The Plan: Sell. Buy. Rent. Buy. What?
Updated: May 2, 2020
Brenton and I decided we wanted to sell the house he owned and buy something smaller- the opposite of what everyone else our age (30s) is doing. But, it's part of the bigger plan!
The Background Story
When Brenton and I met, he was considering buying a house with extra rooms to rent out. It seemed like a good idea for him at the time and in fact, I was excited to help him scope out houses. What we failed to discuss at that time was the future of our relationship. This was a classic case of future phobia on both of our parts. #peterpansydrome
Fast forward 2 years later and now the boys were out and I have moved into his house that was equipped with 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and nearly 2800 square feet of tile floors that needed a good steam cleaning. Don't get me wrong, I loved that house. It was unique and located on a canal that led out to a beautiful lake known for wake boarding. We have a lot of great memories there and it was an awesome house for entertaining. When I moved in, we quickly realized that we only utilized a third of the space and the rest was collecting dust and random pieces of furniture. Additionally, we felt as if we were paying for a lot of space that we didn't use and there were some updates that would be necessary in a few years. Was it worth investing int? Nope!
I bet you're saying "Silly Amy, you should have kept it. Sounds like a great place to grow into and raise a family!" Enter what we call the Million Dollar Question: Where the heck do we want to settle down?! While Orlando is a great place to live, we both grew up less than a mile from the coast (spoiled, we know) and we both want to be closer to the coast eventually. Which coast? Who knows. Where I grew up in New Jersey? Maybe. Where he grew up, north of Tampa? Possibly. Where he was born, Hawaii? He wishes! Maybe the east coast of Florida? or North Carolina, near my sister? I think you get the picture. We. Do. Not. Know. However, we both agree that even if we stay in Orlando, we want to be in a different neighborhood and although we are not ready to leave Orlando the housing market was a sellers market and the house was worth more than what he paid for it. So, we listed the house in October and were fully moved out in January. Okay awesome the house sold. Now what?
Contrary to the vast majority of our friends and people our age, the plan was to downsize. We wanted something small for a few years until we decided on an answer to the MDQ. No kids and no pets, it seems smart financially and would make for low maintenance living. Brenton likes to minimize. He proposed we rent a one bedroom place and he even insinuated a studio. Well sir, we are not forgoing my craft room in this downsize, so no thank you. We thought renting would be a good solution because it was less permanent so if and when we want to leave Orlando we could without being tied to a purchase. As the CFO of this relationship, Brenton realized that interest rates were at an all time low which brought us back into the buying market.
The idea of moving from one house to another felt dumb if we were buying again. If it wasn't going to be our forever home so-to-speak then why move from one home to another in the same city only for a few years? Plus, that takes away the low maintenance part because we'd still be dealing with the fun hidden treasures of buying a house that secretly has mold in the walls or suddenly needs a new AC unit...we wanted smaller square footage and something updated. So the plan was to buy something small and newer or newly updated and something we could afford to keep as a rental property when it was time to buy our forever home. That plan also makes the idea of finding the answer to our MDQ less daunting because we can leave whenever we want without breaking a lease or needing to worry about selling again. Perfect!
We started to consider condos and that's when it happened. We fell in love with what we refer to as "The Dream Condo." Since it was a condo, it was within budget and it was newly renovated with stunning updates. The complex was also beautiful, I refer to it as Narnia. It was on a lake nonetheless so our paddle board wouldn't go to waste. It had an HOA which was a little pricey but it covered the walls out so roof leaks and pipe bursts are not on our dime and landscaping was included. Sold! Except not really because someone scooped in and bought it the day after we looked and before we could even sell our house. So the dream condo was out. I stalked that same complex for weeks but nothing like that unit came on the market again even as of today, yes I still look. That unit was a unicorn...(sigh)
We toyed with the idea of renovating, but dang does that sound daunting plus where would we live in the interim? Brenton works in construction so to him it sounded like working 24/7. Renovations are also very expensive so even the cheapest units in the Narnia complex would be over budget for the updates we wanted. I was addicted to Zillow; on it every hour looking for something. We were at a point where our home had sold but we had no idea where we were moving and had to be out in 3 weeks. Eeeek!
Enter the opposite of the dream condo: Our (now) condo! Despite the fact that I was glued to Zillow, Brenton found this one. It was more or less a time capsule from 1991. It was in foreclosure, it was small, under 1100 square feet. When we went to see it, we could barely see it -literally-because we went after work and the sun was going down and the power and water were shut off. It smelled like something I don't even know how to describe and there were a few dead roaches hanging out although that is common in Florida.
Despite all of those things it had GREAT potential and something about it was special. The location was a little farther east than we wanted but it was convenient to the major highways and in a part of town that is under development. It also had a one car garage which was a game changer compared to other places. The HOA was lower than many other complexes and included internet, water, and trash in addition to the normal walls out stuff and a complex pool and tennis courts. The HOA itself was financially healthy and we found out the units are all getting re-pipes so it felt like the HOA was already paying for itself. The big thing was that we wanted an updated place which meant we'd need to renovate this one. Despite the age, it was really well maintained and pretty clean and since the HOA covers the pipes, roof, and outdoor facilities the building was in good shape too. So we went for it and after a lot of back and forth (foreclosures are a hot mess) it was sold to us in February with a lot of work ahead! Now here we are, renovating and documenting it!
Shout Out to our Realtor Jonathan Fitzgeraldand his team for dealing with us changing our mind 934209 times and for getting us through the messy foreclosure
Shout Out to our friends Matt and Mallory who graciously took us in for a few months while we renovated. Matt was one of Brenton's roommates in the old house so it all came full circle #roomatesagain This has also been ideal considering we are in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic so having friends to live with in a quarantine is great. Matt and Mal for the win!