Fulltimers dilema: Whether to sell your home



By Russ and Tiña De Maris

One of the most important issues facing the prospect of fulltiming is whether or not to sell what may have been your home for many years. It’s not only a financial and physical question, it also touches deeply on the heart. After all, you may have raised the kids here, cultivated friendships, and seen important milestones. Much must be weighed in the balance.

Many have found “selling” to be helpful. They point out they no longer have property taxes and insurance to pay, no worries about maintenance and upkeep while on the road. They don’t fret about what vandals or burglars may do in their absence. Sale of the house for some makes the purchase of a traveling rig possible.

On the other hand, some point out that keeping the home has its advantages. If good quality renters can be found, keeping the house can serve as an investment and provide needed income. Others leave the house empty, but for their furniture or other possessions, they have no room for in the rig. Some feel safer, always having a “home base” to return to if something doesn’t pan out on the road.

Making the move to the full-time lifestyle is not something to be considered lightly. Individual circumstances vary. Some take a middle-of-the-road approach and hang onto the house for some time, seeing how they adjust to road living. Then, if things are going well, they eventually sell their old homestead and stick with the road life, tucking away the proceeds from their home sale in a safe investment, hedging against life’s uncertainties.

Here’s one way of looking at this whole equation: If you’re planning on using the house as a home base, you’ll most decidedly not want to sell out. Are you going off full-timing with a partner? If one of you isn’t quite so sure about it, then you’ll probably want to think twice before selling the homestead. Plan on full-timing for a few years, but figure you’ll want to come back to a sticks-n-brix lifestyle? That’s probably the toughest decision position of all. You might be ahead to sell the house – freeing up your life from complications. But on the other hand, who can predict what the real estate market will do – will you be able to buy back in down the road? You’re in the best position to make the call, as you’re the one(s) that have the most “inside” information.

Sometimes the call is simpler. You’ve got full-timing in mind, but don’t have the money to get a suitable rig without selling the house. Herein lies another hitch: Can you sell the house soon enough to meet your plans, without “taking a bath,” by cutting the price back too far? On the other hand, perhaps the market in your area is on fire – what if the house sells before you’re ready to hit the road? Can you negotiate a turn-over date with your buyer that will work for you both? Or might you be stuck moving temporarily into an apartment or (gasp!) in with the kids?

Finally, if you do decide to divest yourself of your home, there are all those “things” you own to take into account. We’ll tackle that in a future piece.