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Our Money Pit

Nida Spalding loves to read, travel, and spend time with family and friends. She believes that curiosity and persistence are key to happiness and success.

It was time. We had the rental property in Suisun, California for 15 years. "The money pit," as my husband—the reluctant landlord—liked to call it.

"We could have sold it in 2004 for $350K," he reminds me whenever the subject comes up. He regards real estate in California as over-inflated. I reasoned with him, "You're paying for the location, all that sunshine year-round." His response? "Yeah, right," eye roll included.

I was the one who wanted to turn our first home into an investment property, a tax shelter, and forced savings for our son's college education.

Land-lording is hard work, even with a property manager. At one time, we had an incompetent one. How ridiculous it was to manage the property manager. Eventually, when I retired and had the time, I decided for us to manage the property ourselves.

Now it was time to sell. Not wanting to pay exorbitant realtor fees, my husband found Clever Real Estate online. With them, you pay 1 per cent plus 2.5 per cent to the buyer's agent. At first, I was skeptical but was willing to give it a try.

The realtor had impressive credentials. And he was no-nonsense. After a walk-through of the rental house, he told us right off, "Change the 30-year old roof. And the sea foam green carpet has to go." That's Just for starters. The house is 30 years old.

With no time to waste, I lined up the floor guy that my friend recommended. He knew a general contractor. I thank God for him. "The beast," my husband described the general contractor, because he's big and strong.

When he got going, you better get out of the way. He got things done. At 6 foot 4, he towered over me. At our first meeting. I walked him through the house, pointing to things that needed fixing.










The exterior needed new paint and some stucco and sheetrock needed work. Many things needed to be replaced: the front door, closet doors, kitchen sink and counters, garbage disposal, stove, hood, microwave, bathroom sinks, faucets, vanity lights, mirrors and toilets.

He didn't take notes but gave me an estimate the following day. I was impressed. He knew his stuff and made me spend a lot of money at HD Supply, Home Depot, and Granite Outlet. "I support you," he would say, meaning it was my decision.

During renovation, the rental indeed became a money pit. For the most part, we paid with credit cards. We paid for the roof in installments. I had to dip into my savings.

The house was put on the market. There were plenty of lookers but zero offers. After we lowered the price, fixed the back fence, and put in a new dishwasher, we received several offers—two over the new asking price.

We accepted the best offer, then waited for inspections to be completed. Finally, we signed the papers at the title company and waited for escrow to close. After a few days the proceeds were in our account.

Was it worth it? I say yes. The Suisun house was our home for 15 years. We took out $60K in equity to use as down payment on our current home. The renters paid the mortgage except for a couple of months. From the time the last renters moved out to the date the house was sold, I did pay the mortgage for five months. We bought the house for $145K and sold it for $385K.

Was it a wise investment? Or was it a money pit?

~ Nida Spalding
























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