“It feels like I have two full-time jobs: ‘I’m 65, retired and have a $2,000 pension. I own rental properties, but they are stressful to maintain. Should I keep them or sell them?


Dear MarketWatch,

I am a 65 year old married man in Southern California. I retired about 5 years ago and have very few retirement payments of about $2,000 from my old job, with no medical benefits.

But I have rental income from a dozen or so single-family homes that I’ve accumulated through my professional career as a civil engineer.

Some of these homes have mortgages, and others are free and clear. Currently I manage and maintain them all myself. Even though I’m retired, it feels like I have two full-time jobs, handyman and bookkeeper.

“Even though I’m retired, it feels like I have two full-time jobs, handyman and bookkeeper. ‘

I can still do them now, but looking five to 10 years ahead, I’m not sure I can still do that.

So my question is, what are my options with these homes? Should I sell? Should I consolidate single-family homes? And how can I make sure they can give me a good income to help me with my retirement, and free up my time so I can really enjoy my retirement?

ALSO READ  Powell reiterates that Fed is not going to become a "climate policymaker."

Retired with two full-time jobs

The big moveis a MarketWatch column that looks at the ins and outs of real estate, from navigating the search for a new home to applying for a mortgage.

Do you have a question about buying or selling a home? Want to know where your next move should be? Email Aarthi Swaminathan at [email protected].

Dear Retiree,

While it’s lucrative, managing a dozen properties while you’re retired doesn’t quite seem like the retirement people usually envision.

It’s hard to keep track of tenants, keep track of rent payments, keep track of maintenance, insurance and mortgage costs, and so many other things. So why not hire a property manager or someone experienced in doing this sort of thing for a living?

I know they will charge you but for all this hassle it might be worth it. Do the math and see if it makes sense to ask someone to help. If you can relieve the burden of daily tasks, you can focus on enjoying your retirement.

ALSO READ  Delta CEO urges Washington to increase FAA funding after "unacceptable" outage

Justin Giles, who has invested in real estate for nearly two decades, told me that you may be able to get a “good deal” with so many properties in your portfolio.

“If the properties are cash flow positive, he can live off that income plus his pension to defer Social Security for the next five years,” he said.

If not, he suggested that you take out a rental portfolio loan to help you get some cash. (But do your own research before deciding to go that route and consider the downsides.)

As to whether you need to consolidate, if you’re able to run these operations efficiently, perhaps even more so with that prospective property manager, why rock the boat? In addition, you can incur more costs as a result.

ALSO READ  George Soros spent $40 million to get leftist prosecutors, officials elected across the country

Let’s say you want to consolidate by exchanging some of these single-family homes for an apartment complex. It might be easier to do that operation, but “exchanging” can be difficult in [Southern California] because prices are so far above rents in most areas,” Giles said, “that rental returns are low.”

Since you’re trying to optimize this portfolio to give you a good income in retirement, you’re better off sticking with the homes you already own.

So I’d say get help: find someone who can take over your two full-time gigs for a good rate. Enjoy that well-deserved retirement.

By emailing your questions, you agree that they will be published anonymously on MarketWatch. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including through third parties.