If Your Home Isn't Doing Well,
Should You Plan to Rent It Out?


(Saturday, October 14, 2006 3:52 AM EDT)

The Sun Gazette recently asked local real estate professionals, “If a home is on the market for a while and doesn't sell, should owners rent it out in the meantime?”

Responses varied significantly. Here is a sampling:

Susan Shephard Siple, a Realtor with Weichert, Arlington: “The houses that are selling are the ones that are fully ready and priced right,” Siple said.

Putting a house up for rent instead of continuing trying to sell is not a good idea. If people want to sell their homes, the houses have to be ready for market, and they have to be priced competitively. It is also important to chose the right agent for this market, a full-service agent with a full service marketing plan, she said.

David Cooper, a Realtor for Weichert, Old Dominion, said that renting a house that isn't selling is a viable option.

“If [sellers] can afford to hold on to it and don't have to sell it, they can see what happens with the market,” Cooper said.

The benefit to this approach is that it gives sellers some time to analyze market trends and sell when profits will be higher. Generally homes in the inner suburbs, if priced right, are selling. Renting is more an issue for sellers in outlying areas like Loudoun, Prince William and Manassas, he said.

Randy Morrow, a Realtor for Weichert, Old Dominion, urges sellers to “stick it out as long as you can.

“In the current market we have, it takes anywhere from 90 to even up to 180 days to sell,” he said.

Tenacity is a necessary in today's real estate scene, and buyers shouldn't give up too early, Morrow said. Sellers should resort to renting only if they do not have the funds to stay on the market, he said.

Rafael Beltran, a Realtor with Long & Foster in Arlington, said that renting a house that's been on the market for a while is a decision that “depends on the needs of the seller.

“The time to sell is whenever is right for you,” he said.

Selling a house requires planning ahead and thinking strategically. The only reasons a house doesn't sell are because it either isn't priced correctly or it's not attractive inside.

The best way to sell in this market is to price ahead of the pack and to make sure the house is physically appealing, Beltran said.

Dede Brough, a Realtor with Long & Foster Arlington, said that the choice of renting out a house out instead of keeping it on the market is a personal decision for the sellers.

“It depends on their situation,” she said. “It depends on if they can carry both homes financially and whether they're of the disposition to be landlords.”

Gloria Moren, a Realtor with Long & Foster Arlington, said the current market is up enough that it can be a good time to sell. Sellers should only rent if they have the financial stability to pay both their old and new mortgages, Moren said

The market “probably will stay somewhat good until about Thanksgiving,” she said. “If people can hang on until the end of November, they should do so.”

Chip Benjamin, a Realtor for Coldwell Banker Arlington said that, since projections suggest houses will sell better in the spring, renting can be a good option until the market picks up.

Keeping houses on the market can drive prices down, and sellers can lose profit, Benjamin said.

“I think if [sellers] want to hold on to their prices, then they should rent [their home] out,” said Benjamin. “There are many people looking for short-term rentals.”

Tim Landis, a Realtor for Coldwell Banker Arlington, agrees that renting is an option, especially if the current forecast for a stronger market in 2007 proves correct.

“Instead of sacrificing the property to a low price now, ride it out a bit,” he said. “Hopefully then when the lease is up, the market will be up too,” he said.

Kristin Kelly, a Realtor for Re/Max Allegiance in Arlington, reiterated the thought that whether to rent out a home is a personal decision each prospective seller must grapple with.

“Every seller's bottom line is different, and some don't have the option to rent [their home]. But if they do have the option to rent it, I recommend they keep it on the market through winter,” she said. “If the seller doesn't have that kind of time, then renting is an option.”

Chris Wilkes, a Realtor with Re/Max Distinctive in McLean and Arlington, said that the decision to rent a home that has been on the market “depends on the finances of the seller,” said Wilkes, “And it depends on how long the house has been up for sale.”

Renting is a direction that more condo owners are going since they're easier to rent and the mortgages aren't too big, he said.

Billy Buck, a Realtor with Buck and Associates, said that, since rental rates are quite good at the moment, sellers shouldn't disregard the idea of renting a house that's been on the market for a while.

The responsibility of having an investment property can be daunting, but it can pay off, Buck said.

“If [sellers] are willing to deal with a property manager or getting phone calls from tenants, it can be a pretty easy process,” he said.


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