The only reason I am posting this here is because like everything, I have a lot to say. And, it might help others out there make decisions about buying/selling a house and looking at the opportunity to become a property manager and deal with tenants all while trying to use a revenue generating asset. But, is a house/condo/property really an asset? An entire industry exists to educate us and tell us how good an idea a rental property is. We think we’ve made it when we own a rental, but have we? The other reason I can justify putting this here is because the income will essentially clear up my Etrade Margin account for the debt that was spent on my new bike and the cost of going to Kona.
I never wanted to rent a house. I thought it was a waste of money. After all, you get nothing in return. So after I graduated Grad School in August 2008, I bought a 2 bdrm condo in Hudson, MA for $151,000. It was fully upgraded, granite, brazilwood floor unit, and I thought I’d hold onto it for years to provide revenues. I bought the house at 24 years old with a $143,450 mortgage and the rest supported by my father with a 0% interest free “pay me back when you can son” loan. I paid him back in full within 4 years. (Thank Dad).
By 2010 I was looking to move to Australia. I did that and was able to rent out the unit from January 2011 through January 2016 without any vacancies until I got totally shafted by my current renter who screwed me on 3 months rent at $1400/month. With the purchase of Sami, my $11,000USD superbike pulled forward by a year, the plan to move to Tucson, Arizona in July 2017 instead of Hudson, Masschusetts, and the fact that this was now a giant pain in the ass and stressing me out made me realize I had to dump this place as soon as I could.
I called up my old realtor (no pun intended Kostas), (Konstantinos Grapsas. ENGEL & VÖLKERS Boston
Licensee of Engel & Völkers U.S. Holdings, Inc. 46 Gloucester Street Boston, MA 02115 USA Mobile: +1 617-877-8554) who recommended me to a more local Hudson broker Bob Marquedant who has also been great, as I try to sell a house from half a world away.
Real estate is an investment right? Housing values always go up? (Except for the bubble of course). My $151,000 bought unit fell to as low as $115,000 when I appraised it to get rid of the Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). This $100/month cost because my Loan to Value (LTV) was greater than 80% was an additional waste of money since I was now below the 80% value in 2013. But that appraisal was a joke. The unit was originally listed at $181 in 2005. I had the best unit in the 89unit complex although it did need repairs that are hard for me to do from Australia.
I asked $159,500, had an offer at $150K and turned it down. We cut the price by $5K and offered a $2.5K carpet credit. Got an offer at $147K, Counter at $148,500, got an extra $500 out of it. So my selling price is $147,500 or 2.3% loss over 8 years. I took my father and my step-sister Gwen’s advice that I should take the deal of this cash buyer.
I’ll get nearly $95,725 from the equity in the house but is that good? I also earned $74,200 between 2011-2016 in rental revenues but is that any good either?
It’s not cheap to maintain a rental unit. Just like it’s not cheap to run any business. (2011-2016 figures)
|Mortgage Interest||$ 64,910|
|Lost Rent (2016)||$ 4,200|
|Property Tax||$ 12,094|
|Monthly Condo Fees||$ 23,147|
|Mortgage Insurance||$ 5,163|
|Housing Insurance||$ 1,673|
The mortgage interest covers the full ownership period but the fee’s above only cover the rental period. No, I have not made any money on this unit. In fact, Tax years 2011-2013 were both income losses totalling ($20,634) and in 2014-2015 there is an unallowable loss due to too high a MAGI of ($10,336). In effect, for the last 2 years, I have had no tax benefit and it’s cost me money since I’m still paying the mortgage.
The best outcome of this all is that I’ll get nearly $90,000 after all is said and done which will be used towards the purchase of the next house in Tucson where your money goes well above and beyond anywhere in New England. I’ll also be able to pay off my Etrade Margin account at 8%. I have borrowed from my investment assets at 8% to insure my credit cards are paid in full each month of 14%-16%.
If I could do it again, I probably wouldn’t change a thing because when you own a home it does force you to save, especially if you’re paying down the mortgage which has been my goal for the last 5 years. But, I do believe I would have done better by simply investing the money in the stock market into a Mutual Fund or ETF (instead of ever buying). By doing so, I could be liquid in my position within days, avoid the many fees associated with owning a rental unit like insurance, taxes, condo fees, and the non-denominational value of a pain in the ass tenant. Note to all: People suck. Do someone a favour who has a shitty credit score and get shit results. Look out for yourself because if you don’t, no one will.
- Owning a rental unit can be a giant pain in the ass and a very stressful situation.
- Realize the “opportunity cost”. i.e. the alternative to one investment. I may have earned more money investing in the stock market.
- It’s possible to make money in rentals but you need to be fully dedicated and just like a craps player, have a big bankroll. Cash is King.
- Rent sucks but it has its place in the world. Use it as a resource when pursing life-changing goals (like moving to Australia) and starting a new job.
- Use every life experience as a learning lesson.