So you considering a trip around one of the most beautiful countries in the world but what to do with your house? It’s so great to be in the “Pre-lap planning phase” but before you start setting a date you need to weigh up selling or renting the family home? What did other travellers do with their house, did they sell or did they rent it?
It’s a great question and a question we struggled with for a long time before we left. It felt like every second day we’d change our decision and it was quite stressful.
Our biggest concerns were if we sold:
- what if we hate travelling?
- what if the girls get sick?
- what if we don’t find another place that feels like home?
- are we selling in the right market?
- what would our backup plan be if we ran out of money?
But making the decision to rent wasn’t easy either. We had just as many concerns like:
- what if we have terrible tenants?
- how can we pay the mortgage?
- will our house get trashed?
- how can we get back to do inspections?
- how much extra money will we need to keep the house going?
The first thing we did was we had a few real estate agents in the local area come to the house. We got them to give us a current selling price and weekly rental figure. This gave us a better insight on our property value, costs and current rental/selling market.
So what did we decide to do with our house……. we ended up doing both! Based on our current selling market we decided that renting our property would suit us best. Because we had never been landlords before we thought the smarter decision would be to hire a local real estate to handle the property. We thought because they deal with rentals every day they would be our best option, man we were wrong!
Renting our property wasn’t a smooth process and just added a lot more stress to the start of our adventure. Our real estate made errors on our contract and neglected to insure our property properly. It wasn’t discovered until I did a lot more research. There was the problem….I was so busy focusing on everything else I didn’t do enough research!
Here are some things to consider before signing a contract with a real estate:
- Internet search: Get on Google and look for current reviews on the real estate. Just because it’s local and they look busy doesn’t mean they are any good. See if you can find some decent constructive feedback (positive or negative) on dealing with them
- Compare Real estates: have more than one real estate to come to your property to do an appraisal. This might help you negotiate on the fees they want to charge you.
- What are the exact costs? Get in writing a full breakdown of the costs involved (agent fees, administration fees, let fee, insurance, photographs of the property etc)
- Do you want your tenants to pay for water? What are they responsible for and what will your costs be?
- Ask what happens if the tenants don’t pay rent or damage the property? How long will it take to get them out and what is the procedure (and costs)? Ask them if this is common and do they have any current landlords going through this. They have to be fully honest in disclosing this information!
- Who will be your manager? Ask who exactly will be managing your property and meet them before signing the contract! We made a mistake with assuming the real estate manager would be looking after our property. But as soon as the contract was signed we were handed over to a non-experienced 18-year-old who made several errors on our contract/entry report.
- Contact your State Rental Authority – Get online and get educated on your rights and responsibilities with renting your property. Also, ask what your real estate responsible for? And what are your tenant’s rights? Do you have a pool? Check what your legal responsibilities are. In our situation with our real estate, we had to sign an indemnity form (which apparently is pretty standard) which covers the real estate for any mistakes they make! We found our State Rental Authority were always really helpful when we would call them and more than happy to send you out information. I wish we had contacted them in the beginning as it would have helped me a lot.
With being a rookie at being a landlord our biggest mistake was that we trusted our real estate and didn’t educate ourselves properly before leaving. We were so stressed with the pack up we didn’t understand the full costs involved and we hadn’t budgeted correctly, this could have ruined our trip.
Because our real estate had made some serious errors with our property we were able to break our contract (at no cost). We decided to self-manage our property while we travelled. Self-managing a property while travelling saved us money but had it’s moments as well. The positive was we had direct contact with the tenant and could arrange maintenance issues easier. But on the other hand, we had to do a lot more work. We had to make sure the tenant was paying on time, organise maintenance, make sure we were doing everything legally correct, pay all the bills on time and do all of this while we were on the move. Because we didn’t have a real estate we needed to come home a lot more to do inspections which in turn added more costs to keeping the property.
After two years of self-managing our property, we decided enough was enough. We love our house but right now we love living on the road. We also realised that some of our pre-travel fears did come true and we never needed to go home, we worked it out while being on the road. So it was much easier making the decision to sell as we knew that we didn’t want to return to this house after we finished travelling.
The two positives with keeping the house for an extra two years meant we sold in a much better market and travelling made us realise that home can be made anywhere. As long as we had our family it really didn’t matter where we lived 🙂
Would you give any other advice to travellers on renting or selling before their trip?
Note: This is general information and a personal experience from us.