After 60 days on the market, we sold The Target House last week. We had a flurry of activity right after Christmas and then someone popped up who had actually seen it weeks earlier. Their inspector told me this week he loved the house more even after the inspection and that my quality of work was 2 levels above most renovations he sees even in the nearby pricier Alamo Heights neighborhood. I’m really going to miss this project, its one of our favorite houses. The sale wont close until the end of the month but we’ve got alot of packing to do and loose ends to tie up before we leave town. The 30-day notices were flying last week, one to our tenants in SD and another to our landlord here in SA.
It’s been a great final year for us here in San Antonio but I truly feel we are leaving at the right time. When we first got to S.A. there were tons of other California investors here rehabbing but they fled when the market here slowed and simultaneously CA started to rebound. The San Diego real estate market reached a bottom in Q2 09 and throughout 2010 saw steady home price appreciation up until July where things started to back off a tad. Depending on who’s numbers you are looking at they gained back about 3-8% of the 35% they were down from 2005 peak. I’m sure interest rates will continue to creep up in 2011 and the big lenders will continue to dribble out the REO’s for everyone to fight over but even with the Fall sales decrease I am optimistic that San Diego will hold ground throughout 2011 and then really take off in 2012 if the unemployment situation improves. Of course there is the double dip crowd that sees the opposite and anything is possible. San Diego is on sale right now, and 2011 is going to be a great year there for experienced investors. It’s a perfect storm of higher affordability, low interest rates, tons of bank owned properties that need to be fixed up, decreasing inventory levels, price increases and first time buyers chomping at the bit after waiting nearly a decade to be able to get into the market.
We had tons of fun this year sharing our adventures on the blog and attracted alot of attention doing it. This Spring my blog was voted Top 10 Real Estate Investing Blogs by Biggerpockets.com. This summer I was approached by 2 different production companies to do Real Estate Reality Shows and we completed and sold 2 big rehab high-end projects; The Neighbors House and The Target House. My killer rehab called The Hat Trick House was also featured on the front page of the local newspaper this summer which drew the attention of a local City Councilwoman who called us in to consult on urban redevelopment for the City. Our blog traffic doubled from last years numbers to over 80,000 visitors and my YouTube channel is blowing up. Happy New Year to everyone who’s followed along with us, thanks for all your comments and in less than 4 short weeks you’ll get to see a Great change of House Flipping Scenery from us, San Diego here we come!
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, maybe even from me. “Open Houses dont sell houses, agents just use them to find new buyers.” Although I love this saying, I have infact sold a rehab from an open house before so it’s more of a generalization than an absolute. With this being the slow time of the year we were determined to get some live bodies through The Target House. If we were in Spring or Summer we’d likely have seen some offers by now. This house sells itself, so it’s just a matter of increasing the traffic. To heat things up a bit last week I dropped the price $20k, we’re not playin’ around here guys and San Diego is waiting. After talking to my ad rep at The San Antonio Express-News classified department I learned there was the City-Wide Open House Edition this weekend in which they run color photos of the homes for you both Saturday and Sunday. I had this great idea to contact the listing agents for the other 4 houses for sale in our neighborhood and get them all on board with me and even had the newspaper agree to running our ads all next to each other to increase the impact. Needless to say none of the other agents took me up on it, even for the measly investment of $129.00 for both days. It’s cool, I’ll be drinking a Corona on the beach in S.D. and their listing will still be sitting there unsold. It still amazes me at how slow the local agents are compared to real estate professionals out West, maybe it’s the size of the commission checks, the heat, I don’t know but when it comes to getting something sold why not try everything possible?, especially after what we went through to get to this point. Without the other agents on board I was still able to work some magic and get my ad front and center, smack dab at the top, #1 spot for both days.
The turnout was great, between both days I had about 50 people through, including some agents, a neighbor, a historic home buff and even another prior owner of the home. This guy is probably 80 years old, he actually flipped my house in 1978. He bought it for $21k, his brother built new cabinets for the kitchen, they painted the whole inside white and resold it 4 months later for $42k. Great story. Yet more history from this house, and also goes to show people have been rehabbing houses forever, you just never heard of it until all the TV shows came out. He spoke of missing items which included a huge crystal chandelier that was in the dining room, my bookcase leaded glass doors that are now missing and a built-in buffet with beveled glass that used to be on the dining room wall, all of which are long gone by now unfortunately. We have another showing already scheduled for Monday which I have a suspicion could be an open house attendee coming back with their agent for a second look. After all this work in getting people through the house it’s important to have them leave with something, a little momento if you will. I made some quality color glossy card stock flyers and attached the mls printout and floorplan to the back to ensure they had something to refer to, and all the info they needed, if they were the slightest bit interested in buying. This is another tool I dont see getting utilized here by the agents in Texas. All in all, the open house was great success, tons of incredible feedback as everybody was just floored by the remodel and getting 50 live bodies through the house might have just givin it the exposure it needed to get something in writing soon. Thanks for following, here’s some parting factoids for you to ponder:
1. Open Houses do help sell houses.
2. Listing agents dont “sell” houses.
3. Houses are not sold, they are bought.
The Target House has been on the market for 22 days now and it feels like I am in some kinda weird holding pattern. No landing, no taking off, just holding course. As soon as this house sells we are moving back to Sunny San Diego so I don’t want to start any new rehabs while we wait. We are sooo excited to move back we can hardly stand it, so its hard not to focus on this sale because there’s so much hanging on the line although its the last thing real estate investors wanna do. House Flipping is in my blood, if I’m not renovating something and using my creative skills I go crazy. To keep busy now we’re working smaller deals while we wait such as the Wholetail House which is due to close on December 15. The San Antonio Real Estate Market stays pretty good all summer but as soon as school starts in September things really slow down. Just like in San Diego, once the holidays start nobody really wants to move so you can easily be stuck waiting for January if your listings don’t sell. Although I totally anticipated this, it seemed we might have got lucky again when several potential buyers returned for multiple showings the first week but we haven’t seen any offers from them yet. The showings were better than average up until last week but now it seems to be tapering off a bit. I’m holding advertised open houses and even hung up Christmas lights so we’re working all the angles. San Antonio MLS has a neat feature where you can perform a “reverse prospecting” search. This allows you to see which Realtors are emailing your listing out and then their clients response if they are interested. As long as I see it getting emailed out, and clients checking interested, we’ll continue to get showings. This wouldn’t be the time to start panicking and dropping your price since there’s way less traffic this time of year anyway but I’ve got some new marketing ideas planned for next weekend that should heat things up.
San Antonio Resale Homes are down 20% when compared to Q3 2009, similar to what’s happening to the San Diego Real Estate Market right now. A lot of this is due to the tax credit which pulled alot of sales forward but I sense a little slowing in general here in Military City USA. The good news is that for this same period prices are up about 8% whereas in San Diego they’ve lost about 2 points. There are 3 factors we’re dealing with right now with the sale of the Target House; the tax credit theft of Fall sales, the usual buying seasonality factor and last but not least the fact that we have a specialty property that’s above the median home price in which the most activity occurs. I always say I only need 1 buyer, cross your fingers that we get him during the holidays and don’t have to wait until spring 2011, after all half of this business is total luck!
An end to our San Antonio chapter has come… The Target House is done! It’s going to make someone the ultimate urban nest located in the heart of the Broadway revitalization area. It didn’t go down without a fight however, yesterday right before photo time my lawnmower broke so I had to rush and buy a new one. Then on the way back I happened across a guy with a 1923 Model T who by chance was just 2 blocks away from the property, I was so excited to get him over for the photo shoot I dropped my camera. It’s really crazy because a couple of weeks ago I had this idea to include an old car but it didn’t materialize until the “day of ” and then it literally fell in my lap. Needless to say we postponed the shoot one last day and had the guy bring the truck back, so early this morning I got everything handled and it’s now officially done and For Sale in MLS for $399,000. Any serious preapproved buyers should call me at (210) 388-2952 for a private showing. I’ll make a before and after video as soon as I recover and get to know my family again (if they recognize me). I inserted tons of house porn below, please leave me some comments!
We ended up going with Golden Pecan floor stain after trying about 8 different stain color samples. After applying the stain we used 2 coats of semi gloss polyurethane (buffing between coats) and mixed in a little Colonial Maple color to tint it even more. I’m really happy with the way they came out, only new wood can look like this so I’m sure the future owner will appreciate it. In the original part of the house the floors are almost 100 years old so they aren’t this perfect of course but a little distress look is appropriate due to the style house and age. As I was saying before I didn’t want to stain the whole house dark just to hide a few imperfections up front and not get to appreciate all this new red oak in the addition.
Here’s a sneak peek at the master bath. As you can see the glass company showed up this week between floor coats and installed the custom frame-less glass for the shower. The door is 7 feet high with chrome hardware that matches the other interior doors, I always design them a little higher than the shower-head. The fixed glass picture window is suspended in the tile opening with more beautiful chrome hardware. Most builders put the clamps on either the tops or sides but I did something a little different by having 1 clamp on all 4 sides. This custom frame-less glass ran $1300.00 installed. My plumber is coming this week to set the spa tub and fixtures, with my last contractor I would have done this myself but the new plumber doesn’t want me to touch anything so he can give the future homeowner a 2-year warranty, cool with me, less work. Check out how the new wood even runs through the bathroom and into the walk-in closet, this is a killer upscale look and blows away any kind of floor tile I could have used.
I recently heard that 30% of Americans (myself included) don’t park in their garages, they only use them to store junk turning them into basically a drive-in closet. In California people have alot of pride in their cars, detailing businesses flourish with customers paying hundreds of dollars for hand waxing but then again it never rains so it makes sense to keep your car clean. Here in San Antonio we get an average rainfall of about 32 inches compared to 9 in San Diego. Even after a rain you’ll still see puddles a week later because the streets are so bad. With all this rain you’d think that garages would be hugely popular here. It’s not the case however, people would rather enclose their garages for more living space because they don’t go outside anyway as it’s too hot and humid. Plus, their car is going to stay dirty anyway, garage or not, because of the weather and the street conditions.
So, why the hell did I build this garage you’re asking? Our project is going to be priced around the $400k mark in a city where average home proices are around $150k. Theres an unspoken rule that if you are paying $400k in San Antonio you better get a garage. Even if the locals don’t appreciate them most of our buyers are moving in from other states and telling their realtor to do searches for 3/2/2’s so we dont want to miss any potential customers. Once they get used to the SA way of life I’m sure they’ll stop parking in there, their car will be filthy and it’ll be full of crap. Either way these historic houses don’t have much storage so it’ll get used. I designed the 500 s.f. garage to look historic and match the house architecture. I’ll be using “T117 House Siding” again and I’ve left the rafter tails open, included huge 28″ overhanging eves and even a clipped gable roof. There will be a vent under the gable and of course I’ll multi-color it as well to match the house.