July Mortgage Update: Renting a house for a year is a pain

This month (July):
Balance:$22,465.56
Years left: 1.6666666667
P =$1,121.04, I =$93.36, Escrow =$809.48

Last month (June):
Balance:$23,586.60
Years left: 1.75
P =$1,116.62, I =$97.78, Escrow =$809.48

One month’s prepayment savings: $0

We put our house on the market for under the market value.  We gave a $200/mo discount on top of that for a family to rent it furnished rather than unfurnished.  We only advertised on the university web-page and on sabbatical homes and the MLS.  No Craigslist!

A family from overseas contacted us right away.  They had their local friends look at it.  We had a brief discussion via the internet wherein the husband tried to bargain us down from the listed unfurnished price, not understanding that we were renting it for less than what he was trying to bargain it down to because he wanted it furnished.  The wife and I discussed daycares and leaving DC2’s outgrown clothing and toys since her child is a year younger and how much cheaper water is in the US than in her country.  We put the husband in contact with our real estate agent.  We hammered out all the details like dates.  The wife contacted the agent with a lengthy list of demands of things she wanted cleaned before they got here (all of which we were planning on doing anyway) and a demand that we get rid of some of our paper blinds which she thought were grey and covered in dust from her friend’s video, but are actually peach and what she thought was dust are shadows from the pleats.  We said no to replacing the blinds.

I got a few more contacts from less desirable prospective tenants (two dogs and a cat kind of less desirable– our HOA only allows two pets, or people needing the house for less time or wanting to bargain us down more), but they didn’t contact me back when I said we were in conversation with another family.

And then nothing for a few weeks.  With the end of the school year etc. we didn’t really notice things weren’t progressing, but once that settled down we wanted to nail things down.  We contacted our real estate agent, who said things were progressing.  And then a week later things stopped progressing.  So the real estate agent sent a firm email noting he’d been turning people away from looking at our house, and that activated some action from our prospective tenants, the irritated full professor noting that he is a very busy man in the middle of organizing a conference.  Which is no doubt true, but he really should have taken care of the lease before the conference!  He sent the background check information and passed the check.  And our agent sent the lease to sign both electronically and in pdf form (in case the electronic version wasn’t working).  And… then nothing.

So then our agent stopped turning other families away from looking at our house which meant we spent some time outside at the playground where it is very very hot.  The first new family to look at the place texted right away and said they loved the place.  They wanted it for the full time and they wanted it unfurnished (so another $4K for an additional 2 months + $1200 to rent unfurnished instead of furnished + the utilities we wouldn’t be paying those two months… but also plus hassle, storage, and potential breakage) and were willing to give us a deposit and signed lease right then and there.  We gave the family we had an agreement with until the weekend was over to get us the signed lease and deposit or we were moving on.  And they did.  So we turned the second family away and took down the sign on our lawn and the listing off sabbaticalhomes.

Hopefully this will all work out!

I do think it helps that we listed the place under market price and that we had two prices for furnished vs. unfurnished that reflected our desire not to move our stuff into storage.  We have more money than ability to deal with hassle these days, and it’s nice being able to just say, screw it, we have the cash for this, we can take a risk or pay to not have to deal with something.  Me five years ago (when DH was still a tenure track professor) would have been freaking out at every point, and we’d have had a higher listing price.  And I can’t even think what me when DH was between jobs would be doing.

Wish us luck!

Have you ever acted as a landlord, temporary or otherwise?

Renting in paradise, an update

I’m afraid to post this and almost afraid to write it, but we’ve sent in a deposit for a place in paradise.  How did we do on our priorities?

1.  I will be able to get enough sleep at night– no thin walls, no cigarette smoke.  (Also non-crazy landlord, but how does one screen for that?)

We ended up with half of a duplex that has a staircase separating the two parts, so it’s more like a townhouse.  There’s an empty lot with trees on one side and a house on the other side.  It’s also on a busy street, but I think I can handle traffic noise.  The landlord seems laid back and our friends know the tenants who are moving out (who are moving out because they bought their own place).

2.  At least 2br.

Exactly 2br.

3.  In unit laundry.  Dishwasher.  Reasonable appliances (though we can always buy cheap ones).

Laundry is in the garage.  Dishwasher in the kitchen.  The other appliances seem reasonable, though my in-laws have their stove and it’s not my favorite.  (It’s that electric kind with the glass top so it’s easy to clean, but not that much fun to cook with.)

4. In a decent to good school district and DC1 can stay grade-skipped (or they want to test before keeping the skip– I’m fine with that too).

The elementary school will allow DC2 to go into 5th grade.  It’s a 9 star school with a good mix of demographics and SES and not 100% white or wealthy.  Languages are optional and expensive after school ($500) and I don’t think they offer band or anything like that (update:  there is a musical instrument option offered through the school from a local non-profit), but we’ll see once we’re allowed to actually register.

5.  We can keep at least our main kitty, little kitty.

Cats allowed!

6.  A reasonable commute to:  Sabbatical Uni, DC1’s school, DC2’s preschool, given that we will only have one car.

7 min walk to DC2’s preschool.  It’s an hour and some round-trip if DH walks to drop both kids off, according to google.  There are some other options, including having DC2 bike hirself, or walking to the closer school and taking the bus ($700) to the assigned school, but we’ll figure that out.  For me it’s about a 30 min bike-ride or a 40 min drive (20 min without traffic…) or a 40 min bus drive (20 min without traffic).

7.  Walkable neighborhood that includes a playground.

The playground is across the street.

8.  Allows us to take Nice kitty

Allowed!

9.  3 br

Bzzt.  Only 2br.  :(

10.  Walking distance to a library

Yes!  7 min walk.

11.  Walking distance to shops

Yes!  Like, right around the corner distance.

12.  Excellent schools (as opposed to decent)

9 star is pretty good.

13.  Driveway or garage space, not just street parking.

One car garage and driveway.

14. Out door play area such as yard.

Bzzt!  There’s basically a dog run.  But hey, there’s a park across the street.

15. Furnished.

Bzzt!  I hear Ikea is cheap.  Once we have this lease thing figured out we will ask if the current tenants want to sell us any of their stuff.  Figuring out how to get other stuff over there is, of course, a bit of a nightmare problem we’re still trying to figure out.  (Like, we have to take the piano, but what about mattresses?)

16.  More than 1000 sq ft.

1200sq ft.  We had an apartment in grad school that size at the very end (using the money we’d saved being RAs for two years) and it seemed enormous.  It will probably be less enormous with two kids.

17.  Nice appliances.

Bzzt!

18.  Nice extras (countertops etc.)

Bzzt!

19.  Fruit or nut trees.

Bzzt!

20.  A price considerably lower than 5K/mo.

This place was listed for 4K/mo.  I don’t know what our friend out there told them, but she sweet talked the landlord into thinking we’re so amazing she should cut an additional $100 off the rent.  Also some additional utilities are included in the rent because it’s a duplex.  So instead of paying close to 5K, we’ll be paying just under 4K/mo.  That means I’m feeling a bit more relaxed about money, especially with a month of summer salary also happening.  If our house rents out, we’ll be able to make our savings goals!

And as an added benefit, since our friend did such a great job talking us up, if this all goes through, DH won’t have to spend a week of his vacation time apartment-hunting.  So he can spend it doing moving stuff instead.  :)

What am I looking for in a rental

In order of importance (and assuming under $5K/mo):

1.  I will be able to get enough sleep at night– no thin walls, no cigarette smoke.  (Also non-crazy landlord, but how does one screen for that?)

2.  At least 2br.

3.  In unit laundry.  Dishwasher.  Reasonable appliances (though we can always buy cheap ones).

4. In a decent to good school district and DC1 can stay grade-skipped (or they want to test before keeping the skip– I’m fine with that too).

5.  We can keep at least our main kitty, little kitty.

6.  A reasonable commute to:  Sabbatical Uni, DC1’s school, DC2’s preschool, given that we will only have one car.

7.  Walkable neighborhood that includes a playground.

8.  Allows us to take Nice kitty

9.  3 br

10.  Walking distance to a library

11.  Walking distance to shops

12.  Excellent schools (as opposed to decent)

13.  Driveway or garage space, not just street parking.

14. Out door play area such as yard.

15. Furnished.

16.  More than 1000 sq ft.

17.  Nice appliances.

18.  Nice extras (countertops etc.)

19.  Fruit or nut trees.

20.  A price considerably lower than 5K/mo.

What are your priorities when it comes to a rental?  Do they differ for long-term vs. short-term?  What am I forgetting?