by Amanda Han
With the current real estate market increase, I have been seeing more and more people trade up on their primary home. But what if you are fortunate enough to consider keeping your existing primary home while trading up? Here are some common questions that we come across:
- Does it make sense to keep the old primary home as a rental?
- Does it make sense to sell it and re-invest in other rental properties?
- Does it make sense to simply sell the property and put more as a down-payment on the replacement home?
As usual, the answer will vary depending on your unique situation. Here are some of the things to consider when making this important decision.
Sell to Pay Down the Loan on the New Primary Home
This can potentially be a great idea if you are someone who is looking to lower your debt. By selling your old home and putting more money down on your new home, you can potentially lower your future monthly payment and save on some interest costs.
If you have lived in that house as your primary home at least 2 out of the last 5 years, you can also potentially take advantage of the $250k/$500k capital gains exclusion on the tax side. For example, if you are a single person and you are eligible for this exclusion, you can save up to $37,500 of capital gains taxes this year on the sale of your old primary home.
The potential downside of this is that you will have no cash flow from this money when it is used to pay down debt on your primary home. Also, with a lower debt and lower interest expense, that could mean less to deduct on your tax returns come April tax time.
Sell to Re-Invest in a New Rental
A lot of times it can make sense to sell your primary home and take part or all of the money to buy an investment property. If the numbers do not work when you look at keeping that old home as a rental because of rents in the area, it can make sense to re-position that equity into other rental markets in-state or even out-of-state so that the money can be put to work for you. The upside is that now you can potentially have another stream of rental income when you reposition that money into an investment property.
The potential downside is that this can mean you are taking on more debt overall by having debt on your new primary home and new debt on the new investment property.
For this route, make sure that you analyze the numbers to take into consideration the costs of selling your home and costs of acquiring your new investment property.
Turning the Old Primary Into a Rental Property
Depending on the situation, it can potentially be a smart move to turn your current primary home into a rental property. One of the benefits is that you can potentially save on selling and buying costs when you turn your home into a rental versus selling it and buying a different investment property. There can be some tax advantages to turning your primary home into a rental as well in appreciating markets. Here is an example of how someone was able to use their primary home to get tax-free gains from the IRS.
Let’s say you bought your home 10 years ago for $150k, and now it is worth $200k. Let’s also assume that the property can generate great monthly rental income and you also expect the property to appreciate more in value over the next 2 years. If you hold on to the property as a rental and then decided to sell 2 years later when the property is worth $250k, then you can potentially exclude the entire gain from taxes. We will take depreciation out of this scenario just to keep things simple.
$250,000 Sales Price
($150,000) Purchase Price
Since this property was used as your primary home at least 2 out of the 5 preceding years, you can exclude up to $100k of the gain from taxes saving roughly $15k in tax dollars. Not a bad deal for locking in some tax-free money, right?
Potential downside of keeping this old home as a rental property is that you have less down payment toward your new primary home. Other potential downsides are the work needed to own a rental property. Last but not least, even though real estate has been doing well, there is no guarantee that it will continue to appreciate in the future. As such, by keeping this property you may end up selling it for less down the road.
With rises in home values and currently low interest rates, there are great moves to be made with real estate. Be sure to consult with your advisory team and weigh all your options to ensure that you are taking full advantage of this real estate climate.
Which of these options do you prefer? What routes have you taken before?
Let us know your take with a comment!
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