Rent or sell in a stagnant market

1 Reply

I am looking to get into rental properties and have been presented with an offer.  I live in a severely distressed county/region in Appalachia.  My grandparents former home which sits vacant is owned by my parents.  They have no interest in the home and may give it to me.  

The home based on area comps could probably be sold outright for $60,000.  If I were to repair/upgrade for rental purposes i am estimating about a $15,000 expenditure, let's call it $25,000 due to unforeseen items that will definitely pop up.  Rent in this area would be somewhere between $500 and $700 a month.  Property appreciation in this area varies between slight increases to small decreases.  I am not sure on an average but I would guess a net change over time would be 0% either way.  Property taxes and insurance per year are around $700 each.  

My question is this.  With a property that is free and clear but has no real growth relative to value, is it better to sell the property or rent it for $500 a month?  

Currently I am thinking there are 2 options.
1)  Sell the property, take the profits, put a down payment on a property in a better market with appreciation and higher rents.
2)  Repair the property, rent it out and make very little or break even each year.  Use the equity in the property to buy another in this area and eventually repeat the steps.  Hopefully the area has an uptick and property values will trend upwards.  I would give this 50/50 odds.  

On one hand i think i have been given an opportunity with a (reasonably) debt free property.  On the other, I think that given the low rent in this area it may not be worth the potential headaches that can come from this.   My overall goals would be to have enough rental income to retire early or even quit my day job and make this a full time thing.  

Thank you all for your advice and input. 

Hi Jackson!

I think about this in terms of opportunity cost.

Let's say you can either own a $60k home that breaks even as a rental, or you can have $60k cash that you can use to buy 2 homes in a better rental market that will cash-flow nicely.

Option 2 might take some more work, but then after a few years you'll have 2 homes with mortgages that are paid down enough to get a HELOC or cash-out refi. Then you might be able to buy 2-4 more houses with the equity and cash flow from the first 2.

I think it would be a mistake to keep that house since the same resources could be put toward something with a much better ROI.

Good luck!