August 31, 2020

JF2190: Begin With House Hacking With Anthony Angotti

Anthony started out house hacking and after some time he met some business partners to begin investing in apartments. When he first started out he took the initiative to do the renovations himself so he would be better equipped for future deals when hiring help. Now he hires help rather than doing it himself since he now owns 76 units.

Anthony Angotti Real Estate Background:


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Best Ever Tweet:

“In the beginning, I was the handyman, leasing agent, I was everything while working a full-time job. If I would have outsourced sooner, I would have been able to leave my job much faster” – Anthony Angotti


Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Theo Hicks and today, I’m speaking with Tony Angotti. Tony, how are you doing today?

Anthony Angotti: I’m doing fantastic. How are you?

Theo Hicks: I’m doing fantastic as well. Thanks for asking and thanks for joining us. Looking forward to our conversation. Before we get into that, a little about Tony – he’s a full-time realtor and investor with five years of experience, has a portfolio that consists of 76 units. He is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and you can say hi to him at So Tony, do you mind telling us a little bit more about your background?

Anthony Angotti: Yeah, sure. I got started with house hacking. So that’s how we got started. We moved into an REO duplex, fixed up one side, lived in the other while we fixed it up, took that, repeated that a few times. We moved from duplex to duplex to duplex. But in the meantime, I met some business partners that were actually realtor clients when I first met them, and we started moving more into the apartment rental space. So we started buying small value add apartment buildings, and that’s how I’ve grown over time.

Theo Hicks: So when you said you move from duplex to duplex, did you continuously house-hack every single year?

Anthony Angotti: We have three, so a couple lasted a little bit longer, but we still live in the third one. My wife and I plan to probably do one more before we get sick of moving. Moving that much is quite the endeavor. So we’ll probably do one more this way and then move to a more traditional single-family house after that.

Theo Hicks: Would you mind telling us the numbers on that first house-hack that you did?

Anthony Angotti: Yeah, sure. So our local market wasn’t as hot at the time as it is now. Pittsburgh, the market’s been a lot more competitive. So we found an REO side by side, three bedrooms both sides, each one had a garage. So it was a pretty nice setup, pretty solid building outside of the repairs we needed to do. We bought it for $155,000, and then we used a 10% down portfolio loan on that. So with a local bank, it was an owner occupant loan, but we didn’t FHA or anything with that one. And then we did all the work ourselves other than there was a repair to the sewer line, and all the initial repairs cost around $15,000. So I don’t know if you have any questions on that specifically, but I could just go into the rents and stuff too, if you want.

Theo Hicks: Yeah. So you said you did all the repairs yourself. You did all the labor yourself?

Anthony Angotti: Yeah, yeah. Bought the materials, did a lot of the labor. That was a super beneficial experience to me because I learned a lot. I wasn’t particularly handy before. My father was helpful and YouTube was exceptionally helpful, but I had no real experience. By training, I’m a microbiologist. So it’s not like I came from a contractor background or something. But by doing that work, it really helped me understand what goes into projects, which then has led to a lot of benefit where I am now, because now I don’t do any of the work. But when I talk to contractors about different jobs or repairs or things, I’m a lot more knowledgeable because we’ve done that thing.

Theo Hicks: Did you just do the repairs yourself in that first house hack, and then after that contracted all that out?

Anthony Angotti: The house hacks – because we did three that way – each one that we did that way, we’ve done most of the repairs hands-on, at least for the unit that we lived in. For the properties that I didn’t live in, other than a couple at the beginning, we hired everything out. The apartment buildings, I haven’t really done any personal work in. But some of the smaller buildings at the beginning, that’s what we did, because we didn’t start with a ton of money, so it would have been very difficult for us financially to pay somebody to do every little thing.

Theo Hicks: What was the rent you demanded for the other three-bedroom and then about was the rent that you demanded for your unit once you moved out?

Anthony Angotti: So at the time, our total rent with garages is around $2,550 a month. Each apartment, before pet fees, they rent for $1,200 a month now. At the time, I think we rented the other side for $1,050, but the rents have gone up since then. And then we rent our garages separately from the tenants. So we pull in different rents for those.

Theo Hicks: So you rent the garages to someone else?

Anthony Angotti: Yeah. They’re detached garages, so I actually have a contractor that rents them. It’s my painter. He rents that from us, which is a pretty nice extra revenue source. It’s just on the back of the property, so it’s not like it’s connected to the tenants’ unit. It’s a totally separate thing. We’ve actually done that with a lot of our properties, because in Pittsburgh, there are quite a few properties that have detached garages and tenants are generally used to street parking. So since the market doesn’t dictate having off-street parking, we’ve usually just used the detached garage as an additional revenue source.

Theo Hicks: Is that something that you just proactively asked your contractor, your painter, if they needed a place to rent, or did they come to you, and then that’s how you got the idea?

Anthony Angotti: For that particular one, my painter actually lives on that same street. So I was just talking to him and he was talking about he needs a place for his stuff and I said, “Well, you can rent my garage. I’ll charge you $100 bucks a month for it,” and that’s what he did. But I did think about that initially as what I was going to do, and we’ve had good luck just renting them on Facebook groups for contractors. I’ll just join a contractor group on Facebook and list it for the area, or Craigslist or stuff like that. We found pretty good luck with that on the other ones.

Theo Hicks: Nice. And then last question about the house hacking before moving to the apartments. You said that you got a 10% down portfolio loan. Is there a reason why you didn’t pursue the lower down payment 3.5% FHA loan or one of the 203k loans that would include the rehab costs in the financing?

Anthony Angotti: I think, at the time, we had already just engaged that lender and I was brand new, so I wasn’t hooked up with a mortgage broker or anything; I just knew that bank. Additionally, that 10% down loan didn’t have PMI or anything because the bank kept it in-house. So if I would have done an FHA, I would have had PMI until forever unless I refinanced the mortgage insurance, if people aren’t familiar with the abbreviation. So we went with that, and the rate was a little bit higher, but the underwriting of it was nothing. Our documents we signed at closing were probably 15 pages. So compared to a secondary market loan that they sell to Fannie or Freddie, our underwriting and our document package was nothing. So it was a super easy loan. There were repairs on the property. There was a cracked vertical sewer stack, so that would have never passed FHA or something, and the bank was the one selling it, so there’s no way we would have got that repaired prior to closing. So that wouldn’t have been an option for us.

Theo Hicks: This portfolio lender – did you use them for all of your house taxes and also these apartments?

Anthony Angotti: We used them for the second house hack. We did FHA for the one we currently live in. I used that bank’s commercial division for some of my apartment buildings, although I do have other banks that I use, too. We have maybe three main local commercial lenders that we use for our apartment buildings.

Theo Hicks: Perfect. So let’s talk about the apartments. So I guess my first question is what’s the biggest apartment that you have?

Anthony Angotti: 10-units. So we focus primarily in smaller buildings. Two reasons. One is that’s what’s in Pittsburgh. There aren’t a ton of large apartment complexes. There are some, but they hardly ever come up for sale, and they’re just not very prevalent. Most of the apartment buildings are going to be in the 5 to 20 unit range, but that’s the biggest one that we have right now.

Theo Hicks: What was the second reason?

Anthony Angotti: Just how frequently you encounter them in the market. There just aren’t a ton, especially because we keep our portfolio pretty geographically tight. So it’s not Pittsburgh as a whole. We focus primarily around where I live. We can touch on it a little bit, but our strategy is to in-source everything. So we have an in-house property manager, we don’t have a third party company. We also are hiring an in-house handyman… So we try to keep our portfolio hyper-local to cut down on their windshield time, so they don’t drive as many places.

Theo Hicks: So let’s talk about the 10-unit deal. So the same run that you gave me for the house hack – How’d you find it? What were the numbers, and then what was the business plan?

Anthony Angotti: So the first one that I did was a 10-unit. It’s set up a little bit like a complex. So there’s actually a 5-unit building, 4-unit building and a little house all on the same parcel. So the way that we found that was actually… I have a few different partnerships. The one partnership that I worked with here, this building is a little bit further away from our normal geographic range, but the current owner was somebody I used to work with. So we’ll talk about it too later, but one of my biggest piece of advice is just to tell everybody that you know that you’re in real estate investing, because you never know where the next lead comes from. So this was just a former coworker and he had an apartment building that they were way under renting. So the market rent for the units– right now, we get $750, but he was renting everything between $350 and $400 a month when we bought it.

It was funny, because I told him what the market rent was, I was transparent with him, and I was like, “Why are you only getting $350 or $400 on this?” He said, “Well, we like a certain type of tenant and we fill it really fast when it’s like this.” And I said, “Okay” Then I found out later that the only place he was marketing his apartments was in the newspaper. So he was still just posting newspaper ads. That was the only way he was finding tenants, which explains why most of the tenants there, they’re all social security type tenants. They all just get their security checks, which is nice.

But we bought that for — I believe, it was $255,000 was the price… $255,000 when we bought it, and then part of that in first position was a commercial lender and the second part of it was seller-financed. So I believe about 70% of that is through the bank loan, and about 30% of that is the seller finance. So that’s the purchase info on it.

Theo Hicks: And then was it a turnkey type of deal, or you just took it over and turned the units over, or was there some renovations that needed to be done?

Anthony Angotti: There was nothing immediate that was pressing. However, like I said, when we purchased it, everything was super under rented. So our strategy when we went into it was to get everybody up to at least $600 a month. So we sent everybody, right after we bought it, a letter, everybody that lived in the building. They were all pretty decent tenants. There were no troublemakers in the building when we bought it. But we just said, “Look, we bought the building. All of your rents when your leases are up, they’re going to $600 a month. If you want to stay, that’s great, as long as you pay the rent. If you want to move out, we gave you plenty of notice. You should have time to find a place. All good there.” Over time, we’ve had five people leave, and we’ve just been renovating the apartments as they’ve left and our rent’s now, like I said, are around $750. I think all of them are $750 for all the ones that have left. So we have five tenants left at $600 and five tenants left at $750.

Theo Hicks: And then I don’t know the exact number, but I’m just curious… Let’s say you bump the rents up by $150. How much money did you invest into those units to get that $150 rent bump?

Anthony Angotti: Depending on what we’ve done, because the building does have older wooden windows, so on a few of them, we’ve taken the opportunity to replace the windows… But we’ve spent anywhere between $5,000 and $8,000 per unit. The units were in pretty good shape. They pretty much just needed paint, flooring, appliances, basic bathroom reno, just a surround and some paint and a ceiling fan, and then the kitchen was just painting cabinets, new countertop, that sort of thing. So it wasn’t a very expensive turn.

Theo Hicks: So you mentioned– and I hope this isn’t your best ever advice. I want to focus on this a little bit. So you mentioned that one of your good piece of advice is to tell everyone you know about investing in real estate, because you don’t really know where your next lead is going to come from. Have you ever done a deal off the MLS, or have all of your deals come through these word of mouth types of referrals?

Anthony Angotti: Well, the one I just mentioned was off MLS. A lot of what we do is off-market. Now, at this point, we send out a lot of mail and stuff like that, so we get a lot of leads that way too. But most of my smaller buildings, most of the house hacks that I’ve done– actually, all of those have been on MLS deals. That’s nice for me because like I said, the most recent one we did, we used an FHA loan. I’m also a realtor, so I got my commission. So this place was a free house. We used our seller assist and I got my 3% commission, so we’re out half a percent for down payment, so that’s pretty sweet.

But most of our buildings have either come off-market through our own efforts, whether it was mail or networking, or off-market through broker relationships. So we’ve had a few that came just commercial broker pocket listings that way. I don’t know that we bought any apartment building that has been publicly listed, to be honest.

Theo Hicks: And then the last question before the best ever advice, going back to the house hack. I house hacked, but I was single. Were you married for all of these house hacks?

Anthony Angotti: We were together.

Theo Hicks: Maybe give people some advice on how to navigate doing a house hack when you’re married, when you’re living with someone else.

Anthony Angotti: The funny thing about it is whenever we were renting, we were probably ready to get married then, and I was not thrilled about working for somebody else. It wasn’t really even a problem with a specific job, I just didn’t like it. So my wife just was introducing me to different things, and she introduced me to the Bigger Pockets podcast. She was like, “Hey, maybe this is something you could do to quit your job,” and I think the first episode I listened to was about house hacking. And then I told her– I was like, “Look, we have money to do one of two things. We can either get married or we can get this place and live for free.” Initially, she was obviously like, “Well I don’t know about renovating a house. I’d probably just get married first.” Then I said, “Well, just think about it for a week. Let me know.” After she looked at the numbers of that, she came to the same conclusion that I did – that you just save so much money that it can accelerate everything else in your life financially. So that’s what led us to do that the first time. I was just showing her the benefits, and also at the same time saying, “Well, we can still get married, but when we do get married, we’re gonna be in a way better place financially.” So for her, she’s been supportive from day one, so it wasn’t super difficult. But I think that having her see all the benefits financially of it was the biggest thing that helped her get on board with it.

Theo Hicks: Thanks for sharing that. Alright Tony, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?

Anthony Angotti: My best advice ever is to just not wait to outsource your tasks. So I think personally, I waited to hire somebody to help me for way too long. We’ve grown fairly quickly in five years, but I probably could have been, at this point, quit my job way sooner had I just hired out a lot of the stuff. At the beginning I was the handyman, I was the property manager, I was the leasing agent, I was everything, and I was also working a full time job. So my time to focus on growth, both of the portfolio and personal growth was just non-existent. So I think outsourcing, whether that’s to an employee or a third-party manager, third-party handyman, whatever, you’ll see double the return in income easily over what it costs to actually pay that person.

Theo Hicks: What’s the first thing people should outsource?

Anthony Angotti: If you’re self-managing, I think probably property management is the first thing that you should outsource, unless you have one or two properties. But once you get past two properties, you have to take management off your plate.

Theo Hicks: Okay. Are you ready for the Best Ever lightning round?

Anthony Angotti: Yep.

Break [00:18:57]:03] to [00:19:59]:07]

Theo Hicks: Okay, Tony, what is the best ever book you’ve recently read?

Anthony Angotti: Best ever book that I recently read was actually The Millionaire Real Estate Agent. So it’s not geared specifically towards investing. Like I said, I’m also a realtor. That’s by Gary Keller. The thing that I took away from it the most was just, like I said, about outsourcing, about building a business that works for you and you’re not so much working inside the business. So that advice really resonated with me. I believe he also has a book, Millionaire Real Estate Investor, that’s a little bit more specific towards investors. But that book was very useful for me.

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

Anthony Angotti: Start building it again.

Theo Hicks: Very simple. Alright, what deal did you lose the most money on? How much did you lose and what lessons did you learn?

Anthony Angotti: We haven’t had one that’s lost significant money yet. The one that we’re currently in, the house hack that we live in now, was pretty costly. I did it because it was the last deal that I used my W2 income for before I quit my W2 job. So I would say that just being a little bit more patient to find a deal was what I learned from that. It’s not going to lose money long-term, but it’s definitely not super profitable.

Theo Hicks: On the flip side, let’s talk about the best ever deal you’ve done, and this is the deal you made the most money on whether it’s in rents or equity created.

Anthony Angotti: Oh, so the deal that I made the most money on… Probably that 10-unit that we talked about. We easily added just in expense reduction and income creation, over $175,000 on new value, and our cash flow is pretty ridiculous right now. I don’t have it up in front of me, but when it’s performing– it varies month to month, but we make easily over $2,500 a month in cash flow on that one. So that’s a pretty good one.

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

Anthony Angotti: To the investor community, I host investor meetups locally, and I think even though the business benefit from that has declined a little bit the more business I’ve done, just helping everybody out with questions and their deals and stuff, if that’s useful. And then just in the general community, I coach ice hockey. I played ice hockey in college, so that’s something that I like to stay involved in.

Theo Hicks: Nice. So then what’s the best ever place to reach you?

Anthony Angotti: I just started a podcast called Be Free RE. You can find us on any of the platforms, but the unique thing about our podcast is that we actually answer listener questions on air. So people can call in and leave a voicemail, we play your voicemail on the show and then answer it. The number for that is 412-212-8366. And then if people want to reach out individually– I’m sure a lot of your listeners are on Bigger Pockets, so I’m on there as Tony Angotti, and then they can find me there.

Theo Hicks: Perfect. Best Ever listeners, definitely take advantage of that whenever people give out phone numbers or email addresses. Alright, Tony, I really appreciate you coming on the show. I always love talking about house hacking, because I did it and it’s always interesting to hear how other people have navigated that interesting strategy especially when it’s–

Anthony Angotti: It’s the cheat code to life; financial life, at least. It’s the biggest cheat code you can do to fix your finances.

Theo Hicks: Yeah, it really is. So you went into detail on the first house hack that you did. We went over the numbers. We also talked about how you were able to do all the repairs yourself, except for obviously that sewer line by using YouTube, as well as help from your dad, and that’s been beneficial to you when talking with contractors on future deals. You talked about how you were able to rent out the detached garages to someone who wasn’t the tenant for extra source of income, then we transitioned in talking about your apartments where you focused on that first deal and how you were able to increase the value substantially because of the fact that the rents were so under market rent. You learned to focus on the smaller buildings because of the supply in the area and you also like to make sure that everything is in-house, so you’re hyper-focused on a certain area so people aren’t driving around all the time.

And then you also gave us some advice on how to find the deals and that’s telling everyone you know about what you’re doing in real estate, because you never really know where that next lead’s gonna come from. You gave us advice on how to do the house-hacking when you’re married or dating someone and it’s really just explaining the benefits to them, and letting them agree and come to the conclusion that it’s a good idea themselves.

And then lastly, your best ever advice, which was not waiting too long to outsource some of the tasks like property management, leasing, doing the repairs yourself, things like that. So Tony, I really appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your advice. Best Ever listeners, again, make sure you take advantage of his offer to answer some of your questions on the podcast. Definitely call into that number. Thanks for listening as always. Have a best ever day and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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