What should be done with my two rental properties that no one seems to want to rent? We’ve had previous tenants and evictions. I’m ready to sell the properties and cut our losses, but my husband doesn’t want to sell at a loss even though the property value for one place is half of what we paid 10 years ago.
At some point, you and your husband have to decide what is best for you going forward. It’s hard to take a loss, but many years ago, we heard someone say that you should consider whether the investment you hold is good or bad for you. The test for you is to think about whether you’d buy the investment now. If the answer is “Yes,” meaning that you would buy this investment today if you were looking at it, then you have one answer.
On the other hand, if you look at your two rental properties and would not invest in them today, you’re probably looking at an investment you should get rid of. Investors have a tendency to keep bad assets for too long, hoping that they’ll turn around. But if you wouldn’t buy this investment today, then you should dump it. (This sort of thinking works for almost any sort of investment.)
The rental properties are a loss for you if you can’t rent them. If you sell them, you can stem the financial losses and use the money you have in these properties elsewhere. While we don’t know your financial situation, you might want to go over your federal income taxes and see if the loss from the sale of the rental properties will offset any profits or gains you might have from other investments.
But before you sell, you’ll have to work with your husband and walk through the investment picture with him. First, you have to decide how much you get from renting the properties, how well these properties do financially when rented and how badly they hurt you when they are not rented.
The next analysis has to be where you and your husband see the real estate market where these properties are located.
People frequently rely on emotion when evaluating their investments. Does your husband feel that the values of these properties will significantly grow over the next year or several years? What do you think about the real estate market? If neither of you feels good about the real estate prospects for the future, you might be right and selling is the better option. If your husband’s view is that the market is improving and you agree, there may be good reason to hold onto these properties.
Think about this: If you can’t rent the properties and the values have been halved over the past 10 years, you could be kidding yourself if you think you’ll one day recover your investment.
Two more things you should consider as you evaluate the local real estate market: What is the employment situation for the community, and what do people earn? Values for real estate frequently closely mirror income ranges for communities. When you see people earning salaries of $50,000 a year, you might then try to figure out what a family with income of $50,000 could afford to buy. You can then see that home values for that community might reflect values of about $150,000.
If you purchased your rental properties for $300,000, you’d have to expect the employment prospects of the community to grow significantly or for the community to change and become more affluent for homes to increase in value substantially. You’ll have to decide what the trends are for the community, and then you and your husband can decide how to proceed with the homes.
Ilyce Glink is the creator of an 18-part webinar+ebook series called “The Intentional Investor: How to Be Wildly Successful in Real Estate” as well as the author of many books on real estate. She also hosts the “Real Estate Minute” on her YouTube channel. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Contact them at ThinkGlink.com.