Monday, October 20, 2014

Do I Rent or Do I Sell?

A fascinating case study just came up: I was recently speaking with someone who was asking me – should I continue to rent my former home, or sell it outright?

Now there are many facets towards this decision beyond making “financial sense,” like convenience, time and specific goals – but I’ll show how to at least make sense of the numbers. Numbers don’t explain everything, but they sure help when a justification is trying to appeal to reason.

Here was the scenario:

They paid $925,000 for their residential property, put 20% down to avoid PMI, got a great rate at 3.85%, and just completed their 14th year of a 30 year mortgage. We had a conversation as to what their estimate of property value and we agreed that for the time being we would leave that number at cost, the $925,000. The scenario looks like this:

The nitty-gritty surrounding the rental numbers look like this:  

So the immediate thought is: What!? How does this make any sense? I’m losing $4,000 per year; it’s costing me money to rent this home out?

But like most things in life, it’s never quite so simple. Based on the mortgage contract—year 15 looks like this:

It boils down to the fact that people don’t think through just how much equity is created on the back end of the mortgage! Even though there is a negative annual cash flow, the actual equity had increased by nearly $23,000 (The $267k less the $245k equity from last year). The net appreciation when one considers this equity growth less the annual cost to rent is a net appreciation of ~$18,940. 

Obviously nobody is making life altering changes over $18,940, but we left out the most important point of all: what if the value of the home appreciates? Selling the property meant that the upside potential is eliminated; it was determined in this case that the cost of waiting wasn’t so bad: and that they could afford the modest annual expense. As far as tax-planning goes, they were looking at the best case scenario: negative income (write off) + appreciating assets. People that are buying bonds today, for example, are getting the exact opposite: income + losing value. That conversation is for another day.

Anyhow, I have taken the liberty of creating a model for this. If you are interested, please give me a call.