By Tom Sedoric

When I tell anyone who might care to listen that they’ve just met the only guy to lose money in a residential real estate investment in New Castle, New Hampshire, they usually respond with great surprise. After all, in good and bad economic times, it is hard to lose money on a home in New Castle. This quaint New England village connected by causeways has the honor of having amongst the highest-priced homes and the lowest property taxes in New Hampshire (thanks to the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Ocean Properties).

I happened to lose money selling my home because life happened and threw a detour in my best-laid plans for personal and financial serenity. In my case, the unforeseen life development was simply that I fell in love. And the negative return on the sale of my real estate investment was worth every single penny.

Before I met my wife Barb, I was on the Henry Higgins path of being a confirmed and happy bachelor. Not surprisingly, at the time in the early 1990s, as a successful financial advisor, I was entering the peak earnings phase of my career. I was approaching my late 30s and was able to and not averse to buying a house in New Castle with a mortgage. At the time, I think I may have been the only bachelor living in New Castle and 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, den, and a master bedroom. I was smart to take advantage of the economic downturn at the time. I got a dog and also had my sights set on buying a boat. I had other plans… and then I met Barb on a blind date (strongly recommended by a former girlfriend of mine) at a private dinner with my former girlfriend, at my former girlfriend’s home. Who knew that my life plans were about to do a complete flip? The evening I was introduced to Barb, I had spent the day with John Sununu, then Chief of staff for our then President. I never expected the turn of life events that lay ahead.

My bachelor plans began to fall by the wayside. Not all at once, mind you, because relationships are always complicated, and ours was no exception. We began our relationship as supportive friends. She was going through a “not so fun” divorce and had two young children and 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 the complicated matters sorted themselves out—which included my romantic quest for an engagement ring of my own design and the satisfaction of a geographic requirement in Barb’s divorce decree—we ended up owning three residential properties simultaneously: her former home in Concord, Massachusetts, my bachelor pad in New Castle, and one we purchased together to start our lives anew in Rye Beach shortly after we got married. We had been counseled to get rid of “yours and mine” and to buy “ours.” This was great advice, by the way.

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. This is how I lost around $40,000 after selling it to a retiring Tyco executive.

I share this story as an example of how life happens. Despite our best goals and plans, plans will, and do, change. Sometimes economic forces beyond our control challenge us as a downturn can put our portfolios and plans at varying degrees of risk. Closer-to-home, unexpected family needs can take center stage. At other times, we lose sight of our long-term goals and start spending money that threatens to undermine long-term goals and planning. All of these life situations take financial and emotional tolls, and the accompanying stress is no joke.

On the flip side, what we do have control over is how we react and how we navigate moving forward. A financial advisor’s role in these matters can be crucial by providing necessary context to matters beyond our control. Depending on the client’s comfort level, we can also provide solace and advice on alternative plans and the shifting of goals.

What matters most is flexibility, honest communication, and the willingness to embrace opportunities that challenge our personal status quo. In my case, for the past 28 years, I have been blessed to have married the love of my life and to have enjoyed being part of an incredible family. While I will never forget the fact that I actually lost money selling real estate in New Castle, I was able, through a set of revised goals, to finally purchase a used boat.

Any opinions are those of Tom Sedoric and not necessarily those of Raymond James.