WHEN I TELL FOLKS that they’ve just met the only guy to lose money on a house in New Castle, New Hampshire, they usually respond with great surprise.
The fact is, in good economic times and bad, it’s hard to lose money on a New Castle home. This quaint New England village—a collection of islands connected by causeways—has the honor of having some of the highest-priced homes and lowest property taxes in New Hampshire, thanks in large part to the hefty taxes paid by the village’s best-known establishment, the Wentworth by the Sea hotel and spa.
So how did I lose money? I fell in love.
Before I met my wife Barb, I was on the Henry Higgins path to being a confirmed and happy bachelor. As a successful financial advisor in the early 1990s, I was entering my peak earning years and not averse to buying a house with a substantial mortgage. I think I may have been the only bachelor living in New Castle and—being in my late 30s at the time—most likely brought down the town’s median age significantly.
I bolstered my investment—also known as taking on debt—by adding a bathroom, an office, a den and a master bedroom to the house. I got a dog. I had my sights set on a boat. I had other plans… and then I met Barb on a blind date.
My bachelor plans began falling by the wayside. Not all at once, mind you, because relationships are always complicated and ours was no exception. We began as supportive friends. She was going through a “not so fun” divorce and had two young children, as well as a dog that matched mine. Slowly but surely, a true courtship evolved. In short time, I found myself madly in love. Barb eventually succumbed. We became best buddies first before becoming lifelong partners.
As we tried to combine our complicated lives, we ended up owning three properties simultaneously: her former home in Concord, Massachusetts, my bachelor pad in New Castle, and the house we purchased together to start our lives anew in Rye Beach, New Hampshire. We had been counseled to get rid of “yours and mine” and to buy “ours.” That was great advice.
My beloved bachelor pad was the first to go and it had to go in a hurry, which did not put me in an optimal negotiating position. I lost around $40,000 selling it to a retiring Tyco executive.
I share this story as an example of how life happens. Despite our best-laid plans, those plans will and do change. Sometimes, economic forces beyond our control challenge us. Sometimes, unexpected family needs take center stage. At other times, we lose sight of our goals and start spending money in amounts that threaten to undermine our long-term plans. All of these life situations take a financial and emotional toll, and the accompanying stress is no joke.
On the flip side, what we do have control over is how we react. It’s at times like this that a financial advisor can prove invaluable, providing not just solace, but also advice on alternative ways forward. When we need to tear up our plans, what matters most is flexibility, honest communication and a willingness to change.
In my case, I’ll never forget that I actually lost money selling real estate in New Castle. But I did eventually get the boat—a used one, that is.
Tom Sedoric is executive managing director of the Sedoric Group, a financial advisory firm in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A Wisconsin native, he loves being on the water, knows some amazing card tricks and can fix just about anything. Tom’s previous articles were Kick the Can and A Combustible Mix.