The old adage “If I only knew then what I know now,” definitely applies here.
A Brief History
The time has come to sell our Avery Ranch home. This was our first home in Austin, and we built it while we were still living in Arizona back in 2004. We bought it directly from the sales center after reviewing floor plans online, and we did not use a Realtor. (more on this, later) We made very few upgrades, and weren’t given any advice on what we should / shouldn’t do. Our sales rep looked at us with shrugged shoulders and left it all completely up to us, and we had no idea. Their representative at the design center was equally as helpful.
The ending result was a very well built house, albeit a very plain one. We painted a few rooms to make it feel more like home. We hired a landscaper to design a multi-level flagstone patio with beautiful native plants and flowerbeds throughout our property. However, after living there for two years, we decided that our desire was to live further south near downtown.
You Live, You Learn
If we had hired a Realtor, it’s highly unlikely that we would have bought this home in the first place. He or she would have gotten to know our wants and needs, and probably would have suggested that we take a look at homes in South Austin closer to downtown (where we currently live!) But, back then, I didn’t see the value in it and didn’t understand why I needed to hire a Realtor when I could just buy direct from the builder. Sigh.
Making the Decision To Rent or Sell
Being the mathematician that I am, I created a spreadsheet with several projections on how we could best make the transition out of Avery Ranch. I weighed the options of selling our Avery Ranch real estate right away or renting it out for a few years, while the builders completed our neighborhood phase. The conclusion was to rent it out for a few years. As luck would have it, I found a wonderful family who stayed in the house for three years and left it in immaculate condition. They recently moved out, and I’ve decided that now it is time to sell versus trying my hand with another renter. Being handy with Excel helps make these tricky decisions easier to make, as you can see your expected investment returns by keying in different scenarios and variables.
Choosing the Right Renovations, Contractors
When you’re preparing to sell a house in today’s market, you have to take a very close look at your active competition, pending sales and recent solds. The actives will show you what your competing against, and ideally you would like to be better than your competition, right? To keep things in perspective and to avoid going over budget or unwisely spending renovation dollars, you’ll need to look at homes that are currently pending in your area. Reviewing pending sales in your area will give you a precise look at what buyers are buying. And the recent solds will keep things in perspective and prevent you from over-renovating. Once you have a complete picture of what is in, and what is out, you can start putting together an action plan.
For example, we noticed that homes that are in our area typically have large tiles in the master bathrooms, have Corian or granite countertops in the kitchens, and hard-surface floorings on the first level. Fortunately, we were smart enough to choose Corian countertops for our kitchen when we built the home, and they are in great condition.
We will focus our renovation efforts on flooring and freshening up the landscaping that has overgrown.
Being in the real estate business makes finding good contractors very easy. Our office has over 70 Realtors in the Austin area, and sending out a few emails to our friends at the office quickly yielded us a list of referrals.
Generally speaking, you will get a better price on a renovation project if you purchase the materials yourself and find a qualified and skilled professional to handle the installation.
I met a tile contractor at my house, and I asked him a couple basic questions to gauge his knowledge. He passed my test, so we negotiated on a price for the job and that was that. He started the job on the day he said he would, and I couldn’t be happier with his professionalism and the quality of workmanship. It pays to use referrals from people that you trust!
Stay tuned for Remodeling to Sell Our Avery Ranch Home, Part Two where we will continue the remodeling project. We will have before / after photos of the downstairs flooring areas, and then we’ll discuss the way that we determined the listing price for our Avery Ranch house.