Thursday, August 16, 2012

At Least the Mortgage is Paid, Right?

At least, this is what Jeff and I have been trying to say to ourselves for the last two years. We knew that a move to another city and attempts to sell our house in a market that was still dropping was going to be difficult. As difficult as it has been for several reasons, we don't regret our move to Fort Wayne. It has been good for both of us professionally, our family has more time together, and God shows us over and over that this is where we are supposed to be. But that doesn't change the fact that our second house still sits in Indianapolis, unsold and currently occupied by a second renter.

Seven years ago we bought what was supposed to be our second starter house when we moved to Indy. We couldn't afford to buy our "dream" house, and so the hope was that we would buy a cheaper house with little money down, avoid spending money on rent that we would never see back, and after five years or so, we would sell our house at a profit and take any other money that we had saved and buy a bigger, nicer house. We figured that by then we would be in great shape financially, we would probably have at least one kid, and we would most likely be quickly outgrowing our small one story, three bedroom, one and a half bath house. And five years later, we were in better shape financially, we did have one kid, and we felt like we were starting to outgrow our house. Then came a job transfer at the same time that the bottom was falling out of the housing market, and no one knew just deep the bottom was. We had to move to another city, so we had to do something with our house.

When we moved to the Fort in the middle of summer, our house was still on the market. We purchased our house here, moved, and left a nearly empty house in Indy. We bought our fixer-upper and continued to make payments in Indy, hoping and praying that the house would be out of our hands soon, but nothing was moving in our neighborhood. Our realtor started looking for renters and we waited for good news. Then we made our first month of double payments (which we would have been doing whether we purchased or rented a house here). Two more months went by and we were still making double payments when we finally found a renter. Finally our mortgage payments were covered, or at least they were covered for 12 months. Once that lease was up the house sat empty for two more months, and when we finally got a good phone call from our realtor with news that our new renters wanted a 15 month lease we were elated. Our mortgage would be covered for longer than a year, and maybe by the time the lease was up the market would have improved enough that we could finally get rid of our house and at the very least break even.

We never heard "boo" from our last renter, besides a couple minor household repairs. I wish I could say that same about the current renters. First the coil on the water heater needed to be replaced. Then a couple months later, the hard water (and the house has really hard water) finally made it clear that the water heater needed to be replaced. We knew that this would need to happen eventually, we were just hoping that the house would be sold before it needed to be done. Most recently we have had several problems with the two and a half year old air conditioner. We got a call last week telling us that it was out and someone from the office had been sent out to see what the problem was to fix it. A fix was apparently made and we got another phone call. It still wasn't working. We insisted on calling the people who installed the HVAC unit and after a series of phone calls and arrangements, they went out there, fixed a leak, and replaced all the coolant that had leaked out. We got another call. It still wasn't working, the tenant was raising a stink and insisted on someone coming out to look at the unit so, going over our head and the head of our realtor, someone was sent out to look at it again and gave the diagnosis of another leak. Angry that there was still a problem, I insisted that the original installers go back out there. After all, we had paid them already and if the problem wasn't fixed then they needed to fix it. Plus, we were seriously concerned that the more people that looked at the unit, the more likely we were to void the warranty. The final diagnosis today? Possible water in the line and a cheap filter that was being sucked into the motor.

Frustrated doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about the situation. Jeff reminds me that I would be upset if the roles were reversed, and possibly, but our tenant was so insistent and kept raising such a stink that there was one unnecessary fix, and with that many people looking at it, we have no way of knowing what the original problem was. And all this during the coolest two weeks of an unbearably hot summer. A period of time where air-conditioning was nice and helpful on a couple days, but not absolutely necessary. Not like when the unit was last replaced. It was January, the coldest week of the winter so far, and not only were we worried about freezing and cracking pipes, but we had a baby who needed a house that was warmer than 45 degrees. Ok, so maybe I'm not being very sympathetic, but I'm frustrated and tired. I'm tired of spending money that doesn't exist on a house that we do not live in and don't intend to live in again. I'm tired of having a second mortgage on our credit report. I'm tired of phone calls that are nothing but bad news. I'm tired of wondering if we bought the wrong house seven years ago or we were just victims of the crash. Jeff has never made much of a secret of the fact that he didn't love our house in Indy. It was much smaller than our first house and didn't have any of the "musts" that we had agreed on. But in five years I put a lot of myself into the house. I painted every room except the smallest bedroom and half bath. We tore out carpet in two rooms and laid down beautiful laminate flooring. We redid a cramped and outdated kitchen. And all those improvements will most likely not mean a thing when we finally sell. At this point I'm just hoping to not owe money when someone else gets to sign the next 30 years of their lives away to own our house. Yes, we have rental income that covers our monthly mortgage payments, but what is it costing us?

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