Money Checkup Podcast

Real Estate Professional Status, Financial Freedom, Cashflowing Rentals with Semi-Retired MD

Episode 25: Cashflowing Rentals, REPS, and Financial Freedom with Semi-Retired MD

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Letizia Alto and Kenji Asakura are physicians in Seattle. After a few years of full-time work and a transformative vacation to New Zealand, they decided to begin real estate investing so they could embrace the semi-retired lifestyle. Today, they own several dozen residential and mixed-use properties. They blog and lead real estate investing classes at Semi-Retired MD

“When you’re first starting out in real estate, it’s so scary because it’s not familiar, it’s unknown. But once you get there and you’ve bought your first property… you feel confident. It’s just that first property, really, that’s the hump for people, and once they get past that, they just explode with potential.”

Leti continues to work half-time as a family medicine physician and Kenji moonlights as an internal medicine physician. They live in Seattle. 


FB Group for:

Physicians and their spouses

Dentists and their spouses

Lawyers and their spouses

High-Income Professionals and their spouses

Course page:


Kenji and Letizia are both hospitalists who live in Seattle WA with their two children. They are both experienced real estate investors and founders of the website Semi-Retired MD, which is dedicated to helping physicians and other high income professionals achieve financial freedom as quickly as possible through cashflowing rentals, something they call Fast FIRE. As part of their mission, they are very active in their blog and Facebook communities. They have recently launched a popular course called Zero to Freedom with Cashflowing Rentals, which  takes people from knowing little or nothing about real estate to becoming a confident real estate investor with the knowledge to consistently make good investment decisions.



  • Leti and Kenji were both working as hospitalists when they took a vacation to New Zealand. They spent the trip in a camper reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and when they returned, decided to start investing in real estate rather than buy a primary residence. 
  • During their first year as investors, Kenji cut back to half time at the hospital so he could claim real estate professional status on his taxes. This is a highly scrutinized tax claim, so it’s difficult to claim real estate professional status while working more than half time in another job. 
  • Leti and Kenji do as much property rehab as possible up front so they can claim tax savings, including bonus depreciation, and lease properties faster at higher rental rates. 
  • Working with an investor agent was helpful early in the process, because she was an experienced investor who had their specific interests at heart. Well-connected investor agents can give you access to a steady flow of off-market deals via wholesalers, estate lawyers and other contacts. 
  • Most of their properties are duplexes and fourplexes. By the end of 2019, they hope to own 70-80 units, including some in buildings with 10-20 and 20-40 units. They also own a plot of land where they plan to build duplexes. 
  • Most of their properties are managed by third-party managers. 
  • Leti and Kenji define “financial freedom” as the ability to not rely on their income from their day-to-day jobs. They want to want to work. 
  • Deals might not be quite as good as they were in 2015, but Leti and Kenji believe deals are still out there, especially for investors willing to build networks that lead to off-market deals. 
  • Mindset is everything. If you don’t really believe that you can achieve financial freedom, you won’t be able to make the decisions required to get you there.
  • Surround yourself with people who will challenge you and hold you accountable. 


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If you loved this episode, try Episode 10: Creating Streams of Passive Income Through Real Estate Investing with Peter Kim (Passive Income MD).

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