From $ 31,000 in salary to $ 600,000 from Flipping Houses

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  • Lukas Vanagaitis wanted to change houses but did not have the funds to do so.
  • He started out by wholesaling goods, then started buying and remodeling houses.
  • But it wasn’t until he started investing in St. Petersburg, Florida, that he became profitable.

Lukas Vanagaitis immigrated to the United States from Lithuania in 2015 after winning the green card lottery.

“I had $ 3,000 in my pocket and didn’t speak English. I landed in LA on a one-way ticket and a series of job interviews,” Vanagaitis said.

He had a degree in architecture which got him his first job in Las Vegas. He was making $ 31,200 a year, according to an offer letter viewed by Insider. But working on it for two years, he realized that it was an amount that would not go very far. Limited income in an expensive city meant he was spending more than he earned and was racking up credit card debt.

“I was barely making ends meet. I lived in the apartment without any furniture,” Vanagaitis said. “The first place I stayed had bullet holes. So my start in America was really tough.”

He told Insider that while he worked at his desk, he put on his headphones and listened to endless hours of real estate investing podcasts. Vanagaitis liked the idea of ​​buying and changing homes. When he was only 15, he inherited a property from his grandparents that he spent years repairing with his allowance. And he wanted to make it his job.

“Every day I was educating myself,” Vanagaitis said. “At the same time, I had no money. I was trying to find a strategy [to start] because I was as broke as possible. “

His first sale

He heard about wholesale, a process that didn’t require any capital to get started. It was enough to enter into a contract with the owner to resell his house for a small percentage of the sale price in return. It’s a popular and potentially tedious way to get started in real estate without taking too much risk.

The main obstacle would be to find an owner who would be willing to participate.

Vanagaitis said he has decided to find absentee owners who do not reside at their addresses in the Las Vegas area. It was an idea and a resource he took from the “Bigger Pockets” podcast.

The downside to this process was, first, that the listing cost $ 400, and second, that he had to contact thousands of owners before finding one that was willing to sell.

“It’s very important for someone who is just starting out not to give up because it took me nine months. Every day I came home from work and around six to midnight, for six hours, I was coming home from work. was writing handwritten letters and sending letters to those absent owners, ”Vanagaitis said.

“There are companies that automatically send them to you. I wrote them down by hand because I didn’t have the money to pay for this service,” Vanagaitis said.

He eventually found an owner who had a property in distress that he wanted to get rid of. Vanagaitis met the owner and toured the property. They then negotiated for a few weeks until a purchase agreement was signed.

Vanagaitis said he then used online sources such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to find potential buyers. And in three weeks, he found a buyer. His very first transaction earned him $ 5,000, a check he framed. A few months later, he quits his job.

But the decision to leave did not come from a safe place. In fact, Vanagaitis had not been able to strike a successful second deal before deciding to lose his paycheck.

“I couldn’t identify with Vegas. I hated my job, had panic attacks and didn’t have the money to move,” Vanagaitis said. “It was extremely difficult for me to make this decision because I felt trapped in Vegas. And I think the motivation to leave was far more important than the amount of funds I had at the time.”

He also decided to sell the house he inherited in Lithuania. It earned him around $ 100,000, which gave him a sense of financial comfort, he said. He then moved to Houston, Texas.

“And then after two years, so we’re talking about the end of 2018, I was broke again. I was back to square one,” Vanagaitis said.

Costly mistakes

He had teamed up with three other people and they began to overturn property damaged by Hurricane Harvey. They used hard money loans to fund the process. But these houses suffered serious damage and required a lot of work.

A second major oversight was that many other real estate investors were doing the same, toppling damaged homes. So by the time they completed about six houses, there were plenty of other properties for sale.

The amount of supply that suddenly became available meant buyers had options and could underbid on demand.

“We had no experience. We spent too much money on renovations because they were flooded houses. We had to hire professional companies to remediate these houses. We had to put in new drywall and do all those extra things we didn’t budget for. “said Vanagaitis.

He continued, “And then we sold them for significantly less money than we originally thought. Also, our renovations took a lot longer than expected. So our interest accrued on this property. . And we were spending our personal savings to pay for our own living expenses. ”

“I didn’t like Houston, just like I didn’t like Vegas. It was also a cultural difference. I didn’t have a vibe with the city. And I started having panic attacks again,” Vanagaitis said.

Eventually, Vanagaitis decided to move to Florida where he had family. He eventually focused on St. Petersburg, a city surrounded by water. This means that the supply is limited. He took all the lessons he had learned along the way and started moving houses there. This time he used a different approach.

As it ran out of money, interested investors would buy the property and finance the rehabilitation, while Vanagaitis would only put in equity during the rehabilitation process. Once the house was ready, the investor would be guaranteed 10% income, and anything over would go to him and his business partners. This meant he didn’t need any capital or a loan to keep doing what he loves.

In 2020, one of the limited liability companies that Vanagaitis co-owns with a business partner, which owns six properties and flips a few homes a year, made $ 600,000 in sales, according to a copy of its tax return viewed by Insider.


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