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  • Writer's pictureBen Welch | Dan Mackin

89: House Hacking and DIY Rehabs with Lauren and Kyle Clugston

Matt Aitchison - Real Estate Investor

One of the many barriers to entry for real estate investing is an individual’s lack of a team. With this problem, aspiring investors usually do one of two things: 1) They resolve to do everything themselves or 2) They never get started because of their belief in their lack of knowledge or skills. But what if you had a partner who compliments your strengths, has the same goals they are trying to achieve, and as a bonus, is married to you?

Lauren and Kyle Clugston are a hasband-and-wife investing team from New Jersey who focuses on House Hacking long term rentals. If that isn’t enough, they also self manage all their properties and do most of the renovations on them on their own.

While Lauren (see Episode 37) handles the financial and management side of the business, Kyle focuses on the rehabs and maintenance of their properties. Up to date, they own seven units which consists of two single-family residences, and a few small multi-families as well.

Many people look to start investing in real estate only to make a profit, but for Lauren and Kyle, it’s much more than that—it’s about the people they work with and the communities they are a part of.

Some key takeaways from our conversation with Lauren and Kyle:

1) Have great tenant screenings and vetting processes. When dealing with new, potential tenants to rent to, Lauren and Kyle have safeguards in place to ensure that they do not get “screwed” by said tenants. Moreover, by having great processes, they are able to focus more on picking the best tenants in their pool, as opposed to trying to weed out all the bad ones. Their tenant selection process does that for them.

2) Use your time effectively and leverage your systems. To add onto the last point, by having processes for even something like showing properties, that can greatly enhance everyone’s experience. Whether they intend to or not, people will just inevitably waste your time. Create a system that works for you (or better yet, use Lauren’s system) to help you streamline your business.

3) “Our first property we renovated by room, and now we learned you need to renovate by trade.” Oftentimes, many investors take their rehab budget and immediately start hiring subcontractors and handymen to get work done in their properties. As a result, many different people are doing many different jobs at the same time trying not to step on each other’s toes. Lauren and Kyle have learned that by having one job (or trade) done at one time until completion, the work is done more efficiently and it leaves less room for mistakes to occur.

4) You don’t necessarily need to be “handy” when rehabbing a property. Because you are a homeowner, you can act as a general contractor (GC) and hire subcontractors to complete jobs on the property for you. And finding such subcontractors isn’t as difficult as most people think. You can simply go to your local contractor’s office and get a reference list of potential subcontractors to hire. Better yet, you can even just learn how to do these jobs on your own. YouTube is a great resource to learn, and social media and networking groups can be a great way to get your questions answered by people with a lot of experience who are willing to help.

Quick Tip: Hire a handyman to do one job first (like a bathroom), overlook their work, then evaluate whether you want to hire them out for bigger projects (like a full gut-job). Don’t assume someone will get the job done right, on time, and how you like it.

If Lauren could go back and talk to her 16 year old self, she’d tell her, “Buy a house in college and House Hack it with your friends.”

Kyle would tell himself, “Start stowing money away so you can start earlier.”

An unexpected benefit of real estate investing, Lauren and Kyle said, was having a life partner in it with you and reaching for the same goals together.

A piece of advice Kyle would tell his friends looking to get started in real estate would be that, “Your first property doesn’t have to be a perfect property.” Just jump right in and learn as you go.

Lauren recommends using Scanner Pro to help you keep track of your checks and receipts. Meanwhile, Kyle likes to keep it old-school and record everything in his handy-dandy ledger.

Lauren recommends reading Brandon Turner’s The Book on Rental Property Investing, as well as The Book on Managing Rental Properties to help you get started learning about the business.

Kyle recommends reading any of the Home Depot books (Yes, Home Depot!) to help you learn more about home renovations, maintenance, and improvement.

If you’d like to get in touch with Lauren and Kyle, follow them on Instagram: @rentalstowealth

Thank you to everyone that has reached out to us to connect them with our trusted real estate agents in their area! And congratulations to those who have even closed deals using our referrals! For those that didn’t know, we can help connect you with real estate investor friendly agents in your area to help you get started investing in real estate. We recently made some changes to our website that we believe will better suit you in your real estate investing needs. For more information, visit and head over to the “Start Investing” Tab. Best wishes and see you in the next one!

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