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sell "as-is," repair/update and sell, or repair/update and keep as investment

I have a two bedroom, one bath 100 year old house in a boom/bust town (in Wyoming--natural gas and coal industry is the primary income in the area). I have had it on the market for over 6 months with some interest but no formal offers. I am currently attempting to sell it "as is."

It is a great house for someone who wants to realize its potential and live in it, or for an investor as a "flip" or a rental property. I bought it to make it a home, not as an investment, but didn't have a chance to realize any of its potential before a work opportunity took me to a town about 6 hours away.

I am a little lost about how to proceed from here. With the market as it is, I am afraid that I am in a lose-lose situation. I can either continue sitting on it and try to sell it "as is" and paying the mortgage (a loss) or start putting money into repairs--this would increase interest and make the house more marketable but it's money that I might not get back on the sale.

There is a part of me that wants to start working on it and ride out the market to realize a return on the investment in a few years, with renting it out possibly playing a part within that time period. My gut tells me that it could definitely be a decent investment, but I am immobilized by fear. On the other hand, there would be substantial relief if it just went away.

What may be clouding the whole issue for me is my emotional attachment to the house. I love old houses and secretly want to be a carpenter/handyman. In my mind, I can picture the house completed. It has 10' ceilings, wood floors, nice original trim, tall windows, and a claw foot tub. It's in a nice little neighborhood a few blocks from "downtown," and across from a park.

On the non-emotional side, here is some of what needs doing on the house:

new roof
new heating system (currently there are ugly natural gas units in three rooms that vent to the outside--large and ugly)
drywall on top of plaster and lath (not done well), no insulation
floors refinished
kitchen updated/redone
partial electrical upgrade
front porch rebuilt
addition jacked up to pour footings

Luckily (or not, depending), I got ahold of the house before any substantial renovating/redesigning happened, so there isn't too much that has to be "undone."

Can anyone help a girl that can't make a decision?

A. Spruce
Re: sell "as-is," repair/update and sell, or repair/update and keep as investment

This is a predicament that many folks have found themselves in. The answer lies in whether or not you have the funds to afford to keep two properties, much less, the funds to have two properties and be considering major renovation expenses on one that you're not even living in.

Leaving the home vacant isn't really an option as the house will adversely suffer without maintenance, as well as attract squatters and vandals. In this economy, many townships have instituted stiff regulation over vacant properties, with harsh penalties to the owner should the house fall into disrepair (unkempt yard, vandal damage, healt and safety issues, etc. )

Keeping the house as a rental is feasible if you trust yourself (or a management company ) to find good, trustworthy tenants. However, if the house is not in decent livable shape, then finding such a renter will be tough. There are pitfalls of being a landlord, so do some research to learn what landlord and tenant rights are and weigh them in your decision.

Dumping money into repairs is a sticky situation. Generally, minor repairs and curb appeal improvements will make a house sell more quickly and easily, whether you recoup your investment will depend on the extent of the repairs and the current housing market. Half of the repair items you list are fairly expensive and extensive. You won't likely be able to do them without a financial loss on your part. For instance, to reroof you're looking at about $100 per square (100 square feet ) for materials alone, labor can double that cost depending on certain factors. The foundation work won't be cheap either and may fall under "title 1" repairs when a house / pest inspection. "Title 1" repairs are mandatory repairs required by the mortgage lender. "Title 2" repairs are generally negotiable points between the seller and buyer, they are not usually mandatory. Selling the house "as is" can get you around much of those problems.

Re: sell "as-is," repair/update and sell, or repair/update and keep as investment

Thanks so much for the thorough and thoughtful reply, ASpruce. Everything that you said makes complete sense. Since I posted my question, I may have found a renter (although my description made the house sound like it's falling down, it's actually pretty comfortable). If this works out the way it's looking now, I may be able to kill several birds with a single stone. Keep your fingers crossed for me! Thanks again for taking the time to consider my dilemma. Again, this is a great online community.

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