Telling your friends you bought a property
June 19, 2016 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Is it generally wise to tell anyone such as your friends that you have bought a house? It is specifically for an investment to rent out to tenants. Or is it generally not a good idea? Or it doesn't matter?
posted by four_suyu to Human Relations (36 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think it matters? I can't think of any reason why you would want to keep this a secret. This falls under basic friendly conversation fodder I think.
posted by bleep at 8:02 AM on June 19, 2016 [15 favorites]

Buying real estate is usually a pretty major thing in someone's life, and it's usually a positive thing for the person doing it—it's not like it's shameful or secret. So yeah, if I bought an investment property I would probably tell people about it? I mean, similar to how I would tell my friends if I got a new job, or was moving to a new apartment, or had a new relationship or something? I would definitely tell my friends, or at least I wouldn't go to any lengths to keep it a secret—I wouldn't necessarily make a special announcement like for a baby or a wedding, but they'd learn of it soon enough one way or another.

It seems a bit odd to me that this would even be in question. Is there a particular reason why you're wondering if this is something that you should keep to yourself? I'm having a hard time thinking of what that reason would be, so maybe a little context would help people provide you with more useful answers here. I just feel like there must be some major piece of background info that's missing here, but maybe I'm wrong.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:03 AM on June 19, 2016 [9 favorites]

I'm honestly a little baffled why you would think it was a problem to mention that you bought a house.

Are you concerned that telling them would be rude? Are you concerned that telling them would somehow be financially risky? Are you concerned they will want to move in and get cut-rate friends and family rent?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:04 AM on June 19, 2016 [8 favorites]

If one of my friends told me this like as a "So... Guess what...!" sort of thing, I'd be all "Wow, brag much, Stu?"

If it just came up in conversation, like "Hey, I'm doing some painting on this rental house I just bought, so I can't come to the game this weekend," that would be much less weird.
posted by Etrigan at 8:14 AM on June 19, 2016 [12 favorites]

Maybe, OP and OP's friends live in a ridiculous market where many people can't actually afford to buy just a regular home in which to live (e.g. Vancouver, Toronto). Or maybe there's a big difference in means between OP and friends.

If that's the case, I mean, I wouldn't brag about it, but I wouldn't hide it either.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:15 AM on June 19, 2016 [13 favorites]

I might be a cyncial outlier here, but I do see some reason to be cautious about this.

For one thing, it does in some sense advertise your financial situation (e.g. you have enough funds/wealth to purchase a second home) and invite (often incorrect) assumptions about your financial situation.

In my experience, this can lead to some jealousy/envy/resentment on the part of folks in your friend/relative pool who aren't so flush. Especially if you have ever turned folks down for financial help. Other associates might feel that this could lead to a friends/family discount on rent or that you might be willing to let them (or a friend of a friend's nephew) 'crash' in one of your apartments if they need a temporary place to stay.

You might also encounter some resentment if down the road you complain/mention the expenses associated with the house. E.g. if you complain about a deadbeat tenant or about how expensive it is to maintain the property, you might get snide remarks, etc. about how "Well, if you couldn't afford to maintain a second house, then you shouldn't have bought it" or "Well, I guess that's what you get when you become a slumlord".

I would think about the folks in your social circle and determine if any of these kinds of issues might apply before announcing it widely. The same sort of caution, imo, would apply if you were purchasing a vacation home. (Friends/family thinking "Four_suyu has enough money for a second home, surely they can help me out with tuition/car loan/payday loan/etc." or "Hey, new vacation destination with free housing, cool!").

To tamp down the friends/family discount thing, you can outsource to a management company and so there would be a buffer between you and the asks/assumptions about free/cheap housing. "Oh, sorry, I don't have anything to do with the rental part. All rental applications must go through my management company for tax and insurance purposes".
posted by skye.dancer at 8:20 AM on June 19, 2016 [14 favorites]

Response by poster: It's an investment property, not a house I am going to live in. Therefore, people might falsely think I am rich, where in fact running a property involves a lot of expenses and work.
posted by four_suyu at 8:27 AM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't hide it, but I wouldn't bring it up unless you need to. As mentioned above, if you have to beg off of a Saturday invitation it's perfectly fine to say you can't go because you have a date with the weed wacker and the yard at your rental property, or whatever. LIke you just said, it's basically a 2nd job, and that is exactly how you should treat it for conversational purposes.
posted by COD at 8:33 AM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would think of it as another investment. I have a few friends that I talk about investments with, but in general I'd never tell a friend that I bought $20K of Disney stock or whatever. I've considered buying investment property and would have the same philosophy. I'd trade notes with friends that have their own or are interested in the idea, but most people don't need to know.
posted by Candleman at 8:45 AM on June 19, 2016 [7 favorites]

If you're buying investment properties you are rich IMO.

I would say it doesn't matter if you tell or not, because when you buy any real estate it's public knowledge, and announced in the newpaper, right?
posted by Rash at 8:53 AM on June 19, 2016 [15 favorites]

For me, this would be a thing that would come up with friends without having to be awkwardly announced, because I'm chatty and can't really imagine not mentioning it at all until I'd closed on the place and was renovating it or interviewing tenants or something.

If you are not the kind of person who shares basic life stuff like this with friends, or we're talking about friends who aren't close enough to merit "I can't do lunch this weekend because I have an appointment with a realtor to go look at an investment property I'm interested in" type chatter, then no, don't make an "announcement" because that's weird.
posted by Sara C. at 9:00 AM on June 19, 2016

Also I would definitely not bring this up with anyone in a manner which will invite conversations that result in "Actually I'm *not* rich because I have to put a new dishwasher in my investment property to make it attractive to tenants". Which is really a cost of doing business sort of thing and doesn't speak to your socio-economic situation. Especially as it compares with your friends'. Keep talk about this limited to "what I'm up to this weekend" type small-talk, or maybe "do you know a good contractor?" type big-talk. Don't talk about money.
posted by Sara C. at 9:03 AM on June 19, 2016 [10 favorites]

Like Sara C. I only think this gets awkward when people talk about their sufferings as a landlord and how much it takes out of them, especially if your friends are renters. It seems a bit tacky. But talking about buying a property isn't a big deal. In my experience, most close friends (and I don't know anyone else would be that interested) are pretty clear on each other's financial situations and so news of this sort is not really a surprise..
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:23 AM on June 19, 2016 [10 favorites]

I think a lot depends on the age and circumstances of your group of friends. If you are in your forties and have a diverse circle of friends, nobody will bat an eyelid. If you're only 22 and just out of college, and your friends are all couch-surfing and obsessing about their college debt, then investing in property may pigeonhole you as the richest of the group - remember that that's a comparative measure, even if you don't think you're rich.

But it's very difficult to keep completely quiet about something like this, where you may be dealing with tenants and property maintenance on a regular basis. If I had been in a position to do that in my twenties, I think I would have played it down by giving the impression that this was a family investment where I mostly did the scut-work ("we're doing this, we're doing that, my parents always wanted a little property as an investment, etc. ")
posted by Azara at 9:27 AM on June 19, 2016

Where are you? My circle of two-income kid-having people in the rust belt has some landlords in it, as well as renters. If this is your first property, we will all wonder if you know what you're getting into, and think, hmm, wish I had a cash down payment. If it's your third, we'll think you must be doing well.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:29 AM on June 19, 2016

I guess if you drop it into conversation among my friends, it would be a mild point of interest. Mild. Nobody cares how you financed it, and definitely nobody cares about the woes of a landlord unless you have some kind of interesting situation (like tenants with a Secret Room of Cats, for example.)
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:32 AM on June 19, 2016

I've known people who owned rental properties and lived hand to mouth. I've known people who bought rental properties and had to "keep their day jobs" as it were. I've known people whose only job and only income was rental properties and, you know, were just middle class people like the rest of us with jobs and some disposable income. I've also known trust fund babies who owned rental properties but honestly knew shit about it beyond "oh, i own some property that magical generates income."

To me, the answer kinda depends on you, your friends, your typical conversational topics, your conversational style. I'm interested in my friends--their lives, their goals, their choices and the tasks they set themselves to get there. What's going on in my friends' lives that might make them stressed or more busy than usual or happy and more excited than usual seems, at a minimum, an appropriate topic of conversation.

When a friend loses her job, it's not on me to be ashamed that I have a job, anymore than when a friend gets married it's appropriate for me to hate her cause I can't even get a date. Yes, some people try to make other people feel bad by flaunting their success or judging other people's failures. Unless you're doing one of those things, talking about yourself, your interests, and what's going on in your life is a thing friends do with one another.

So, you know, be sensitive to the moment, but otherwise, if you can't share your life with your friends, what's the point?
posted by crush-onastick at 9:45 AM on June 19, 2016 [13 favorites]

It is specifically for an investment to rent out to tenants.

It's like any other investment: there are contexts in which it is perfectly fine to discuss, but similarly if we are catching up on our lives during a summer BBQ, I will probably think you are tedious if you start discussing the changes you have made to your 401(k).
posted by deanc at 9:55 AM on June 19, 2016 [8 favorites]

when you buy any real estate it's public knowledge, and announced in the newpaper, right?

Public record, yes. Public knowledge and announced in the newspaper? No, surely not?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:45 AM on June 19, 2016 [9 favorites]

It's not something you'd announce in the same way that you'd announce buying a house for yourself. But there's no reason to hide it, especially if it's something you'll be spending a lot of time on. It's okay to mention it in casual conversation, but consider your audience - if you're talking to a bunch of friends who live with five roommates and struggle to make rent each month, you probably don't want to spend too much time on the subject.

Do avoid any preemptive "but I'm not rich" statements. Not everyone can afford the down payment on a property; fewer people can safely assume the additional risk that comes with being a landlord.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:57 AM on June 19, 2016 [10 favorites]

If I found out one of my friends bought a rental property I'd figure they were middle class. They might wanna invest in real estate instead of putting their money in mutual funds. My friends thought we were weird because we remodeled our house, building an addition, instead of putting every penny into the market.

To me, the answer kinda depends on you, your friends, your typical conversational topics, your conversational style

Really have to agree here. It could seem like a brag, someone might ask you for a discount, we just don't know. Running rental property or properties is a lot of expense and work if you do it for a living. Otherwise I'd kinda call bs there.
posted by fixedgear at 11:00 AM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

We own a small lot that faces an alley next to a Taco Bell on a local highway and we're building a studio-sized house on it in a city that we had no idea was up-and-coming, and it makes me extremely uncomfortable when I mention it.

It pegs us as a higher economic class than I'm emotionally comfortable with and frankly I'm not sure I even want a house even though it seems to be the thing that makes sense for us at this time. I'm not sure why, my parents owned their house when I was growing up. But it does make me uncomfortable, kind of a lot, actually.

My life story is basically an open book, so people know that we have a lot and that we're building a house, and I just hide my uncomfortableness so that I can let other people be excited about it.
posted by aniola at 11:15 AM on June 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Maybe you're thinking that certain people might judge you based on your choice to invest in rental property. Those people are going to judge you no matter what. If they don't know about the house, they'll criticize you for something else.

All my friends and family know that I own a second house, because we talked about it during the renovation. My parents, who took a bath when they sold their house in a shaky market, worry that the same might happen to me; they know about my other house, but I don't talk about it with them.

My neighbors know about it too, because it's in the neighborhood where I live. Some people make comments about buying up the neighborhood, and one person approached me to buy their house before they put it on the market. I'm sure some neighbors are making assumptions about me, my values, and my finances. Some people just like to gossip and speculate. I just try not to think about it.

You can be safe talking about your rental with friends who are in a financial position similar to yours, or who feel it's important to provide for their retirement. With others, it just depends on the person. They can know about it, or they don't have to. After all, it's an investment -- and what you do with your money or mortgage isn't their business. If unwanted comments get made, just change the subject.
posted by wryly at 11:49 AM on June 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

A good friend that I knew had been on the hunt for an investment property for a while went through a series of fortunate (well, one included moving her family to a very substantially smaller home) transactions that left me making jokes about how she was now entitled to buy a hotel on her block, having bought enough property per Monopoly rules to do so. This did not make me think "my friends are rich" -- certainly they are doing well enough, but this was a lot of planning, careful financing, and a great deal of DIY with fixing up the properties -- or "my friend is a braggart" -- or anything else than "That's absolutely terrific and I hope it works out really well for her."

(I am a pauper and at one point some time before she'd found the investment properties and was talking about hoping to do so, she paused and apologised to me for going on about something like that while I was [flat broke]. I rushed to assure her that it was okay to talk about. Please do not hide things from poor friends; if they are really your friends they do not want you to be poor as well, and will be very happy for you reaching a goal of yours and will want to wish you the best.)

That said, I do agree that nobody at any income level wants to hear that you are hard-done-by because your investment property needs a new dishwasher. Perhaps if we are close friends and I am aware that you are carrying a lot of risk and a large downpayment and you discover you need to put up a new roof, this might be a reasonable thing to audibly sigh over. But for the most part, you've got yourself a bit of part-time self-employment and it's okay to discuss; I do not think of it as analogous to going and simply purchasing stock where the bulk of your involvement is the odd peek at what's scrolling on your phone. Hopefully you can wring some amusing stories about the potential renters that come to view it.
posted by kmennie at 12:16 PM on June 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

Eh, unless we're talking close friends that you already share intimate details of your life with, then I'd not mention it. If the topic comes up naturally somehow, you might mention it, but otherwise it kinda comes off as braggy.
posted by Aleyn at 12:45 PM on June 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

Several of my close friends own rental properties for a variety of reasons. I would think it was weird if they didn't mention it to me. Maybe my friends and I are just more chatty than others, but it doesn't make me think any less or more of them that they own a rental property. We chat about things like what they have done to fix up the property. They've given me suggestions for contractors for my condo, based on their experiences. We've talked about silly and frustrating tenant stories. We also discussed their buying experience. For my friends at least, owning a rental property is something that takes up their time and is discussion worthy. It something that comes up naturally as part of some discussions. It's never struck me that they are bragging. We are all middle class though, so it doesn't seem unusual that someone would buy a rental property.
posted by parakeetdog at 1:00 PM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

People you hang with are going to learn about it because it will affect your schedule and free time, if only now and then. Otherwise, no need to mention it.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:50 PM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Successfully owning/managing a rental property involves creating a team -- a team that involves a realtor, contractors, accountant, banker, maybe a property management company, etc. Why wouldn't you reach out to your friends? They may be able to help you with some of these connections. You could even offer them a finder's free if they refer a tenant to you!

Good friends are going to be happy for you. Good friends will offer you encouragement and support.
posted by Ostara at 2:09 PM on June 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

Announcing it would be weird. Mentioning in conversation or linking to any advertisements to let said property on social media would strike me as a fairly normal thing to do at least in my circle. Full disclosure, I am a landlord - more by accident than design.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:58 PM on June 19, 2016

Yeah, I think if it comes up, no one will really care, but you don't exactly need to throw a housewarming party, you know?

For what it's worth, I have some friends who are landlords with a number of investment properties, and it doesn't seem to affect anything. They'll even bitch about tenants or whatever, and I'm not bothered/happy to listen -- some tenants are magnificent dicks, you know? And I am very much of a lower income bracket, and don't see myself owning property for a good decade or three, if ever.

I think a lot of this will come down to who you're telling it to, and other contextual stuff. If your friends will be weird or jealous because you have enough money to invest in property, I mean....that's something you have to deal with.
posted by kalimac at 3:18 PM on June 19, 2016

I wouldn't mention it. If your friends are like me, they'll give you shit for wanting to be an absentee landlord, and a house-hogger in this age of homelessness.
No. Don't say anything.
posted by BostonTerrier at 3:22 PM on June 19, 2016

In my socioeconomc culture, which is 80% middle class WASP, it would be just fine."What'd you do this weekend?" "We just closed on a vacation/investment property."
posted by zippy at 4:01 PM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you want to avoid the giving false impression that you're loaded, instead of saying you bought a rental property, say you took out a (second?) mortgage for a rental property.
It shifts the emphasis to debt.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:45 PM on June 19, 2016

The downsides of sharing the info have been well covered above. The upside is that your friends might have tips for you or contacts about tenants or agents etc. You'd have to balance this against the risk that they'll want to take advantage somehow (but real friends wouldn't do this, right?)

An investment property (in my mind) is a more private thing than buying a house to live in. So I would think it weird if a friend didn't tell me that they bought a new place to live, but not weird if they didn't mention an investment property, any more than I'd expect them to tell me what shares they bought. However, I'd also think it weird if they actively hid it even though I'd understand why they wouldn't want to talk about it.
posted by pianissimo at 5:09 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

If I bought a rental property, there would be a line out the door of friends and family who really need to stay there for free just for a month or two. If I said no a lot of relationships would be strained. So I'd consider keeping it quiet too.
posted by miyabo at 5:52 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't mention it any more than I'd mention that I had bought stock or mutual funds or any other kind of investment. But then, this kind of thing is not a topic of conversation among my friends.
posted by Dolley at 7:56 AM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

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