But it could have been worse
We were just ten minutes outside of Washington, D.C.
Our condo selling experience ended up to be a losing scenario. When my wife and I moved to take a job in the civil rights arena in Washington, D.C. in 2005, we rented a friend’s condo while it was up for sale. Just as they were about to pull it off the market almost a year later, they found a buyer.
We had looked at apartments for rent and condos for sale when we first moved there because we knew that moving was in the cards. We had even put a deposit down on a place further out from Washington, D.C. It was a nice, new condo complex with all the amenities we wanted except that the commute would be rather long, and we weren’t sure that we wanted to buy.
Since we expected our stay to be only for two years, we did not originally intend or want to buy a place. Many people we met told us that we would be there longer. They said that they also had intended to stay for only two years but ended up there for ten, twenty, thirty years, or more. We assured them that we planned to only stay for two years as we were already past normal retirement age at the time.
When it became evident that our friend’s condo that we were renting had sold, we rented an apartment that we had previously looked at in Arlington, Virginia. There was a bus stop right outside the building where you could ride a bus to the Pentagon, where you would take a ten-minute metro ride to the District of Columbia. They let us move in with no deposit so we rented the apartment.
A year later, they were selling out all the apartment units as condos. When we were told that someone was interested in our apartment for purchase, we were given the option to buy it first. It had become evident that we could be staying in Washington, D.C. for another five years because of a change in job responsibilities. I had become the National Executive Director/CEO of the civil rights organization.
Realtors and tax people with whom we talked advised us that purchasing would always be a winning situation so we opted to buy the condo. At 2007 prices, the two bedroom two bath condo cost as much as the 5,000 square foot home we had sold in Utah before making the move. However, it seemed that we could not go wrong with the purchase which would mean that we would not have to move.
Friends in the area who were there on a temporary basis and rented apartments told us that they had to move every year when their lease was up or face a rent increase. Buying a condo at that time seemed like the best option. Everyone said there was no way we would lose on the purchase.
The unforeseen happenings of 2008 caused the real estate markets to tank, and the value of our condo plummeted considerably. A year after we purchased our unit, the same size units were selling for at least $100,000 less with additional benefits thrown in such as a year’s worth of condo fees paid and additional garage parking spaces. Buyers were being given incentives, which were never considered for us the year before then.
We knew that if we sold even after five years, it could be at a considerable loss. We would have to pay potentially a large amount of money out of savings to get out of the deal.
However, as luck would have it, and because we knew we did not want to lose too much money, my employment continued a little longer than expected. I retired from that job, and we had planned to leave the area although we knew it might be at a financial loss. We thought we would stay as long as we could while I did some consulting jobs to bring income into the picture. Then I was offered another job as head of a different organization. This meant staying longer in the area and the condo. It became another six years.
By the time I left that position in 2018, the real estate market had improved somewhat. The value of our condo had lost $50,000 from the price we had paid. Since we had opted to put little down at the time we purchased but had tried to pay additional principal during the loan period, the amount we still owed looked like it would allow us to possibly break even with the real estate costs of selling. That did not happen.
It was a scary proposition because we did not want to dip into savings in order to sell. In the end, it did require us to pay money from our savings to sell our condo because the value had gone down and the real estate costs were high.
Although it was a losing proposition in the end, we had a nice, safe, quiet, comfortable, and secure place to live for over ten years. The location was convenient to Washington, D.C. It was not a great investment financially as real estate can be, but it was okay.
Life has twists and turns which we need to accept.