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Sell or Keep House after becoming a Snowbird?
Old 03-15-2021, 07:47 AM   #1
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Sell or Keep House after becoming a Snowbird?

Hi All, Question for the snowbirds. Did you keep your house up North or did you sell it and come back North in the summer to something different?

I have no attachment to my house up North but my wife may not want to spend the full year down South. She wants to keep the house but I would rather sell it and instead get a Airbnb or stay in a place like Extended Stay America rather than hang onto the house. My feeling is this. Why deal with property taxes, insurance and maintenance when these options make it so easy to be so mobile these days? In addition, the extra income provided by investing the home sale proceeds would be really nice.

Am I missing something? Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 03-15-2021, 08:00 AM   #2
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I would not be eager to own two single family houses, though a house and a condominium would be OK.

It appears that we will spend up to 10% of our time at a beach area where we have many friends about 4 hours from home. For that, an Airbnb or extended stay hotel will be fine, especially since summer-season stays will be rare. Much beyond that, the economics could make us consider a condo.
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Old 03-15-2021, 08:15 AM   #3
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Is it a winter climate? If you keep your house who will shovel snow, check the furnace, and do all the other things that an empty house requires? I bet your insurance company also has specific policies regarding how long you can leave the house empty and how often someone must check up on it.
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Old 03-15-2021, 08:22 AM   #4
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Is it a winter climate? If you keep your house who will shovel snow, check the furnace, and do all the other things that an empty house requires? I bet your insurance company also has specific policies regarding how long you can leave the house empty and how often someone must check up on it.

Yup in NY. Always thought we could get a guy to shovel snow, never even thought about checking the furnace but thanks for bringing it up!
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Old 03-15-2021, 08:30 AM   #5
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Yup in NY. Always thought we could get a guy to shovel snow, never even thought about checking the furnace but thanks for bringing it up!


We have family around us in PA, so wed never give up the house. Were more likely to give up the Florida condo as we age.
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Old 03-15-2021, 08:31 AM   #6
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Depends if you are house people or apartment people. We like our own stuff and our own beds and our own art - we're house people who enjoy the blue skies and sunshine of SoCal in the winter and the glorious burgeoning green of Oregon in the summer. Every year we come home twice and sigh with satisfaction. For us the maintenance issue and logistics are just a modest cost that we are still capable of paying.
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Old 03-15-2021, 08:33 AM   #7
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This is a tough question I have to face soon and have not been able to make a decision, my main concern would be the process and cost of selling the house and all the furniture and belongings.
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Old 03-15-2021, 08:39 AM   #8
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I'd compromise here: Migrate south, keep the house up north, then decide in a year or two if you'll really want to come back as much as your wife thinks now.
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Old 03-15-2021, 09:01 AM   #9
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I might consider this someday if I were confident I would be spending a significant amount of time in each place and I had the financial resources to carry two homes.

However my tastes and preferences change over time. One season I might want to spend a few months in Miamj, another time maybe the Gulf Coast if Florida, I live Arizona, etc etc.

My advice - rent a place near your southern destination for a couple of seasons. If you still
like it then maybe buy.
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Old 03-15-2021, 09:11 AM   #10
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I'd compromise here: Migrate south, keep the house up north, then decide in a year or two if you'll really want to come back as much as your wife thinks now.
This is what the snowbirds I know well have done. They kept the house for a few years and gradually extended the time away. Once the time away got to be the majority or close to it, they sold the original home and just stayed in a hotel when they came back to visit.


My concern would be maintenance and monitoring of the vacant home. What if the power goes out for a while? What if the roof leaks or a pipe breaks and nobody is there to notice? What if the heater dies in the dead of winter? Obviously, those things could happen even when we're just on vacation for a week, but the odds increase when you're talking about being away for months at a time.
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Old 03-15-2021, 09:32 AM   #11
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I think it also depends on what your snowbird accommodations are. Is it a house type that could be a permanent residence you are happy with? Or is it a small condo type that you would be feeling cramped and wanting to have more space and yard? Your wife's concern about the weather is valid, there are many examples of people moving south and then deciding that the summer heat is too much.


I like the idea of give the new place a year or two and decide later. There will be some costs for the northern house, but keeping it for a while may help you make a decision that works best for you.
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Old 03-15-2021, 09:37 AM   #12
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At the bottom, what you are asking about is a real estate investment that you just happen to already own. Since real estate prices are very localized, a lot depends on the location. I would run, not walk, away from any property in a state like IL with serious financial problems and a steady flow of people leaving. Same-o for the popular areas of CA, other big cities. Assuming the house is not leveraged, the big picture on houses is that they can't increase in value much more than the average household income, which is IIRC a couple of points above inflation. So, a pretty risky investment for only a modest return IMO.

Other factors, like possibly moving back, may dominate. But also consider the loss of the owner-occupied tax shelter if you hold too long and the basis step-up if it ends up in your estate.
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Old 03-15-2021, 09:45 AM   #13
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As long as your DW wants to keep the house up north, I would keep it and rent down south for a few years. Then reassess and find what your DW's thoughts are at that time.

We snowbirded to our Az condo for several winters and kept our Illinois house. We have since sold our Az condo and now live in Illinois 100% in an elder care situation.

I enjoyed owning 2 places for 17 years, but I won't do it again. I don't want to deal with the extra work needed to maintain 2 places, even if 1 is a condo. I'd rather live full time somewhere warm.
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Old 03-15-2021, 10:54 AM   #14
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We kept our home but we did downsize considerably.

We considered buying a snowbird home but decided against it at this time. We were looking at Mexico, Costa Rica. The numbers did not work unless we were spending 3/4 plus months in one location.

We do snowbird but our preference is to travel to various countires. Since retiring we have spent snowbird seasons in Mexico, Central/South America, SE Asia, and Australia. We are not ready to go to the same place each year or for the entire winter. We still have snowbird like destinations on our respective bucket lists so a snowbird home or condo purchase is not on our horizon at this point in time.
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Old 03-15-2021, 11:10 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Ncc1701 View Post
I have no attachment to my house up North but my wife may not want to spend the full year down South. She wants to keep the house but I would rather sell it
Am I missing something? Thanks for your thoughts.
Yes, you are missing something: Happy wife, happy life!
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Old 03-15-2021, 11:31 AM   #16
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Yes, you are missing something: Happy wife, happy life!
Yup, property taxes are cheaper than divorce. Plus you or she may decide the south isn't for you after awhile.
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Old 03-15-2021, 11:36 AM   #17
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I think the two of you have to come to an agreement about this. If you sell the house up north, and she loves it, that could create some resentful feelings. If you don't sell that house, you'll have to maintain it throughout the wintertime from a distance (which sounds less than ideal).

I think you would be better off choosing to have a house in only one location, and visiting the other.

But bear in mind that I really don't "get" the psychology of being a snow-bird. To me, snow-birding (or even having two houses in any two different locations that are not within a day's drive of one another) is the ultimate expression of wishy-washy-ness and indecision, I do not admire it, and I would never do it. I am working on improving my attitude wrt snow-birding, which I know is faulty, but that's how I feel right now. I know that snow-birds see it differently and, y'know, different strokes for different folks and all that.
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Old 03-15-2021, 11:39 AM   #18
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Yes, you are missing something: Happy wife, happy life!
HAHA..Yeah I know. And even though we could swing two homes, when you add up the expenses, the opportunity cost and the worry about leaving maintenance to someone else while we're gone, it seems like such a waste of money and unnecessary worry, I'm sure I could convince her to sell.

But I thank those who suggested to keep the up north home a year or two before selling. That is viable but the only reason I shy away from the idea is because I would have to sell investments at a gain to pay for the southern home and I was hoping to use the proceeds from the Northern home sale..
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Old 03-15-2021, 11:45 AM   #19
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But I thank those who suggested to keep the up north home a year or two before selling. That is viable but the only reason I shy away from the idea is because I would have to sell investments at a gain to pay for the southern home and I was hoping to use the proceeds from the Northern home sale..
How about borrowing against the north home to pay for the south home. Then when you decide to sell the north home, you pay off the HEL.


The other thing to think about is if you actually want to buy the south place right away or if it's better to rent for the first year or two to make sure you like the location and everything that goes with it (unless you've already done that part of the process).
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Old 03-15-2021, 11:54 AM   #20
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How about borrowing against the north home to pay for the south home. Then when you decide to sell the north home, you pay off the HEL.


The other thing to think about is if you actually want to buy the south place right away or if it's better to rent for the first year or two to make sure you like the location and everything that goes with it (unless you've already done that part of the process).

Thanks interesting idea, though I can't imagine the HELOC being large enough to pay for the southern home. Even with the northern home paid off, they will base the line amount off of income which will be minimal to moderate as a new retiree. I wonder if bridge loans are still a thing.
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