If you can’t rent it, sell it

Turns out there’s more to the story about the duplex next door — A few days after I saw the older gentlemen curiously trimming the tree branches of their son’s purportedly “trashed” duplex, I came home from work to see the the front yard meticulously mowed, and sporting a new addition — a for sale sign.

As luck would have it, there were still a few flyers left in the box — the photos look fine, although I suspect that they are the same ones used last time the house was for sale. What’s interesting (and alarming) to me is that the list price is about $15,000 LESS than what it was listed for 3 and a half years ago. OUCH. If the owner bought it when I bought my duplex, not only have they lost all kinds of rental income from letting the place sit empty half the time, AND incurred costs to repair the damage from the last tenant (not to mention the rent still owed them), they’re selling the duplex for LESS than what they paid for it. $15,000 less. I repeat, OUCH.

Why the lower price tag?

A) The real estate market has tanked that much. I sure hope that isn’t the case, as I’ve grown quite fond of thinking about the $60,000 or so of equity that I supposedly had in my house when I refinanced it 2 and a half years ago. If I bought my duplex for the same price as they did (they were for sale at the same time, listed at the same price), that means that I’ve lost $15,000 too. If I wanted to sell right now, that is. If I hold onto the place for a while (which I plan to do), I should be able to ride out any market fluctuation.

B) The owner is in waaaaaaaayy over their head, has decided that this rental property gig is a lot more work than they ever expected, has had enough with the duplex horror stories, and wants out ASAP. Before they have to make another mortgage payment on this money pit, even if it means taking a loss.

C) The inside is really, really trashed.

I know that the real estate market has gone kind of flat lately, but I really am hoping that it’s more B and C here, and less A. But, even if it is a lot of A, I can comfort myself (partially) by knowing that while the two duplexes were listed at the same price 3.5 years ago, I’ve made TONS of improvements to mine (including new windows and exterior doors, wiring upgrades, insulating the attic, adding parking, as well as more simple cosmetic updates). These improvements (should have) improved the value of my house quite a bit from the initial sticker price, while the place next door hasn’t seen much in the way of repairs or maintenance until the past couple of weeks. SO, even if I were forced to sell, and real estate values really have tanked, my sweat equity (and capital improvements) should at least keep the selling price above what I owe on my mortgage.

I hope.

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2 thoughts on “If you can’t rent it, sell it

  1. The price is lower cause its trashed. Don’t worry about it affecting yours too much. Are they selling it by owner? Will it cashflow after you fix it up. They sound desperate, you may get a great deal here.

    Is there any advantage to you owning both? i.e. can the open space in between provide more parking?

  2. Not at the current asking price. it could possibly break even, if I got renters who would higher rents, but just barely.

    If I owned both, though, I could open up the backyards and use the yard next door for parking (it’s pretty much wide open, while my yard is pretty wooded, and has only one parking space.

    If they dropped the asking price by about $50,000, I could easily cashflow. I would likely have to put a decent amount of money into the place at the beginning, however, to fix it up.

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