The Pros & Cons of DIY

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, then you will notice that we have made the choice to do a lot of stuff on our own recently. I have been reflecting on this and thought it was worth a post of the good and the bad that we’ve experienced. Hopefully this will help you if you are taking on a new project at home or with an investment property and are trying to decide if you want to hire it out or do it on your own. Let’s start with the pros..

The biggest plus to me is that DIY is a whole mindset. There are so many descriptive words that I feel when planning or doing a new project, like empowered, inspired, creative, confident, etc. that carry over into the rest of my life. It’s hard to explain in words..it’s more of a feeling it creates and a perception of what you are capable of, which is so much more than we all think! So it’s not about the project as much as it is about the growth you experience going through a project of any size.

Another big plus for us working as a couple has been the bonding (in between the yelling and crying of course) and any good project has a little bit of both. 😜 My favorite was the teenager mixing paint at Home Depot who didn’t realize her question about what paint type we wanted would be a trigger. Or the time I got overwhelmed in the electrical aisle but had to shout out “Aisle 20 bay 9” through tears because we had a short amount of time to get supplies, so I persevered through that middle of the aisle breakdown and got the job done. But once you get past those heated moments, it gives us something that is ours and will always be and it has made us stronger as a couple and as parents. We are building a life together for now and the future to enjoy. How freakin awesome is that?!

One more huge benefit is quality control…or just control in general. This can be a double edged sword though, as sometimes you have to allow control over to others or delegate items out that are above your expertise or you don’t have time for. But nobody is going to love your project like you do, so that will shine through in your work. You also get control over the details, timeline, etc.

Of course money is the last major pro that is the most obvious. BUT..please keep in mind that much like quality control, this is another area that it might be worth the money you spend vs your time being spent. Also, sometimes you may not have as much background in something, and because of that, you may end up spending more time/money doing it DIY than it would have been subbing it out.

So now let’s switch to cons. I already covered the control piece and how that can be a con. It can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you are new, to run an entire rehab project and manage any subcontractors and supplies along with all the other things that go with a property. Another con is the amount of time. Sometimes, especially if you have other stuff on your plate, you may think you’re saving money by DIY’ing, but maybe your project ends up taking 4 months instead of 4 weeks. That time is costing you money. Another con is that you can get hurt..literally. Some projects carry risks and it’s not uncommon to get that “blood, sweat, and tears” all in a days work. One of the biggest cons is just the amount of time it took away from our weekends and a few evenings. It’s something that is ok for a short span, but not sustainable to repeat with our other priorities like kids and their weekend sports, running the household and preparing for the next week of work and school.

Overall..I don’t think there’s a right or wrong on whether you DIY or hire out, but I would say to start small and start with what you know. For example, if you’re on your very first project, maybe not do a full gut rehab and just stick to a project that needs paint and upgrading the backsplash in kitchen and changing out the mirror, light and vanity in the bathroom. Then you can decide from there if you want or are ready to take on a bigger project. Also, you may start doing one way, pivot to another, or do a combo of both on each project. I find us usually doing a few things that we can and subbing out the rest, but the next few I may stay more hands off.

Do you prefer to DIY or to hire out?

Review Of Our First BRRRR

We are now onto the Final R in the Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat, so I wanted to share the final numbers and the many of newbie mistakes that were made on our first BRRRR. Let’s start with the final numbers.

Purchase Price: $37,500

Repairs/Holding/Closing Costs: $55,400

Total of our money left in the deal: $12,000

Appraisal: $100,000 (We are still in shock that it came in this low, as we were expecting more in the $110-$125k range)

Ideally, the whole point of the BRRRR method is to end up with instant equity and be able to pull out all or a portion of your money so you can use it for the next deal. Well, we are leaving ALL of our money in the deal and we ended up doing 85% LTV instead of 75%. Ouch..that really BRRRNs. (see what I did there) Am I saltier than the sea about how it turned out and the appraisal coming in super low? I sure am. BUT we also learned SO MUCH that we wouldn’t have if we didn’t go through this process. So, I wanted to share it all with you to ensure you don’t make the same rookie mistakes that we did on your first BRRRR.

1. We went through a wholesaler. Which means we paid for their services of finding and negotiating this off-market deal. We could have easily saved around $10,000 if we would have gone direct to the seller and took out the middle man during the acquisition process.

2. We subbed out all of the work. This means that we did not put in any sweat equity, except that one time I stood in the pedestal sink and painted the bathroom just out of stubbornness and not liking the color. Sweat equity is one of the ways we could have saved big on costs, but we would have had to spend our time, so there is always a trade-off either way. After reviewing all of the work that was done, we could have easily saved another $5,000-$10,000.

3. We used a hard money loan, and in exchange we paid a lot in holding costs. Next time we will explore other ways to fund the deal that don’t come with such high costs, such as a HELOC or private money. Holding costs were even moreout of control with COVID related delays, but we could have saved another $2,500 at minimum if we didn’t have such high holding costs.

4. I am just going to be honest here..we dropped the ball big time on the market analysis. I am not an expert, nor did I consult one and just went with what I was seeing online and didn’t research the appraisal process. If I had my real estate license and could have pulled comps, then I could have been more familiar with the area ahead of time. I would have been more conservative on the appraised value we expected to get back and that would have had an impact on all of the other numbers we ran. I also feel like there were a few things that we could have tweaked during the renovation to get a better appraised value. Overall, there was probably another $10,000 in equity we may have missed out on here.

What Went Right

Now that we have discussed the doom and gloom and all that money we left on the table, lets switch gears to what went right.

1. WE LEARNED. You can read all of the books, listen to all of the podcasts, and follow all of the most amazing Instagram accounts out there, but there is no substitute for hands on experience. We now know the entire process and have broken every aspect of it, so we now know how to fix it for next time.

2. WE EXPECTED TO LEARN. Since we knew it was our first BRRRR and major renovation, we were hoping for the best but also planned for the worst. We are OK leaving our money in the deal.

3. WE GREW OUR NETWORK. We had to find all of the necessary resources for each step of the BRRRR process. For this one deal, we worked with a wholesaler, hard money lender, general contractor, a few subcontractors, real estate attorney, loan officer, and property manager.

4. WE HAVE ANOTHER CASHFLOWING ASSET. After it’s all said and done, our monthly mortgage will be around $690. We are getting $1100 in rent each month. Since we replaced all cap ex items during the renovation, we shouldn’t have to worry about anything major needing replaced right away. After all expenses, we are bringing in $250 a month in cashflow on this one. I will take it!

Am I ready for our next BRRRR? I’m honestly not sure if we will continue with this strategy or switch it up, but I am ready for our next house. We have some ground to make up for since 2020 has been a shit show of a year so far on many levels. But for our real estate business, we still have a goal to double our doors from 3 to 6 this year, so we will definitely have to get creative to accomplish this. Let me know if you have any ideas to share with me to help us double our doors!

BRRRR it’s getting cold in here 🥶

I know I know..I’m sure everyone is thinking there must be some Toros in the atmosphere comes next?! Or maybe I’m the only old ass nerd still out here quoting Bring It On, which by the way, happens to be a classic cheerleading movie. 📣 🎥

Ok focus..it IS super cold and snowing hard here in Kansas City today, so it’s perfectly timed to talk about BRRRR, which is why we are all here (not from the cheerleaders movie or cold weather, but the real estate investing version). The strategy has been around for a minute, but the guys from BiggerPockets hold the clever naming rights I believe.

I am SO SO SO PUMPED UP to be getting after our very first house using the BRRRR method. So I wanted to explain this strategy very high level, and how it can be a great way for investors to grow a portfolio of buy and hold properties quickly, and with little of their own money tied up in the deal long term. Clearly I’m a newbie and can only speak to what I’ve researched/read/listened to, and what real life has brought my way so far, but thought I could at least introduce the concept to other newbies.

The premise is a way to use little of your own money while growing a buy and hold portfolio. In its simplest form, it stands for buy, rehab, rent, refinance, then repeat. We are still in the “buy” phase of ours, set to close this week, and excited to move into the rehab piece and plan to share the full details once we wrap up this project. We are going to just use some rough numbers here as an example.

Let’s say you find a distressed house or a homeowner who needs to get out fast of their current home. There’s lots of ways to find these deals, which I’m not going to cover in this post, but will save for another day. The distressed home or owner is an opportunity for you to help solve their problem and to buy their house from them. You would aim to acquire low, due to current condition of the home, taking into consideration all of the repair costs, and your ability to close fast. You would also need to make sure all of the numbers truly work for a BRRRR. But let’s say you can get this house for $30k and it needs an additional $30k in renovations. You use your own money, private money or hard money for the initial purchase and rehab (also lots of funding options I will also save for another post).

You know from looking at comps in the area (not houses for sale, but comparable houses that have already sold recently) that the ARV, or “after repair value” is around $100k. You have also checked average rents in the area, and know it will rent for $1,000 a month. So, after you rehab it and rent it out, then you go to a traditional bank for a cash out refinance on the property at $75k, and you pay yourself or your private money lender back and you now have none of your own money tied up in the deal and have acquired an asset with 25% instant equity. You have a tenant placed and are now cashflowing a few hundred bucks a month after your mortgage/expenses. You also walk away with a $7,500-10,000 profit (after closing/holding costs).

You keep repeating this process until you get to your buy and hold end game number, whatever that is for you. Work until the cashflow covers your monthly expenses to live, then you can sit back and enjoy your time freedom from your rental portfolio, or you never quit…completely up to you. 🤷‍♀️

I know I’ve simplified the process, but that was my intent. There are a TON of resources out there, including lots of investors using this strategy and sharing their successes/learnings, lots of podcasts, and even some books, so go do your research and dive deeper to fully understand. I would also love to hear input from others out there who are ice cold BRRRR experts. I just love this strategy and I hope sharing from my real estate investing toolkit will help you either get interested in getting into real estate, or help you to strengthen your current investing game.

Rental House #2 Details

Our newest tenant moved in on October 1st, so I figured it would be a good time to stop slacking and post the details. This one has a funny story with it. House #1 we bought on location location location, and house #2 is no different, being an adorable 2/1 that’s walking distance to a cute downtown with shops and lots of activities like a farmers market on the weekend. Turns out I totally have a type. 😂

First off..let’s talk money, because I know y’all are nosey like me..lol. Since we are paying the mortgage on house #1 out of our own money. (we no longer have daycare, so replaced that payment with the mortgage payment) This allowed us to use the rent funds from house #1 to fund the down payment of house #2. Our tenant for house #1 had paid the whole year up front, which was around $10,000, so talk about creative ways to leverage other people’s money. I decided to put that money to work, instead of letting it just sit in our account being lazy. 🤷‍♀️

We found house #2 and put an offer back in June that was like $12k under asking, but a fair offer based on comps in the area. They didn’t accept it, and they ended up having someone else back out due to finances falling through. I found out because I was creeping online looking for the next deal and saw it pop back up on MLS. Funny part, they ended up dropping the price to the same amount we originally offered. So we decreased our offer by a few grand, and the seller accepted it. Should have just accepted our first one. 💁‍♀️

So total purchase price was $86k and we put 15% down, so around $13k to closing and our monthly mortgage payment is $595. We are renting it out for $875, so around $225 cash flow after mortgage and property management. For the property manager, we will pay around $50 a month, and one month rent for the initial showings and tenant screening. We didn’t have much of anything to do or money to spend to get rent ready, besides a whole lot of magic erasering and replacing the nasty toilet. 🤢

The tenant did ask if she could install a garage door opener (with her own money) and we told her no that we would not only cover it, but we would send our guy to do the install. She works crazy shifts and said she would feel safer being able to pull right in late at night. I honestly didn’t even notice it didn’t already have an opener and felt bad. Before she moved in, I did get a bid for converting the one car garage to a bedroom and think I will save up the cash flow to pay for that renovation after this tenant. We may even get crazy and attempt this project on our own. 😉

A few things I learned through this one.

1. Life was really busy when we got this one, so I enjoyed not having a lot of random little details like trim painting or landscaping or really anything to do, but I also feel like I’m ready to roll up the sleeves on the next one. 💪🏼

2. I am excited about the potential to increase the value and rent through adding a bedroom. It would only take about 2 1/2 years to recoup the project expense through increased rent, and that doesn’t even cover the added value that we could then use to BRRRR, just with a few of the r’s switched around in there. 😜

3. I’m so glad to have started the tenant move in baskets. It went over well and sets a good first impression for under $20.

4. I am feeling a little uncertain about the property management portion, and think we have learned a lot since we first started. I know we can handle on our own and my husband thinks opposite. So I’m working on my persuasive speech for self management on the next one (I can’t wait to report back on who wins this one).

5. I am ready for the next deal..since you know my type..who’s got it??

Lifestyle Choices

This is going to be one of the hardest topics yet to cover at a very high level and also my first mention of FIRE in my writings (financial independence retire early). My goal is just to inform you of two choices and get you rethinking, especially if you feel like you don’t have choices and are stuck in your current financial position. I am by no means claiming to be an expert on the topic or to get into the HOW in this post. I have just dabbled with both lifestyles mentioned and I feel like there are not enough people (especially women) who are thinking about or providing information on the topic..so looks like you are stuck with me. 😜

The above picture is the best way I could summarize the concept of lifestyle creep. For now, as mentioned, this is just to introduce you to the topic, so I have a few stats and thought provoking questions to hopefully do so.

First..the stats tell an alarming story. I recently read in this USA Today article https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/34378157 that the average household is bringing in around $75,000 annually, and of that, they are spending 90% of it, which equates to $67,500 outgoing and only around $7,500 extra annually. (which the article states a lot of this is going towards interest payments on consumer debt). This breaks down to $5,625 in expenses each month and $625 extra. That doesn’t leave much wiggle room and helps paint a picture as to why people aren’t putting anything or very little towards saving, investing, emergency funds and retirement. 😳

Essentially pointing out that people are living a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. I don’t know that this was a surprise to any of us, but it may be a surprise that people are making the choice everyday with their actions and spending habits to live this way. Disclaimer that there are people living in poverty, so for the sake of my post, I am referring to the middle class mentioned above.

Now on to the questions. Feel free to answer in comments if you want to share, or just answer to yourself or as an internal conversation or with your significant other. Keep it real because denial is a great way to protect yourself from the truth right now, but long term in fact it just ends up hurting you more.

1) Are you living paycheck to paycheck like the scenario mentioned above?

2) Have you noticed that no matter what you do, you just can’t get ahead?

3) Do you receive regular raises or have you changed jobs to make additional money over the course of your career, yet you aren’t seeing a difference in your monthly budget after expenses because they always seem to match what’s coming in?

4) Do you ever pay attention to how much you spend on conveniences like pre-made food, someone to mow your lawn, someone to clean that big house, someone to wash that new car, someone to groom your dog, someone to do your hair/nails/makeup, etc because you are too busy working to do these things?

5) Have you ever wondered why things are like this for you and probably a lot of people you know, yet it’s still a taboo topic to discuss money, so everyone just keeps working harder and staying in the vicious cycle mentioned above?

6) What will happen if you change nothing and keep following this path?

Please reference the above picture as you are going through these questions to see if lifestyle creep has found a way to creep into your life. Remember..be honest.

Next, know that there is another option. As mentioned above, lifestyle creep is a choice and I’ve said this so many times on purpose. So many think they have no choice unless they make more money and this is far from the truth.

Lifestyle creep is a path that many in our society have walked and not challenged until recent years. Here are some questions to ask yourself and see if you’re one of those ready to challenge the traditional path and choose a different way.

1) What upsets you the most about always being broke and living paycheck to paycheck?

2) How has constantly feeling stressed from working so much and not having any money to show for it affected you?

3) What are your values and what are you spending your money on? Do they line up?

4) What are your passions and what do you dream about doing?

5) What could change if you have an open mind and put in the work, I mean really put in the work, to change your current financial path and mindset? Think of one quick and easy way you can change today.

6) What will happen if you start to live a lifestyle designed by you instead of others?

As mentioned, a lot of people have started looking at the above stats and questions, and are starting to make the decision to customize their lifestyle based on their own unique values, not what society tells them to value. Spoiler alert..it’s not through making more money as mentioned above..it has never been about that. It’s about a lifestyle of being content with only those things that bring you value. Luckily, it usually don’t cost anything at all, just the basics needed like food, shelter, experiences and none of the extra crap. 😊

Don’t get this lifestyle design twisted with a life of going without, because it’s actually the opposite of that. You have room for so much more when you let go of stupid shit.

Well..shocker..I have lots more to say but I’ve said enough for one day. What are your thoughts or questions on the two different paths mentioned above?

Flirting with Fear

I remember in high school and college becoming physically sick about public speaking. To the point where I would accept lower grades just to get back to my comfort zone..which was not being in front of people. I went for perfection in the areas that I knew, and didn’t feel comfortable trying anything different.

I promised myself I would NEVER get in front of crowds after graduating. I would occasionally have to speak to small groups early in my career, and every time it would cause me to lose sleep and have an upset stomach.

I got to a point in my career about five years ago, where there were new promotions I could go after, but part of that would require me to get in front of mid-sized groups. I almost stayed where I was, because it was comfortable and easy and I almost gave up on ever getting over my fear. But instead, I went for it, scared as hell of failure, very anxious and certain I wouldn’t be “perfect” at it.

It was outside of my comfort zone, but I continued to practice, visibly shaking the first few times I had to present, lost a lot of sleep, practiced some more, but watched as the groups slowly started growing in size, so did my confidence and I found that it’s something I actually enjoy.

I have also found some deep breathing and yoga routines that help get me in the right mindset if I am feeling nervous or anxious. I currently present frequently to small to mid-sized groups, and it gets easier every time I do it.

Today, 5 years after making a professional and personal development goal of getting more comfortable with one of my biggest fears, something happened. I had my largest stage and largest audience to date. And I wasn’t nervous or anxious at all, but rather felt EXCITED and GRATEFUL for the opportunity. I didn’t even use the notes that I made for myself.

Making a long story longer. 🤷‍♀️

I definitely think this book had some impact on my mindset shift and highly recommend reading this, along with listening to Reshma Saujani’s TedTalk. Be brave, not perfect!!

What fear do you have that you’ve been able to overcome or that’s still holding you back today?