rental property investing

How to Become a Millionaire Buying Apartment Buildings

So you want to become a millionaire yea? Cool, read today’s post about buying multi-family apartment buildings and you’ll have a new vision for what’s possible in the next 10-20 years of your life.

There isn’t really a short cut to becoming a millionaire other than hitting the lottery and/or getting money handed to you by a family trust. If you’re looking for a get rich quick strategy with real estate then this post isn’t for you.

Instead, I’ll outline a 10 year plan that can give you goals to strive for and be a guide for setting yourself up to become a millionaire soon through real estate.

Real estate is one of the easiest ways to become a millionaire because property values are always rising over the long term average.

If you buy in good locations where demand is sure to increase with time, then so shall property values and your wealth.

But there is more to building a million dollar real estate portfolio. It takes buying deals at the right prices, having a great strategy for improving the property value, and knowing when to exit and re-invest funds in other real estate.

Let’s get started.

How to Become a Real Estate Millionaire

First, you should understand the math that will make you a millionaire from real estate. There is equity (property value) and their is cash flow (income).

With equity, you could find yourself in a situation like a guy I met on a ferry boat ride over to Alcatraz Island. He bought a house in San Francisco in the 1980’s for $200,000 and now today his property is worth over $2 million dollars.

This is one example of how you become a real estate millionaire… by owning property in a location with rapid price appreciation and letting it work its magic over a 30 year time span.

But for most people, buying a home to live in won’t be the best way to become a real estate millionaire.

Instead, buying investment real estate like rental properties and fix & flip houses can speed up your ability to amass wealth and reach that 7 figure milestone.

House Flipping Your Way to Millionaire Status:

  • Flip 10 houses that make $100,000 of profit on average after taxes
  • Flip 20 houses that make $50,000 of profit on average after taxes
  • Flip 40 houses that make $25,000 of profit on average after taxes

If you live in a market with lower property prices, your strategy will probably be flipping smaller deals with smaller profits but at a higher volume.

For example, buying $50,000 houses that can resell for $120,000 and net you $25,000 to $30,000 after renovations, taxes, and closing costs/commissions. Repeat this 3 to 4 times per year

or…

If you live in a market like Los Angeles, it’s more realistic to find flips with $100,000 to $200,000 of profit. This allows you to do less flips to achieve millionaire real estate investor status.

Maybe each year you’re lucky to find 2 flips with $100,000 profit potential in addition to doing a 3rd flip that profits $50,000. Not a bad year.

Keep up this pace for 4-5 years and you’ll be a millionaire.

flipping houses tips

Rental Property Millionaire:

Buy a $1,000,000 property with $100k down payment (10%) and mortgage the other $900,000 with a bank loan. Then keep the property rented for the next 15 years, letting your tenants pay off the mortgage with all the rental income coming into your bank account.

You can take out a 30 year mortgage but make double payments every month if possible to pay down the mortgage sooner and save yourself six figures of interest expenses.

After the 15 years, you’ll own the property free and clear, sitting on $1 million of equity should you sell. But it also will likely have increased in value over the 15 years.

Therefore, maybe you buy yourself a $750,000 rental property with only $75,000 down and after 15 to 20 years the property is paid off, plus has increased 35% in value from inflation to over $1 million. Now you’re a real estate millionaire.

The BRRR Strategy to Become a Millionaire

In addition to the fix & flip strategy and the buy a $1 million dollar property strategy, you could also start small with the BRRR strategy.

It’s an acronym that stands for Buy, Repair, Rent, Refinance. Sometimes real estate investors throw an extra “R” on there for “Repeat”

We wrote an entire post on the BRRR Strategy here.

Good news…

If you only have $10,000 or $50,000 available to invest in real estate, then this strategy is more realistic for you unlike the buy a million dollar apartment property upfront strategy.

However, we are going to work towards that goal with this strategy as you’ll see why shortly.

With the BRRR real estate investing strategy, you can start off buying your first property with $50,000 cash like you would with the flip example above.

Instead of fixing it up all high end and trying to sell it for $120,000, you’re going to do a modest rehab job and hold onto the property as a rental property.

We want the property to be in nice condition so you can charge higher rents, but don’t go overboard installing premium cabinets and expensive finishes since renters will beat the property up and make you redo it again.

Once the property is fixed up and rented, the bank will allow you to re-finance and take a mortgage out on the property, securing the loan using the property as collateral.

This is how you get your money back out of the property to use on the next $50,000 house you can find.

And you still get to keep this property, earning rental income from it that pays off the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and puts some left over cash in your bank account.

Find yourself property #2, fix it up, rent it out, refinance it with the bank and look for property #3 to purchase.

After doing this multiple times you can quickly amass a portfolio of properties generating solid rental income and building your net worth closer to that millionaire milestone.

Eventually, you’ll have too many single family houses to manage yourself and decide it’s time to hire a property manager to help out.

But before doing that, maybe it’s time to consider upgrading to multi-family properties and apartment buildings.

This condenses your portfolio back down to only managing 1 or 2 properties instead of 10-15 properties, which is great for managing expenses as well.

No longer do you have to worry about paying:

  • 10 different water & sewer utility bills
  • 10 different electric bills
  • 10 different property tax bills
  • 10 different roofs that need repairs, heating systems that need replaced, etc.

With an apartment building, you still have 10 tenants paying you income every month, but you only have one set of bills, one plumbing system, one roof to keep from leaking, one heating and cooling system to fix, etc.

Sounds less stressful? It’s because it is.

And if you target bigger complexes (20+ units) you can generate enough income to afford a property manager and not have to worry about the day to day management anymore.

rental property investing

My Journey to Real Estate Millionaire

This is the approach I took when I set out on my journey to become a millionaire from real estate investing. I decided to target cheaper rental properties that I could afford and scale my way up until I’m doing the big apartment deals.

My first property was a single family home worth $120,000 that I bought with a partner for $30,000. Using a partner was a no-brainer since I didn’t have the $30,000 myself at age 20 to invest.

We got it fixed up for $15,000 of repairs and rented out for $925/month.

Then two years later at age 22, I bought a 3 unit property with a commercial office unit that can rent for $1,500/month and two studio apartments that can bring in another $1,700 combined.

The property was in rough shape so it only cost $30,000 which is a steal for something that can generate $38,000 in annual rental income.

Then a year and a half later at age 24, I got a 5 unit apartment building under contract for $95,000.

It only had 4 units occupied but with all 5 rented the potential is $40,000, making the purchase a solid 2.5 times gross rents.

These last two multi family investing deals were great! Mixed use 3 unit building bringing in $38,000 and a 5 unit apartment that can bring in $40,000.

And that’s where I stand today on my journey to real estate millionaire.

  • 24 years of age,
  • 3 rental properties
  • $90,000 potential rental income if all are occupied and at market average rents
  • Only $80,000 of loan debt allowing me plenty of equity to refinance out and target more deals with

This is just one example of how you can achieve significant wealth through real estate.

It’s taken me 4 years (July 2015 to October of 2018) to grow to 9 rental units and $90,000 of potential rental income along with close to a half million in property equity.

As you grow, you can start to scale faster and faster.

More rental income from more properties allows you to cover the debt expenses if some of the units become vacant and allows you to pool money quicker for the next property purchase.

How to Score Great Real Estate Investing Deals

  • Break your city down into smaller neighborhood pockets
  • Master each neighborhood, learn the values of properties
  • What’s on the market? What’s sold recently?
  • Connect with multiple realtors until you find a great one
  • Drive neighborhoods looking for run down property
  • Talk to banks about foreclosure lists
  • Network with others to learn about distressed sellers wanting out of a property
  • Watch for deals that sit on the market over 90 days and make low offers to them

How I’ve Found Cheap Real Estate Deals to Buy

I don’t want to be accused of generating a “hype” based blog post on becoming a real estate investing millionaire.

That’s why I’ve tried to explain it takes time. I’m already on year 4 and still only half way to achieving a million dollar real estate portfolio.

But since we’ve covered some example numbers of how the math can work, your next question is how do you find those types of deals with those types of numbers?

In my case, it’s because I invest in the Midwest.

You’re not going to be able to buy a property at a purchase price that is 3X the gross rental income in most bigger cities.

But in small, Midwestern cities (Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania) you can certainly find deals selling under $30,000 that have rents of $10,000-$12,000 per year.

That’s why California investors will likely go the fixing and flipping houses route because rental property numbers just don’t make sense in most deals coming onto the market these days.

Los Angeles wants 15-25 times gross rents as the purchase price. If that was the case in Indiana, I would certainly sell my portfolio! $90,000 in rents X 15-20 GRM would easily value my portfolio over $1 million dollars.

So if you live in an expensive city where it’s unlikely to find low priced deals, then consider out of state investing.

Make connections with agents in other states so they can send you deals to buy where it’s much more affordable to follow the BRRR strategy.

In addition to the MLS and realtors, use this list of strategies for finding investment properties.

And consider checking out my real estate investing course where you’ll learn a lot of financing strategies to buy property without using much of your own capital. This is how you can build wealth using other people’s money…OPM!

Thanks for reading! If you need to buy real estate deals in Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan, I’d love to connect with you. Email [email protected]

rental property investing

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