It has been a long while since I last discussed the topic of selling or renting out my current house. To bring you up to speed, I will soon take an international assignment to work in Asia for a few years, and how to treat my current house thus became a realistic topic of personal finance soul searching.
Back in June, I have listed the numbers and performed a quantitative analysis of the selling vs renting out scenarios. By the end of the day, it boiled down to one variable: the expectation of future housing price inflation. The model pretty much says if the house will appreciate at 5% a year in the next few years, leasing out the house makes more sense. Otherwise, selling right now will stand out as a better choice.
The problem is: the future housing price appreciation is decidedly a variable I cannot tell with much accuracy, so to some extent, I didn't make much progress in the last three months. On one hand, I'm a born risk averser, and any talks of potential housing bubble (there are plenty nowadays) echo my instinct. On the other hand, I'm fearing "seller's remorse," -- two years ago, I already thought the housing market is in a dangerous zone, but managed to pull the trigger, and the move is now proven to be a complete win -- who knows the current frenzy will not continue for another few years? (Mr. Greenspan mentioned "irrational exuberance" in December 1996, or more than three years before the actual market crash.)
Anyway, with my move date looming, I think I finally made up my mind: it is time to sell.
It is really hard to explain what particular event helped me to make the hard decision, and again, it is more based on intuition rather than hard facts -- I really don't think anyone has a perfect crystal balls to tell a market high. However, if I need to point to one thing, I will say it's Mr. Greenspan's recent series of warnings on the end of housing boom. The Chief seems to be determined to continue to raise interest rates to pop the bubble, and the outcome does not look like beautiful.
In the end, it is more a leap of faith on my end, and history will tell me (and everyone who will continue to watch this blog) if I make the right choice a few years down the road. But for now, I will not look back -- it is probably time to turn on the safety valve by selling, and it allows me to have the peace of mind sleeping in a different continent.
(Some more details: actually I traded the home-selling commission coverage in my benefits to other cash allowances, because I believe I can play for-sale-by-owner and save myself some money in the process. I have hired maid, carpet cleaner and gardener to dress my house for better appeal, and am all prepared to list my house very soon. The FSBO process should be very fun and will provide some good food for this blog!)