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Selling vs. renting our house: how we knew the right choice (for us)

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Along with a little ticket purchase last week, this summer has been a bit monumental for our family: we also sold our house. Yep, this house. We weren’t sure what we were going to do with the pad when we hit the skies for a year, but once we returned from our spring book tour road trip, we just knew. It was time to sell.

The alternative would have been to rent it out, which we were actually leaning towards. But when we wrote out all the pros and cons for either option, it was plainly clear that selling was the right option—for us.

Selling a house is a major decision, and the whys and the hows are about as black and white as a flamingo. Here are the reasons we knew it was best to sell—maybe you can relate.

1. It’s a seller’s market here.

Bend, Oregon is a strong seller’s market right now; even stronger a few months ago when we actually sold the the house. We did the math on what we’d get for the house, which we bought just a few years ago and remodeled extensively. That number convinced us it was worth it to finish those last remaining house projects over a (really tiring) month. We’re also fairly conservative with our money, and Bend’s market is risky since it fluctuates so heavily. I didn’t want to risk waiting till we got back.

Renting out vs. selling your home: tips to know what's best

2. We didn’t love stuff that we couldn’t change.

It’s a sweet house, and it’s served us well. There are things I absolutely love about it—the impeccable natural lighting throughout, the treehouse in the backyard, the overall layout. But there were things we didn’t love, and those things we couldn’t change: namely, the location and the size. After a year of living there, we realized that the location made our preferred lifestyle challenging (such as having only one car and walking most everywhere), and it actually felt too big. It’s hard to decrease your home’s square footage.

Those things eventually became important enough for us to want to sell, even if we weren’t about to travel.

Renting out vs. selling your home: tips to know what's best

3. We wouldn’t make the best landlords.

Our communication abilities will get a bit sketchy once we hit the road, and there are enough variables to owning a rental to make us potentially difficult to work with (even with a management company taking over the details). We could made it work without the other factors listed here, but in combination with the market’s condition and our location priorities, it would just feel more frustrating than profitable to lease out our home.

Renting out vs. selling your home: tips to know what's best

4. Having the house would hold us back.

If we rented it out, part of us would be thinking about the house back in the States, and in our situation, we want to be fully engaged with wherever we are in the world. Naturally this isn’t a universal case for everyone debating whether they should sell, but there are situations sometimes that couldn’t be fully enjoyed or embraced if there was also a house percolating in the background. We didn’t want that.

Renting out vs. selling your home: tips to know what's best

5. It was never our “forever house” to begin with.

Ultimately, here’s what it came down to: we’d put our house on the market even if we weren’t about to travel. We love Bend right now, so most likely we’d just look for another house in our town.

Once we realized our decision would be the same without travel in the equation, it was a no-brainer. Even when we bought the house, we never thought we’d be there long-term—it never felt like the house we’d grow old in. Because it didn’t hold our hearts, it was an easy decision.

Tips for knowing when to rent out vs when to sell your house.

We used the same stellar realtor to sell our house, and once more, Sarah was phenomenal. Finding her in the Endorsed Local Provider database was one of the best financial moves we’ve made since our arrival to Bend three years ago. If you need a realtor, I recommend checking out the ELP program to see who you can find in your area.

We trust Sarah implicitly—she knows our town’s market inside and out, she knows what sells a house, and she’s never pressured us to do anything unwise, unethical, or uncomfortable. She sealed the deal with a buyer who offered considerably more than our asking price, and the process was smooth as molasses (trust me, we kept waiting for something to go wrong. It never did.) Plus, she introduced us to our latest babysitter. Win.

What’s your town’s market like right now? Are you dealing with the indecision of whether to sell or buy?

This post is sponsored by Lampo Group’s ELP Program.

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Comments

  1. What exciting news! It sounds like a wise decision. Our current dilemma is whether to buy or rent. We own a town home but want a real fenced yard for our dogs and two little boys. We don’t have enough to put 20% down on a house in our area (East of Seattle) but we aren’t ready to move out of the area and have a long commute (my husband walks to work currently). Decisions, decisions.

    • Yeah, that can be a tough dilemma, one we’ve faced many times. Best wishes in finding the best situation for you!

  2. What timing on this post – I was just thinking a couple of hours ago that I needed to look up which realtor you used. We’re thinking about moving back to Oregon next year (or I am, we’ll see if/when I can get the hubby on board), but we lived all our lives in the Portland/suburban area. I was thinking Bend might be a sunnier alternative, and I’d like to start looking into the housing market there. Thanks for sharing all of your experiences – can’t wait to read about your trip!

    • Nice! Let me know if you have any specific questions—Bend is definitely a good choice if you want sunny and Oregon. ;)

  3. Great stuff. We are currently selling our house too as my hubby is training to be a minister. We’re currently unsure as to what to do with the money though… Can I ask what you guys are doing?

    • Mostly saving it—for a future down payment, then the rest in various savings accounts. A little is dogeared for our round-the-world trip, too… :)

  4. Good for you guys: I was wondering what you’d do with your house. I know what you mean about the house holding you back. There is such freedom in having fewer obligations so you can think about what’s in front of you. Congrats on the sale!

  5. Sounds like the best choice for sure! We currently own a small house in a small town, and are on track to pay it off in not too many years. Whenever we feel the itch to up-size due to our growing family, or find a nicer neighborhood, we remind ourselves that, Lord willing, this is part of our long-term plan to be able to travel more, as soon as our house is paid off. It’s a huge motivator that usually squashes the occasional temptation to keep up with the Joneses.

  6. wait….how does one get an offer for significantly MORE than the asking price? I’ve never heard of that!
    Sarah M

    • Happened to us a few years ago in an extremely hot real estate market. Three different buyers wanted our duplex and got into a bidding war, where they had to keep outbidding each other to get the place. Nice to be a seller in that situation, not so much a buyer!

    • The market is extremely hot here, Sarah—a weird situation, and one we knew we needed to jump on.

    • That’s pretty much the only way you can buy a house where I am, in Austin, Texas.

  7. I loved hearing about what went into your decision. We just sold our second house in the last year! Weird to say, since we bought this first one when we were “poor” overseas workers.

    It was a lovely little cottage in the woods that had been for the purpose of summer retreats when we were stateside. But we had outgrown the two bedrooms, the location was too far from where we have settled, and lack of use was causing it to deteriorate. So now we’re just renters who are debt-free (for now). It’s a great feeling.

    What a blessing to have your house sell right away too! I cannot wait to hear about your adventures to come!

  8. We have this dilemma with a small rental property we have right now. It makes us decent income, but it’ s also an aging house that inevitably is going to need repairs. I want to sell now, while the market is heating up, DH wants to wait til spring hoping we can get a little more.
    The thing is, we could put the equity toward our current residence and be mortgage free by the time our mortgage is up for renewal next year! In a market where our modest (but wonderful) house is worth upwards of $425,000 CDN, this is no small feat! I’m having trouble being patient with hubby’s waiting attitude, knowing markets can go either way!

    • Wow—mortgage-free! That would be amazing, Laura. I’m risk-averse, so I understand your feeling… I’d feel that way, too.

  9. Bravo to you! Keep it simple and stick with what makes you happiest. PS love the canvas by your stairs (Copenhagen, New York, etc) Any recollection of where you found that?

  10. I feel that our house is one of the biggest obstacles holding us back from actually embarking of our dream of long term travel. Letting go of it seems so risky and keeping it seems like a noose around my neck. So hard to make a decision when both options invoke fear.

    • Sure, I can understand that, Jenny. One thing that helped us is asking what we’d do if travel weren’t in the equation—when we realized we’d sell anyway, it suddenly didn’t seem as risky…

  11. A few years back, we were looking for a bigger house and since the one we lived in was paid off, we went ahead and purchased our current home. We fully intended to sell the old house, but had no luck. It was only a two bedroom with no storage space, unless you counted the garage. It was also in an HOA community. I really did not like our Realtor, but my husband had used him before and for whatever reason wanted to use him. In the end, we rented it out since we couldn’t sell it. My husband handled all the landlord duties, but it was a bit surprising at how time consuming that could be. Then we lost the house in a wildfire. Can’t tell you how glad I am that we didn’t live in that home anymore. But, of course, felt so bad for the renters. Oh, one note about renting out your home. Which you aren’t, so not relevant to you, but maybe to others. As my husband says, “No one will take care of your home like you will.” Which we definitely found to be true.

  12. avatar
    Tricia Paoluccio says:

    Hi Tsh! I met you in NYC and you were kind enough to donate your book to my son’s public school auction! Thank you again!
    So I looked up Dave Ramsey. WOW. He is intense. I definitely want to look into learning from him. I love Suze Orman and wonder if their beliefs align?

    • Hi Tricia—yep, I remember you! And ha… yeah, he can be intense, and I don’t agree with everything he says or does, but a lot of his basic premises I can get behind.

      Their beliefs don’t align all that much, mostly because Dave is big on being completely debt-free (all debt is bad), and Suze sees some debt as a tool (debt can be a positive thing sometimes). But I don’t know enough to speak into that with any authority…

  13. We are dealing with this decision right now, and it seems like we go back and forth several times a day! I want to be able to fully embrace the adventure ahead of us (we’ll be traveling the US in an rv!) but I suppose I’m hesitant to leave this house behind. It’s not our forever house either, and before we decided to rv, we were actually thinking of moving to a new house. I guess I’m just scared because I don’t know what we’ll do when we come back. Anyway, thanks for the food for thought. :)

    • I get that. For me, the thought of being completely open-ended when we come back is exciting… but I can understand how that can make other people feel really uncomfortable.

  14. We moved this spring from a house we adored in a perfect location, but #2 is why we did. There was stuff about it that we couldn’t change but dearly wanted in our forever home.

  15. Thanks for this, Tsh! I’ve been loosely reading along here for a while as we are about to embark on a “homeless” journey around the world as my husband’s job takes us new places. Our initial choice is to sell, then a few friends approached us about renting. The thought was intriguing, but when it comes down to it, we’re readying the house for sale and seeing how God leads in the process. The freedom of walking away from our belongings is more my style, but with family in town, it’s more complicated than I had imagined…It’s funny how everyone wants to know “where” we’ll be, if we’ll have a “home base”, etc, etc…I’m perfectly fine with the answer, “We don’t know…we’re just going to keep going where He leads us, and “there” is where we are supposed to be.”

    • Yeah—sometimes it’s funny how we can be more comfortable with an “I don’t know” answer about our own future than other people. ;)

  16. We went through similar decisions 5 years ago when we went abroad. After 1 yr abroad, it seemed like it would last longer so we decided to sell our home. Lucky for us, it sold quickly and for a good price. We put our stuff in storage. Now, 4 yrs later, I have just finished selling off/donating the contents of that storage unit as our ‘being abroad’ plans become infinitely uncertain. It has been freeing to be less tied down (although we do have a furnished home here in Cambodia) and has helped us be more open to where the wind takes us – be it staying abroad or returning to US. I really like it.

  17. I know that having rental properties works well for a lot of people, but I also know others who have had a difficult time being landlords. I think that it should feel pretty freeing to let go of the house. You also get to remain much more open to what the future holds for you. What an adventure! Congrats!

  18. I can relate so much to your decision to sell- we have just sold and will rent for a short while prior to leaving on a year trip around Australia. Market is good here where we live in Oz, we have work that needs doing on house and don’t see ourselves here in a few years so selling will make our trip feel very free :-) the trick will be being well behaved with our profit and not being tempted to spend it all on the trip! We will need another house one day!

  19. Hi Tsh,

    We are on the fence on making decision about moving or not. Just curious maybe you can do a post on this: after living in different places, what would be the ideal home for a simple family like yours as far as size, location, layout, etc?

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