House Hacking Your NYC Brownstone

Posted November 12th, 2022 by Stanley Montfort

You may want to get involved with real estate investing but the thought of borrowing hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars seems a bit too daunting. Real estate is a great investment but it is hard to get started without first undertaking an enormous commitment. 

Even if you are willing to take the leap, you may have a hard time qualifying for a second mortgage or coming up with a down payment to buy your first rental property. 

There is an option you may not have considered. House hacking refers to the way you can generate investment income from your current house. It is not always for everyone, and can sometimes be difficult to make work, but when it does work it can immediately open up doors that seemed impossible to open and get you in the investment business. 

If you own or are thinking of buying a New York City Brownstone, there are three main ways to begin house hacking. 

Buy a Multi Unit Brownstone First

Instead of buying a single unit Brownstone to live in just for yourself, buying a multi unit is often just as easy. A multi unit will of course be more expensive, but banks consider rental income as part of the mortgage application. 

If you purchase a two unit building, you can live in one and rent out the second unit for extra income to pay down the mortgage. That is not the only benefit, landlords enjoy special tax breaks as well. If you are looking to get into the landlord business, buying a multi unit building with the intention of living in one of the units yourself is a great way to get started. 

Rent Out a Single Room

You may have thought once you graduated from college your days of having a roommate were over. It may not be ideal, and it does not have to be forever, but if you have an extra room in your current house, consider renting it out for extra income. 

House hacking by having roommates is a great way to open the door to real estate investing. The extra income can be used to save up a down payment to buy a real investment property, for example. 

Granted, this may not work for everyone depending on your family situation, and screening a tenant to be your roommate is a bit more involved than screening a tenant for a regular investment property, but when it all works out the results can be amazing and can be the spark to launch a great investment business. 

Consider Short Term Rental 

If having a full time roommate seems untenable, maybe a part time roommate is the answer. Apps such as AirBnB have made the short term rental market accessible to all, for renters and landlords alike. 

You can rent out an extra room, or in a city such as ours, you can leave town on a vacation and rent out your entire place while you are gone. The extra income again can be used to get you your first real property. 

House hacking is not for everyone, and it’s probably not a good long term solution for almost anyone. But as a temporary solution, it is a great way to begin your investing career. Keep in mind you do not have to make enough money in rent to cover all of your expenses and turn a complete profit like you would want to do on a regular rental property. House hacking is usually meant to tip the scales in your favor so you can save up enough cash to get into the real investment business. Short term sacrifices can pay off huge, and house hacking your NYC Brownstone is one of the best ways to get started in investing. 

Schedule a call with me here if you have any interest in obtaining a complimentary valuation for your home or buyer consultation.

Connect with me on Linkedin or Instagram for more information on the townhouse and multifamily market.


Authored by: Stanley Montfort


To see Manhattan townhouse listings, click here.


To see Bedford-Stuyvesant townhouse listings, click here.


To see Crown Heights townhouse listings, click here.

Sign Up for Our Mailing List

Subscribe to receive regular townhouse and small building news and updates straight to your inbox