First, Hermit Haus Redevelopment is happy to announce that we will be joined by a new team member next week. Anita McCabe will be moving to Austin from Baltimore, Maryland next week. She will work as a project manager, and at least at first, as an all-around assistant to Lee. Like Lee, Anita grew up in the construction industry, and has many years of experience doing her own home renovations. We can’t wait to see what her energy brings to our company now that she will be in the same physical area with us (she’s been on our calls daily for a year or so now).
So, what about these lessons learned? Well, Anita decided to move to Austin a year ago, so she could work with us and be around one of her oldest buddies (Sue Ann). But first, she “just” had to finish renovating her little historic row house (over 200 years old!). Because of her experience with construction and renovations, and to save money, she decided to do it herself…while working full time as an editor and doing freelance work. Hmm, this doesn’t sound like a speedy process, does it?
Yep, Anita spent months scraping paint on the exterior trim and repairing damaged wood all by herself, then she painted all those beautiful old window frames and dentil-covered trim. Well, until she got to the ONE place she simply couldn’t reach. Have we mentioned she is not exactly a tall person? So, one tiny section had to wait.
Her initial goal was to arrive in Texas by June. June came and went as she kept very busy. Inside she completely re-did the bathroom and kitchen fixtures and tile, painted every single interior wall, and scraped all the interior stairs. Herself. She also revitalized the landscaping. That took muscle and time!
At some point, Anita was exhausted. She had left her job to concentrate on the renovation, but there was just some stuff she needed help with. Hooray for us; we helped her hire contractors for the last few things (ceiling painting, a window issue, that little space on the trim that she couldn’t reach, etc.). There was light at the end of the tunnel.
Why All This Work?
The reason Anita was doing this was that her model was to get the house in pristine condition to get the best price for a retail buyer. All her decisions were based on making the house look appealing to the buyer who wants to see a lot of white and gray, subway tiles, and all that. This house represented her life savings, so she wanted to get the most for it.
Towards the end of her process, she finally talked to a real estate person. While he said the house was very much improved since she bought it, his estimate of what it would bring on the retail market wasn’t as great as she had hoped. It can’t help where it’s located!
So, Here’s the Thing…
Turns out, it may well be that Anita didn’t need to make all those changes. She happened to see her next-door neighbor, who shares a wall with her, and mentioned she was moving and putting the house on the market. The neighbor said, “How much do you want for it? I’ll buy it.” He had barely looked at it. She named the price and he gave her enough earnest money to pay for her move.
Anita quickly realized that this sale would save her all the real estate agent fees, so she was actually going to net what she’d hoped for in the first place. A Win!
The nagging question is, would he have bought it 6 months ago, before all the renovation? Could Anita have made it by June, saved 6 months of mortgage payments and started her new life sooner? It could be! The buyer wants to turn the house in to a short-term rental, so it might have been fine in its older state.
The lesson is this: always have multiple exit strategies. Anita was so focused on the retail sale strategy that she didn’t think of talking to the neighbor any earlier. Perhaps she could have considered renting the house out herself…even if renting wouldn’t work out, our models tell us to consider all the possibilities, because something non-traditional might work out for the best.
In any case, all her hard work (and endless packing) has paid off. She’s getting some good money out of her house, and the movers come tomorrow to pack her stuff. She will arrive next week to join Sue Ann in the Villa Park casita, right next to Carol and Russell temporarily camped out in the Villa Park main house, while we await the adventure of FINALLY doing the Bobcat house transformation.
Whew, as if all our business deals aren’t enough, we can’t even keep up with our own houses.