Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Investment Quandries

You may have heard this somewhere out there and just in case you haven't heard yet THE REAL ESTATE MARKET SUCKS! (unless you are a first time home buyer with a lovely down payment all saved up and ready to be handed to the happily awaiting banks).

4-ish years ago I bought a little townhouse in an OK area of town (I swear we haven't heard gun shots for years!). I was a little desperate at the time as we had to be out of the condo we were renting by a certain date and I felt it was the right time to enter the market. We looked at many homes and townhouses and I honestly don't remember why I picked this one.

I liked the place well enough to buy it thinking we'd paint and update and generally make it a nice stepping stone in the market, but quickly there after I started to HATE it. Then our HOA dues started going up, while seeing less benefit from the community living. We never got around to doing those improvements while normal wear and tear set in. And now, after years of a hellish commute we want to move but wait.... the value has decreased if we could sell at all, the place is far from comparable as most places in our complex have upgrades, so it's a little hard to now take on the expenses of upgrades when we don't know if we'll see the returns.

Do we do minimal work enough to rent it and buy another place in need of work?
Do we take a loss and just get rid of it to get out of the market?

I don't see a point in going through the pains of putting this place on the market until units start selling here. There are multiple foreclosures in our complex and there are new listings in here every week. I'd say there are at least 30 units with signs in the windows and I only know of one in escrow right now and none have sold in months.

So what project do we do first?
What projects will give us the most return on our investment?
Which choices will make our place more desirable then that one or that one or even that one?
And what do I just want to do because I want to do it, and not because it makes the best business sense?
Do we do the projects we had planned but maybe not with the same quality of products?

Money and Homes are heavy in emotions, and right now we need to keep it about the business.


Starshine said...

I say start with the flooring that you've already bought. ;)

I actually have no good advice about this at all. We may be moving soon to a different area in SoCal, and the grim market makes us wary of listing our unit. Keep us informed of how it goes.

Autumn's Mom said...

Definitely do the floors. sigh, can I tell you how happy I am NOT to be a home owner any more? Sad, really. Good luck!!

Kim said...

The best investment you can make is real estate, I know that sounds silly right now but if you can pull it off try and keep it and rent it out. I would not really make any major improvemnts if you rent! We have always said too bad we could not have kept every home we have had and rented them out! If you can pull it off I would say definitly keep it!! That's mine (and my husbands) opinion, so there ya go! Good luck! If you ever want tax advice on the pros and cons of these things you know who to ask!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I talked to a guy yesterday who was saying his buddy bought a new place, and after the sale went through and he had moved, he just stopped paying on the old place. Just let it go into foreclosure. I guess he had no equity in it, and didn't care about his credit, so what the hell. It's a wild time in real estate right now, that's all I can say.

~Donna~ said...

i've seen on those Design to Sell type shows that fixing up the kitchen and baths will get you more money. Only prob is, those could be the most expensive to improve. Good luck...Honey is in same situation in England. Market is crap all over.