Monday, February 09, 2015

Selling My Apartment

I realized I never wrote in much detail about selling my apartment, and it's now been over a year since that happened!
As a refresher, I had owned the apartment for a couple of years when I met Sweetie. Once Sweetie came along, I gradually started to spend less and less time there, to the point where I was almost never home and kept a lot of things at Sweetie's place. This made me a bit sad, as buying my own home had been a milestone for me, financially and emotionally-- it felt great to have that independence. But as Sweetie and I gradually got to the point of being committed to each other and wanting to live together, it began to seem very indulgent to hang onto this extra apartment that I was basically using for storage. Yet I found it a bit difficult to take any action to change things until a situation fell into my lap-- a friend of a friend needed a place to stay temporarily. It started out as just being for a couple of months, which seemed like the perfect chance to test the waters and make a little money. It worked out well, and turned into a full year arrangement, and during that time, I didn't really miss having my own space. It was actually a relief not to have to visit it weekly to check on things. But being a landlord brought a few other headaches-- somehow having to repair the heat or the toilet seemed a bit more annoying when I was doing it for someone other than myself! Although I realized I could make a decent profit as a landlord, I decided to try to sell the place when my tenants told me they'd be moving out.

From doing some research about the market, things seemed pretty good. And I had actually already had an offer from an interested party, an investor who already owned another unit in the building. I emailed him to see if he was still interested, and he was-- until he couldn't get a mortgage. I figured it wasn't that surprising that banks might not want too many units in the building to be owned by an absentee landlord, so I didn't think too much of it, and took the next step, which was asking my Facebook friends if anyone wanted to buy an apartment!
I kind of knew the "for sale by owner" thing could bring some headaches, but it also seemed worth a try. I was sure that my apartment would sell for more than I'd paid, but I worried that a 6% fee might eat up a lot of the profit. So I was happy when I immediately had some interest from some college friends who I hadn't been in close touch with in recent years. I had all the worries you'd expect about mixing friendship and business, but it also seemed like the friendship was at arm's length enough that it wouldn't cause any big problems. There was a bit of negotiation, but we pretty quickly agreed to what seemed like a fair price, and got our lawyers talking.

And then... they couldn't get a mortgage either. This started to worry me a bit-- their finances were good but they weren't rolling in dough (or they wouldn't have wanted my apartment anyway!). It wasn't that they couldn't qualify for a mortgage, it was that there was an issue with the building. Because I'd changed my address on my taxes, I'd tipped the owner-occupancy rate under 50%, and in the climate of recent years with banks being so much more cautious after the financial crisis, this and a couple other quirks of the building seemed to make it challenging. It was a bit of a surprise, as some another unit in the building had just sold and those new buyers had managed to get a mortgage. But now that 2 potential buyers had bitten the dust, I decided it was time to get a broker involved....

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post later this week!

No comments: