Several of our clients this year have been faced with the decision to either sell their condo in Boston or to rent it instead. Depending on your circumstances, it may make sense to think about renting. But there are some potential disadvantages to that option as well. This pros and cons list (from bankrate.com) is a good starting point for your decision making process, but more importantly is really knowing the market in which you will be putting your property (whether or not it is the sales or rental market, for that matter).
We actively service both the condo sales market and the apartment rental market, which gives us a great opportunity to really discuss both options with property owners. Having discussed both options with just about every recent seller client (in the last 6-12 months), I know it is sometimes not an easy answer.
First and foremost is your personal readiness....are you ready to become a landlord? Then - can you afford to rent the property? Will you need any proceeds from a sale to buy another place? Will you be able to afford the mortgage if your condo goes unoccupied for a month? Two months?
For those clients who are on the fence after they've answered those questions, the decision to sell or rent comes down to this key point: What is your positioning in each market? Are you entering from a position of strength or weakness?
On the sales side of the market, the actual number of sales is down in Boston, but prices have remained flat due to tight inventory. There actually is not enough inventory in certain market segments and neighborhoods, so coming on market in some of those key points can place you in a great spot as a seller. Conversely there are some weak spots as well, so you really need to understand the market dynamics, and not just superficially from a 10,000 foot high view (eg. "prices in Boston were up 2.6% in the 2nd quarter"), but from a boots on the ground view (eg. "what is going on right now for 2 bedroom condos on Tremont Street?"). Your specific condo will enter a specific spot in the market and you need to have an idea of the reaction beforehand.
Trying to determine that and also your positioning in the rental market will give you a good idea of what choice is better for you. And any decision is not an absolute. Most of our clients lean towards selling, because becoming a landlord is quite a lifestyle change and decision not to be entered lightly, but we have also had a couple of clients change their mind one way or another during the course of the marketing process (or try to both rent and sell at the same time). The most important factor is what's best for you, and like the real estate market both in Boston and nationally, it can be a fluid and changing dynamic.