. It might’ve been Call of Duty. I was like, “What the heck?” I’m wondering about noise because my partner and I have been looking at some up-down duplex rental basements. With older homes, it’s like one of us would be stomping around upstairs and hearing how it is downstairs. Did you test any of that out or have you had any issues with it?
We tested it out. We’ve had to put up a couple of sound deadening materials in the basement. In some of the stairways to mitigate that. One of the biggest things is there are services that you can go to contractors that like in between the floorboards. They’ll spray a bunch of foam between the drywall and your floor. It helps deaden the sound a little bit. It’s worth the money.
Have you had any issues with the heat and the air conditioning? I know if the thermostat is upstairs and the furnaces downstairs, the furnace register is it’s like 70 degrees upstairs and the furnace is blowing, so the downstairs is superheated. The house is regulated. Have you run into that issue?
Yes and no. Our tenant keeps to themselves quite a bit. I’m not super worried about it for a couple of reasons. One, because it’s easy to open the windows to vent as you need. Our heating is relatively cheap but basements insulate well. It’s not so much of a concern since you have so much ambient heating down there.
It’s because we’re crazy investors, I’m noticing that you’ve been there for over a year. What’s next? Why haven’t you moved out yet?
There are a lot of different ways you can skin the cat from a real estate investing standpoint. When we dipped our toes in house hack, we found out that we were spending a lot of our time maintaining it, working in the business. We also found that we did not like feathering the nest and getting the house ready. We were like, “If we’re going to keep doing this real estate thing, we’re going to move one more time for our actual house and we’re going to figure out another strategy.”
Once we got clarity on that, I started to, again, get focused on like, “Now that house hacking is out because of our lifestyle decisions and it wasn’t the scalable strategy for us, what’s next?” After that, I read the BRRRR book and the Long-Distance Real Estate Investing book three times over, each one to make sure I had it right and reached out to a couple of people, Craig being one of them for referrals. My end goal was like, “If I’m going to BRRRR out of my home office, that doesn’t require me to physically lift any fingers, or swinging the hammers. How am I going to do this successfully?” Stage one was go find successful investors that already have a team and a market. That was where I started.
Sometimes it’s so hard for people to take a step back, take a deep breath and realize like, “What do I want? Do I want a house that for the next five years?” It’s a pain. Me and my fiancée have now house hacked. She’s house hacked twice. I’ve house hacked five times. I’ve moved fifteen times in the past years. It’s nuts and it’s exhausting. The fact that you saw that clear to me, like, “I don’t want to do this again. How do I keep investing without having to move?” You said, “Cheaper market.” I love that you read David Greene’s books because they’re both phenomenal books. The biggest first step always is to find your team. There are a million markets out there that could work. How did you pick your market?
I took a page out of my book in my gig. I’m in data center sales on a day to day and it’s a numbers game. I took that thinking of how do I take the numbers to approach into real estate because at the end of the day, they’re both businesses. I looked up a couple of markets on BiggerPockets. I probably had six different markets. I created daily actionable goals. I had this massive whiteboard on my wall. I couldn’t look at it for at least four hours a day. It was literally like, “How many people did I talk to this week? I had to talk to at least somebody new every single day. How many deals did I do wrong? How many hours did I spend working on real estate?”
It took me a couple of months, but eventually, after talking to one person a day, I’ve talked to dozens of realtors, contractors, property managers and lenders. In the David Greene books, they all give detail of what questions to ask them to effectively set traps, to try to find people who know what they’re talking about versus blowing smoke. Eventually, I settled on your team, Craig, in Fayetteville with a couple of deviations. Fayetteville, North Carolina, is where we’ve been focusing. We’ve been scaling pretty quickly there. We sent over the last set of docs for our first refi and the notary’s coming over. We closed on our third BRRRR over there. It’s been super fun. The scalability of it is my favorite part of it.
I love that team too. I send a lot of people over there. I’m excited to hear that you’re using them. Can you go into your second deal? The first one you bought out of state, so we have a little taste of it.Find a successful investor who already has a team and a market. Click To Tweet
The second deal took me a while to put together. It was a distressed seller, $78,000 for their house. I literally hard close them like I do some of my customers as gently as possible because their father was being moved into a nursing home. A daughter is selling the house. She was getting higher offers. The goal was, what does she want and what does she need? We provided some assurances there and she ended up flipping us the contract for $78,000, but the house needed a lot of work.
How did you find this deal? Was it on the MLS or did you get a wholesaler?
You went in and you understood what her problem was?
Yes. With the FSBO deal, the number one thing I want to know is, “Why are you selling this and why aren’t you selling this on the market with a realtor to get more money?” Eventually, we found out that she needed to move out. She needed to move her father out very quickly to get into a nursing home. We latched onto that and made the details work.
What is the FSBO?
For Sale By Owner.
The seller was trying to sell it herself without an agent. She clearly was in some distress and you saw that. You’re like, “How do I solve this person’s problem without it being the highest possible cost?” What was your presentation to her?
My presentation to her was mostly around educating her on the sales process as best as I understood it because I had never gone through it, but I know why deals fall through because I deal with it on a regular basis. It was, “If somebody is giving you higher offers and they’ve never walked it and they’re not putting any earnest or due diligence down and you need to move, that’s a lot of risks. If you want to get more money, can you afford to take on that risk? Even though you have to move out very soon.”
After we walked her through that, she was like, “Crap. I need to sell this. I like you. You’ve walked the property and you know that you can close on it. I want to go with you.” Once I heard that, I called up my realtor. I was like, “Send her the documents now. I’m on the phone with her. I’m going to walk her through it.”
I’m curious about how you did that funding because getting loans under $100,000 is sometimes tricky. Did you do this cash? What did you do?
Becca and I had saved up for a year after our house hack. We did this one plus cash. You’re right on the under $100,000 loan. That’s a sticking point for a lot of people. What we did is we did delayed financing on there. We wanted to turn it over quickly, but the goal was to make sure that the rehab or the refi amount was at least $100,000. Do you want me to explain the delayed financing part?
Can you read my mind? Yes, what is the delayed financing?
Delayed financing, check with your lender to see if they do it, but it’s basically when you put the contractor’s quote on the settlement statement before you close. You wire the funds with your closing funds. To give an example, when we bought the house for $78,000, we knew that the property was going to cost roughly $35,000 to rehab. We wired the extra $35,000 with that. What we had worked out with our lender is when you put everything out all upfront early and you’re done with the rehab, you can refinance right then and there. It takes weeks to refi, but you don’t have to wait the typical six-month seasoning period when you do delayed financing if the lender allows it.
Does it refi at the appraised value as if the rehab is already completed?
How do they appraise that, then?
That’s $22,000 higher. Did you pull that money out? What did you do with that extra money?
We have the notary coming over for that. We’re pulling all of what we can outwork. We’re going to end up leaving roughly $15,000 in the deal, but in my eyes, roughly 10% down on $135,000 for an investment property is great. We’re going to go flip that into another BRRRR.
That’s one misconception people have with BRRRRs too. They think that in order to be a successful BRRRR, you have to refinance all your money out. That’s a home run. It happens frequently enough to not be like, “Whoa.” It happens about as frequently as a home run like you won in every couple hundred bats. Getting a property for 10% down is a win. That’s a solid double. That’s how you scale. That’s how you grow. You’ve already got three properties out there and you’re employing that same strategy to scale out in Fayetteville?
Yes. We’re at a point of rinse and repeat. I’ve run numbers enough times and I’ve seen enough. That town is block by block sometimes. I’ve seen enough areas to be like, “Let’s not look here. I don’t want class tenants. Let’s focus on these types of areas.” By getting the reps in, I am so happy with hitting a single base for a double base. I would prefer to be in the business of doing that. If by consequence of me building relationships with realtors and contractors, they say, “I know this guy can close. I’m going to give him the home run.” That’s what you want to be in a position to take on opportunistically.
I want to highlight that you went out of state. Usually, when people are looking at that, they’re looking at, “We have an expensive home option in Denver. Even at 5% down or 3.5% down, I’m going to have to cough up $50,000, or I’m going to go buy a cheap house in one of these other secondary markets. If I’m doing 20% down or more, I’m still at that $50,000 or even $70,000 with closing costs.” This BRRRR is a home run getting to do only 10% down and not having it as a second home loan that brings up your DTI or something that had to be Airbnb. I wanted to highlight that because a lot of times, people don’t realize how much money is involved in these deals.
I’m going to keep with a baseball analogy. You win games by hitting singles and doubles. Games are won that way. Not by home run after home run. I see people all the time trying to analyze. If it doesn’t pencil out to where they’re getting all their money back and there was a 10% cushion, they’re not doing the deal. That means you’ll never do a deal. If you never do a deal, you’re never going to build wealth. You’re never going to get rich and all of this equity and appreciation that’s happened in the past year will not be in your back pocket.
It’s important to factor in other people’s time into the equation because people always do what’s in their best interest. If I was going to be the investor, ask my contractor to go check out all these places and in my realtor, have them walk him, and give me a real firm number. I do that a hundred times and I never write an offer because it doesn’t do 100% BRRRR. They’re never going to work with me. If they never work with me, my strategy is never going to scale. I would rather leave a little bit more money in the deal and keep my people happy. It’s gotten to a point where I can call them at any point in the day. Sometimes, I might call them too late and they’re like, “What do you need? Let’s go.” That’s the position I want to be in.
I’m curious about the lending piece because you’re saying this is your third house now and you’re only doing the refi now. Was there a period in between that you had to wait between closing and being able to refi? Usually, that’s about six months if you have two loans, but since you didn’t have a loan on the first part of it, I’m curious if there was a seasoning period.
There was no seasoning period because we left all of our money in the deal. We put it all in the HUD upfront. I confirmed with my lender that if we did that, we could revise soon as we were done, which was about four months later. If we had not put all of our rehab money upfront, then we would have had to wait the six-month seasoning period upon that deal. Does that answer your question?
Yes. I have a little follow-up. It’s usually more expensive when you do a cash-out refi. Did you notice that interest rate-wise that made it not as sexy or was it negligible?
We found a lender that focuses on working with investors. Our actual financing costs were roughly $3,500. We were able to get that cheaply because of how they operate it. I’m not the expert on how they run their business, but they make their money selling the loan and they’re happy to pass that onto us.
Colin, I want to get a quick zoom-out update on where you are now. You’ve got one property in Denver. When you move out of that, it’ll cashflow you about $1,200 a month or so. How much passive income you’re getting from your properties?
The one that we closed is nothing. The first one, our debt obligation, is going to be roughly $589 and the rent is $1,200 on that. After property management CapEx repairs, it’ll be roughly around $400 a month in cashflow that we’ll pull off of that. The next deal is worth talking about. We’re not cashflowing. We’re making $100 a month on this deal, but we’re getting compensated for taking on somebody else’s problem. When we bought this deal, the property management company re-signed the tenant’s lease while we were under contract. I was like, “What the heck is going on?” That was always part of it.
That’s why we got the deal so cheap. We bought the deal for $75,000, Airbnb in the area is like $150. For me, I was like, “This is a no-brainer,” but the kicker was, I had to hold on to this tenant and collect less than ideal cashflow for a year with the goal of in a year from now being able to do a perfect BRRRR. We’re only able to do that by holding on to an under-rent tenant.
This is basically what commercial multifamily real estate investors do. They find a property where rents are super low. They go in. You have to assume the rent until the lease expires. Once the lease expires, they bump up and that increases the value of the property for multifamily. For a single-family, it got effectively went too because you’re going to sell it back to an investor. They’re going to want to know what that is. I love that. Why not take a $75,000 haircut? Deal with less than ideal rents for a year, but you’re going to get paid $75,000 for it. That’s a salary. No-brainer.Focus on the tenant because the tenant is the asset. Click To Tweet
I’m doing this at 28. If I do delayed gratification deals for the next ten years, I don’t need this to bear fruit for me now, but I know that once the system gets stabilized in a year from now or a year plus four months for the rehab, then that deal is going to rent for $1,400 a month. My debt obligation on that is $500 after most things. I would rather stack those good deals and take a year of delayed profits.
You’re a smart dude. I love that you took action quickly, even during COVID in 2020, because I’m sure that you’ve been paid quite nicely. I’m sure your house has probably appreciated $100,000 plus in the months that you’ve owned it. Let’s move into the Final Four. Z, kick the stuff.
I know, but you didn’t ask him if he had any final words of wisdom. I wanted to know. Colin, do you have any final words of wisdom for our audience?
This is nothing new. Pick 1 or 2 things. It’s easy to get distracted, do a house hack, do a long-distance or BRRRR or go commercial. Do one thing you like and get laser-focused on it every day. Chances are if you spend all of your free energy on one thing, it’s going to work out versus diluting that and never taking action.
It’s funny. Literally, I got a notification, The ONE Thing, which is a book that talks all about that came in on my phone from the library right before we started this interview. It was like, “Yes.” This is a good segue. Our first question for you is, what are you reading now?
I’m taking a step backward. I’m reading How to Buy and Manage Rental Properties by Irene and Mike Milin. It’s a super old school book. My dad gave it to me. The premise of the book is focused on the tenant because the tenant is the asset. It’s the thing that pays you money for your house. I’m reading it because, especially in cheaper markets, I see 2% properties all the time where you could have a super cheap rent, but your debt obligation is almost negligible, but it’s like, what does that tenant going to do to your house? Are the people you want to attract the people who want to make a home out of your house or the ones that are going to live there and destroy it and cost you more headaches down the line?
Colin, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Play to your strengths and outsource the things you’re not good at.
That was the theme of today. Number three, what is your why?
My why is all centered around family and freedom of choice. I would love to wake up and intentionally live my life of how I want to spend my day, how I want to hang out with my kids and be with my family when we get there. I’m actively planning all of these things and taking all of these steps. When we need to raise a family, we’re ready to go when I get to that point. That fires me up. Also, when I get to a point where I don’t need to wake up at 7:00 AM and work until 7:00 PM on my W-2, there are a lot of other personal interests I would love to get involved in. Life’s short. Why not do the things you like?
You should read the book on the topic Lifespan because then your life will be a lot longer. They’re saying that you could live to 150.
What am I going to do?
Read that book and you’ll understand it. There’s a whole podcast on it, so we can’t go into it now, but it’s interesting. All right, the last question is, have you ever gone to a corner store and stolen the candy bar?
I have never done that, but in college, I was a huge klepto when I was in Europe. I would take beer glasses everywhere I could from the bars.
You know you have to pay taxes on stolen property.
Does that mean I’m going to be on a foreign list?
They’re probably looking for you now, so I wouldn’t go back.
I wouldn’t be surprised.
Where can people find out more about you if they want to hit you up?
You can check out my Instagram @C_McAlpine. I’ll be posting about real estate every once in a while there and also more about my life. Hit me up. I’m happy to answer questions. I’m no expert, but I’m starting to get traction with this. I’m loving it so far. I’m happy to help.
It’s awesome to see your success and how much you’ve grown. Thanks so much for coming to the show. I love to see all this success. We’ll see you soon.
Thanks so much, you two. Take care.
That was Colin McAlpine. Z, what’d you think of Colin?
I liked his story and how there was this theme throughout about finding your team. He was talking about the bond he had with you as someone from Northeastern but also finding this great team out in Fayetteville and figuring out how to make it work for him. Also, how we talked about how you can go further with a group and outsource the things that don’t work well. That was something that he learned from the beginning with his parents. That is something that I learned in 2021. Everything I’m doing is in partnerships. It is great to leverage other people on their great skills.
Everyone at first is all about like, “I want to do it all myself.” To a certain extent, when you first start out, you do need to do it all yourself because you can’t afford to hire other people. Quickly, the sooner you can get to that level of an abundance mindset and hiring someone else who’s in their expertise helping you that’s not in your expertise, you’re going to grow so much faster. I agree. I read the book Who Not How by Dan Sullivan. That book blew my world up. I was like, “I’m doing this shit all wrong.” That’s when I realized that you got to hire a good team.
The thing is, finding a good team isn’t that hard. You got to find one good person. You’re learning from two good people on this show now. If you need help finding team members anywhere, whether it’s realtors or lenders or whatever, hit us up. We have networks all across the country. We’re happy to help because, again, that’s like the biggest barrier and it’s almost one of the easier ones to accomplish.
Craig, thanks. We’re so glad you’re back. Let’s hope that you’re going to be here for all the episodes to come.
I’m so glad to be back. Thanks for subbing in my absence. I appreciate it. That’s why we’re such a great team. For all the audience, if you would please remember to leave us a rating or review on iTunes, we greatly appreciate all the feedback. Let us know. Hit us up on Instagram. I’m @TheFIGuy and Z, what’s yours?
Let us know how we’re doing. We will see you guys around. See you soon and peace out.
- Colin McAlpine
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- Long-Distance Real Estate Investing
- How to Buy and Manage Rental Properties
- @C_McAlpine – Instagram
- Who Not How
- The ONE Thing
- iTunes – Invest2Fi
- @TheFIGuy – Craig Curelop Instagram
- @ZeonaMcIntyre – Zeona McIntyre Instagram
About Colin McAlpine
Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Colin was actively involved in his family’s business from an early age, spending most of his time helping to maintain their rental portfolio. It wasn’t until his early teens when he started connecting the dots between the work he and his family had been doing to the increasing number of checks mounting on their doormat every month. That was when the concept of passive income clicked, and while the concept was simple, scaling it seemed next to impossible given the amount of time he spent helping to maintain a dozen properties.
Fast forward to the end of college, and his real estate ambitions had been placed on hold for the better part of a decade to pursue a career in finance. Colin quickly realized the drawbacks of trading time for money within the corporate ladder. With some guidance, he made the transition from corporate finance to an entry level software sales position with an almost 50% pay cut – knowing that his income level would be directly correlated to the amount of effort that he applied. At first, the hours, pay, and debt obligations in downtown Manhattan were less than ideal, although over time the upside started to compound. The shift from trading time for a fixed pay, to a controllable variable pay had been cemented. Next came figuring out how to minimize or eliminate time from the income equation altogether.
After moving to Denver, Colorado, a few hundred BiggerPockets episodes later, and with Craig’s help, Colin and his Fiance successfully embarked on their first House Hack. This episode sheds light on that story and their current pursuit of achieving the first level of financial independence through the BRRRR strategy.