Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Same, Yet Different

Okay, this post (my first post in a little while) is going to be house heavy and analysis heavy.  I will be presenting to you 3 townhomes from the same community.  Let's compare!

1742 Timberwood Drive
Square Feet: 1531
Listed at: $129,500
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2
Living rooms: 2

This is a view of the living room.  In the top right corner, you can just barely see the railing on the walkway/balcony that looks down from the second story into the room below.


1731 Timberwood Drive
Square Feet: 1531
Listed at: $128,000
Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 2
Living rooms: 2

This picture highlights the feature that is hinted at in the previous listing.  The railing and ceiling height are showcased.


1731 Timber Ridge Drive  (I suspect this is actually Timberwood.)
Square Feet: 1566
Listed at: $138,900
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2
Living Rooms: 1

This picture is of the same space.  I believe this is the best picture of this space - it shows the architectural features well and emphasizes the size of the room. 

However, these three images highlight the importance of making a personal visit.  Because an agent's poor photography choices can be the buyer's gain.  The townhomes featured here have vastly different listed prices, but are mostly the same.  Only with a personal inspection would one be able to determine whether the differences are worth the price increase. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

When life gives you lemons...

Make orange juice and have everyone wondering how you did it!  (I always keep a can of Orange Juice Concentrate in my freezer for just such an emergency).

My lemons have, as is the nature of lemons, been both sweet and sour - I'm thoroughly enjoying my time with The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) - but it's leaving me with a lot less time during the week to do other things I'd like to be doing.  On the other hand, the drama that came two weeks ago is still here, still creating baby dramas of its own.  Bwah.

So here's a pretty picture of a pretty house, just to make you (and me) feel a little better.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A quick poll

What price range should I concentrate on for the next few houses I feature? 

A) Under 100K
B) 100K to 150K
C) 150K to 200K
D) 200K to 350K
E) 450K and Up
$) Millionaire properties only, please!

Same cute little place - lower price

Doing a quick search on the properties I've featured so far, most have held their asking price, with two exceptions:

The property on 917 East 51st Street, listed at $188,000, has been withdrawn from the market.

The property on 307 West 45th Street, listed at $189,000, has had the price lowered to $165,000!

Looking back at my post, I realized that I failed to give this property's address (oops!) so, just for your memory's sake, here's a picture (worth a thousand words, right?).

I'll always try to keep you updated when things change on the listings I post.  My goal with this blog is to help you develop a broad picture of the Austin Real Estate market, educating you in the ways I wish I was educated prior to buying my first home.  As such,  I'll do my best to offer facts as facts and opinions as opinions.  Please feel free to let me know what information you're finding useful/interesting and I'll be sure to feature that type of info more often!

Friday, July 30, 2010

I had to use the phrase sometime...might as well be now.

Location.  Location.  Location! 
Some properties are featured on this blog for their architectural or landscaping features.  This is not one of those properties.  Instead, I would like to present you with a cute, simple, move-in-ready house in one of the four areas around Austin I've put on my "would love to live here" list.  This quiet residential area is still in North Austin, but it's just inside the 183 loop.  Lots of old trees are in this neighborhood.  There is a bike lane on the main road that goes through.  It's convenient to the school, convenient to my work, I'd take it in a heartbeat!  And this elusive locale is: 404 West Odell Street. 
The other big plus about this home (blocks from the Airport Metro station) is that it's been recently remodeled.  Now, for me, this would be a slight negative.  I'd rather get the house for less and do the remodeling myself.  But for a lot of people, the idea of a cute move-in-ready place is absolutely irresistable.  Take, for instance, this lovely granite countertop, travertine backsplace and nice double sink.  That's right folks, the kitchen is all modern and clean and lovely.
Of course, the space has to have SOME character or I wouldn't even consider it for the blog.  Look at these lovely old hardwood floors - just look at them.  Don't they make you happy?  They make ME happy!
By now you may have realized that I'm a sucker for outdoor spaces.  This one is a beauty - nicely landscaped with old, old trees.  There's a lovely little patio to the right there - but I wanted to give ya'll the view with the path & the trees.  Why?  Because.  That's why.  Now eat your vegetables.

So, if you're looking for a lovely place at a lovely price ($169,000), take a tour of 404 West Odell Street and see what you think.  For me at least, the neighborhood is full of character and is being well taken care of.  It would be my guess that in just a few years, your $169k house would be worth a good deal more, I predict this neighborhood is up and coming!

An Eventful Week means less blogging

It's true - when things happen in your life, especially those you can't plan for, you tend to put fun, interesting, creative things to the side.  This is just a note to say that one of those things has happened to me.  I hope to be up and blogging soon.  'Til then, here's a great place on Lancaster Drive:
2406 Lancaster is a charming home with a lot of South Austin features.  I've noticed that Austin can be divided in a lot of different ways.  You'll always have downtown, historic and modern - but there are neighborhoods that feel like you could be in any of a number of cities and there are neighborhoods that feel like you're somewhere unique.  This property is unique because it manages to be out in the 'burbs without feeling like a cookie cutter. 

Actually, it really feels like it belongs in one of the older, more historic* areas.  Built in 1975, this home typifies the best of the 1970s architecture.  This brick fireplace with built-in makes me feel like I'm at a friend's house, about to watch a movie in my jammies.

But something my friends houses didn't have, but this one does is an incredibly spacious sunroom.  This stretches all along the hosue and is absolutely beautiful.  A truly "Austin" feature - I'm sure there's a future homeowner out there who just can't wait to open a couple windows and let the breeze blow through.  Listed at $239,000, this 2,170 square foot home will easily house a family with a spacious master bedroom, two dining areas and two additional bedrooms.  Me?  I'd sleep on the porch!

*By "historic" I mean "built before the suburban expansion & housing bubble, with character" - there are houses built both earlier and later than this one which lack such a lovely historic feel - but this house was built in a nice traditional style, so when it shows its age, it does so gracefully, looking not old, not young, but timeless.  (Although I'd totally take the carpet off the stairs and have wooden risers.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The house looked at me with puppy-dog eyes

No, really, it did!  See!  This is one of the photos for a listing on 1701 West 34th Street.  And not only is it adorable (the labrador, alas, does not convey), it also shows what amazing architectural details can do!  So, please take note, that this quite tightly focused photo shows many interesting things about the house, besides that you should prbably pay close attention to any exposed wires that might attract a growing puppy's eyes.  The half-window door, solid molding and deep blinds are all details that a new homeowner might want to take a look at.
Continuing to look at details, here'a grand architectural feature that the Realtor has made sure to point out.  These french style doors open up to the patio, making the living/dining room into a wonderful indoor/outdoor space.  So much of Austin living is outdoor living, this feature is decidedly awesome.  I sure hope whoever ends up in this house appreciates it and hosts lots of barbeques.  They could invite me!
The final details can be seen in the walk up.  With driveway access in the back, we have a charming approach at the front.  Shutters make the "eye" of this house pop.  IMHO, additional shutters on the other window would be awesome, and I'd paint the front door to match the color scheme instead of adding another color.  However, the rocking chair-ready porch, white trim and long sidewalk with steps all call back to a very specific era.  I'd live here in a heartbeat!  And, for $359,000, this 1120 square foot 2 bedroom, 1 bath house in a very desireable neighborhood, could be yours. 

Style notes...

It's Thursday.  I never could get the hang of Thursday.  To me, Thursday is often one big long prep for Friday.  But, then, you still have to go through the DAY part of Friday, before you get to the WEEKEND part, which is what the prepping is all about, no?  So, anyways, to the purpose.  Prepping for Friday. 

At the risk of spoiling a surprise or two, I'm going to tell you a bit about my Friday plans.  This Friday has gained a couple of levels of awesome, as we are going clubbing at a Steampunk/Goth club that emerges out of another club like a lemur scenting lemons.*  So yesterday, I schlepped over to the Salvation Army** and bought myself some fun and awesome steampunk clothes.  Given the potential readership of this blog, you may or may not know what a good steampunk/goth costume worthy of clubbing might look like.  So I shall endeavor to give you some clues.

First, a little word about Goth.  Goth is no longer as simple as wearing black lipstick and black clothes and having odd piercings.  Here is a tip:

This girl may look creepy, but that's kinda the point of the Goth look.  She is also stylish.  Goth stylish.  My plan is to take this look, keep the black eyes, make the red shadow green, and the lips bright red.  It'll be a little less "Darkness abounds" and a little more "Poison Ivy."

Said persona is another step closer to what I'll be going for.  So, here's an image to get you thinking "Steampunk."  People embracing the Steampunk culture imagine what life might be like if we hadn't had the industiral revolution, if we flew around in airships instead of airplanes, if we merged the Victorian aesthetic with our current modern technologies.  This image is actually not terribly far off from the persona I'll be taking.  But, there's a final element. 

When Scott saw my outfit, he said "That's very Gypsy"  - and he's right.  So very, very right.
In the end, it'll be a rocking combination of all three:  Goth make-up, softened up a bit to go with a Victorian romantization of a Gypsy, black ruffly skirt and lots of different fabrics and lace, and a pair of goggles.  Oh most definitely a pair of goggles.*** 

There are, of course, no pictures yet.  But there will be.  I fully intend there to be lots and lots of pictures.  So, now you know, my late Friday/early Saturday plans are made.  Now all I need to do is go buy some earplugs.  I'm taking some good advice given to me that will hopefully make clubbing a much more enjoyable experience.   Cheers!

*Don't ask me why lemurs like lemons, I don't know.  But it's a scientific fact!^
^Not actual scientific fact.

**Did you know that Wednesdays are 1/2 price at the Salvation Army in Austin?  Well, now you know.^^
^^See!  I'm keeping to the theme of the blog!  You have learned a new and valuable Austin fact!
***In case I need to, you know, hijack an airship.  Hmmm...probably not the best idea to bring a 10 inch dagger to a club.  Alcohol + dagger = baaaaad plan

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

If I had a million dollars...

I probably wouldn't buy this house.  But, if I had 4 or 5 million dollars just sitting around, languishing for a place to go, I'd buy this house and put the remainder into an "upkeep" savings account.  With that many windows, you've gotta hire a professional window washer and if you think I'm buying a million dollar home and then sweeping the million dollar floors myself, well you don't know me very well!  (Actually, if you think I'm buying a million dollar home, I'd love to hear your logic - maybe I COULD!)  All that to say, this a very specific kind of Texas Modern, and it's designed around the omnipresent feature of the Texas landscape which is, of course, LANDSCAPE.  Hence, as you shall see, the need for a professional window washer. 
Now, I'm not much of a fan of modern architecture...generally.  But this one caught my eye.  I love the care the architect took with not only the structure, but also the holes.  I especially love the way the light reflects softly on the concrete.  The whole thing looks like it's teetering on the verge of becoming a castle. 

So, of course, in the back it stops teetering and falls completely into the metaphor.  Narrow windows, a turret and a moat make the castle illusion complete. 
The master bedroom has the look of a great hall.  Modern furniture and pot lights cannot change the general theme of this room, which is "Lord of the Ranch."  The wide room and open spaces echo the long, open spaces of the Texas landscape that the many, many windows look out on.

BTW, for all you modern lords in search of a castle and vassals out there, this property is on 3684 Ranch Creek Drive and it's listed for just UNDER a million dollars - $993,000.  Let me know if you buy it - I'll come visit you and fill that lovely, lovely kitchen with tasty, tasty Italian food. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Green on the scene

So, it's time to show some multi-family love.  Because so many Austin residents are transitional, there's less of a cachet about beinng one of the renting masses, and a lot more unique properties out there to rent!  This house shows off one of Austin's best features - the great outdoors.

Located at 607 East 49th Street, this little gem of a duplex shows what a homeowner/landlord can do when they take the time to make things green.  And, really, this is all about the trees and the grass.  There's not a lot of work that goes into making this yard lovely, but boy, oh, boy, is it ever.

Okay, so they had to create that pergola.  And put vines on it.  But I'm thinking all this is pretty low maintenance.  My only question is, does the rocking chair convey?

And because we can't get away with just showing the exterior of a house (that's almost cheating, really), here's a sunfilled living room to warm the cockles of your heart, or the fur of your cat...whatever.

I've gotta say, I love how that's the entry to the house.  There's no wasted space here.  And the saltillo tile really, really works with the wood paneling.  If I bought this place, I'd have a tough time renting it out, I'd want to live there!  It's listed for $349,000 and recently rented for $1,100 for the 2:1 and $775 for the 1:1.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mint Tea

Okay, so I freely admit it, Whole Foods is my favorite store.  No, not just my favorite grocery store, my favorite store.  And, now that I'm here in Austin, I live in the same city as the biggest and best Whole Foods, the corporate headquarters.  Located at Lamar & 6th Street, this is the big daddy of all Whole Foods stores, the one others are measured against and found wanting. 

It is also where I get my tea.  I have an addiction to loose leaf tea.  Fortunately for me, this is one of those pretty-healthy, bad side-effect-free, good side-effects-included addictions.  My mom was a great tea drinker, but she always got the bagged tea.  And there is something magical, something wonderfully tasty and tastefully wonderful about loose leaf tea.  Plus, (here's the realist in me) it's cheaper!

So, here's to you, Whole Foods.  I'd raise my mug of mint tea to you - but I've already finished it.  All but the last, few, leafy dregs.  Which act like potpourri for my desk.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Size matters not...

This cute little cottage was built in 1939. 
It's located in the cozy little neighborhood of Hyde Park, which is trendy and decidedly tending towards hipsters, college students and old houses with character.  This house caters to all of these people.

I am rather intrigued by the furniture choice the current occupants have made.  It definitely labels them as either hipsters or college students.  They have certain priorities. 

 ... like I said "priorities."

But what made me pick this house, which is listed for $189,900, is the features.  Scroll back up and look at that covered entryway.  Too cute!  Also, this bathroom:

Clawfoot tub? check!  Pedastal sink? check!  Patterened tile?  check! 

Yup, this property has it all, location, charm... well, all except space.  At 823 square feet, you'll be comfortably bumping around in 2 bedrooms and 1 very cute bathroom.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Just a little bit every day...

Ever look at a job you know you have to do, think about how long it's going to take, and decide your time would be better spent catching up on your favorite TV show before it goes off of Hulu?  I have.  In fact, I can directly attribute that feeling of "too huge to handle" to why there is a giant pile of lumber, roofing materials and such in our back yard.  But I've resolved to get this job done, and to do so, I've decided that it doesn't have to be done... immediately.

But, instead of putting the whole thing off 'til later, we're breaking things down into tiny pieces.  I have resolved to spend the first 15-45 minutes of my evening working outside, getting rid of that trash pile.  Thankfully, my hubby has decided to join me in this task.  We know that we won't finish the job soon, doing just a little bit every day, but by breaking the job into smaller pieces, it will eventually get done, and we will have a feeling of accomplishment every day, as we work towards our goal. 

Some tasks are just too big to accomplish on your own.  It's important to ask for help, and to break it up into manageable pieces.  Not only will you increase your enjoyment of the job, but you'll probably find that you'll get the thing done more quickly than you would've otherwise.  We have busy weekend plans for the forseeable future, but we're not letting our weekends get in the way of the job we need to do, or the job get in the way of the fun we want to have on the weekend.  And that, my friends, is good!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Original Purpose Revealed!

So, originally, I thought I'd take this blog and use it to showcase interesting properties I found in the course of my job at Hindsite 20/20 Real Estate. But then things got crazy and I forgot to keep an eye out, and the interesting properties flew by in a whirlwind of colors and pictures and windows and flooring. So here, for the first time, is a "Austin Original" property that I think is pretty awesome.

917 East 51st Street.
currently listed for $188,000

Look, it has exposed brick! a cool looking island, open cabinet kitchen!  Very nice, you say, and the location, she is good, but Hannah, we see that it has lots of great lighting, but where is the really awesome "Austin" feature? 

Fear not, gentle reader, for 'lo, this 3 bed, 2 bath has a LOFT!

...and behold, from the kitchen, one may venture upwards into a beautiful little gabled area!  So cozy, so cute, so very bohemian. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Responsibility for $500

So, what does it mean to be responsible? I submit that it is simply to do what you say you will do, and fully "own" everything you do.

Do what you say you will do.
Keep your promises. Don't make promises you cannot keep. Don't make "half-promises" that are more like suggestions. If you're going to commit to something, then commit to it. This goes back to the whole idea of "let your yes be yes and your no, no." Do what you say you will do.

Fully "own" everything you do.
Before you begin something, know what it will entail (to the best of your ability). And once you've begun something, keep at it - don't leave things unfinished. Also, stay true to your work. Own up to any mistakes and take pride in what you do right. Don't be afraid to ask for help, often asking for help is the most responsible thing you can do.

And with that, I'm going to get onto a project I've committed to for a friend. He's my friend and I said I'd get it done.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Where have all the DIY-ers gone?

Having just "reached a stopping point" (read: not finished, but done for the night and possibly longer, and the thing is usable) on a DIY project in our guest bathroom, I think I can easily say that my DIY cred is high. So, here is my question - where have all the DIY-ers gone?

I know, I know, Doing It Yourself is big. But the very fact that we have a NAME for not hiring a professional speaks volumes. These days, you're a DIY-er if you install a new ceiling fan or even a new plug. I don't QUITE think we're at the faceplate installation = DIY stage, but it's not far off.

But this is America! And if it's not America (for me, at least, for now, it is), then you have even LESS excuse. While we here in the US of A have the "pioneer spirit" and things like "gumption" - over in other countries (where buildings that are 100 years old are "young") ya'll have HISTORY. I mean, you could even have tools passed down from generation to generation to GENERATION TO GENERATION. That's a lot of history. (UK, I'm looking at YOU! Why? Why not France or Spain or some other old world country? Because. That's why.)

Anyways, why are we DIY-ers? Why aren't we "DUH, of course I'm doing this gutter installation myself. It's not like it takes special training to wield a power drill whilst standing on a ladder. I did this when I was 6, holding the screws for my grandpappy." (In other news, Grandpappy is an awesome grandpa name. Take note, o husband mine.)

So, in the spirit of Father's Day - I'm going to encourage fathers everywhere to pass something down to their children. Something practical they learned from their fathers. And dads, make them promise to tell their kids someday soon.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Am I a good neighbor?

What does it mean to be a good neighbor? We're not in the 1950s anymore, so I have to abandon the June Cleaver image in favor of...what? My guess is, it varies widely from neighborhood to neighborhood. So, let me tell you a little bit about where I live.

It's a medium sized house in a medium priced neighborhood. Built in the 1980s, it's not terribly old, nor terribly new. My neighbors speak Spanish, and English, and possibly Korean. I don't know them very well.

The question is - should I? Is the "leave well enough alone" policy that more and more Americans seem to have adopted the best idea? I submit that it is not. I submit that we have something to learn from June Cleaver, and that in this age of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, we need to rediscover talking through the back fence, sharing lawn tools and block parties. And who knows, maybe the guy over at #1056 will friend you on Facebook or follow your tweets. I think the merging of the two could be a great improver of our lives.

Let's get physical AND virtual!