The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

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on July 18, 2017

A few months ago the housing market in my area started getting a little nuts. Houses were selling for way more than they normally would and my interest was piqued.

Every month there was some sort of money stress. While my renters were great, they paid their rent through a website and since it was a transfer, it didn’t actually get to me until the 5-8th, depending. I always tried to have some cushion, since both mortgages and piano lessons and a multitude of other things happen at the beginning of the month, but that didn’t always work.

When I bought the new house without selling the old, I used money from my investment accounts to pull together the down payment. When you’re a single mom, a financial cushion is non-negotiable and now my cushion was very slim. I was rebuilding my accounts, but that was going much slower than I had hoped (please see vet bills, kids activities).

I did a bunch of research and honestly, keeping the rental is the smart financial decision. It’s cash flow positive and over time I would make far more money keeping it than I would selling it. But, as we all know, financial decisions aren’t based on the numbers alone. I was definitely feeling the weight of this money anxiety and felt like selling the house was the right move. After talking to my realtor, we agreed to put it on the market June 2 after the renters moved out.

Overall we had about 60 people look at the house. It was brutal because once again, every other house was selling within hours of hitting the market and yet here was mine with no offers and people citing deal breaker after deal breaker in the feedback. My house is quirky. It has a tuck under garage and the basement has a weird layout, the bedrooms are small and the lot huge. It’s not necessarily a house you walk through and think that you need to make an offer on it immediately. Mentally, I began thinking through what I would need to do to rent it out again, and what I would do differently (raise the rent, hire a lawn service).

After three weeks on the market I got an offer, but it was very low. I stuck to my guns and countered, but ultimately walked away from it. There was a huge part of me that wondered if I should just take the offer, but I also knew that I would be bitter about it and I didn’t want to walk away from this house unhappy. My parents came up and we spent a day sprucing things up, doing things I didn’t do initially because I hoped it would sell quickly. Right after that, I got another offer and this one was solid and the price I was looking for. I happily accepted.

I really waffled over selling this house. I love the idea of a rental property as an investment vehicle. Finding renters was easy, and I had already done a bunch of updates to the house, so the risk of unexpected expenses was low. But the truth is that while the house itself is great as a rental, the yard isn’t. It’s huge and requires a ton of upkeep, much of which I was still doing. Despite promising me they would, the renters didn’t rake the leaves last fall. Well, they raked them into a pile and then left them there while the grass underneath died. I was over there all the time trying to keep the weeds under control which honestly, is practically a full time job. Any waffling about selling vs continuing to rent went out the window in June as I realized all of this which was good, because it meant I have zero regrets about selling and I’m not second guessing that decision at all.

I was at the house a few times last week and was able to get the last few things out of the shed that I wanted, and say goodbye to each room. I may have done some ugly crying, but that’s what happens when you live somewhere for 14 years, have amazing neighbors, bring home two daughters, lose a dog and a cat, and gain three more dogs. A lot happened there, so it felt good to properly say goodbye. I wish I could have stolen the strawberry plants, but we’ll just have to plant some next spring at the new house.


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