Rental Property After Our House Is Paid Off

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Mr. FAF and I bought our first house in 2016. We’ve been trying to save up and put all of our extra income each month towards the mortgage.

Our goal after our house is paid off is to either (1) buy a rental property or (2) move to another house and turn our current home into a rental.

It will take years before we can finally pay off the mortgage.

Many real estate investors would say that I can totally invest in real estate while paying off the primary residence. But I don’t want to take that route for three reasons:

1. I hate debt.

It’s that simple. I grew up in a low-income if not poor family. My parents didn’t have much, but we tried to live within our means.

Sometimes (or most of the time?) I felt like we were really poor. My parents had fights about money pretty often, and I hated it when it happened. I don’t want Mr. FAF and I to be in the same situation as my parents.

I don’t like borrowing money from other people and also don’t really like it when other people borrow money from me. I only lend money to friends when they’re really in need and I know they’ll pay me back.

Even if they don’t pay me back, it’s still ok with me if those are the friends who have helped Mr. FAF and me a lot when we were in difficulty.

When I have money borrowed from other people, I feel burdened. The money or the things that I have, I feel, are borrowed from other people and are not really mine.

If one mortgage already stresses me out, I don’t think I’d like to double that amount of pressure with two mortgages – one for my primary residence and one for the rental.

2. A paid-off house can protect us against market instability. 

It’s a big risk to put our primary residence at stake in order to obtain another mortgage for a rental. If the rental is not doing well (i.e. tenants not paying), I don’t want to fall behind on our mortgage payments and have my family ending up on the street.

Real estate investors often talk about leverage – the ability to use mortgages to expand their real estate portfolios and not put all eggs in one basket.

For example, if you have $100,000 in cash, you have two main choices. You can tie up the capital in one paid-off house. Another option is for you to borrow money, put $20,000 down plus $5,000 in closing costs on 4 different houses, and use rental income to cover mortgage and expenses for those rentals while possibly making profits (cash flow).

That all sounds great unless the tenants decide to stop paying rent for a couple of months and put your portfolio at risk for a series of foreclosures.

I want to be on top of the game and avoid risks as much as possible. Even if tenants stop paying rent and I can’t evict them after months of taking them to court, I can still feel good about having a paid-off house and being able to pay mortgage on the rental.

3. A paid-off house sets a good foundation for future investment. 

The current mortgage rate is 5% (Mar 2017). Many argue that you should not pay off your mortgage and instead invest it in the stock market or other channels for interest rates as high as 7%-10%.

However, as Dave Ramsey points out, those high interest rates depend largely on market stability. The math seems to work, but it doesn’t factor in the risk or uncertainty associated with the economy. If the market crashes, your investment can plummet or disappear into thin air (Hello, 2008 financial crisis!).

After Mr. FAF and I pay off our mortgage, we will have the freedom to choose whether to invest into rental property or mutual funds or both.


So there you have it. Our plan for the future: Pay off the mortgage and invest in rental property. Paying off the mortgage is not a right or wrong answer. It depends largely on how much risk you’re willing to take.

– If you’re a risk-taker, leveraging might be your cup of tea.

– If you’re risk-averse like me, welcome to the paying-off-mortgage-early club!


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10 thoughts on “Rental Property After Our House Is Paid Off”

  • I want to bring up 2 points:
    1. It’s especially important to do this the first few years of having the mortgage.
    2. If the market tanks, it’ll make much more financial sense to “surge” and max out all tax advantaged retirement accounts while everything is cheap.

    • Thanks for the great advice, Darren! I definitely want to pay off the mortgage as soon as we can. I didn’t think about the tax incentives, but it’s definitely good to know! 🙂

  • All good things to consider. Congrats on purchasing your home! I’ve been thinking of paying off our mortgage even thought it’s a rental property just so I have the income stream coming in. It is risky though.

    • Thank you! xoxo It is indeed risky. I think Mr. FAF and I are thinking about putting out income into retirement accounts as well. Just do what feels right to you 🙂

  • I’m also a member of the paying off mortgages early club! I love this post and love how you mention Dave Ramsey. I’m always bringing up in my blog how he advocates for paying off mortgages. I now have several rental properties all paid off, and renting my primary residence (in Korea). It’s piece of mind, but more importantly, i think it’s just smarter than being leveraged. I have a higher chance of being successful over the long run!

  • Im on the fence of this. I have a mortgage on my house and on my investment property. I make about a $500 profit monthly and save some of that money in case my tenant unexpectedly leaves or something breaks. I don’t like having too much debt either so I’ve slowed down on my thoughts to purchase more real estate.

    I will say, for tax reasons, I plan to always owe on some mortgage at any one time… I just don’t want to owe on 10 mortgages at one time.

  • I have a rental investment 6.5% int on 30000 I also have 5 acres with 5 bed 2 bath house it is free and clear need some work done on it some major some minor but thinking of paying off rental property no I wont be abel to take interest off taxes but that seems to be something we may not be abel yo do if Trump has his way sooo I will probably keep paying the morgage as long as I can take it off tax deduction not even sure my property taxes can count in my personal property because of Trump

  • Huge fan of paying off! I have read all the articles about not paying off your mortgages and like you I hate debt. Our main house is paid, our rental property is paid, our commercial strip mall will be paid off next year and we have another rental in San Antonio, Tx that is half way paid off. When the market tanked in 07-08 everyone lost money including us but, our daily lives were not impacted because we were not leveraged….that is a great feeling! Please understand that this is 20+ years in the making but the future is bright.
    P.S. don’t follow the heard:)

  • I find the very interesting – I grew up in rural England, through luck, fate, I’m not sure what I was able to work in Japan and met my future wife from Taiwan. Although we were raised on completely opposites of the planet in two different cultures (traditional Chinese and rural English) our values and perspectives on life are very similar. For the last 22 years we’ve lived in NYC, a high cost of living for F.I.R.E followers, and despite good careers we’ve avoided “lifestyle creep”. We plan to retire at the end of this year. We paid off our mortgage (rate 3.25%), even though we could “make” more I the market. The freedom and dare I say “comfort” we got for owning our own place is “priceless”. Totally agree with you, the first priority is a place live we own. We resisted multiple “opportunities” to upgrade our lifestyle (as a partner in a big four) – we figure our lives, family and what little time we have on this planet is more important than bigger is better.

    Great blog – I totally agree with your comments and perspectives.

    BTW – I also agree with your comments on “6 Things Americans Do That I Don’t Get” – I’m English, and also don’t get them….it’s not an Asian thing……

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