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‘House hacking’ helps some families become homeowners

With rising home prices and mortgage rates, affordability can be a challenge. Instead of settling for a smaller home, consider "house hacking" — purchasing a larger home with rental space to offset your mortgage.

What is House Hacking? House hacking involves buying a bigger home and renting out part of it. Or, if you own a home, rent a portion of your home out to gain extra income. This rental income can help cover your mortgage, making it more affordable.

How Does It Help? Some lenders consider future rental income when assessing loan applications, allowing you to qualify for a higher purchase price. This means you can buy a better home in a desirable neighborhood.

Survey Insights A Zillow survey found that 55% of millennial and 51% of Gen Z homebuyers view house hacking as a viable homeownership strategy. Many hope to convert their homes into investment properties in the future.

Living Arrangements House hacking offers flexible living arrangements:

  • Separate Living Space: Renting out a basement apartment or ADU with a private entrance is common. I'm helping my friend Nison in Shoreline do exactly that right now.

  • Shared Space: Some share common areas like the kitchen while keeping other spaces private.

Example of House Hacking An example is converting a basement with a private entrance into a rental unit by adding a kitchen and laundry facilities. This approach is straightforward and cost-effective.

Ideal Homes for House Hacking Split entry homes are particularly suitable for adding rental spaces. A simple modification like adding a door at the bottom of the stairwell can create a separate rental unit.

Real-Life Success A notable success story is a woman who converted her garage into a rental unit, making retirement more affordable. The last time I spoke to her, the same tenant is still living there, since their move-in in 2014. We did something similar a few years ago with a new purchase. It was a one-story with basement and we converted the basement to a rental.

Things to Consider Before diving into house hacking, consider the following:

  • Local Zoning Laws: Ensure your modifications comply with local zoning regulations. Also, its always good to be on good terms with your neighbors so try and minimize any disruption to them. Example; having noisy tenants, the tenants blocking driveways with their cars or not maintainging the outside of your property etc.

  • Landlord Responsibilities: Be prepared to manage tenants and handle any issues that arise.

  • Home Wear and Tear: More residents mean increased maintenance and wear on your home.

  • Utility Costs: Plan how to manage and split increased utility costs with tenants.

House hacking can be an excellent strategy to achieve homeownership and/or generate additional income. By carefully planning and understanding the responsibilities, you can make this approach work for you.

If you want advise from me on your current home or on a potential purchase, please reach out to me. I would be happy to help - its what I do.

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