House hacking can be a great way to get into real estate and start your way to financial freedom. It is the strategy of living in a property you own while renting out part of it to other tenants. Dylan Koch, a pharmacy graduate, always knows that financial prudence is important. After spending hundreds of hours learning about personal finance and investing, Dylan decided that real estate would be his preferred method towards financial independence. Join in as he tells his story about how he worked his way up to financial independence – from house hacking and partnership to raising other people’s money and creating a legacy.
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From Pharmacy To Real Estate: An Investor’s Journey To Financial Independence With Dylan Koch
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Our guest is Dylan Koch. Dylan is a great friend of mine. He’s into real estate. He started off this house hacking like a lot of us have, and then it’s grown into the side hustle of wholesaling. Now, he’s raising other people’s money and all that stuff. This is a great place to be in positioning yourself as, “This is the next step. This is what house hacking your real estate investing allows me to get to. It allows me to start.” He’s still in the very early stages of this Phase 2 of financial independence, so it was exciting to have him talk. Without further ado, let’s bring Dylan Koch onto the show.
Dylan Koch, my friend. Welcome to the show. How are you doing?
I’m doing well, Craig. Thanks for having me.
Thanks so much for coming on. We’ve gotten pretty close here over the last couple of months or so. I love to know about your journey. I want to share this with everybody. Why don’t we rewind it back a little bit and tell us when did you first hear about financial independence?
I haven’t reflected on this stuff in a while, so it would be good. It probably would have been around 2016. That would have been when I was in pharmacy school. The thought process was, “Money is important. You are going to make a decent amount of money coming out of college. You should know what to do with it.” I started going down the personal finance rabbit hole.
The first person I read was Dave Ramsey’s, The Total Money Makeover. As you go down that rabbit hole, you learn about Mr. Money Mustache and eventually Robert Kiyosaki, which those two have polar opposite views, and then the FIRE movement and BiggerPockets were part of it. 2016 was my first introduction but I didn’t capitalize on that until a couple of years later.
Full disclosure, I’ve never read The Total Money Makeover. I tried and was like, “I’m beyond this at this point.” I was introduced to it too late. What did you gather from that book that you took with you?
In the beginning, it was the only thing I knew. I followed it to a tee. The biggest thing was debt is bad. That’s the biggest takeaway from that book. It didn’t discriminate between whether that’s high interest like personal debt or if that’s debt used to buy a property or a house. It basically said all debt is bad. That was my thought process for the first couple of months while I was starting this financial literacy that I’m taking myself down.
It’s a couple of months, so it didn’t take you too long to realize that, “Maybe some debt is good.” What book did that shift happen for you?
I know it’s a cliché answer but Rich Dad Poor Dad.
I’m curious about what would have got you into real estate. With Dave Ramsey, it seems like neither of those is that into real estate. I know Robert Kiyosaki is into real estate. Where did you have that transition of going, “This is good debt?
“It’s after reading Rich Dad Poor Dad. That would have been probably a year later, about the 2017 timeframe.
We talked about good debt and bad debt. What is good debt? What is bad debt? What was your definition of that?
Bad debt would be anything that uses debt that doesn’t produce income, in my opinion. A high-interest credit card is probably the best example of bad debt. With good debt, you can go out and buy a single-family home or a duplex. That can either reduce your living expenses or even put some extra couple of hundred dollars in your pocket every month after paying for those expenses and that mortgage interest. You’ve paid off your debt for 30 years, and you know your fixed costs. The basic definition to me was personal debt is bad debt, and income-producing debt is good debt
Don’t put a vacation on a credit card. What about a car? Would you consider a car bad debt?
I consider the car a liability because it goes down in value once you drive it off the lot. It costs you money. It doesn’t make you money. I know you can do the Turo thing now where you run it out but traditionally, I would view that as bad debt.Having a poor operating agreement will destroy you if anything happens or if things start to go awry, especially if it's a long-term partnership where things change, and circumstances change. Click To Tweet
I love that concept too. The only time you are taking out debt is to buy an asset that’s going to provide you income. I used to be a very big proponent of paying your cars in cash because cars devalue. However, as you get a little bit more sophisticated, you can start to take on a little bit more of this riskier debt. A car loan would be the next step up of that because car loans are relatively cheap.
It’s not giving you income but instead of paying $20,000 for a car, you can put $2,000 down, have a monthly payment, and you’ve got $18,000 to go ahead and invest. As long as you are investing that additional money and not just blowing it on whatever, it may make sense. It’s all about your risk tolerance as well. You went from that journey of debt being bad to some debt being good. What happens next after you read Rich Dad Poor Dad? Is this 2017 when you read Rich Dad Poor Dad?
Correct. I graduated from pharmacy school. My first job was what they consider a floater pharmacist. I’m driving all around Cincinnati and Dayton and listening to as many podcasts and audiobooks that I can, BiggerPockets being one of them and Rich Dad Poor Dad series, all the purple books. I started on Episode 1 of BiggerPockets. It was like, “Let’s see what this stuff is about.” Through that education, I was like, “Let’s see if there’s a local meetup.”
Joe Fairless, at the time, ran a local meetup here in Cincinnati. I showed up at that first meeting in 2017 and couldn’t tell you the difference between Joe Fairless and Brandon Turner. I couldn’t tell you anything about real estate. I met an agent there who is an investor-friendly agent. We had coffee. I was like, “This is what I’m looking to do. I’m looking to do this house hack thing, where I can lower my expenses.” Long story short, in June of 2018, I bought my first house hack here in Cincinnati.
A lot of people fall down that rabbit hole. I had a similar trajectory. In June 2018, that was your for real deal. That is the first intentional deal you did as an investor. We are going to dig deep into this deal, Dylan. Why don’t you tell us what that deal looks like, what the price was, and all that good stuff, and we will dig in a little deeper?
It was a duplex here in Cincinnati in a good part of town. It was the purchase price on it. It was listed at $270,000. 2017 was still a seller’s market. I was an FHA buyer at the time because that’s what I thought you were supposed to do as a first-time home buyer. I ended up purchasing the house for $272,000 and ended up paying the closing cost as well.
I came to the closing table with $10,000 or $11,000 out of my own pocket to purchase this duplex. The interest rate was around 4% to 4.5%. My principal interest was $1,177.78 per month. With taxes, if you do that, it’s $455 a month, and insurance was $100 a month. In total, my principal interest, taxes, and insurance were $1,750 per month.
You bought this thing for $272,000. You put about $10,000 or $11,000 down, and your monthly payment total is $1,750. Is this a single-family home or a duplex?It was a duplex.How did you address that situation? Did you live on one side or the other? What was your strategy there?
I lived on one side and rented out the other. One thing that I know now that I wouldn’t do it again was the utilities were not separate in this duplex. All the utilities were in my name. If you add that cost to the living expenses in total, that was $350 a month. What it cost me was $2,100 a month total but I was running out the other side for $1,500. My living expenses are about $600, all in for everything. I’m living in a good area of Cincinnati where someone else is also paying down the debt and the tax benefits and appreciation that’s happened since then.
You are not house hacking. You are not living for free.
When I first learned of that concept, I was like, “Whoa.” I was running all the numbers, especially where I live. Unless you wanted to live in the not-so-great part of town, you couldn’t make those numbers work. I was still lowering my living expenses. I was 24 years old, making good money for a 24-year-old, and I didn’t have a car payment, so I was able to stack away cash during this first house hack.
That’s the point I was making. I was being a little facetious there. You don’t need to be cashflowing while you are living there on a house hack because you are saving money in rent, and that’s effectively cashflowing. The less money you spend on rent, the more you can save and the quicker you can buy the next property. Not all house hacks work out like that. You are renting out the other side for $2,100 in payment and getting rent for $1,500 and $600 of deficit that you had to pay towards it. What would your side rent for?
It’s $1,500 probably as well.
You bought this house for $270,000. You got $3,000 in income coming in, including the rent you are paying yourself. Your mortgage payments are $2,100, and that includes your utilities and all that good stuff. Your basic cashflow is $900 a month on this duplex. That’s a very big leap towards what I suspect is your goal of financial independence. What we didn’t talk about yet is, did you have to put any other money into the house? It’s either you have to fix it up, or did anything else go wrong?
It was pretty turnkey when I bought it. However, within the first six months of living there, I had to pour another $7,500 into it. I ended up having to put on a new roof and also replace six windows because they were the old original wood windows. I didn’t necessarily have to do that but I did to help lower the utility bill. One other thing that happened was this house was old. 1911 is the build. It had the box gutters on the top, which are these wood gutters were popular back when those homes were built. To replace or fix them is very expensive. I didn’t know that at the time. I had them sealed, which cost me a few hundred dollars versus the $20,000 it was going to be to get it back to its place.
What was your total amount end for the property with the rehab?
It’s another $7,500 out of my own pocket.
Let’s be conservative here and say you put $20,000 of your own money into this deal between the down payment, the closing costs, and the rehab. You are buying this house in perfect condition after you’ve done it for 10% down. Now, what is that property worth?
I did end up selling that house a couple of years later. I sold it for $335,000 three years later.
In three years, it’s $335,000. You are looking at about a $50,000 gain over the course of three years. You’re in Cincinnati, which isn’t the highest appreciating in markets but it’s still appreciated. You are looking at an extra $20,000 a year in appreciation. You got your loan benefits and tax paid and all that stuff. You are looking at well over 100% return on investment with some $20,000 invested. That doesn’t even include the $1,000 a month or so you got in cashflow. Why did you sell the house?
You hit on this when you are talking about opportunity costs. Not to sidetrack too quickly but I had another partner that was a pharmacist. We were working together. I bought this primary residence in June of 2018. This partner and I bought another duplex in August of that same year, then we bought another duplex in January 2019. We then started running low on cash. We are like, “There’s money from this place and have opportunity costs to put this money somewhere else.” It was to grow the real estate portfolio quicker.
That’s a perfect reason to do it. As you would level up and grow it, people tend to sell the properties that aren’t working as well to go ahead and buy other ones that are more aligned with their goals. What happens after this first property? Is this in 2017 when you bought your first one?
It’s June of 2018.
In June 2018, you bought your first one. What happens next?
As I alluded to, I had a very close friend of mine in pharmacy school. We had similar ambitions and goals. Were like, “Let’s form a partnership and go down this rabbit hole together.” We used that same agent. We are running the numbers on the BiggerPockets calculators. We are like, “If it hits, it’s $200 per door in cashflow and this cash-on-cash return. Let’s buy it. Let’s do it.” We ended up buying another duplex together in August of 2018. It’s two months after that, and then we bought another duplex together in January of 2019. It’s three months after that. That was the start of that.
I’m curious as to how you found your partner. 1) How did you find them? 2) How did you structure things?
My friend and I knew each other from pharmacy school. There was a level of trust already built into our friendship. We had done the battle-tested degree together, which is a lot of sacrifice and time together. As we are going down this financial independence rabbit hole, we are talking about our ambitions and using our pharmacists’ income and low expenses to build a real estate portfolio together and build our passive income. We had metrics that we wanted to follow.
We were like, “If it produces $200 per door net cashflow and has this specific cash-on-cash return,” which at the time was 12%, then we are like, “We will buy it.” That’s the path that we went out on. We use the BiggerPockets calculators online and use that same agent that I met to buy my primary residence. He helped us since our first couple of deals. We bought one in August 2018 and then again in January 2019.
How did you structure that partnership? Was it 50/50? Did someone come to the table with something more?
It was 100%, 50/50, split down the middle. Instead of a JV, we made a new entity and everything.Get in front of people who can shorten the learning curve. That way, you can scale quickly. Click To Tweet
You went through the correct way. Did you get a lawyer involved?
We did. Everything on the forum is like, “Set this up right from the beginning because you never know what’s going to happen.” The agent we were working with knew a CPA and an attorney. We sat down. They did the legal operating agreements, beneficiaries, what happens if someone dies, gets married, has kids, and all the things that go into the planning of something like that.
If we are going into partnerships, having a poor operating agreement will destroy you if anything happens or things start to arise, especially if it’s a long-term partnership or if things and circumstances change.
Craig, I don’t know if you want to talk about that. This partnership has ended but we are still great friends with them. Having that in place, there’s no tension when it happens because we already have pre-decided what’s going to happen with all those assets.
I’m curious if it ended. I would love to know that story as to what caused it to end, why it ended, and how it ended.
As you alluded to earlier, life happens. I got married, and then our financial goals and how to get there started to differ. Our opinions started to differ. One wants to do more commercials, and I wanted to start this real estate investment business. I know we are jumping forward a lot. September of 2021 is when that happened, and I left full-time pharmacy to do this. Up until that point, we had thirteen units between single-family homes and small duplexes. When that ended, it was like, “We are going to sell everything off and split the proceeds 50/50. We are going to have a Tax Bill.” Tom is so one of my best friends. He was at my wedding. We are great.
If I gave any advice to someone out there looking to do partnerships, have all the documents in place first. It was not a downfall but we were too much alike where his strengths are my strengths, and my weaknesses are his weaknesses. There wasn’t ebb and flow to anything. We both enjoyed the underwriting and looking for deals. None of us like property management or the other aspects of owning real estate. That didn’t help the longer that went down the road.
You need a yin or yang when you are finding a partner. You have to be good at one thing. You may not get along with that person that much, which is funny because oftentimes, you get along with somebody that is similar to you because you are relatable. Maybe find someone that can challenge your views and have frequent discussions with. That’s how the business fulfills and grows. That’s the puzzle piece that puts together. I love that. Did you have three properties in this partnership then?
I ended up getting to 8 with 13 doors.
I’m curious as to how you scaled that quickly. How did you come up with the money for all that?
We were living so cheap and working a ton of overtime as a pharmacist. We were able to stack away and combine probably $7,000 to $8,000 a month to store up some of those down payments but the more we kept learning about real estate, and the fancy term of other people’s money, and the BRRRR method, we are like, “This makes sense. Let’s increase our velocity of money. If we can turn around, let’s do it.” We decided to pursue that method as well.
You dissolved your partnership. What happened to those properties? Did you buy him out? How did that work?
We sold them all through a real estate agent who helped us split the proceeds 50/50.
What happens if you don’t want to sell it? Did you feel like you had to give in because he wanted to leave or were you okay with it?
It was mutually agreed upon. It was simple. At the time, my thought process was, “Some of these are in Northern Kentucky. I don’t want to be down there anymore. I’m focusing up more North.” It was opportunity cost. I can take some of this cash. I’m going to have to pay the depreciation recapture and some of this stuff but I can take this cash and use it for building my own business, which was starting to do the off-market stuff, which takes a little bit of money up front to get that business going.
That feels like a pretty big transition. Where are we now in terms of years? When did your partnership dissolve?
That would have been September of 2021.
Were you buying properties yourself throughout this time? Was everything you were buying go into the partnership?
Everything that we buy went into the partnership.
You mentioned other people’s money, which is a fantastic way to scale in real estate. That’s probably the only way to scale to a big-time thing. How did you start raising other people’s money? How do you have that conversation with somebody?
The biggest thing is networking. We are going to every local meetup, the REIAs, reaching out to people who would post on Facebook groups or the BiggerPockets forums, and meeting people in this space. Through those mutual connections, you start talking with other investors. If you can prove that you have some level of competence or like, “This is what we did with our first 3 or 4 properties,” they can get behind you. They are sitting on a lot of cash. They want to get a return on that, and we were able to provide that for them.
A lot of people get bogged down with the idea of like, “I have to have a fund. I have to go through the regulations,” and all the things that complicate that.
If I heard you correctly, you said the difference between getting private money versus raising a fund or going bigger. When you do your real estate education, you are going down and learning about syndications and all this stuff. A lot of people who get down this space are like, “I want to go big as I can.” You learn about syndications and whatnot. At the end of the day, maybe it’s just my personality where I like to have a lot of control over the deal and be able to be local in my market.
In some cases, getting infinite returns on some of these first deals was more appealing to me than going out and doing the legwork and paying the attorney $30,000 to $50,000 for the documents you need to file at the SEC. I didn’t feel like we were at the stage where you are competent enough to do that yet. We found something that worked and was very focused on working at what we knew worked already.
It seems like people put this big thing on raising other people’s money. I don’t think it needs to be that way. It could be like, “Dylan, I’m investing in this deal. I need $50,000. Do you got it?” and you are like, “Yeah.” I’m like, “I will put you on the part of the operating agreement for this entity.” It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It doesn’t have to cost a thing.
There is a little bit of added pressure that, “I’ve got your money now, and I want to make sure that I get you your return.” That’s it. If you are looking to scale, start networking and getting into rooms with some people that you know are going to have some money and start making connections with them because they will be the ones that will be giving you the cash.
Write down the ten wealthiest people you think you know. Start reaching out to them and say, “This is what I’m doing. Are you interested?” You will be amazed at where those conversations will go. Maybe they are not interested but they know someone who is.
Let’s talk about that transition. After September 2021, you and your partner have split apart. What happens next?
He’s off doing commercial stuff and a little bit bigger deals. I’m more wanting to focus on getting my own deals off the market and building a cashflowing business where I can use the cashflow to buy real estate for myself. I did end up joining another mastermind. Ryan Dossey, who has been on BiggerPockets a couple of times, has what he calls a CCF or Create CashFlow. The impetus was how you run a real estate business that produces off-market deal flow and scale. It’s the whole nine yards.
Since that time, I have left pharmacy full-time. I still work in the pharmacy 1 to 2 days a week. I keep my licenses. It’s like a backup plan in case this doesn’t work out. Since that time, we’ve done about 7 deals with 1 other in escrow. As far as wholesale deals, we’ve done 1 flip and have 7 units. One more in escrow should make 9, and another offer out there that will make 10. In less than a year, hopefully at the ten units by the time that first year has been since the transition.Feel the fear and do it anyway. Click To Tweet
That’s 10 units that you transacted or 10 units that you own yourself?
It’s ten units that I own myself. There are eight other transactions that I no longer hold.
How much does the typical wholesale deal go for?
It depends on your market. My lowest one has been $3,000, and my highest one has been $15,000 so far. I’ve also talked to people that they can go a little higher than that too.
You are in a cheaper market in Ohio. If anyone is out there looking for a side hustle like to find deals, work with sellers, and all that, wholesaling is a great route to go. I know Ryan Dossey has got an amazing mastermind group. In anything, when you are starting a new business or venture, look to see if there are any masterminds or anybody that you can get around that can help you in that endeavor because that’s huge. I suspect you attribute a lot of your success this quickly to CCF or are you just a maniac?
I worked very hard but it’s being part of the group and around other people. You can sit down, listen to the podcast, go through YouTube, and figure it out. Anybody can but it might take you twice as long to figure that out. Get in front of people that can shorten that learning curve so that way you can scale quickly. It might cost you some money but back to opportunity costs and cost on your time, what does that mean? It’s hard to quantify something like that.
Wholesaling is where a lot of people start. It’s one of the hardest avenues in real estate. It takes a very little bit of that to start on it but it’s tricky. It makes it so much easier if you’ve got somebody that is educated.
I agree with that. Shortening the curve is something that I used to be super hesitant about. I would rather do it all myself. I’d rather save the $10,000 but when you think about it, if you could do two deals, it would probably take me a year to educate myself and get to the point of where you are by initiating this program.
How many deals did you do in that one year? It definitely wasn’t $10,000 worth. It’s hard that the initial span is hard to digest. Grant Cardone always says that if you have $1,000, he recommends spending that $1,000 invested into yourself. Investing in the masterminds, getting those connections, having those friends, and being in that tribe, is what will propel you to the next level. I love that. We are up to the present day now at this point.
Dylan, this has been awesome. We talked all about your journey from Dave Ramsey all the way to Rich Dad Poor Dad. Debt is bad, and now the debt is good. You then started buying house hacks by yourself and were like, “I could do more if I have a partner.” You bring in your partner. You guys are both pharmacists making good money. You start buying stuff together.
The partnership didn’t quite work out. You went in your different directions and started raising other people’s money. I love that scalability as to going from, “I’ve got 1 or 2 house hacks,” and now like, “The world was my oyster. I can have unlimited funds that I can potentially buy deals with.” Where do you expect to go here in the next years?
Robert Kiyosaki talks about the cashflow quadrant, and I have been S which is the Self-employed part. I want to make that more towards the B part, the Business owner part. I’m going to another event here later in July. That focuses on, “How do you scale? What do you outsource first? Is it the bookkeeping? Is it your marketing, pulling your lists?” It’s part of this real estate business. That way, it’s the cliché of, “Don’t work in your business but work on your business.” That’s the next for me. It’s how I cannot only increase revenue and profit but also decrease the amount of time that I have to be involved.
That’s how you scale. The only way to scale is to get your time back so you can work on growing the business versus operating the business. What’s that conference called?
It’s called Results Driven. It’s driven by a woman in Columbus, Ohio. They do a massive amount of volume here in the State of Ohio.
That will be a great event. It sounds like you are headed in the right direction towards scaling up your wholesaling companies and investments. Are there any other final words you want to gift to our audience before we head into the final four?
We can head on to the final four. After the show, if anyone wants to reach out, I can talk about this stuff all day, every day or give advice. That would be great.
We will ask you for your information at the end, so make sure you read through to the end. It is time for the final four. First question, what book are you reading now?
It’s The Gap and The Gain by Dan Sullivan.
That’s a classic. I love it. Second question, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
It’s like leaning into your discomfort.
You are at 80% of the information and then pull the trigger. You are not going to have 100%, and you got to go for it.
What is your why?
Most people probably on this show say financial independence and more so time freedom. Do what you want and when you want. There’s also the legacy aspect for me, where I would like to set up our family for generations to come and eventually give back to the causes that are near and dear to myself and my wife.
Last question, why do round pizzas come in square boxes?
I’ve heard this before. I have no idea. Geometry is my answer.
I was trying to think about this. I heard this question for the first time, and I was like, “Why is that the case?” I think it’s so you can cut it but it’s already come cut. It doesn’t make any sense. I don’t know. Dylan, how can people find out more about you, reach out to you, all those good things?
We will hit up Dylan on his IG or wherever else you can find him.
Thanks so much for coming to the show. This has been an inspiring episode, and we will see you next time.
Thanks for having me, Craig.
That was Dylan Koch. I love Dylan so much. I love how genuine he is and how much passion he brings into the conversation. His journey is so crystal clear. A lot of us have maybe followed the same road of, “Start with Dave Ramsey,” and that’s like level zero of financial literacy. You then are like, “There are some ways to be more efficient.” You read Rich Dad Poor Dad and understand that some debt is good mortgages, and maybe some other business debt might be okay as long as it’s helping you make more income.
You then start using what you learned to buy real estate and other assets that provide you financial independence, and then you get to this next phase of lean financial independence. You bought a handful of rental properties, making you probably between $3,000 and $7,000 a month. Now, you’ve got your basis covered for what is financial independence. You can now go ahead and start to scale your business.
I love that Dylan is right at that point of scaling. I would bet that if we called him back in a year or two, he’s going to be crushing his business and laugh at this episode. I hope you all enjoyed this episode. If you could, please leave us a rating and review on iTunes. We tremendously appreciate it. If there’s any way we can help, feel free to reach out to us on Instagram. I’m @TheFIGuy, and Zeona is @ZeonaMacIntyre. We will see you all next episode.
- @11DKoch – Instagram
- The Total Money Makeover
- Mr. Money Mustache
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- Episode 1 – BiggerPockets Radio Podcast Previous Episode
- Create CashFlow
- The Gap and The Gain
- Facebook – Dylan Koch
- iTunes – Invest2FI
- @TheFIGuy – Instagram
- @ZeonaMacIntyre – Instagram
About Dylan Koch
Dylan was born and raised in a small town in western Ohio. Always knowing financial prudence was important, he started to read personal finance books close to pharmacy school graduation. After spending hundreds of hours learning about personal finance and investing, Dylan decided that real estate would be his preferred method towards financial independence. Upon graduating in 2017, Dylan built a small portfolio of 13 units with some partners, sold the entire portfolio, and built back up his own portfolio to 10 units. Dylan left full time pharmacy in October of 2021 to do real estate full time and fast track his path towards financial independence.