Right path - sell, refinance or rent

11 Replies

Hi All,

I'm new to BP and REI so here's a little bit about myself. I started out a year ago on the BP forums, podcasts and reading books. I fell in love with the idea of REI so here I am. My wife and I bought our first house in August with the plan to rent.

We bought a 2bd 2ba sfh planning to turn it into a 4bd 2ba because local rents seemed to be around 1900/month sfh. Long story short I haven't had any luck with turning our den into 4th bd (can't find egress window for RO). Since the local market is still screaming hot,  we had our realtors stop by. They said with the comps our house will likely go between 250-265k. Also, we have updated the main level and the basement is finished, just outdated. Our house, I believe, has the nicest main level and is better located (of the comps).

Here are our numbers:

-House 212k purchase

-Mortage $1267 (principal, interest, taxes, etc.)

-Owe 204k

-20k rehab estimate when finished 

Do we:

1) Sell using agents (safer path since we are very new to this but most likely break even)

2) FSBO (seems ethically wrong since we reached out to previous agents but can save about 10k+)

3) Refinace (use equity for investment property)

4)Rent (I'm assuming we won't get 4bd price since its legally a 3bd)

I understand that the numbers aren't great for flip and for sure 3bd rent prices. We wanted to do this over a couple years just to make sure we didn't jump into this too fast. Well, I'm hungry and just feel like we should take advantage of the high house values.

I'm sure I forgot something, since this is the 2nd time I tried to post this. The first time I lost it all! Ugh. We have an idea of the best route for us, but wanted to reach out and make sure we exercise all options! 

Thank you so much! 


Welcome to BP, @Matt Cecil !

Have you tried renting it as a 3br with a bonus room?  You don't need to specify how the tenants use each room (within reason) and they won't care that it isn't legally a 4 bedroom as long as it meets their needs.

Think about what your goals are and what the neighborhood is doing.  If the neighborhood is declining, that may influence your decision.  If you think you can get a better return on your money by selling it (whether it is break even or not) and investing somewhere else, that would be the path.  If the rental path (which is both option 3 and 4 isn't it?) gives you a better return on your equity, stick with that.

@Brendon Woirhaye we have not tried to rent it yet. Just finishing up the remodel. Do you think the bonus room will still generate the same rent as a legal 4bd? I was worried that it may cause legal issues if something were to happen. Also, my city has to check the property yearly to approve us renting it out.

I would sell. At a value of $265K your rent would need to be $2500/month to make this a worthwhile investment income property. Additionally if the markets turn you will lose all your equity very quickly.


@Thomas S. if we rented the property we would plan to house hack another property so we wouldn't refinance the house. I may not be understanding how you are evaluating it. Wouldn't we go off current mortgage? rent 1900 mortgage 1267 cap ex *$100 maintenance/repairs *$100 vacancy *$100 what i see left over is $333. I can see that rent going $100 either way in my neighborhood. This is my estimate for 4bd but i do not have that 4th bed. I'm curious about a bonus room now that @Brendon Woirhaye mentioned it. I'll have to look into what value that would add to my 3bd.
Sorry for the replies lumping into one. The app isnt working right on my phone apparently.

I would most likely rent it out and househack a new place.

All this just to break even? Short term ordinary taxable income if there is a gain?

All over the place it seems difficult to acquire property so remember that before you sell to break even.  I'd give it a try as a 3+ bonus room rental.  My 4 beds seem to attract folks that want to turn the 4th into a vacation rental anyway. More risk and drama. Or they attract 2 families, roommates, daycares, etc.  I often advertise the least number of bedrooms possible to avoid these issues. Rents don't increase enough to offset the 'creative liberties' risk.

Never thought of tenants doing that so I appreciate the insight @Steve Vaughan . thank you to everyone for the advice so far.

When you execute a decision, come back and update the thread.  Good luck!

@Matt Cecil

Expenses on a SFH will be 50% long term. Basing that on your $1900 will be $950. With a mortgage at $1267 you will be negative $300/ month.

To produce positive cash flow your monthly rent needs to be 1% of the property value. Stats don't lie. 

@Thomas S. do you include taxes with the 1% rule? I plugged in my numbers on the BP rental calculator and it didn't appear to use my taxes. I guess I don't understand why you wouldn't include taxes, since thats apart of my mortgage.

We decided to list our house FSBO and just closed today.

Purchase Price: $212,000
Reno + purchase closing costs: $22,000
Sale closing costs: $14,300

Sale price: $265,000

Profit: $16,700

Project took 10 months to complete.

We had no intentions on flipping this property initially and did 99% of the work ourselves. It was very stressful but we both learned a lot!

Some of the things we would do differently would be vet out your FSBO flat fee list agent. Ours gave us almost zero help, difficult to get a hold of and listed our house wrong! Have a better accounting system for receipts. Take advantage of Credit card deals(interest free, airline miles, etc..) as it would help alleviate some financial stress if you run into problems. And of course YouTube university and the city for codes/permits.

Overall we have a better idea of the market and what people are looking for. We also can estimate projects and feel comfortable with those numbers.

We decided to step up our game and are on to our next flip. This is a non livable 100k possible project.

You don’t know what you don’t know so why not put this equity into something bigger and better. Thanks for the advice!

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here