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House Decisions - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
renniekins
renniekins
House Decisions
It is November, and with each passing day it becomes less likely that my house will sell this year. This year's first-time home buyer tax credit officially ends with the end of this month. Also, although some sales do happen in the winter (I bought this house in December!), December and January are historically the slowest months in real estate.

Although I have not completely given up hope, I am debating my other options. One thing is decided: M and I are going to say "screw this stupid economy, we're not letting it dictate our relationship" and move in this year anyway. We have set ourselves a deadline of the weekend before Christmas, when I will be fully moved into his house.

Another thing is decided: I won't buy another house until this one has sold. Our original plan was to sell both of our houses, then I would buy Dream House, and we would both live there happily ever after (or some approximation thereof). Neither of our current houses is right for both of our needs. Much as I would love to buy Dream House now, it simply is not smart while I still have this mortgage, even if I were to find a renter.

This is a huge bummer, and why I've been avoiding the otherwise-valid option of renting out my house, because it means pushing our ultimate goal is farther away. I'd hoped to have this house sold in the fall, so we could move on with our dream. Instead, that needs to be put on hold indefinitely.

So the question becomes: what shall I do now? My current contract with my realtor expires next week. As I see it, given the above decisions, I have three options for this house.

1. Leave the house empty, keep it on the market
I can move out, leaving just a few of my possessions here in the house for staging purposes. I can leave it on the market, visit it once a week or so to keep an eye on things, and see what happens. There is always the possibility that somebody could bite, even during the winter.

2. Find a short-term renter I trust, keep it on the market
If I could find somebody trustworthy, I could leave it on the market and have the renter keep it in showable condition in exchange for a good deal on rent. I could also potentially do some renovations with the money coming in, which could make it even nicer for the renter and more desirable for a buyer. They'd just have to be willing to move out if/when the house finally sold. This is probably the best solution, but only if I could find that ideal renter.

3. Take it off the market, put it up for rent on a standard lease
There are a variety of options if I want to rent it out in standard fashion. There are property management companies, my realtor has some options, or I could just manage it myself. I'd probably save the most money with this approach, but it would be the most long-term delay in the march toward Dream Home. Plus eventually I'd have to go through trying to sell it all over again -- along with probably fixing things up after the renters left.

None of the options are great, but eventually I'll have to choose one. Well, unless yesterday's showing bears fruit. Or the one who came on Halloween. However since neither of them have given us any feedback yet, I'm not placing any bets on them. There may be other showings, other chances, and I hope there are -- but the probability is decreasing.

Option #2 is my favorite, so in the next few weeks M and I will be sending probes out into our respective networks. I'd need somebody who could keep the house in good shape, who would welcome the opportunity to live in a nice Royal Oak home for reduced rent, but who could move when the house sells. (If you can recommend somebody who meets that criteria, please let me know.)

It's so easy to get despondent with the situation. But really, the only reason we have any of these struggles is because we've each found a great partner, and we want to live together. Also, I have finally found a good job that is both fulfilling and paying me well, so that is another plus. We can afford both mortgages and all our bills. The only problem is that we can't afford to buy Dream Home while still paying both mortgages and all of our bills. Honestly there are still a lot of things to be pleased with.

Good things take hard work, and I'm willing to work hard. But on the other hand, it seems like we've worked so hard already, we deserve a bit of a break. It sucks that things started going right for the two of us right when the housing market here crashed so horribly. The reason my house won't sell is because there are so many foreclosures on the market going for 50-60% of their appraised value. How can I compete with that?

Ah well. Keep plugging away. On the plus side, we'll be together by Christmas, one way or another. It won't be perfect, and we'll still have lots of work ahead of us -- but we'll be together. That will be lovely.

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Comments
lintra From: lintra Date: November 5th, 2009 04:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Just FYI, bill coming up to extend first time buyers credit to april as well as adding a $6,500 credit for non-first time buyers. No details yet, but keep an eye open on this.

The situation is evolving.

I hope you get what you want!
devnul From: devnul Date: November 6th, 2009 12:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Congress passed it and Obama is expected to sign it Friday morning. It will double the income eligibility ceiling and extend until June for closing (April for P&S). The $6,500 credit requires you to have been in your current home 5+ years.
aiela From: aiela Date: November 5th, 2009 04:45 am (UTC) (Link)
The house next door to us sold last January to a couple who specifically wanted a "move in condition" house. Those buyers are out there, and I hope one of them comes across your house. (I'd totally buy it if we didn't already have a house!)

I'm sorry this has been such a pain for you guys. :(
netmouse From: netmouse Date: November 5th, 2009 05:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Moving forward with life is a good decision!

pi3832 From: pi3832 Date: November 5th, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Option 4: take it off the market and leave it empty (or minimally staged) for a couple of months. Maybe do some renovations/upgrades. Post it on Craig's List as FSBO every month, but keep it off MLS for at least sixth months.

Since you have yet to buy DreamHouse, you can presumably cover the mortgage on OldHouse indefinitely. Which isn't all bad, because you can claim the interest on your taxes, and you are still, presumably, building equity.

Oh, and I think Option 2 is AKA "house sitting".

Option 5: turn your house into the most awesomest home office ever. It will have cats! Get a few office mates to help pay bills. "Rennie's Home Business Incubator." Beware zoning issues, though.
From: writerwench Date: November 5th, 2009 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Given the slow but marked improvement in the US economy, I'd go for rental on a 6-month basis.
jeffreyab From: jeffreyab Date: November 5th, 2009 09:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would try to avoid leaving it empty, and if you do leave it so install lots of lamps, a radio and timers.

I think moving in together is a good idea and I hope you have a laid back Christmas.
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