What to do in Today’s Economy with the House You Leave Behind

By November 28, 2011Traditions Property Blog

Life doesn’t stop because the economy is in the dumps.  Your life changes with job promotions, job re-locations, death, divorce, and family growth.   What can you do when that new job lands you in another state far from home or when the house you bought for the two of you needs to include the two new members of the family?  For many homeowners, selling is not an option at this time.  Declines in market value could mean that the good deal you got on a property in 2006 can not be sold for the mortgage value.  Short sales are not an option for everyone.

Many homeowners have become reluctant landlords.  Renting the property they left behind to cover the mortgage and expenses.  The problem lies in filling the vacancy and maintaining the home from miles away.

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More homeowners try ‘reluctant landlord’ role

WASHINGTON – Nov. 23, 2011 – More sellers who are tired of their home lingering on the market – or who don’t want to take a loss on their home sale – opt to become landlords instead.

For example, one couple told NPR that they owned a two-bedroom bungalow in Oakland, Calif. They purchased it for $500,000, but it was recently appraised at $260,000. When a job relocation sent them across the country, they decided to rent instead of sell.

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But becoming a landlord isn’t an easy role to step into, as some “accidental landlords” describe difficult tenants and constant problems or maintenance issues that require fixing.

The number of unintentional landlords is growing. About 2.3 million single-family homes became rentals during 2005 to 2009 – a significant increase compared to about 700,000 single-family homes that became rentals during 2001 to 2005, according to Eric Balky with Harvard’s Center for Housing Studies.

“The good news for the owners or the reluctant landlords has been that the rental market has been so good, they’ve been able to cover pretty much all their expenses and just been able to basically go on with their lives,” Ron Abrams with the Chicago Association of Realtors® says.

Source: “Would-be Sellers Become Reluctant Landlords,” NPR (Nov. 13, 2011)