I am a 73-year-old with two homes in Tampa, Fla. I live in one, and rent the other.
I paid $245,000 at a 2.75% interest rate for the one I’m renting. It’s got four bedrooms and two baths, and faces wetlands, so it’s super quiet. I’ve also spent more than $50,000 on improvements — from landscaping to changing out the water filters to furnishing the individual rooms — making it ready for long-term rentals. I clear about $1,000 per month in profit.
Rentals are super easy to fill, but I’m 73. Utilities are going up fast. I’ve had so many additional costs from dealing with the rental, from having to replace the grass on the front yard for $1,600 to replacing the air conditioning for $650. I’ve also had to spend $5,100 in legal fees to evict a tenant. I’m also worried about possible hurricane damage, and property insurance is out of control in Tampa. Homeowners insurance for the rental went up from $700 a year to $1,000 a year.
And on a deeper level, I’m also concerned about the world going into a depression. I’m worried that if I wait for too long, my house drops in value by 20%, and I lose money. And with inflation, that’s going to be hard.
I still owe money for my primary house, which I bought brand new in January 2020. I still have $110,000 left to pay for a house worth $460,000. It’s my dream home. I rent three bedrooms, so that covers my mortgage payment and utilities.
So my question is: Should I sell my rental and pay off the first house?
My Social Security is only $2,890 a month. If I sold my rental, I could pay off payments on my dream home, but I’d only have $80,000 left over.
What’s holding me back is that the interest rate is only 2.75% and the tens of thousands of dollars spent to finish the rental.
When times are good, I clear $1,000 a month from the rental. I like the people currently renting from me, but cannot find a property management team that will take on a non-traditional co-living house with four different rental agreements. But I feel like I need to move fast before property values fall further.
What should I do?
Troubled in Tampa
‘The Big Move’ is a MarketWatch column looking at the ins and outs of real estate, from navigating the search for a new home to applying for a mortgage.
Do you have a question about buying or selling a home? Do you want to know where your next move should be? Email …….