Author Topic: Have we made a big mistake?  (Read 6709 times)

kbear

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Have we made a big mistake?
« on: September 25, 2016, 08:58:12 AM »
45 and 43, 2 kids -16 and 14
gross income - $245,000 combined, this just went up this year. $150,000 has been average for last 6 yrs. average 17% tax rate.
Assets - $867,000. I haven't included this,but we did the prepaid college for both kids the yr they were born. Tuition only.
liabilities - none

OK these are our mistakes -
we got scared by 2008 and pulled back 401K contributions to match only. wife gets no retirement benefits through work.
Basically we have saved on our own, dabbled in real estate as we've gone along.

last yr we sold our house, put our savings and retirement into large land/ reg. house because our dream is to move there when kids go to college (4 yrs) and live simply/ see how self-sustainable we can get( we enjoy that)  and rent out house while we lived in small cabin. we figure we would bring in $30,000 - $50,000/yr.

So as it stands we have only $67,000 in 401K(vanguard 2035 Target retirement fund), $90,000 cash, $17,000 Gold, everything else is in the land/house (just under $700,000) - I know freak out!!  We could sell house for $775K - $800K minus 6% realtor fees.
The land/house is on vacation rental program (in beautiful area) but really coming out only slightly positive due to management fees/land maintenance (75 acres) during summer etc. Terrible rate on return, but we planned on being there full time in 4 yrs. I intended on working from property, same job hopefully, for another 5 yrs.

We are renting ($2200/mth, it's on lower end for area, but we will do better when this lease ends) and had just planned on saving until we move to our dream in 4 yrs.

We have just discovered MMM, so now are having major 2nd thoughts. Have we just made the biggest mistake ever? We have practically nothing in stock market. Reason - We are terrified that the stock market rise since 2008 is due to QE, negative rates/low rate, company buy backs, bond buying and massive debt held by pretty much every country - an unprecedented situation. How does it get resolved and back to normal - based on fundamentals? But are we cutting off our nose to spite our face?

We now have personalCapital and are keeping track of every expense. The plan  (we just started Sept 1st) is to save $100,000/yr by max out all retirement accounts and saving in Vanguard index funds. We haven't switched over savings yet because we expect market downturn due to election - I know - don't market time.

BTW it is hard with teenagers: this month alone we finished paying for braces for 1,have homecoming for 2 kids and our son is getting driving license next month - insurance goes up by $1200/yr. We are purchasing my parents old car. They have school books/supplies/clothes/life. We are naturally not big spenders, but these things add up.

Please give advice. We are now thinking do we sell property and move all monies into Vanguard total stock index fund? (trust me, if we do this and the market will go to hell for 10 yrs, then we'll have Japan stagflation - ha, ha) and move to small apt when kids go to university and just save like crazy? Then reassess when we are 55?

Thank you for reading and any advise you can give us. 






ender

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2016, 09:07:50 AM »
Welcome to the forums.

If it were me, having that much of my net worth (80%+) tied up in a vacation rental property would be fairly terrifying.

How serious are you about moving there in a few years?

If you make $245k a year you should be putting the maximum into 401ks. Make this change now. The tax savings alone is going to be worth it even if you put it into a cash fund. How are you going to save $100k in retirement accounts? I don't think you can get there legally, unless you can both double dip in 401k/457s.

My recommendation would be to take a vanguard fund that is much less risky and invest in it. You sound terrified of market drops, which means your risk tolerance is very low. Start with something like Vanguards Target Retirement Income Fund. It's 40% stocks, 60% bonds. Everything about your post reads, "we are terrified to invest because we might lose money."

kbear

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2016, 09:34:46 AM »
Hey Ender,
 Thx for responding.
I meant to say - maxing out retirements and then adding savings separately for a total of $100,000/yr.
I get a 6 percent match with 401 K so $25K then my wife $5500 in IRA = $30,500. meaning we would be saving $70K separately in a Vanguard total stock index, because it comes so highly recommended.

Our plans were to move there in 4 yrs, but we are having 2nd thoughts

We are nervous about stock market, but If we made the choice to move monies over to Vanguard we would have come to terms with that choice.
 My 401 is already in vanguard retirement 2035.

WyomingGuy

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2016, 11:13:36 AM »
I think you are in a less than ideal position.

The 4% Rule is premised on stock market investments. You may wish to read MM's excellent post on this topic as it explains how the rule takes into account events like 2008. Some would say 2008 was a buying opportunity. Buy low, sell high.

If you aren't invested in the market, you need to find some other liquid investment(s) that return about 8% annually. Vacation real estate doesn't fall into that category for several obvious reasons.

Even assuming you are fine having the bulk of your NW in real estate, based on your age, salary and net worth you are an Under Accumulator of Wealth applying the methodology of The Millionaire Next Door -- i.e., 4.5 x $245K = $1.1M, which is what Stanley's methodology says you should have.

It is never too late to start, but I'd say you are behind based on your age and not properly invested for an eventual retirement, early or otherwise.

JLee

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2016, 12:58:07 PM »
I think you are in a less than ideal position.

The 4% Rule is premised on stock market investments. You may wish to read MM's excellent post on this topic as it explains how the rule takes into account events like 2008. Some would say 2008 was a buying opportunity. Buy low, sell high.

If you aren't invested in the market, you need to find some other liquid investment(s) that return about 8% annually. Vacation real estate doesn't fall into that category for several obvious reasons.

Even assuming you are fine having the bulk of your NW in real estate, based on your age, salary and net worth you are an Under Accumulator of Wealth applying the methodology of The Millionaire Next Door -- i.e., 4.5 x $245K = $1.1M, which is what Stanley's methodology says you should have.

It is never too late to start, but I'd say you are behind based on your age and not properly invested for an eventual retirement, early or otherwise.

The Millionaire Next Door methodology doesn't work very well for people with recent drastic income increases - this is their first year at $245k. Run the formula assuming $150k and things change a bit.

I do agree, though - having the bulk of net worth as real estate (especially real estate you plan on living in, not using to generate income) will be problematic when you want to retire. Definitely build up some investment accounts to provide income.

kbear

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2016, 01:03:36 PM »
Thanks for responding WyomingGuy,

     Yes, the big problem is that it's not a producing asset, at least for 4 yrs. When/if we move there it should be able to make 30K, if not a bit more.

 I don't think we are too behind in NW, because we just bumped up to $245K. Last yr we were at $150K so x 4.5 = $675K.

But you are totally right we are not invested properly at the moment. So, I guess the right thing to do is list the property. Then we will have to decide where to put our $867K.
 Now, just a thought -  if we continue as we are and can sell our property in 6 yrs for 1million, then that's 8% return. But like everything it's a gamble, and the only way to collect on that is to sell. I'm a telling you it's a beautiful property - 75 acres, 3 spring, trails everywhere, apple/peach trees. It's would be sad to let it go, but we do have kids and need to be smart. We will definately think hard - we are realists, with a dash of dreamer in there - ha,ha.
  Thanks again

 

Cassie

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2016, 01:12:25 PM »
I would sell the property. You can't count on real estate to go up and it can go down.  Too much of your wealth is tied up in it.

pbkmaine

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2016, 01:27:18 PM »
If this is your dream, I think you should investigate further before you sell. How is the property zoned? Could you have trailers or tiny houses on it? Come up with a plan for making the property a money maker. One of my high school classmates has an organic farm. She is also an artist. She has a lot of outdoor art exhibits there. What about a conference center or a B&B or both? If you save fiercely over the next 9 years, you really could have the best of both worlds.

FINate

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2016, 01:30:41 PM »
I'm struggling to understand something: As a vacation rental your country estate is only coming out slightly positive due to expenses, but you expect it to yield 30-50k as a rental after you retire. Is this realistic - how much of this rental income stream will be offset by expenses? Why have it as a vacation rental if you can get much better return as an investment property?

It sounds like a beautiful property, but unless it's generating a decent return it's not an investment, it's an expensive luxury.

WyomingGuy

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2016, 01:39:48 PM »
JLee & kbear: You are correct. It was unfair of me to use current year salary re the NW calculation.

kbear: Looking at your NW anew, you actually are ahead of the game -- and you didn't even include your 529 accounts, as far as I can tell. Our kids are now adults, but when we were saving for college I always included (rightly or wrongly) those savings in our NW calculation. So not only was my criticism unfair, you actually are quite fiscally prudent. Kudos to you for taking care of the kids (and I know many here don't believe that parents should pay for the children's college, but I am not in that camp).

I'm still somewhat confused about your finances and future plans. It sounds like you purchased your dream property, but are renting elsewhere for the next four years instead of occupying it. You also refer to living in a cabin on the property. So perhaps the situation is better characterized as future rental income (but I'm still confused why you would buy your dream house and then never live in it). The future rental income, plus accrued savings over the next four years, could get you to quite a different position, I suppose.

Have you put your numbers into cfiresim or firecalc?

My retirement plan isn't premised on any contributions from rental income. Alas, I wish it was. Under all scenarios, however, it still seems like you have somewhat bet your retirement on a dream property to a disproportionate extent.

I always viewed a declining market as a buying opportunity. Unfortunately, you have lost about a decade -- nearly one-quarter of your theoretical working life -- of investment returns.

kbear

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2016, 02:04:07 PM »
Well, the reason we've only come out as slightly positive is that:
it had to be sanded and re stained/chinking.
we had to deal with bat issue around chimney - house had to get wildlife mesh around all accessible areas.
mowing - $1000 2x/mth - I know. don't have a heart attack.
All these issue are either taken care of now, or we will be able to do ourselves when we move there full time.
property management/real agent take 20%. they charge $560 for 2 night. We think that's ridiculous and would charge less and think we would be successful, due to far more bookings. I gave $30K as a low ball.

We would live in a tiny house ( Pbkmaine :)  ) and rent out main house. We figured it would be fun and do it for 10 yrs. I was planning on working for 5 yrs after moving there. I can work remotely, but probably more travel and nothing is certain. Job opportunities are very poor it the area.

After discussing, I think we will call realtor and get ball rolling on listing it. So sad, but this morning we have been running all these retirements projections depending on savings, investment,spending etc. The difference is a lot when you put the starting point at $800K vs $67K.  I think we could make it work, but we would have significantly less.

Thanks for helping us think this through. If only we had found MMM before we made this decision.


kbear

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2016, 02:21:59 PM »
WyomingGuy,

    So yes, we bought the property because we fell in love with it- roll of eyes. originally we had been looking for something way smaller.
The reason we haven't moved there is because kids are in amazing schools, and they both have a lot going on with soccer/theater/AP classes etc.
 Our property is in the middle of the Mountains.
We bought the property thinking of ourselves - we love the out doors/ nature/ hiking/soap making/knitting/cooking/gardening - sound like an old couple. Meanwhile, we have been stuck in a massive city, surrounded by people who are very different from us.  Nice people, but we feel like it's The Capitol from Hunger Games - ha,ha :)
It was just too early. Live and learn. I think we will be fine.
Thanks again.

FINate

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2016, 02:44:38 PM »
I think you should slow things down before making a big change.

The great recession was scary for you which triggered big investment decisions. It sounds like you're still worried about the stock market.

Based on the information provided, it seems to me that selling the property is right decision, but you should sell it for the right reasons and be comfortable with the alternatives. Run the numbers for different scenarios to see if there is any way to make it work right now - can you mow less of the property and/or less often, what about renting it right now as a full time residence (management fees should also be lower), can you "vacation" there 1-2 weeks a year and do some of the work yourself?

My fear is that you will sell the property and roll everything into mutual funds, then the market has a correction and you get scared and pull back on stocks, then in 5 years (not very long in stock market terms) be looking to buy property again.

I see nothing wrong with waiting a few weeks on this.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2016, 02:49:47 PM by FINate »

kbear

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2016, 04:02:19 PM »
FINate,

 You are spot on with the mowing and that was our plan. This summer ended up being so busy with work, kids taking summer classes, so they could get a free period during soccer season, etc.  The original plan was to do as you suggested. The big problem is the property is a 15 hr drive away. Time is such an issue!!
  I think it's fine to get property listed, b/c I would imagine it'll take longer than a regular house to sell due to price and location - the group of prospective buyer is smaller than in a traditional circumstance. This will give us time to make a plan or change our minds. Also, election will be over and volatility from that over.  Maybe mix of something much smaller land wise, half index funds, rental or two etc. We will have to think about it.
  Also, you are right about about our fear. I swear I wish I wasn't so interested in economics. The World derivative market has surpassed a quadrillion -What!?! Did you know Keynes was head of the eugenics society and his big love was sociology. He thought people were inherently stupid(other than himself) and we needed a large central government to control us - this is whose economic ideology we are following. China, deutsche bank,Italy/France/Spain, the huge housing bubbles in Canada,Australia - how do you all sleep at night? - ha,ha,ha - yes I'm a bit of a freak.
  So you are 100% right and we would have to be 100% committed to not touching anything we put in the market until the time planned.
  Thanks for your thoughtful response.

WyomingGuy

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2016, 04:10:17 PM »
I agree with FINate (kudos to him). Slow the roll. Your position may be better than you think. You just need to do the math.

If you sell it (and I'm not convinced the analytics have been run yet to justify that decision), you should also think about what you would do with the proceeds, and when. Do you dump it all into the market at once? I wouldn't. You would lose the benefit of steady and periodic 401k-esque investments over a lifetime -- i.e., dollar-cost averaging. In contrast, tossing ~$700K into the market on a specific date is akin to gambling, depending on one's NW.

If the property in the area is appreciating, perhaps another decision is warranted.

Be ruthlessly analytically. Dispense of emotion.

FINate

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2016, 06:30:31 PM »
The danger of rushing to list ASAP is getting a mediocre offer. You feel you've made a mistake, and the real estate agent is primarily motivated to close the sale even if the offer isn't very good. The feeling that you've made a mistake may be prompting you to try and "fix" the situation quickly to ameliorate your emotions. Making emotional investment decisions is a path to financial ruin.

Waiting two weeks will be uncomfortable as you sit with your emotions, but it's very unlikely to make a material difference in the real estate market and it will allow emotions to subside and give you time to make a dispassionate decision.

You may run the numbers and find out that, even in the most optimistic scenario, the dream property doesn't pencil out. That is, even if you could do all the mowing yourself, and get a long-term tenant, the property just doesn't yield enough return to make your retirement plans a reality. This could be a bitter pill to swallow because it means your big picture plans aren't realistic given your current situation. But better to learn that now rather than making the same mistake 5-10 years later when it will be even more difficult to recover from. Or you may find out that with some changes it make sense to keep it, which will save on transaction fees.

As WyomingGuy mentioned, you also really need to have a plan for the proceeds if you do decide to sell. I would not try to time the market, but I also would not put anything in the market that I intend to use within 10 years.

WyomingGuy

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2016, 07:55:23 PM »
+ FINate

Seconded.

waltworks

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2016, 08:58:19 PM »
Um, an $800k house that makes you $30k a year is a TERRIBLE investment. Good lord...

This place sounds like a disaster to run as a rental. $2k/mo to mow? And you want to *do it yourself*?!? How long does that take, several days? It's got chinking (made of logs??!?) and animal infestation problems?!?

IMO the property was a terrible idea to buy, and using it as a vacation rental is an even worse idea, probably. I'd rid myself of it ASAP and diversify, pile up savings like crazy and wait for the kids to head for college to make any drastic changes. You'll be all set by then with just a tiny bit of frugality.

-W

kbear

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2016, 12:04:03 AM »
waltworks,
  Ha,ha, had to laugh at your frankness. Thanks for the brutal honesty.
 

Axecleaver

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2016, 11:25:06 AM »
I believe you're phased out of making traditional IRA contributions for your wife, since you have a 401k plan at work. See: https://www.irs.gov/publications/p590a/ch01.html#en_US_2015_publink1000230467. You can make backdoor Roth contributions for both of you instead.

Agree with the other posters that this doesn't sound like a viable retirement property. The maintenance costs alone on an 800k property are going to take up huge amounts of your income. Mowers, fruit tree sprayers, offroad vehicles, tractors, etc. And that's not even counting problems with the house, itself. Especially if you've been deferring maintenance on it for the last several years.

Maybe the thing to do, is to list it for $1m now. See what happens. If it doesn't sell, then you still have to figure out how to generate enough money to keep from being "house poor" once you make the move. The more you can stash now, the better. Also keep in mind that at your new, higher income, a lot higher % of your income will be eaten up by taxes. Max out your tax deferred space now, and stash more in your after-tax accounts. Make sure to take advantage of Backdoor Roth IRAs, or the mega-backdoor Roth if you can. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Another Reader

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2016, 11:43:14 AM »
If you are worried about the impact of the election on stocks, you should also be worried about the impact on the real estate market.  I don't know in your area what the prime time to sell vacation properties is, but I would lean towards pricing it to sell and being done with this.  It's not a good investment and you are not able to occupy it now.

I would not put all the proceeds in the market, assuming you close before the election.  I would put small amounts in over time as we feel our way through the post-election climate.  I think the market is overvalued by historical standards and caution is appropriate here. 

caseyzee

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2016, 01:36:58 PM »
I don't think that you should do anything drastic immediately.  I do think that you should get over to bogleheads and start learning as much about investments as you can.  You're so very nervous about it, I think some education could go a long way.

boarder42

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2016, 02:10:44 PM »
If you are worried about the impact of the election on stocks, you should also be worried about the impact on the real estate market.  I don't know in your area what the prime time to sell vacation properties is, but I would lean towards pricing it to sell and being done with this.  It's not a good investment and you are not able to occupy it now.

I would not put all the proceeds in the market, assuming you close before the election.  I would put small amounts in over time as we feel our way through the post-election climate.  I think the market is overvalued by historical standards and caution is appropriate here.

so you're recommendation is to DCA and to market time.  both are worse decisions than lump sum investing.

lhamo

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2016, 02:20:25 PM »
You might also want to do some serious research before choosing an agent, and try to get someone who specializes in the kind of clientele that would not bat an eye at sinking 1mm+ into a rural western estate.  Maybe Brad Pitt needs another place with a river running through it these days....

Seriously, though, we were able to get a premium when we sold our co-op apartment in Queens by choosing an agent from a big Manhattan agency, rather than relying on one of the local neighborhood agents.  I guessed (correctly, as it turned out), that there were probably many buyers who were feeling disappointed with what they could get in Manhattan in our price range, and would be wowed by the first nice Queens apartment they saw.  Ours had excellent "bones" -- 2+ br, 2 bath, 1100 sq ft (big for NYC), in a well maintained building in a historic district.  We got an offer after our first open house, for just under list price (listed at $285k, which our agent thought was high, sold for $280k).  We had purchased just 2.5 years earlier for $118.5k. 

I would look at big agencies in LA, SFO and NYC that specialize in high end properties -- places like Southebys come to mind.

Another Reader

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2016, 05:40:31 PM »
If you are worried about the impact of the election on stocks, you should also be worried about the impact on the real estate market.  I don't know in your area what the prime time to sell vacation properties is, but I would lean towards pricing it to sell and being done with this.  It's not a good investment and you are not able to occupy it now.

I would not put all the proceeds in the market, assuming you close before the election.  I would put small amounts in over time as we feel our way through the post-election climate.  I think the market is overvalued by historical standards and caution is appropriate here.

so you're recommendation is to DCA and to market time.  both are worse decisions than lump sum investing.

That's exactly what I am suggesting.  Sometimes history and therefore the odds support market timing.  Markets hate uncertainty.  We are going to have a lot of uncertainty between now and January.  Because of that I am being very cautious with new money and when asked, I advise others of what I am doing and why.

ender

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #25 on: September 26, 2016, 05:54:29 PM »
If you are worried about the impact of the election on stocks, you should also be worried about the impact on the real estate market.  I don't know in your area what the prime time to sell vacation properties is, but I would lean towards pricing it to sell and being done with this.  It's not a good investment and you are not able to occupy it now.

I would not put all the proceeds in the market, assuming you close before the election.  I would put small amounts in over time as we feel our way through the post-election climate.  I think the market is overvalued by historical standards and caution is appropriate here.

so you're recommendation is to DCA and to market time.  both are worse decisions than lump sum investing.

Given the OP's uncertainty and fear factor that I read from their posts, I suspect DCA is a better option psychologically.

Telecaster

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2016, 06:07:48 PM »
  Also, you are right about about our fear. I swear I wish I wasn't so interested in economics. The World derivative market has surpassed a quadrillion -What!?! Did you know Keynes was head of the eugenics society and his big love was sociology. He thought people were inherently stupid(other than himself) and we needed a large central government to control us - this is whose economic ideology we are following. China, deutsche bank,Italy/France/Spain, the huge housing bubbles in Canada,Australia - how do you all sleep at night? - ha,ha,ha - yes I'm a bit of a freak.
 

There is always something to worry about.

--Peter Lynch


jodelino

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2016, 06:32:55 PM »
If you really, truly, deeply love this property, and really think you can make it more profitable after you move there in four years, I think you should slow way down, and run the numbers on your plan of saving $100K per year for 4 years, moving to the property, continuing to work remotely from there, and continuing your to add to your savings. Those numbers might not be so scary.

And think hard about how you would feel if you liquidate the property and invest in the stock market just in time to reap the losses of a 30% correction.




SwordGuy

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2016, 06:51:04 PM »
That house sounds like a terrible investment income property. 

Very little return and very high expenses.  $1000/month to mow!   You realize that when you get old you'll have trouble doing the mowing for yourselves?    Your old age costs will increase by $6000 to $12000 depending on where the growing season.

Here's a link about investing in stocks.   If you are going to move your money to the stock market, there are things you simply need to know.  Not only know "intellectually", but know in every emotional part of your being.  Otherwise you'll panic and lose your money.   

http://jlcollinsnh.com/stock-series/

This series has a lot of solid wisdom in it and really explains index investing well.   

Best of luck.   

Telecaster

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2016, 07:11:53 PM »
If you really, truly, deeply love this property

Never fall in love with something that can't love you back

--Anonymous

kbear

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Re: Have we made a big mistake?
« Reply #30 on: September 26, 2016, 07:23:05 PM »
 
Axecleaver - we will definitely look into the backdoor Roths, thanks.
 
So, we are going to list the property. Like I said the pool of buyers is smaller so I wouldn't be surprised if it took a year if not more to get an offer we liked. IIt's all whose looking and what they are looking for - right?
I do think the market is due for correction(could be a big one - ha ha couldn't help myself), but that also probably means the same for real estate. We will just have to see how everything works out timing wise, and make the appropriate call at that time. I'll return to get some input /advice when we reach that point, want to make sure all avenues have been thought through :)

Hey, things will work out fine. We are not panicked. We will be fine, because we are savers. We have made big mistakes, b/c we could have been way better off if we had never left the market.
We are listing because we will be better off fiscally by diversifying in the long run.
What ever happens we won't starve. :)
You guys have an awesome forum here, and it's so nice to see people helping each other out. Thank you for all the advice!!