Dave says: Risk is real

Published 10:53 am Monday, November 13, 2023

Dear Dave,

My husband and I want to do a live-in and flip real estate purchase. The idea is to buy a fixer-upper and rent out the basement to help with the mortgage payments. How do you feel about ideas like this?

— Erin

Dear Erin,

In a situation like this you need to do a basic business analysis. You’ve got to have a plan in place, and you’ve got to figure out the worst-case scenario. Part of this is determining whether you can survive if things fall apart. In this case, the worst case is that you can’t get a renter, and the house doesn’t sell. It puts your family in jeopardy, so to me it’s not an option.

Want my honest opinion? I think you’ve both got a case of house fever right now. The possibility I just mentioned isn’t a rare occurrence. Lots of people have had the same idea, with the best of intentions, and still wound up in a big mess. I love real estate. I mean I really love real estate. And I’ve flipped more than a few houses in my day. But the particulars of this deal make me a little nervous. If you and your husband are willing to accept the possibility of things not working out like you planned—and the fact you might have to take additional jobs for an unknown length of time just to make ends meet—then it might be a play. But for me? Nope. I don’t like putting myself into these kinds of situations.

When I was much younger, I was willing to do all kinds of dangerous stuff and ignore the risk. But going broke decades ago knocked that kind of thinking out of me in a hurry. Any deal that runs the risk of leaving you bankrupt, or the victim of a foreclosure, just isn’t worth it, Erin.

— Dave