For sale (or for rent)
Some sellers trapped by slow sales are seeking renters for a short-term solution
BY KARIN LIPSON
In January, when retired psychologists Ben Schwartz, 77, and wife, Peppi, 76, put their Commack home of 44 years on the market for $649,000, it looked like a safe bet.
“Houses in Commack last year were at a premium,” Peppi Schwartz recalls. “We thought it would sell very quickly.”
Yet, through a dispiriting spring and summer, the house – a five-bedroom high-ranch with a duplex solarium and hot tub, a pool and separate professional office – didn’t move despite several price cuts.
So last month, the Schwartzes chose an alternative that may be cropping up more: They decided to rent their house. They’re still hoping to sell, at $499,000, but are now concentrating on marketing the house as a rental, at $3,500 a month.
With their turn toward the rental market, the Schwartzes may find themselves in growing company. While not everyone agrees, some Long Island real estate agents are reporting that an increasing number of would-be sellers, daunted by the cooling of the once-sizzling housing market, are offering their homes “for sale or rent,” or simply for rent.
The sale-to-rental approach “seems to be a trend now,” agrees Deborah Sande of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Huntington, who is marketing several of these houses. She says the sellers have come down in price, “but there’s a point where they want to stop. And they figure they’ll rent it and get an income from it, and when the market gets better, they’ll put it up for sale again.”
“If it’s a young couple and one of them gets the best job in America in California, you’ve got to go,” Wallace says. But “if they bought in the last two years and paid top dollar, with 5 or 10 percent down, the sale price of the house in this market may not cover what they owe the bank.” Such owners, she says, “would be more apt to rent” out their house than offer a painfully low price to choosy buyers.