July 11, 2013

Selling the first Door. p3. No longer a landlord and we love it.

This past year without the college rental has been AWESOME. I can barely describe how nice it's been to have that albatross off our shoulders. To no longer worry about the condition of the place, getting the rent in on time, getting renters for a year, about the appliances and if they were about to die...the list goes on and on.

Our old renters were scheduled to move out this summer, which meant months of showings and trying to get new tenants signed for the coming year. And it would also mean that mid-June to mid-July we'd be pulling duty at the rental getting it into top shape for the coming year. Even with good renters there is work to do after move out.

Having these four weeks back means we get to work on our own renovations, and enjoy the summer too because we're not up against a hard and fast deadline of Mid-July for move it. So instead of burning ourselves out on an intense burst of four weeks worth of annoying work, we can keep our pace going on at the Wee house. I always felt like when the work was done and the renters moved in that it was like waking up completely and realizing that you've slept a month away with a horrible dream. Since I wasn't going to burn vacation time working on the place, we were mainly weekend and after work warriors. Sure we could have hired a contractor to get the work done for us, but that cost would have put our measly profit margin deep into the red for the year.

The first six months after selling, it was a lot like normal when we didn't get calls from 57. As the new year approached we'd mention how nice it was to not have to worrying about a random call saying the heat wasn't working, or have getting a water bill that show the equivalent of an Olympic sized swimming pool getting filled. January and February is also when we start the search for new tenants, usually culminating in a few stress filled months until the contract was signed. There was none of that stress this year. We lalalala'd our way through the spring, happy as can be because it was no longer our responsibility and we couldn't give two shits about who does or doesn't sign the rental contract.

 When the middle of June hit this year, and we didn't have to load up for a long weekend of work over there in 57, but instead got to work on the Wee house, well that was just as fabulous. Certainly we didn't need to do the work every year, and by this point we'd done so many renovations on the place that it shouldn't need major work this year, but still the knowledge that it wouldn't be us scrubbing up random DNA off every surface was fanfrickingtastic.

 Selling the place when we did was completely worth it for us and is a decision that we haven't regretted for a second this past year. After all the whine I've done about the place, you still always wonder if you're letting go of your investment at the right time. Sort of like selling stocks. Sure I wish we sold in 2007. So do a lot of people. You live and learn, and I'm just glad that we crunched the numbers and realized it was time to let the place at a below rock bottom price. I can't even say it hurt to go below rock bottom, because it would have hurt more to hold on to the place for another year.

Would we go back into the rental game and become landlords again? Maybe. I've learned to never say never with all this house business. Owning and managing a full time rental is never as easy as people make it out to be, but I do realize that people can, and do, make a nice income from owning a rental. If we ever do become landlords again at least I'll go into it with a real view of what it can really be like sometimes. (Yes, we still have the beach condo which we rent out during the summer. But that is so different than dealing with a full time renter that I don't count it as the same thing)

June 18, 2013

Selling the first door... pt 2.

June 2012.

Our original buyer has secured financing again for the purchase of the college rental. Collectively Pete and I are 1.5% excited about the prospect of selling the rental. Overall we're cautious and make plans as if selling it isn't an option that is ever going to pan out. Blase is the best word for our attitudes at this point.

Inspection happens and we get a list of the repairs needed before the sale can go forward. Really the list isn't that bad but it's also not that great, because now we need to shell out the money for everything that needs "fixing" from our own pocket. Remember, we've been burned before with house sales falling through days before closing so spending this money could really be no return on investment. We load up at the hardware store and let the tenants know we'll be there for a few nights during the week to work. At this point we have a pretty good relationship with the girls and they're fine with our presence.

We're getting down to the final days before the sale. At this point, we're about 3% excited about the possibility of selling the place. I didn't even ask for the time off of work for closing until about 72 hours out from the sale.

The morning of closing dawns and we both work from home for a few hours. When the time comes to leave the house we act as if we're going to the grocery store, instead of headed towards the sale of our biggest pain in the ass property that we were dying to get rid of. At the real estate office we make make polite conversation with the agent, the buyers and the bank official that was there to give us the money. I remember thinking that it wasn't over and at any point everyone was going to stand up and leave, leaving the deal dead on the table. There were some delays with various things and each time a delay happened my heart would start pounding and blood would rush fast, as I was positive that it was the end. After about two hours of expecting, nay knowing, the sale was not going to go through, we sold the first door.

Suddenly we one less house.

Apparently selling houses isn't just an urban legend, it actually happens and it happened to us!

Up next... the reality of no longer having the college rental.

June 17, 2013

Selling the first door... Pt. 1

Thank you for the kind words about my less than triumphant return to blogging! I can't tell you how nice it was to read the comments and how they helped inspire me on to not let the blog slowly die floundering (again).

Now that we're measuring our renovation in terms of years everything is really starting to really swim together. I find myself stumped about when we did/demo'd/built certain things more often than not lately. Keeping track of everything on here would be helpful for my growing older memory. For most of my life I've kept a journal, going all the way back to when I first learned how to write and it's a blast looking over my life in those old notebooks and diaries. One of my first entries is "I am lerning how to writ cursiv and do not like it." (I still don't like to write in cursive, btw) Also, I lost my grandfather from Dementia/Alzheimer's so I know how precious memories are and I'm trying my hardest to preserve what I can now in case the same horrible disease strikes me in my old age. I hope to high heaven it never does though, as the thought of losing all I hold dear in my head is scary beyond belief.

So... where to start... I left off with the start of 2012, ready for a new year, and a whole new attitude regarding our 'too many houses' situation.

Let's go even further back.. in March of 2011 we put the college rental up for sale. We didn't think that we had a chance of selling it until the crappy tenants were out in three months and we had a got in there to fix it up. Given the horrible condition, our speculation was that we'd not only get no offers from buyers but that we'd get some seriously less than desirable tenants. 

For some wonderful reason Karma smiled on us and we signed a contract with the best college tenants in the entire world. Somehow they saw through the complete filth and destruction that the property was in and signed for the upcoming school year. It was a complete miracle that we got such great tenants with the unit in the condition that was in and to this day we're still so thankful for those girls. (No offers during this time- FYI).

So June 2011 comes and we spend a solid month transforming our beat to shit, smells like an old bar, and looks like an abandoned building, college rental into something that we'd even live in. It was hard. Possibily the hardest transformation we've ever done and in the shortest time frame yet. I might write a post about that month, but might not as I'm afraid it would just come across like a whinefest.

Months go on while the real estate market gets worse. And we've had zero offers on the place. So, we drop the price. Time goes on. 2011 turns into 2012. And still no offers. We instead focus on getting the girls to sign for another year. "Give them anything they want" we told our agent. Getting tenants to sign for two years is always a relief, but getting these girls to sign again would amazing and would talk a lot of pressure of us for the coming year. When the girls signed for another year I almost cried with relief.

Suddenly out of nowhere we started getting showings in March of 2012. And then we got offers. Multiple offers. Really low offers, but offers just the same! We picked the better offer and started to work with them. Having been burnt badly by a house sale that fell through 10 days before closing, we were cautious and didn't let ourselves get any hopes up at all. It's a damn good thing we kept all expectations low, because what followed was a roller coaster of a house sale. Two weeks shy of the closing date, the sale fell through because the bank pulled their financing from our extremely qualified buyer. We'd already mentally prepared ourselves for the news and carried on like the sale never was an actuality. Most important, as we told ourselves time and time again, was that we had girls signed for another year. That gave us time to focus on getting other things done before we had to come up with new tenants, or a new plan of maybe moving into the rental ourselves.

Three weeks went on after the sale fell through and we got more low offers. While in the process of working out a deal with someone else, our first buyer walked back into the picture. Apparently he'd been working that whole time to secure financing with another bank. Despite him being an extremely qualified buyer, it's hard as hell right now to get a loan through most banks for a property in a complex that is 99% rental units. It seemed like that he really wanted the place and was willing to jump through the hoops in order to get it.

I finally let myself get a teensy bit excited at this point.
But only the teensiest of amounts.

March 26, 2013

State of the doors.

Has it really been over a whole year since I last updated the blog?

I'll hit the highlights of what everyone assumes happens when you go radio silent for over a year.
Not pregnant. No baby. Still happily married. Still have the houses. Still renovating one house and have not given up. Not hiding out in a cave wearing a tinfoil hat and completely freaked out about the direction this world is headed in (yet).

Please let me know if I missed another reason.

I stopped writing for one important reason and one silly reason.

Silly reason is: I didn't feel like I was good enough to write a blog and that I should give up. That maybe people were only tuning in to read my horrific grammer and laugh at my excessive comma usage. And that somewhere out there is an ex or frienimy who is saying "I knew Eva was a moron, but man, she's really dumb."  I'd hit one of those really introspective points of my life where I examined everything about who I was and what I was potraying to the outside world. And that maybe, it was me and I was the problem. With my excitment, natural enthusiasm (for everything), self centered nature, and tendancy to talk first, think later. So I spent the better part of 2012 hiding from others because I felt like I was so annoying that who would possibly want to hang out with me. My friends slowly stopped getting emails and phone calls. And in turn, the blog suffered. I felt like I couldn't be honest on here because it would just be used for fodder against me and confirming that I was indeed a giant idiot.

It also seemed like other bloggers were just so much better and more than I could ever be. They could craft a long post and have it flow effortlessly along. Their blogs were carefully designed and certainly didn't rely on the standard blogger background. Most importantly, they knew what their style was and I  still couldn't pick my style out of a line up. I felt like an imposter.

Important reason: The last half of 2011 was rough house wise. We'd been balancing everything- the primary house, the wee house, building the garage, the beach rental and the college rental for years, and it was getting hard. That was never our plan. We were going to sell the house we live in, use the profit to fix up and then pay down the wee house. The college rents were going to go up with every new set of tenants and the property was going to go up in value as the college accepted more students. Eventually we'd sell and use that profit to pay off our now complete Wee house. Except that pesky little thing called the real estate bubble burst wide open and recession spewed everywhere.

Suddenly we couldn't sell our house for a profit. Or at all.

The rents dropped at our college rental and we had trouble finding renters. All when the town raised our taxes to almost double what were paying before. Our new tenants were the worst we'd ever had, by far.

Construction on the garage was taking longer than we expected, in part because of six months of crappy weather in early 2011. In part because building a garage in your spare time on the weekends, 100% DIY as a husband and wife team, takes time.

Our beach house was hemorrhaging value.

And then I got a raging case of 'I can't keep doing this anymore'. All these houses weren't investments, they were anchors driving us down, doing the very opposite of what they were intended to do. Keeping us from being able to enjoy our lives, building stability early on so we maybe didn't have it as hard later in life. I began to really resent the houses. It got worse after my second nephew was born in June. We were elbows deep into fixing up the college rental and I took a half day off of work to see him the day after he was born. I couldn't even spare the time to go up and see him on a weekend to help my sister and cuddle this new little guy, as Pete and I were spending 14 hour days fixing up the college rental each weekend because we had a hard and fast deadline approaching for the new tenants and their move in date. Every smash of a hammer was just a reminder of what the houses were denying me. Time with my family, time with my husband, and weekends that didn't slip away in a blur of dirt and hard work. Most importantly they kept us from feeling stable. Everything was so strenuous that we knew if one more fly landed, the whole apple cart would tip over and we could lose it all.

That was when, in September of 2011, I lost my shit. Tired of holding it all in and telling myself that things would get better if I just kept at everything, I blew up at Pete. I just couldn't keep going feeling like we were running backwards to catch up. We needed new goals now, since the old ones got ruined by the economy and it was getting more apparent as time went on that things were never going to be the same. Except at the time I don't think I got that across so, uh, clearly. It was mostly high pitched screaming coming from me and then me crying out of frustration. Sometimes you have a fight as a married couple and come out of it feeling productive. We don't fight really, and rarely to that magnitude, but I think this one was cathartic and allowed us to get it all out there. A lot of what I was holding onto was let go, and I felt like we could finally more forward again if we were both on the same page.

So, in summary. The houses were killing us. I'd lost my motivation. 2011 was hard. I gained weight.

2012 dawned after hours of slamming cheap champagne and dancing. It was a new year, and I had a new attitude to go along with it. Because in addition to the dancing and champagne, we went outside and talked for a good long while about our goals for the year, and then us, as a couple and our future. It was heartening. And gave me the motivation I needed for the time yet to come.