(MCT)—QUESTION: I was recently on vacation and loved the small town where we were staying. My wife and I put down a deposit to buy a property on the outskirts of town. We figured we could rent it out when we’re not using it. Now that we’ve been home for a couple of weeks, I am thinking that we may have made a mistake. What can we do?
ANSWER: You will need to review your contract to see if you have the ability to cancel the deal without losing your deposit. Because the laws are different in every state, you may want to consult a lawyer in that area regarding your rights. If there is no way out without losing your deposit, you will want to take a cold, hard look at the property and the area and see if the deal still makes sense.
Real estate should not be an impulse buy. Always visit an area several times, in different seasons, before even thinking about investing there. What is a happening tourist spot in July may be a ghost town nine months out of the year. If you decide that you do want to move forward, you will need to find a reputable real estate agent to manage the property in your absence and factor in that cost. Also, you may find that when you do visit your property, you spend half of your vacation working on the house and replacing worn-out furniture. To avoid that, and to handle any unexpected repairs, you will need to hire a local handyman. You should also check the local laws, and homeowners association rules, to make sure that you can rent the property.
After looking at all the factors and the costs involved with owning the property, it may work out that the best deal is to lose the deposit and move on with the lesson learned.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar.