I make $6,500 a month in rental income. After wanting to invest for 20 years, I used a HELOC to buy my first investment properties.

  • Amanda Hammett, 43, is a public speaker, consultant, and real-estate investor in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Hammett started investing in 2021, and her properties now cash flow $6,500 a month in profit.
  • Here’s her story, as told to writer Kimanzi Constable.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Amanda Hammett, a 43-year-old public speaker and consultant from Atlanta, Georgia, about real-estate investing. It has been edited for length and clarity.

For 15 years, I spoke and consulted with corporations on how to attract, retain, and engage with millennial and Gen Z employees.

I delivered more than 800 keynote speeches and built a successful public-speaking and consulting business. I did around 40 events a year until 2020. At the start of the pandemic, companies stopped hosting in-person events and speaking opportunities dried up. My business slowed dramatically.

Confined to my home during the lockdown, I started looking for ways to fill my time and generate income. One idea that kept coming to my mind was real-estate investing.

My husband, Gene, and I have been talking about real-estate investing since we got married 20 years ago

Gene is a leadership speaker and coach. When we first started dating, we talked about our financial future and each of our desires to own real estate.

A lot of life happens in 20 years. We started multiple businesses, had a son, lived in various places, and grew up together. It never felt like we had the mental space or time to give real-estate investing a real thought.

But in 2020, I was suddenly off the road as a public speaker and consultant. I spent most of that year researching real estate investing by watching YouTube videos, reading articles, and listening to podcasts. I wanted to learn about buying and owning property before investing our hard-earned money.

After almost a year of research, I decided to make my first offer on a property in December 2020 

I connected with a realtor in a small town in Alabama where I’d spent time growing up — the area I wanted to invest in. I chose this area because it would appeal to renters and investors since it had a lake and a university. I also chose this area because the prices of properties in Atlanta, where I live, were too high. We found a property and got under contract.

During the inspection phase, some things were revealed that would’ve made the deal unprofitable — I would’ve had to pay for many repairs. I tried to negotiate some concessions, but the sellers wouldn’t budge. 

Even though this agent stood to lose his commission, he helped me get out of that deal. I walked away from the deal frustrated but confident in my decision to pursue real-estate investing.

After my first deal fell apart, I researched county data and looked for more opportunities

I looked online for people who owned at least three properties in this small community. I figured by the time they owned a third property, it probably became a rental. I found an investor who had 56 properties. I reached out via text and asked to have a conversation. To my delight, he responded, and we set up a call.

In our conversations, it didn’t take long to realize he was tired — he was 70 years old and managing all the properties he owned independently. He had owned the properties for 20 years and was looking to retire.

After several months of negotiations, he agreed to sell me 19 of his properties 

Hammett during the kitchen renovation of one of her properties.

Courtesy of Amanda Hammett


In addition to the negotiations, I also spent months doing my due diligence. The seller provided two years’ worth of rent rolls for all the properties. I looked at his books — who was renting, how much, and when they paid — and I toured the properties. I went from the idea of investing in one property to 19 almost overnight.

The investor agreed to sell 19 properties — many of which are multifamily — at their tax-assessed value of $504,000, which was a fantastic deal compared to the market. We got under contract in March 2021.

I worked with a local bank and took out a home-equity line of credit, or HELOC, on our own home, which gave me the $70,000 downpayment I needed. There were risks in taking a HELOC on my personal home, but being an entrepreneur has increased my risk tolerance. I knew that to achieve what I wanted long-term — time freedom for my family and a comfortable retirement — I needed to take this step. I believed in myself and had to take this risk for my family’s future. I had the equity to leverage and was confident in my numbers and the team I was putting into place.

I remember waking up on closing day thinking about how investing in these properties would help build long-term wealth for my family. The deal closed on May 28, 2021, and I was officially a real-estate investor.

After the first deal, I found more investors and bought blocks of properties 

Buying 19 properties in my first deal gave me the confidence to look for more blocks of properties. I used the same strategy of looking at county records.

My second deal was for two properties, which put me at 21 total. My downpayment was $17,000, which I got from another home-equity loan. I paid $130,000 for the three properties, and the deal closed in August 2021. 

My third deal was for 11 properties, which brought me to 32 properties total. I took out $55,000 from my home-equity line of credit as a downpayment and used seller financing. The deal closed on closed January 5, 2022. I also took out a construction loan because seven properties were under construction.

All of the units were rented when I purchased them. The 25 rented properties covered the costs of the mortgages and the construction loan.

After a year of collecting rent, I decided to sell 11 of the properties 

Earlier this year, an investor and family approached me like I had approached my first three deals. They brought me an all-cash offer for 10 of my properties and an offer from a family wanting to buy one of them. I accepted the offers and walked away with a $97,000 profit.

I now have 14 properties that cash flow $6,500 a month in profit, and I spend 15 to 25 hours a week working on this side hustle. I have a team of three people who help me with various aspects of managing the properties. My property manager handles any rentals that come up now. He advertises them locally on some rental listing websites. My assistant handles email and other admin tasks, and I have a construction and maintenance person. 

Five of my seven properties that are under construction will be done and available to be rented soon. I plan to keep looking for good deals and buying more properties in Alabama, and I’m also looking at properties in Northern Georgia. The goal is to replace my income as a speaker and consultant with real-estate income, and I’m on track to reach that goal this year.

But I know that if something goes wrong or if the market goes sideways, I have the income from my primary business to fall back on. I feel very confident that people will always need somewhere to live and a safe place to create new memories, and I’m grateful to be someone who can provide that safe place.

The one thing the pandemic taught me is the importance of having multiple revenue streams and diversifying my income. As a public speaker and consultant, I love what I do, but the real-estate investing side hustle is creating financial security for my family.

Are you a real-estate investor who wants to share your story? Email Lauryn Haas at lhaas@insider.com.

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