August 7, 2020

JF2166: House Hacking Together With Sam & Nick Riccio

Sam & Nick Riccio have been in real estate for 3 years and currently own 6 doors consisting of a condo, triplex, and duplex. They are solely focused on house hacking, and they share how they went about house hacking their way to 6 doors and share why they decided to take this route instead of buying and renting out properties. 


Samantha & Nick Riccio Real Estate Background: 

  • 3 years of real estate experience
  • Currently own 6 doors, consisting of a condo, 3-family, & 2-family home
  • From Boston, Massachusetts 
  • Say hi to them at: 
  • Best Ever Book: The one thing



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Best Ever Tweet:

“Network and focus on your plan, don’t get caught trying to compare yourself to others.” – Sam & Nick Riccio


Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners and welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. My name is Theo Hicks and today I’m speaking with Sam and Nick Riccio. Sam and Nick, how are you guys doing today?

Nick Riccio: Good. How are you? Thanks for having us.

Samantha Riccio: Happy to be here.

Theo Hicks: Absolutely, I’m doing great. Thank you for being here. I look forward to our conversation. Before we get into that, a little bit about their background. So they have three years of real estate experience, they currently own a six-door consisting of a condo, a three-unit and a two-unit, they’re from Boston, Massachusetts, and you can say hi to them at So Sam and Nick, do you guys mind telling us a little bit more about your background and what you’re focused on today?

Nick Riccio: Absolutely. So as you said, we started investing back in 2017, we’ve been house hacking small multifamilies in Boston, and we’ve primarily been focusing on that, like I said, for the last three years, and now we are just renovating our duplex that we will be owner-occupying once we stabilize the property.

Theo Hicks: So you’ve got the condo, the three family and then the duplex you’re working on now. So all three of those were house hacks?

Nick Riccio: Yeah.

Theo Hicks: Perfect. So which one was first, the condo or the three-family?

Samantha Riccio: The condo was first and then the three-family came after. It actually started as a duplex and we converted it to the triplex while living in it.

Theo Hicks: Perfect. Let’s talk about the condo first. So I guess, maybe taking a step back first, why did you decide to do the house hack as opposed to just buying it and renting it out?

Nick Riccio: We wanted to get started in Boston. We really like the market, we’re here locally, so we thought it was a good way for us to get our feet wet and be close to our properties. Really expensive market. So for us, that was the way for us to enter the market, being able to get in at low down payment and get started that way.

Theo Hicks: Perfect, and then what did you buy the property for and then which house hack loan did you use?

Nick Riccio: We bought the condo at a conventional low down payment loan, I think we put 5% down, and then on the duplex/triplex conversion, we did an FHA loan and put 5% down.

Theo Hicks: What was the purchase price of the condo?

Nick Riccio: It was $325,000.

Theo Hicks: How long did you guys live in that property for? Was it turnkey or did you invest any more money into it?

Samantha Riccio: Yeah, so the condo is turnkey, and we lived there for about seven months, and that’s actually how we ended up acquiring that duplex. It was an attached property and our neighbor on the other side who was actually living in that duplex and the landlord’s currently living above her had reached out to me after we had been living there for, like I said, about seven months, and we had become friendly, and she was like, “Hey, my landlord’s selling. I’m gonna have to move. I love the area.” She was all bummed out, and I had asked, “Hey, can I have your landlord’s info? I’m actually really interested in the property.” So we bought it off-market that way and that’s how that came about.

Theo Hicks: You said that was your neighbor, that was in the same building?

Samantha Riccio: Yeah. Yes, it was three condos on one side, and then on the other side, like I said, it was a one-unit at the bottom and then the landlord, that current owner had lived [unintelligible [00:05:44].09] level unit upstairs. But from the outside, it looks like it would be a six-unit building. So we shared a back porch and became friendly that way.

Theo Hicks: Nice. So you bought the duplex after living in the condo for nine months, and then that’s the duplex you converted into a triplex, right?

Samantha Riccio: Yeah.

Theo Hicks: So maybe walk us through that. So did you know beforehand that it can be converted to a triplex, what made you decide to convert it into a triplex, and then walk us through the numbers on that deal.

Nick Riccio: Yeah. So because it was an attached building, like Sam said, it looks like a six-family home. So we knew that since our side of the property was put in three condos and it was an identical layout, we had a really good understanding that it would work, and then on top of that, we were able to do some research with the city, and see that at one point it was used as a three-family. We were actually able to find the original blueprints from a million years ago. So we were able to do some of that due diligence, which led us to feel pretty confident about it.

Theo Hicks: Did you know you were gonna convert it to a triplex before you bought it or was it after you had already acquired it?

Nick Riccio: It was part of our due diligence. We ran it both ways, we were trying to see– we had a larger unit and it was just two units if we’d be better off, but we decided it would be more advantageous to have it as a three-family.

Theo Hicks: Perfect. So what was the purchase price and what was the cost to convert it to a triplex?

Nick Riccio: I purchased it for $630,000, and we did the rehabs in two stages. We allowed that tenant that brought us into the loop on the house, we allowed her to stay. So we didn’t renovate her unit, but we converted the second and third floor and we separated them and did that work, and then later we did the first-floor unit once that tenant moved out… But all-in it took us about $80,000 to do the renovations.

Theo Hicks: So you moved out of the condo and into this triplex now. What did you rent the condo out for once you left?

Samantha Riccio: Yeah, so we rented the condo out at that point for just covering our mortgage. We made 20 bucks on a good day, but it’s been a few years so now we’re able to profit a little bit from that. So it was $1,900 dollars for the one bed/one bath condo.

Theo Hicks: That’s what it is now is or that’s what it was in the beginning?

Samantha Riccio: That’s what it was in the beginning. Now we’re at $1,950, I believe.

Theo Hicks: So you moved into the triplex after the renovations were done, and then once the tenant moved out downstairs, you renovated that unit. So purchase price, $630,000, investment was 80k. What were the two rents you got from the two units that you did not live in?

Nick Riccio: Before we renovated the first unit, we were collecting $2,900 between the two units. So it was $1,950 in one unit and then that first-floor tenant was only $1,000 a month. After we renovated it, that $1,000 rent became $1,950 per month.

Theo Hicks: Nice. And then do you guys still live in that three-unit now while you’re doing this second duplex?

Nick Riccio: No, we actually moved out, because we wanted to fully stabilize it. We moved out and we’re actually back living with Sam’s folks here while we’re renovating that property.

Theo Hicks: Is that unit you moved out of also rent at $1,900?

Samantha Riccio: No, we’re actually getting $2,200 for that unit. It was our owner unit, so we put in a little bit more; we had a washer dryer in the unit, it also came with a parking spot, and we do also have additional parking out back that we rent out for additional income as well, to increase the rental of the property.

Theo Hicks: So you’ve got the duplex now. Do you wanna walk us through how you found that one? Was it off-market or was it MLS deal? How did you find it?

Nick Riccio: We found that on the MLS.

Theo Hicks: What did you buy it for and then what’s the rehab cost right now?

Nick Riccio: This one’s a pretty big project for us right now. We purchased it for $840,000 and we’re gonna put about $130,000 into it in renovations. We’re finishing the basement to make a bi-level unit which will turn into a five-bed, two-bath. So quite a bit of work there.

Theo Hicks: Duplex, you’re finishing the basement to add additional space to one of the units or is that single unit right now and you’re making it into a duplex?

Samantha Riccio: Yeah, so adding additional space to one of the units. So the first-floor unit was a two-bed, one-bath and then when we walked the property, it had crazy ceiling heights in the basement, like over 8ft, which is obviously tough to find, especially in the Boston area. So we decided to add down to the basement adding three beds and one bath. So altogether, it’s a five-bed, two bath unit, and then we’ll live in the upstairs which we’ll  have renovated as a two-bed, two-bath.

Theo Hicks: That’s what I was gonna ask you next – which unit you guys gonna pick, but it was a 100% smart move. So how much do you think you’re gonna rent that big unit out for?

Samantha Riccio: We actually already have a signed lease and they signed the lease when it was fully framed, just completely under construction, for September 1st; that’s a pretty common rent cycle here in Boston, and they signed for $6,000.

Theo Hicks: For how much?

Samantha Riccio: $6,000.

Theo Hicks: Oh, wow. Are all the properties in the same market or are they different neighborhoods in Boston? Obviously, it’s a big city, so one street over might be a little bit nicer than the next street. So I’m just curious, because $6,000, as opposed to $2,000, is a pretty big difference.

Nick Riccio: Yeah, they’re really close. But yeah, one of the neighborhoods– the condo and the triplex are in a neighborhood called East Boston, which is now a really up and coming area, which is why we chose it, but it hasn’t matured yet. The duplex is in a neighborhood called South Boston, which is your young professionals, lots of buyers, lots of restaurants, beaches, really close to downtown. So it’s a hotspot for the young professionals.

Theo Hicks: So you guys are moving around a lot. Do you guys plan on continuing to house-hack, or at some point you will you stop doing that and rent or buy your own home and then start buying this straight up regular traditional loans? Just curious.

Samantha Riccio: Yeah, we’ve definitely moved quite a bit, especially now jumping back to my parents’ house. We lived with Nick’s parents for a little bit during our last renovation, so we’ve moved a lot. We’re planning on staying in the duplex for a little while, and maybe exploring some different financing with commercial loans and trying to maybe dip into the condo conversions here. It’s pretty big in the Boston area, and then be able to use that profit to roll into more rental properties, and then as far as us, we talk all the time – who knows where we’ll land; but we’re definitely open to continuing to house hack as we find the properties.

Theo Hicks: How are you affording the down payment? So you said you got $325,000, 5% down, you’ve got a $630,000 plus the 80k renovations, and I think you said that was FHA, so I’m assuming that’s 3.5% down, and then you’ve got the $840,000 purchase price with 130k in renovations with 3.5% down. So how are you covering the down payment and how are you covering the renovation costs?

Nick Riccio: That’s a good question. So they’ve all actually been 5% down. So the FHA allows 3.5%, but with the competition here, most sellers, we’ve found they’re not happy with the 3.5%, so we’ve been forced to go to 5%. But most of the down payment and the funds have come from us just personally saving, and then credit cards and things like that, and then now we’ve recently started to use a home equity line of credit. So we’ve been able to use that for some renovations, then we were able to use that actually for a portion of the down payment for our most recent acquisition.

Theo Hicks: Are the renovation costs? Because I know the first one was turnkey, but with that second one and the third one, the 80k renovation and the 130k renovations – are those included in your FHA loan, or are those on top of the FHA loan, and you paid out of pocket?

Nick Riccio: Those are out of pocket. So the numbers I gave was just acquisition.

Theo Hicks: Alright, Sam and Nick, I want you guys both to answer this question – what is your best real estate investing advice ever?

Samantha Riccio: Alright. So mine’s definitely going to be network.

Nick Riccio: And I would say mine is focus on your plan, don’t get caught trying to compare yourself to others with it being so easy now with social media. Just stick to your plan.

Theo Hicks: Any tips that you have for creating a real estate business with– I’m assuming you guys are married, right?

Samantha Riccio: Yes.

Theo Hicks: Any tips on how to successfully navigate creating a business with your husband and wife?

Samantha Riccio: There’s a laundry list, but I definitely think communication is key. We over-communicate to a fault even sometimes, but there’s a lot of moving parts every single day, especially with all these projects going on. I think keeping each other in the loop, keeping a to-do list that we can both have eyes on, cc-ing each other on emails. We start the day talking about what we want to get done and we need to get accomplished and we end the day doing the same things, and in middle of that day [unintelligible [00:14:18].13] we both feel like we’re on the same page.

Theo Hicks: Anything else to add to that?

Nick Riccio: I’d say that’s really it, and the biggest thing is the communication. We’re moving towards trying to just use the same inbox, because it’s hard just constantly relaying messages to each other when you’re getting a ton of them a day. So I think just being able to always have each other in the loop is probably the biggest thing.

Theo Hicks: Perfect. Okay, are you guys ready for the best ever lightning round?

Samantha Riccio: Yeah.

Nick Riccio: Let’s do it.

Break [00:14:47]:09] to [00:15:55]:03]

Theo Hicks: Okay. So I’d like both of you guys to answer each of these questions. First one is what is the best ever book you’ve recently read?

Samantha Riccio: Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

Nick Riccio: The One Thing.

Theo Hicks: If your business were to collapse today, what would you do next?

Samantha Riccio: Start it back up tomorrow,

Nick Riccio: Start networking as soon as possible.

Theo Hicks: Out of all of these deals you’ve done so far, which one did you make the most money on? Let me take that back. What was the best deal out of these three deals, and it could be money or something else? Why was it the best?

Samantha Riccio: I’m going to go with the duplex, because we’re getting a great living space out of it, definitely the best we’ve had, and money-wise, we’re thinking we’re going to have hopefully $500,000 of equity in it. So we’re feeling like that’s a pretty good deal.

Nick Riccio: Yeah, and I’d say the triplex, just because it’s shown us how powerful the cash flow piece is and it’s allowed us to take more risks moving forward.

Theo Hicks: What is the best ever way you like to give back?

Samantha Riccio: Definitely connecting with our audience on Instagram. We started our Instagram account not too long ago and have really connected with a bunch of people on there and talking to new investors and current investors. So I just think that free knowledge and networking is a big part of it.

Nick Riccio: For us, now that we’re seeing the power in real estate, we’re actually trying to bring our parents into the fold so we can help get them prepared for their soon to be retirement.

Theo Hicks: Nice. And  then lastly, what’s the best place to reach you?

Samantha Riccio: Probably Instagram. Like you mentioned, we do have our website but Instagram is @renosandrealestate. We’re on that every day checking our direct messages and love connecting with people there.

Theo Hicks: Perfect. Alright, Sam and Nick, I appreciate you guys coming on this show and sharing the details on all of your house hacks. So we talked about your first condo that you bought for 5% down, $325,000 turnkey property, lived there for seven months and then ended up buying the duplex/triplex that was on the other side of the same building as you, and you spoke to the neighbor and they said that the landlord was selling and you contacted the landlord and ended buying that one for 630k, and then did a two-stage rehab where you first converted the larger upstairs unit into two units, and then once the bottom tenant moved out, rehabbed their unit, and you mentioned that you were able to get $1,900 dollars for two of those units and $2,200 for your unit once you moved out, and then when you moved out of that condo, you were able to get $1,900 at first and now you’re getting about $1,950 in rent. And then next the duplex you’re working on now which you found on the MLS – a larger project, 840k purchase price, 130k renovations, you are converting the basement into an additional three bedrooms and one bathroom, I believe, and then you already have a lease signed for $6,000; it’s great to hear. And then you plan on staying here as [unintelligible [00:18:39].00] for a little bit longer and then are potentially exploring some condo conversions. How you’re funding all these is all 5% down and it’s just personal savings, credit cards and then you did mention that on this most recent deal, you’ve been able to use a HELOC loan for the down payment.

We talked about your best ever advice. Sam said networking, Nick said to focus on your plan and don’t get caught up comparing yourself to other people, and then your main tip for creating a business with your significant other, husband and wife, is to make sure you have very good communication, which I’m sure is good for relationships in general, but especially when you’re doing business together.

Sam and Nick, I really appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your journey with us. I wish you the best of luck with this current duplex and on any other future house hacks that you do, as well as teaching your parents how to do the same. Best Ever listeners, as always, thank you for listening. Have a best ever day and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Samantha Riccio: Thanks so much.

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