DC Real Estate Talk: Why We Decided to Sell Our DC Rental House

I actually wrote about why we decided to sell our DC rental house for Apartment Therapy, so, while I planned on writing an entire blog post on it, it’s probably best to simply highlight a few quotes here and direct y’all to the article.

My Article in Apartment Therapy

The article I wrote was titled, 4 Reasons I Quit Being A Landlord. There were many reasons we decided to sell our DC rental house and here’s some of what I shared in the article about why we came to this decision.

“Our house was nearly 100 years old. It had been renovated roughly a decade ago and, beyond one leaking bathroom — a $10,000 fix — we hadn’t dealt with major issues. But we knew they were coming. The price tag of replacing a roof, a fence, or even front porch columns could easily add up.”

“We knew the rowhouse wouldn’t be our forever home. We also knew we might not see a market this hot anytime soon. Selling during a seller’s market was a no-brainer.”

Was There Anything I Didn’t Share in the Article?

The article covered the high points — the market was hot and property taxes had become so awful that it literally was not financially feasible to continuing renting. We could not command the rent we would need to cover the mortgage plus sky high taxes on rental income, maintenance, and potential repairs. For the hard numbers, our mortgage went from $2,100 to $2,700, and the absolute highest we could get in rent was $3,400. With $700 leftover, that was barely enough to cover the required tax and maintenance costs.

There were two points I didn’t touch on in the article, so I’ll share those now.

First, violent crime has increased in DC in 2020 and 2021, and the once-quiet rental house neighborhood has seen its fair share. Obviously, the hope is that’s just cyclical and will come to an end soon, but taking the chance that it could get worse, particularly as we might try to sell, didn’t seem like a great decision.

Second, we wanted to buy another property! We had been looking at river houses seriously for about six months and, while initially did not plan to connect that purchase to selling the rental, we realized that, whenever we sold the rental, we would need to buy something immediately to avoid capital gains tax. Already knowing we wanted the river house and with a top-dollar market, we decided now was the time to go for it. I can go more in depth into how we made this work in a future post!

So, there you have it, this is why we decided the landlord life was not for us anymore (or at least for now). If someone was to ask me if I’d recommend buying rental property in DC, honestly, I’d say no. We happened to fall into it with a house Adam had bought and lived in, yet I didn’t want to live in, but I’m not sure we would have chosen this path had those circumstances not presented themselves. The market is too expensive, taxes, both property and income, are too high, and it’s hard to make it make sense.

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