top of page

Investing as Owner/Occupant

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

Investing in real estate as an owner occupant, a great opportunity for novice investors to enjoy the best of both worlds

Article By Phil Sharp Printed in the Olympian Newspaper

Investing in real estate has always been considered the key to wealth in this country, and investing in real estate in Thurston County has made many investors very wealthy over the past few years.  The local market has grown astronomically, when put into perspective with other markets around the country, and the local market is still booming.

The question asked by those who see this growth ( and haven’t seen it in the stock market lately) is “how do I get started”.  A great way to do

Invest in Real Estate as a Home Owner

Investing in Real Estate as Owner/Occupant

so is as an owner occupant of Multi-family housing.  Duplexes, tri and four plexes may be considered by lenders to be “owner occupied” if the owner lives in one the units.  The benefits to the owner are numerous, and allow buyers to get into the fabled “zero down or close to zero down” deal.  Other benefits include tax advantages of owning your own home, no capitol gain tax if you own and reside in the home for two years, and potentially having your tenants pay all or a part of your living expense.

Typically, real estate investors pay 10 percent or more in down payments for investment properties.  This number can go beyond 20 percent depending upon the type of property, its use etc.  As an owner occupant, 95, 97, and even 100 percent of the loan to value (LTV) is common.  What this means is that if the four-plex you would like to buy and live in is financed at 97% LTV, and we assume that your four-plex is valued at $200,000, your cost to purchase would be $6000 (3% of $200,000), and your lender would finance the remainder of the cost of the property.  You could expect to pay an additional 3% in closing costs making your total purchase cost $12,000.  Twelve thousand dollars is a lot of money?  The bette3r your credit is will determine how much you can borrow, and at what interest rate.  I mentioned earlier that 100% owner occupied loans are available, some will even roll closing costs into the loan, making your deal truly ZERO down!


  1. If you own your own home, whether it is single or multi family, you can deduct from your taxes all of your interest payments and depreciate the value of the dwelling over the course of its useful life.  Using the $200,000 example, the approximate annual mortgage interest expense would be $12,000, and depreciation would be about $6600, an $18,600 tax deduction.

  2. Investors pay capitol gains taxes when they sell property, and can’t avoid it.  If the property is owned for less than one year, income tax is paid, which is significantly higher than capitol gain.  As an owner occupant, residing in the property for a minimum of two years, the IRS has a provision that allows you to pay no tax on the gain in your property.   Going back to the $200,000 property:  Property is purchased for $200,000 (all expenses in closing the purchase are deductible), assume that the property is held for five years, and that it appreciates at 10% per year (that may seem like a large percentage, however, many investors have experienced 12-14% gains in our area over the past 5 years), so the property is sold for $300,000.  As an investor, the tax liability is 15% of 100,000, or $15,000.   As an owner occupied residence, the tax liability is zero.

  3. Who pays the rent?  This is where it gets really good.  Going back to the $200,000 example, the monthly payment; principle, interest, taxes, insurance (PITI), on a property of this value would be approximately $1600 (based on a 6% interest rate and estimated cost of insurance and property taxes).  Assuming that each unit rents for $600 per month, rental income from three units would pay the mortgage payment, and put $200 per month back into your pocket.  All of a sudden, you, the home owner is living in a building with no payment, and are actually making money every month for the effort.

So, all of this is great.  Does anybody else know about it?  Absolutely!!  In order to pursue and acquire a property that will work for you, you must prepare yourself to act.  Action is what intimidates investors who dream, and invigorates those that succeed.   First, meet with a lender, get pre-approved and determine what your ability is as a buyer.  Second, establish a relationship with a real estate agent that will comb the market for your potential home (A good agent should also be in tune with lenders, and may be your best source in locating a local mortgage lender).   Finally, be patient, and be prepared to act.  The real estate market in our town is on fire.  Homes available are not keeping up with demand, and inventory is low.  You and your agent will need to pursue every opportunity, and be prepared to make an offer on a moments notice…good deals go quick.

Investing in real estate can be fun, and profitable.  The added benefit of living in your investment is obvious, and can start helping you build the leverage needed to continue investing in additional properties.  As you get into your first investment, you will start to learn the creativity and skills that have made many investors rich; remember, however, none of that creativity and skill is magic, just knowledge and insight that is easily gained by talking to the right people, your real estate agent and lender are the first and primary sources for the information you need to succeed.  GOOD LUCK!!

Phil Sharp is a Realtor/Broker in Olympia, his investment company, Sharp and Sharp Holdings LLC, has invested successfully in Real Estate in the Olympia area  six years.  He can be reached at 360-970-9977, or via email at (Contact information updated from original article)


bottom of page