Millennial Explains How He Became Financially Free Through Real Estate
- Ludomir Wanot knew early on that he wanted to use real estate as a tool to build wealth.
- He bought his first property with his brother in 2016. They used an FHA loan and put 3.5% down.
- His main revenue stream is wholesaling. On his first wholesale deal, he profited $160,000.
Ludomir Wanot tapped into his entrepreneurial spirit early on.
He started selling candy in elementary school. He’d buy jawbreakers with the couple of dollars his mom could afford to give him each day and sell them for a profit to his classmates.
When he was 15, he started buying and selling cars on Craigslist. He’d been working for his dad since he was 13 — mostly installing floors — and saved up enough money to buy his first car, a used Volkswagen Jetta, for $4,000. Less than two weeks later, he sold it for $5,500, he told Insider. “I was like, ‘Holy crap, I just made $1,500 in a week and a half. Can I do this again?'”
Wanot, who grew up in Federal Way, Washington, researched the car market in the area and found that Volkswagens were very popular and in high demand. So he started buying and reselling that specific car brand. He earned $1,000 on average per flip — and he barely did any work on the cars, he said. “I never fixed them up or anything. I’d just clean them and take professional photos.”
His key advantage was his ability to negotiate, he added: “I would buy directly from owners and I would just negotiate prices with them over the phone.” While he was not a licensed dealer, within two years, Wanot earned about $35,000 selling 35 cars. He says that he gave most of the money to his mom so she could visit family in Poland, where she’d emigrated from before he was born.
His business mentality emerged out of necessity. After his parents split up when he was seven, Wanot’s mom raised him and his two brothers. She worked three different jobs to provide for her sons, but still struggled to stay afloat and gradually accumulated a significant amount of credit card debt. Every two years or so, she had to move her family into a different apartment when the rent would inevitably go up. Wanot used the money he earned from his various businesses to pay for food on days his mom couldn’t afford to give him and his brothers money for breakfast.
“From a very young age, I knew that money could give me options, and I wanted more options in my life,” said Wanot, now 30. “So I started thinking about how to earn more money.”
A quick Google search piqued his interest in real estate investing: “I found online that 90% of all millionaires became so through owning real estate.” He was a teen at the time and didn’t have the means to invest, but after developing a knack for sales and understanding the principles of risk, he decided that real estate would one day be his path to wealth.
Buying his first property with his brother with less than $10,000 upfront
Wanot graduated from University of Washington’s Foster School of Business in 2014. His education was completely funded by scholarships and grants, he said. Plus, he worked all throughout college. He installed flooring and built a construction business, WA Flooring, out of it.
After graduating, Wanot tried to grow his company, but the income wasn’t as consistent as he wanted it to be. He still aspired to buy properties one day and knew that
would want to see a stable income history before offering him a loan, so he started thinking about transitioning into the corporate world. In the meantime, though, he was able to get his foot in the door by partnering with his older brother, Jan.
Jan, who’d been working at Boeing for about two years, qualified for a loan and the brothers started searching for properties in the Seattle area in 2016. Jan would be listed as the buyer but they agreed to split expenses and profits evenly.
“I knew from my Craigslist experience that there were so many opportunities out there at a discount,” said Wanot, who would specifically seek out properties listed for sale by their owner, which cut out agent commissions and typically meant a lower sale price. “So we just set up searches on Craigslist and, as soon as a property popped up that was for-sale-by-owner, we would call the homeowner and try to buy their property at a discount.”
They found a single-family, fixer-upper listed for $150,000. “I was able to negotiate her down to $138,000,” said Wanot, who was living in his mom’s apartment at the time to save on housing. “I knew that every dollar mattered for us.”
The brothers financed it with an FHA loan, which is a government-backed mortgage that gives people the opportunity to buy a home with lower credit scores and down payments as low as 3.5%. They ended up using what’s called an FHA 203(k) loan, which finances the purchase and renovation of a home.
Without this specific type of loan, they wouldn’t have been able to afford renovations, which ended up costing $30,000. But since they rolled the remodeling costs into the loan balance and put down 3.5%, “we were in for no more than $10,000,” said Wanot.
They split the upfront costs, meaning they each paid less than $5,000, which Wanot had in savings from his flooring business.
A requirement of using an FHA loan is that you have to purchase a primary residence and live in it for at least a year before renting it out. After a three-month-long renovation process, Jan moved into one of the four bedrooms, while Wanot continued living in his mom’s apartment. They rented out the other three bedrooms to college students and collected $1,850 in rents each month, which more than covered their $1,100 monthly mortgage payment.
After deducting utilities, the brothers earned $600 per month in cash flow. That single-family home, which they still own today, was Wanot’s first passive income stream.
Taking a job at Amazon and saving up to continue buying real estate
After finding success in his first deal, Wanot wanted to continue expanding his real estate portfolio but he needed consistent income to qualify for a loan.
He started job searching and landed a gig at Amazon in 2016. Wanot, 24 at the time, wasn’t necessarily passionate about his work as a program manager, but it paid well — $120,000 a year, he said — and was a stepping stone to buying more properties.
He continued living with his mom and doing flooring jobs on the side, which allowed him to save his entire Amazon paycheck. “I could earn about $3,000 a month with flooring, and that would sustain my lifestyle,” he explained. “So, every dollar that I earned from Amazon, which was exactly $6,800 after taxes, I would save.”
After just a couple of months of diligent saving, he had earned enough to pay off his mom’s $25,000 worth of credit card debt. Once she was debt-free, all of his savings went into an account earmarked for his next property. He and his brother again decided to go in on it together. This time, they bought a $350,000 fourplex in 2017. It also needed renovations, and they financed it with another FHA 203(k) loan.
“We did a massive $180,000 remodel,” said Wanot. “So, our loan was for about $530,000.” They put 3.5% down again, meaning they only had to come up with about $18,500 in cash upfront, which they split. The brothers then spent the next six months renovating the property. After completing the work, Wanot moved into one of the units and the brothers rented the other three. Rental income covered more than their monthly mortgage, meaning Wanot lived for free. Plus, he and Jan profited about $1,200 each from the property each month.
Shifting to wholesaling and earning $160,000 on his first deal
Despite earning six-figures at Amazon and pulling in side money from his real estate investments, Wanot continued thinking about other viable revenue streams.
“I knew that I could sell — I knew that I was good at flipping cars,” he said. “And I thought, ‘Okay, what’s the next biggest thing?'”
That’s when he started looking into wholesaling. The way the real estate wholesaling process works is the person acting as the wholesaler enters into a contract on a home or piece of land, finds a buyer willing to purchase it at a higher price, and then pockets the difference in price once the transaction closes.
Wanot decided to put his sales skills to the test once again. He pulled a list of about 350 landowners in Tacoma, used a public data platform called PropertyRadar to get their phone numbers, and started calling up every landowner, asking if they were interested in selling their property.
“I had a script written out and I just made call by call,” said Wanot. It was a tedious activity and, “a lot of them were really angry that I called, he added.” It took about 300 calls, but a landowner interested in selling his property in Bainbridge Island finally picked up the phone.
“I didn’t know what the heck I was doing,” recalled Wanot, who immediately went to visit the potential seller and started researching how to get a piece of land under contract. He managed to put together a contract to buy the property for $800,000 with a 90-day feasibility, meaning he could terminate the contract for any reason within that period.
“For the next 90 days, I called every single investor that I could possibly find using online sources, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I looked everywhere,” said Wanot. He found a buyer willing to pay $980,000 for the land and, after paying his designated broker $20,000, Wanot took home $160,000, he said. “I’d never made that kind of money before. I had just earned more than I did at Amazon in the year-and-a-half that I’d worked there on one transaction.”
That was in 2018, just as the US housing market was picking up steam again after a decade of
. Shortly afterwards, Wanot decided to quit his job at Amazon to focus on wholesaling. He didn’t jump into it right away, though. “I spent the next 18 months reading every book I could about wholesaling, passive income, and investing,” he said. “I lived purely on my passive income. And I had saved up a lot from Amazon and my construction company.”
In August 2020, he co-founded a wholesaling business, Evergreen Housing Network with his business partner Vernie Gonzalo Dahl. Wholesaling remains his biggest revenue stream today. In 2021, Wanot and his partner earned nearly $1 million in profit, according to documents viewed by Insider.
“We find people that want to sell their homes without the headache of listing it on the MLS or waiting months for their house to sell,” explained Wanot. “Once we get a property under contract, we source a buyer from our list of investors or home buyers and sell them the property directly for a higher price. Our business earns an assignment fee for each deal that we close, similar to how real estate agents earn commission for selling a house.”
Wanot’s 11-person team does about sixty deals per year and averages $35,000 per deal in revenue, he said.
His other revenue stream is rental income. As he started earning more from wholesaling, Wanot continued expanding his real estate portfolio. Today, he profits about $50,000 each year in rents from the 13 units he owns throughout central and western Washington, he said. Plus, he estimates he’s built roughly a combined $500,000 in equity from all of his properties in the past year alone.
Living on $3,000 a month and achieving financial freedom through real estate investing
Wanot says that he achieved financial freedom about two years ago, even before his wholesaling business took off.
He’s learned that, “you don’t need to create a lot of wealth for yourself to be financially free.” The first step he took towards hitting financial freedom was understanding exactly how much money he needed to sustain his lifestyle.
“I wrote down everything that I spent on a monthly basis — rent, healthcare, insurance, transportation, food, clothing, and entertainment — and realized that I only needed about $3,000 to cover my essential living expenses,” he said.
Once he had that number in mind, he set the goal of earning $3,000 a month in passive income through his cash-flowing investments. At that point, when his passive income could cover his living expenses completely, he’d consider himself financially free.
“When I picked up my third property, I finally surpassed the $3,000 mark,” he said. That was about two years ago, when he was only 28 years old.
Today, despite earning significantly more, he maintains a relatively frugal lifestyle and still spends about $3,000 a month on his living expenses. However, he now lives with his girlfriend in Tacoma and the two split their cost of living. All of his extra savings go into an account earmarked for future real estate investments.
“As long as you can live within your means, and you understand your basic necessities, then it’s very possible to create financial freedom,” said Wanot. “I’m there. And now, everything on top — it’s just like a fun game of Monopoly.”