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3rd Time Is A Charm: My Denver Investing Journey

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

I could not be more ecstatic to announce that I have purchased a third property! I now own a single family home and 2 duplexes (both sides of each), bringing my total to 5 doors. The goal was 5 doors by 30 years old, and I was able to achieve that with just a few weeks to spare! Investing in real estate has me well on my way to my primary goal: retiring by 40 years old. So how the heck have I gotten to where I am now? And what does my portfolio look like? Allow me to share a complete financial breakdown for your educational OR snooping pleasure...

Chelsea standing front of house

House #1 (Single Family Home)

I purchased a 3 bedroom, 3 full-bathroom, 2 car garage, 1600 square foot home in August of 2017. Here are the details:

Purchase price: $460,000

Loan type: FHA

Down payment: 3.5% = $16,100

Monthly payment: $2900/month

Upon moving into this home, I began house hacking it right away. I rented out the other 2 bedrooms for $1000 each. My partner Kayty also moved in and paid $400/month. That meant I was bringing in $2500/month and only paying $500/month to live in this beautiful new home. These monthly savings on my living expenses allowed me to save money quickly.

In my early college years, I started a painting company that I relocated out to Denver with me. After a few years in Denver, I was able to successfully sell that company to a cash buyer in December of 2019. Shortly after the business sale, I refinanced this first home to the following terms:

New value: $640,000 ($180k in value in 3 years... thanks Denver!)

Loan type: Conventional

Monthly payment: $2300/month (This refinance saved me $600/month!)

**As soon as I purchased the second property (below), I rented out this first house for $3450/month, meaning I am netting over $1k/month

Chelsea Steen holding keys and champagne

House #2 (Duplex - Both Sides)

Four years after my first purchase, I was able to buy again. House Hacking my first home allowed me to save up money to buy the second place. Also, the sale of my painting company gave me a nice chunk of change to remodel the second place I was going to buy. In the Spring of 2021, I purchased my second property, which consisted of both sides of a duplex. This duplex is about 4300 square feet in total. One side has 2 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, a garage space, 1800 square feet, fenced in yard, 2 living rooms, etc. The other side has 2,500 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, a garage space, fenced-in yard, 2 living rooms, etc.

Purchase price: $855,000

Loan type: Conventional

Down payment: 15% = $128,250

Monthly payment: $3600/month

After purchasing this property, I spent about 3-4 months remodeling it. This remodel cost about $110k out of pocket. We will be having the home appraised over the next few weeks, but my comps suggest a new value of $1,150,000 after a big year of appreciation and a massive remodel. Nonetheless, I rent out the other side of the property for $1650/month (a very reduced rate) to my Dad. This leaves my half as costing $2k/month. However, I am netting $1k/month off of my other rental (Property #1), so I am paying $1,000/month to live in a 2500 square foot, 4 bed, 3 bath, newly remodeled property near Sloan's Lake.

3225 Pierce Street House

House #3 (Duplex - Both Sides)

After a little over a year of living in the duplex and saving money for a few years, I was able to turn around and buy another duplex. However, this time I decided to buy it as an investment property and not as a primary residence.

Purchase price: $800,000

Loan type: Conventional

Down payment: 25% = $200,000

Monthly payment: $4100/month

With this purchase, I will be inheriting 2 sets of tenants who will be paying a very reduced rent for a few months. I will then be searching for new tenants where I am confident that I can get $2700/month per side = $5400/month in rent. After maintenance costs and my monthly payment, I should be netting another $1,000/month from this rental. This $1,000/month will then enable me to live for free at my current duplex.

Chelsea Steen on front porch opening champagne


Property 1 - Bought for $460k. Now worth $800k. Loan balance is $422k. This makes my current equity in this property about $378k. I am renting out this property so other people can pay down the loan balance while it goes up in value, and I am currently netting $1k/month after expenses.

Property 2 - Bought for $855k. Now worth $1,150,000. Loan balance is currently $685k. This makes my current equity in this property $465k. Since I am renting out the other half and applying what I make from property #1 to this monthly payment, it is currently costing me $1k/month to live here.

Property 3 - Bought for $800k this week. Loan balance is $600k. This makes my current equity $200k in this property. This property will net me $1k/month soon which will cover my living expenses completely at property 2.

Financial Portfolio:

Current asset total: $2,750,000

Current equity: $1,043,000

Current loan balance being paid off by tenants: $1,707,000

Current living expense: $0

Current number of doors: 5

Time it took to get there: 5 years

So how the heck does this get you to retirement?

Now that I have acquired the doors I want, I am going to start aggressively paying them off. With the money I am saving on a monthly basis by not having a living expense, the money I make off the rentals, the money I apply towards loan principal instead of into the stock market/401k for retirement, several years of tenants paying down the mortgages, etc... These should be paid off in approximately 7 years or less, meaning I'll be 37 years old. Assuming rents go up a conservative amount each year, and that I will need to still pay for taxes/insurance/maintenance on the properties, I am counting on netting a bare minimum (ultra conservative) of $10k/month after all expenses. This equals $120k/year passively from these properties. And believe me, the day I no longer need to work, I won't be. :)

Are you ready to do the same? Get in touch.

Chelsea Steen



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