4.14.2010

The Reluctant Landlord

I held onto the property management contract as long as I could but they told me they recommend 45 days out to properly market my unit so I had no choice but to get it together and send it out. I signed the contract. I made copies of my keys. I took photos. I Inquired about a landlord policy. Mj finished up a few minor repairs. All of this in preparation for something I never wanted in the first place.

When I bought this tiny condo 5 years ago I fully expected that I would live there for the rest of my life. No balcony, no in unit laundry, and street parking but it was affordable for me on my own and I'd never have to move again. While frustratingly small at times and suffocatingly hot in the Summers it was brand newly renovated and it was enough for just me. I was tired of crappy apartments and never knowing how much my rent might go up year to year and this seemed like the ONLY way I might ever get even a small piece of real estate in an outrageously priced housing market. Yes, it was settling a bit as I have done with rentals in the past but I am no stranger to making sacrifices for budget. I had no intention of meeting anyone, falling in love and totally outgrowing said studio. But it happened and I have to adapt accordingly considering there was no way I could convince Mj to stay there forever with me or buy the house and get a roommate. Not that I necessarily wanted to.

I have had passing visions of how wonderful it would be to live in a house again some day and not have to settle. I left quiet suburbia of my parent's home for city apartments in sometimes questionable neighborhoods about 6 months after college graduation and have not made it back there yet. I envision myself washing my car in my very own driveway and doing my laundry inside my very own house. I would have a garage to park my car and a bike if I want one. There are extra closets to store things. I could have guests over and do a little entertaining. I'd sit outside in my backyard reading a book with a glass of wine and be able to take walks in my own neigborhood. Seeing as how I have saddled myself with a condo and a property value that has dropped more then 50% since I bought it the only way for this to happen is to rent it out. Selling is not an option and neither is paying two mortgages.

In preparation I started a condo fund. Over the last year once I accepted that this was inevitable I began transferring what I could spare into this account to cover any expenses that might crop up. I contemplated renting it myself but decided that at this point it's not something I want to undertake on my own.

I have three major fears where this is concerned.
  1. Not finding a tenant.
  2. Having said tenant destroy my property or stop paying rent causing me to have to evict them.
  3. Having to rent it at a huge deficit.
Rental rates are down and there is so much competing inventory out there for renters. Ideally, I'd like to rent the place for an amount that would cover my mortgage and HOA but realistically that might not happen. This is the last piece that I need to fall into place.

The place is listed and I have a little over 30 days for someone to decide they want live there.

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