It’s a Family Tradition

The Tarrant boys like to build. 77 years later and here I am following in my grandfathers footsteps, developing real estate and building spec houses. Here’s a fun picture of my Grandfather R.W. “Poppy” Tarrant’s custom home that he built for his family in the late 1930’s.  The house was on Overbrook Lane in the upscale area of Houston, Texas known today as River Oaks. This house was torn down in the early 2000’s.

After selling the first house to a local attorney, he then drew up his own plans and specs and built this home in the 3600 block of Wickersham Lane in River Oaks. In 1943 this house only cost $15,000 to build. In today’s inflation adjusted dollars that equals $202, 460.00.

Here is Poppy, my dad Tom Tarrant Sr. and uncle Bobby Tarrant outside the Wickersham house

Carlsbad Plans

Here’s a glimpse at the front elevation of the modern Carlsbad new construction house we have in the works. It’s a 4/3 at roughly 4000 total square feet. I’m real happy with the design.. its got clean lines, big horizontal planes and heavy overhangs. More design detail to come as well as some 3D modeling so you can get a feel for the floorplan. The Carlsbad permitting process wont be a quick process, we are now only working towards Coastal Development Approval and then we get to submit the detailed house plans. Completion date in 2014.

Sell Your San Diego House

We are still busy Buying Houses here in San Diego and helping homeowners find solutions to their Real Estate problems. It’s been a busy Summer but we are still looking to buy more houses!

Last month we bought this Paradise Hills house directly from the sellers who were retired veterans and had got a couple months behind on their mortgage payments. They didn’t want to work with realtors because most of their equity would have been spent on the realtor commissions. Their lender Green Tree, wouldn’t cooperate with a loan modification and refinancing of their VA loan was out of the question because there were major repairs that needed to be made to the property, namely an empty swimming pool in the backyard which needed to be filled in.

After visiting the house we made them a cash offer and immediately contacted their lender for a payoff amount so the harassing phone calls stopped. To help the elderly sellers we even advanced some funds before the sale closed so they could rent a suitable house. They will walk away with over $25,000 cash in their pocket and be saved of having a foreclosure on their credit. We love helping people and make sure its a win-win for both parties.

I bought this house in Clairemont this month after the seller, who is the executor of a family trust, contacted me and wanted to liquidate the asset so the beneficiaries could cash out. The challenging issue with this deal was that the home needed extensive repairs so a lender would likely not lend on it.

We made the sellers a cash offer and agreed to take the house in its As-Is condition, we never request anyone to make repairs. We closed escrow 12 days later and the heirs to the estate received their portion of the proceeds.  Another win-win situation for both parties, no other homebuyer in town would let the seller stay in the house for a year after receiving their funds!

Another purchase this month was this house on Dictionary Hill in Spring Valley. It’s a huge 3200 sf custom but needs an extensive remodel. The house had great bones, but years of deferred maintenance. The sellers had been busy with their careers and didn’t have the time to make repairs or keep up with this huge house. They didn’t want to list it with a realtor and have to clean, pay to fix everything, and then hassle with all the showings so they called us.

Out of their equity they would have also paid $15,000 in Realtor fees which was a big portion of their equity they needed to put down on their new house. Here is how fast we work; after getting the call on a Friday, I visited the home Saturday morning and made an offer. By Monday we agreed on a sale price and opened escrow.  5 days later the deal closed and they got their check! The sellers had accumulated a lot of little stuff in the house that would have been time consuming and costly to haul out, so they were happy that we didn’t require them to haul it off or clean anything on the way out.

If you want to Sell a San Diego House Fast, give us a call and we will work around your specific situation to try and structure a deal that works for both parties. More information about the homebuying process and how we arrive at an offer price can be found at the following link: http://tomtarrant.com/we-buy-houses-san-diego/

Contact me by clicking here or simply call (619) 438-0234 for a hassle free, no-obligation offer for your unwanted real estate. Your privacy is our main concern and we don’t share your information with anyone.

Happy Independence Day!

Flipping San Diego

It looks like A&E finally green lighted the announcement of a new Flip This House team for 2013. It’s our friend Chief Denney here in San Diego with a new show called Flipping San Diego. Chief does really nice work, has a lot of integrity when it comes to renovating houses and furthermore is a graduate of New School of Architecture here in San Diego.  What you guys are in store for this upcoming season on Flip This House from the San Diego team will be unlike any other season in the past so its a must see for house flipping fans. Sorry but there wont be any painting over rotten wood, shoddy lipstick rehabs, faked arguments with contractors or staged open house sales. I’m looking forward to the spotlight on the hot San Diego house flipping scene, and happy to see that it will involve someone ethical with good design sense and doing quality rehabs to show the nation how California does it! Tune into the new Flip This House season debuting July 20th on A&E.

Over the years we’ve been approached by 3 different production companies to do realty shows but never found the right “fit”, you might remember this old post http://tomtarrant.com/another-real-estate-reality-show-offer/

New Carlsbad Lagoon Lot

I picked up this 1.3 acre parcel in Old Carlsbad on Aqua Hedionda Lagoon last week and am getting started on plans for a 3500+ s.f. contemporary custom home. You can see its very close to Carlsbad Lagoon where there are fun summer activities like wakeboarding, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding although the beach is still only 1 mile away. I’ve got about 30 hours of due diligence in with The City already and feel pretty good about the parcel although its never had a house on it after a sub division lot split in 1980. There are a lot of challenges with this lot but neighboring parcels have all been developed or received approval. This lot is also in the Coastal Commission area which requires Coastal Development Approval before any grading, public improvement or building plans can be approved.

Home values in this area of Carlsbad are very strong with values in the $1M range. It’s going to be a long permitting process this summer though before we can break ground, I’ve already hired a civil engineer to do a new Topography Survey from which we can do a Preliminary Site Plan with elevations, drainage and grading. Additionally, we are required to submit a Geo Report for the soils and a Bio Report that documents endangered plant and wildlife on the lot, namely Coastal Scrub Brush and the infamous Gnat Catcher bird. Once we can get all this in to the City we’ll be considered for a Coastal Development Permit after a 30-day wait, and then we can start actually working on the house plans. This whole process could easily take 6 months from what I’m told so don’t expect to see me start grading next weekend. This is going to be a really fun project, we are really excited to also be doing something in North County and leaning more modern with this home design.  I’ll share some of the prelim info as we get into this and start playing with conceptual designs and eventually work towards another 3D model of the house and site.

Modern Bungalow Sold $765,000

The San Diego real estate market is on fire right now, home prices in my area are up 20% over last year and in nearby neighborhoods like North Park 92104 there is only 1 month of inventory at the current sales pace!  It’s putting a real damper on the local house flippers as they are having trouble finding properties to rehab. 3 guys I personally know are going to Phoenix, Las Vegas and Palm Springs to find projects.

Strategically, I put it on the market on a Tuesday to give everyone time to react before an MLS advertised double-open house weekend. The strategy worked out perfectly, by the open house we already had 3 offers to work with. In this market its common to have 10-15 offers within the first few days, but this is generally true for entry level houses or high demand markets in the suburbs. By leaving the house on the market a whole 8 days, I felt it gave adequate market exposure yet didn’t irritate any of the first buyers by waiting too long and playing the game.

We had a specialty product for a very special buyer, in an inner city neighborhood where median sold home prices are in the low 500’s. To illustrate the market appreciation this year, when I bought this vacant lot I calculated a house built there would have sold for $629,000 based on comps. Half way through the build there were 2 comps at $685,000. By the time I was done we had sales comps in the low 700’s for remodels, not new construction, so I put a value on the home of $750,000. Not having a back yard was a definite negative so I had to price this in. You know that the seller does not set the sales price, the market does. A house will sell for whatever a buyer is willing to pay. Furthermore, houses are not sold, they are bought, so listing agents don’t “sell” houses in my opinion.

I used value range pricing and listed the house at $749,000 – $799,000. The first offer came in at $710,000. The second at $749,000 and a third at $750,000. When the smoke cleared, and after everyone had a shot to go higher, we countered the strongest buyer of the 3 offers and they came up to $765,000, or $413.50/s.f.

Listing this house and getting it under contract was the easy part, getting SDG&E to install the gas meter so we could close would prove to be the hard part and took almost 8 weeks! Our wonderful buyer hung in there so we finally closed today, congratulations to the new owner and we hope you enjoy the home as much as we did building it.

South Park Modern Bungalow For Sale

Our New Construction Modern Bungalow in South Park is finally done, 190 days since I got my plans stamped. It’s an edgy blend of traditional Craftsman Bungalow style with a Modern influence. We wont be moving in (sorry babe) so it will hit the market this week. Don’t miss this ultimate urban nest for a hip buyer in the trendy South Park neighborhood!    Click here for home details.

-1812 Edgemont Street SD, CA 92102-       -Showings & Questions (619) 565-7475

> MLS # 130005969    $749,000 – $799,000

> Open House Saturday – February 9, 2013 12-5 pm

> Open House Sunday – February 10, 2013 12-5 pm

Special thanks to Rancho Photos for the best real estate photos in San Diego!

Modern Garage Door and Countertops – South Park

We are winding things up in South Park on our Modern Bungalow. The modern garage door got installed this week, its an Amarr full view door in dark bronze with obscure glass. I didn’t want the glass to look white-ish like my last project so I didn’t get the frosted, the obscure lets more light in and overall was a way better choice for this project. The dark bronze aluminum ties in with the Milgard aluminum window color perfectly. The door looks massive because its 8 feet high so the glass panels are larger, way cooler than the 7 foot Amarr door we installed earlier this year on a house we flipped.

In the master bath wet room I finally dropped in the jacuzzi tub. You can see that the heavy glass frame-less doors are also installed, I tried something new this time and did saloon doors. You can leave them open when taking a bath and they lay on the walls out of the way. The opening is 4’0″ so each door is around 24″ Hey Honey, if I don’t come home from work one night you know where to find me.

Carpet got installed in the 2 secondary bedrooms. I went with a designer textured close loop Stainmaster with upgraded pad because we like carpet in kids rooms. The grey ties in well with interior finishes.

The big milestone we passed this week was the counter tops. The kitchen and both bathrooms are all Ceasarstone Arctic White with a square profile and eased edge. Ceasarstone is quartz so its a little trickier to work with when fabricating the edge detail. Not only is the pure white unforgiving but quartz in general has to be miter cut so you wont see the lamination on the bullnose. This is the first time I’ve gone this white, its so fresh, clean and looks very modern, contrasting my dark greyish blue base cabinet color well. The huge sink is a single bowl zero radius stainless steel. I ended up going with white 3×6 ceramic tile for the back splash (not shown) and installed it in a running bond pattern to keep it looking more contemporary and matching the upstairs bathroom.

The 3’x7′ kitchen island has a waterfall on one side. this is a new technique usually reserved for high end modern homes where the counter top actually wraps down the island and touches the floor. You can also see in this pic how the seams are miter cut. One neat feature (also not shown) is the microwave drawer in the island, more pics to come after I get appliances in.  We Buy Houses in San Diego, if you know anyone looking to sell please contact us as we are always searching for our next renovation project.

Modern Landscape Design

For this project I decided on a modern style landscape design to tie in with my modern architecture attribute. The clean lines and open spaces of my concrete work will create a contemporary outdoor space. I came up with a flowing design of terraced geometrical shapes, grid patterns in the concrete flat work, and the extensive use of unfinished cmu block to give an urban feel. I’m trying to create more of an extension from the house and outdoor living spaces rather than a traditional lawn and garden.

When constructing my modern privacy screens I continued the cmu block wall as a base and used galvanized Postmaster steel posts which then support the Cedar 1 x 8 boards. These posts are great, they are pre-drilled and will last for years. I kept the spacing at around 5 feet to keep the boards straight and I’ll stain them after they dry out in a few days.

The finishing touch will be all native, drought tolerant plants which I have carefully selected. Of course I ran sprinklers for very moderate watering  but the whole design will be almost maintenance free and save water.

Modern Concrete and Floor Redeux

What a difference a week makes. Our new hardwood floor refinishing guys came in and did an incredible job on the Modern Bungalow in South Park. Instead of the usual rag on, rag off method for applying the stain, these guys used a lambs wool applicator and drug the stain across the floor. Of course we did not water pop the wood first this time!

The stain came out perfect the second time around, no spots or blotchy areas and this application method actually left more color on the wood. After the stain dried they did 3 coats of semi-gloss clear, buffing in between coats. I’m really happy with the results, this is how Golden Pecan on Red Oak should look, it gives a modern loft feel.

Here is the finished product on the floors, finally I am back on track now. The cabinet finishers are coming in next to stain the uppers to match and paint the bases, island and bathroom vanities.

The weather finally cooperated enough to get most of our hardscape in this week. I poured about 20 yards of flat work. The modern design I created will lend itself well to my overall theme, the driveway area was so large, so by cutting it up I brought the space more into scale. Stay tuned for the finishing stretch after the holidays & Merry Christmas!

Rain Droppin’ & Water Poppin’

Imagine this picture after 3 days of rain. Yes folks, mud, mud and more mud.  It just wasn’t in my cards this week, after almost 2 weeks excavating for the driveway and setting forms, the rains came. Had I just finished a day earlier I would have avoided a 5-day set back due to the weather.  You can see I broke up the huge space by setting the forms in a more modern design for the concrete, it will do wonders for the scale of the driveway and also add an interesting modern touch. Inside the gaps between the slabs I can put river rock, decomposed granite or even a low grass. There wont be any sod in my landscape design, the whole yard will be xeriscaped and planted with drought tolerant native species. The unfinished cmu block retaining walls and large square concrete slabs for stepping blocks will give a real urban mod feel and be perfect for my modern bungalow.

The full custom, flat panel millworks package went in on Monday from Jed at Hollands Custom Kitchens in El Cajon. Full extension, soft close, dove tail, the whole 9 yards. Hollands is rad, great service, quality and they’ve been building cabinets for 35 years here in San Diego. They hand built everything specifically for the house including kitchen and bathrooms. Everything will get finished on site after the install. On the uppers I used grain matching “rift cut” Red Oak. We’ll stain them Golden Pecan to match the floors while the island and lower cabinets will all get painted a dark blueish grey. I’ll contrast the dark lowers by using arctic white quartz countertops with a square eased edge profile and waterfall on one side of the island. In fact the counters, appliances and even carpet upstairs are all waiting to go in as soon as the floors are done.

So you can see a lot was riding on the floor job coming out on time. After 2 days of sanding, the floor guys decided to apply the oil based stain when it was raining outside and 90% humidity. It might have actually worked even though you shouldn’t stain in higher than 60% humidity, but they tried an advanced technique called “water popping” in which you wipe the raw wood with water to raise the grain just prior to staining. This trick is normally reserved for trying to get wood floors to accept a very dark stain or hide scratch marks, in my case it wasn’t necessary since I’m going very light and Red Oak is the easiest material to work with. Soaking the floor with water combined with the high humidity trapped in the moisture under the oil based stain and it dried looking very blotchy. I’ve been doing beautiful Oak floors for years and we never popped the grain, I wouldn’t advise anyone to try it unless you are going very dark or have an absolute professional that has experience with popping the grain doing the work. Needless to say I hired a different company and we are sanding off all the stain and starting over. New 3/4″ Red Oak floors only have enough thickness to refinish about 6 times, its not the best scenario to re-sand new installs twice but they’ll look perfect when we are done and that’s what counts. More on water popping hardwood floors here.

It’s really frustrating to get slowed down at the end of a project, but its just part of the business and being able to react swiftly and find solutions will keep you moving forward. We’ll see if this week works out a little better. See you soon with concrete pics and a complete kitchen. Have a Merry Christmas and thanks for following our projects!

Holiday Delays but Still Pushing

We are still making progress on the Modern Bungalow trying to wrap this house up, but with the holidays its been hard to keep up the pace. Since my last update inside we got the central air conditioning installed, hot water heater, red oak stair treads and risers, and all the electrical trim and fixtures. The fire sprinkler guy came back and trimmed out too, installing all the sprinkler heads and bell box. There’s nothing left inside except for the tile setting while I wait for another week for the cabinets to arrive and get installed. The countertop fabricator is on standby to come right in after the cabinets, then its only hardwood floor refinishing and carpet in the 2 bedrooms. Garage door is also on order. I could have had it wrapped inside by now if I would have ordered cabinets before the drywall went up.

The new tile contractor I hired is done now with mud floating all the walls and getting into tile setting with his wife. This is the second husband and wife team we’ve had on this job, my exterior painters’ wife also was a painter. These ladies know what they are doing too, they are not just sweeping up! Instead of Hardi backer we opted for the mud float method where you do moisture barrier paper, metal lathe and then float out the walls with spec mix. The City comes and inspects paper and lath before you can start floating the walls. It gives a perfectly flat and plumb surface but definitely more work, he spent 4 days floating the walls when I could have put up backerboard in a few hours. The tile I went with in the master is a modern 12 x 24 light grey designer porcelain and I stacked it square to give a more clean minimalist and contemporary look. In the hall bath I went with the 3×6 ceramic but also opted not do do a subway pattern so it will be more of a clean look with a period material, working well with our home design. Both bathrooms got great niches in the wall for soap and shampoo bottles.

I thought by now I would have been done with the house but things always drag out at then end, time is on my side with Christmas and New Years coming up now so we’ll move in after the holidays.

The San Diego real estate market is still very hot. No signs of slowing even through the typically slow Fall season. With only a little over 2 months inventory it is a sellers market again and we are seeing bidding wars and multiple offers in all price tiers. I don’t see things changing through 2013 because interest rates will stay low and there’s no more huge waves of foreclosures coming as all the adjustable loans have reset already. Banks will continue to trickle out a few REO’s here and there, but even short sale volume is dropping fast. House flippers in San Diego will have a tough time competing with large, well funded buy and hold groups investing for appreciation. Some flippers are moving up the price range and flipping million dollar homes where there is less competition. There’s a lot of investor and first time buyer activity and prices are being affected by it, October was up 13% from last year and in some areas have reached 2005 peak home price levels again.

Construction Update – South Park

Just over 4 months since I poured the foundation on our Modern Bungalow, we are making progress over in South Park, walk through with me and let me know what you think. The grey interior colors might appear a little soft but don’t let that fool you. Once I get the warmth from the hardwood floor refinishing, and my bold surprise cabinet choices, it will all work. I’m moving straight into tile now and concrete flat work outside. My electrician is trimming out and we just passed the meter inspection Friday so I can call SDG&E now to get the power moved from my temporary pole to the house. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for following!

Color Me Mod

The exterior paint got finished last weekend, here are some pics that show how it came out. Its vivid and bold, definitely not predictable colors from the Craftsman era but leaning more modern. The bronze aluminum windows also really give it a sort of commercial modern look and contrast well with the light trim. The stained overhangs and individually painted rafter tails are really a surprise detail not to be overlooked.

On the front porch, I went with a bronze standing seam metal roof, it ties into the  windows and the main roof color. I feel that I got a really good deal at 700 bucks and my sub contractor hand made it on site. The cedar porch posts and beam were also stained to match the eaves. The visible T&G under the porch is also stained to match the eaves, I’ll show this detail later with a better pic.

While the house was getting painted outside, I was inside trimming it out. I went with the Craftsman style 3-panel doors this time. Its the first time I’ve used them and they are pretty swell, especially the 8 foot high ones and the parlor doors on the bedroom closets. Even the water closet pocket doors are the same style. I used 8″ baseboards and 4″ door casings. There are only 2 bedrooms that will get carpet, you can see I left the baseboards up 1/2″ off the floor in those rooms.

Here is the order I do interiors in: 1. Hang Drywall 2. Install Hardwood floors 3. Trim out 4. Spray Ceilings 5. Spray trims 6. Paint walls 7. Tile 8. Install Millworks 9. Refinish Hardwoods 10. Carpet.  When painting ceilings and walls I love coming with a roller behind the sprayer, your coat comes out way nicer and the roller pushed the paint into the new drywall. I also use PVA drywall primer on the new drywall. Everything always gets 2 coats as well. There are other methods that work too, I’ve seen guys actually put the wall color on before trimming out the house and hanging doors. Then they come back and just paint the trim. For me I think it causes too much touch up later and the dust inside the house when you are cutting all the MDF trim gets everywhere.

You can see the guys spraying the ceiling and back rolling while still wet. I’m trying a lot of new things on this project with the interior paint colors and finishes and reversing lights and darks in a way most people don’t see. Its always more work to try new ideas but challenging and rewarding to keep progressing.

I am doing a fully custom millworks package (cabinets) for the whole house. Its on order and getting built, should arrive around the end of this month. After the interior paint we will move into the tile jobs inside and the concrete driveway, small retaining wall and flatwork outside.