Home Buying in Austin>Question Details

Juli Lee, Home Buyer in San Antonio, TX

Remodel??? My husband and I are relocating to Austin and are really trying to decide between a "fixer-upper"

Asked by Juli Lee, San Antonio, TX Mon Aug 25, 2008

My husband and I are relocating to Austin and are really trying to decide between a "fixer-upper" and a home that is already remodeled. We are really interested in Barton Hills, Zilker, and Hyde Park. Does anyone have any insight into the construction market in Austin and whether we would be better off one way or the other?

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi Juli,

I grew up in San Antonio, but moved to Austin in 1996 and stayed. The areas you mentioned are great hot spots and you have the right idea, but they are a bit priced out and everyone already knows about them. Buy the remodel in these areas that has been on the market for a while. Seller is probably upside down.

The new hot spot for the fixer-upper is in East Austin or MLS areas 2 and 5 west of airport blvd and adjacent the Mueller development, UT-Austin, and downtown. "Fixer uppers" can be purchased under $200K in a close, trendy, up and coming area leaving a lot of room for upside. There are a lot of good builders and contractors that specialize in fixing these homes. Remodeled homes in this area sell between $300K and $600K, just be aware of the Austin McMansion ordinance and you will make a great investment! Don't let people discourage you from your dreams. Zip codes are a way of life in Austin, pick one that meets your lifestyle and go get it!

Call or email me if you want to know more!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 3, 2008
Dear Juli Lee,
A good deal is only a good deal if it is for something you really want. Often fixer uppers can be problematic as you may uncover other 'problems' when you start the work. I have a group of professionals to draw from for any construction project, as my background is construction. I worked for a commercial builder for several years and then a high end custom residential builder. Now I do not mean to discourage you from a fixer upper, I just want you to be aware it can be a lot of work. I only suggest fixer uppers if you really like having a project, are handy and are not on a tight budget, as these projects often tend to go over the estimates.

About 75% of my business is relocation. I would love to send you a relocation package to help you learn about Austin. This is a great city with many wonderful neighborhoods. The Zilker Park/ Barton Hills areas are my speciality. I lived in Hyde Park for eight years and I sell some homes in the HP neighborhood. Please give me a call or send me an email if I may be of service to you. If you can give me some details on the type of home that appeals to you, and where you will be working. It will help narrow the field so that we can send you some information on homes that are currently for sale.
Betina Foreman
Web Reference: http://www.ZilkerParkHomes.com
Web Reference: http://www.BetinaForeman.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 30, 2008
"Balance is key" when evaluating whether or not you are going to undertake such a task.
What is your aptitude?
Will you be hiring contractors or achieving "sweat equity"?
What are comps / is this a permanent home / or do you intend to resell it when you are done?
What us your bandwidth, for the task at hand?
What is motovating you to want to tackle a "fixer-upper"?
Do you have kids?
Do you both work / after a long hard day / if you work from home (Mom's get double credit for work) / do you have the "balance" to work on home projects with your spouse?
Once you have answered all of these questions; then and only then are you ready to begin with the number crunching with your spouse.
My father was a Real Estate Broker, and my parents have been married 45 years now - I worked with my father back in the 70's and 80's - and I learned early on - that "family balance" is far more precious, and often taken for granted - when spouses think that they can tackle this feat.
Finally - financing; will the "fixer-upper" pass inspection or is there a "cost to cure" that perhaps might "spook" a Lender today?
So you see - I focus on "360 degrees of communication" before you even begin looking!
If you have any questions / mortgage or real estate - feel free to call us @ 512-263-3132.
"Our clients are our friends, and our friends are our clients."
Jeff Albrecht
REALTOR & Mortgage Broker # 53234
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 18, 2008
Hi Juli,
Now is the time to buy a home that is already remodeled, and get a great deal. There are many great deals on the market right now. There is no need to spend the money fixing a home up with after purchase dollars. When you can buy one that is already fixed up at a discount. If it were me, I would buy a remodeled home.
I would love to help you find it. I have been a realtor for 8 years, and know those areas very well.

Warmest Regards,
Crystal Kilpatrick
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 18, 2008
A few things to consider when purchasing in Austin, TX. Make sure that the land you are purchasing, is going to be large enough, so that you can actually build the size of home that you want. There is a moratorium in Austin, that only allows you to build up to 40% of the lot size. Even smaller, on corner lots, because the set backs ask for more property. You hit the nail on the head with Hyde Park. You can find fixer uppers, and leverage your investment to make a healthy profit. A client of mine and myselft just built three properties on 1 lot, as we purchased it 2 years ago before the moratorium was put in place. If you are still interested, let me know and I can give you details as to how we went about it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 17, 2008
You really need to assess how much in repairs are needed, add them to the cost of the house and compare to houses already fixed up. Depending on how much work you can do yourself, how much work you want to do or how much you are willing to pay. These emotions should be put into the equation. lastly consider what the value of a fixed home will be compared to a already fixed house. If you find the right deal... go for it
Web Reference: http://www.ScottSellsNH.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 3, 2008
Trulia shows 448 homes in foreclosure or some stage of foreclosure. Maybe you can look at some of these for a fixer upper.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 3, 2008
The first question is do you have the time for a remodel? Even if you hire a contractor to do your work, you will need to be around to check on his work and be sure he is doing what you have asked. Your agent can handle some of this, but it is important that you are involved very closely.
Or are you planning to do the remodel yourself? It's not as quick and easy as the t.v. shows say it is. You will initially get a better deal on the purchase price, but there are often unknown issues that may arise as you tear things apart.
Are you good with a budget? The most common problem with a "fixer-upper" is that once the owner gets started, they go overboard on amenities. Even if they had no intention of having that special light fixture or flooring, "it's just a couple of hundred more....."and those all add up.
Each of the neighborhoods you mentioned have their own personality, are you familiar with them or have you just been searching on line? Zilker & Barton Hills have clay in the dirt & foundations can be a problem, remodeled or not. If it hasn't been fixed, it may need to be leveled prior to any other work. If it has, the price will probably reflect the leveleing. In Hyde Park some of the "fixer-uppers" may need new electrical work (there are still old knob & tube systems), plumbing, etc. None of this is a problem, IF you are aware of it from the beginning. Just remember, nothing is or will be perfect!
But that said, they are some of the most interesting neighborhoods in Austin and if you are moving here for that Austin character than you have the right places.
You may have already prepared a budget for both options, if not, I suggest you do that first. Then take a look at some homes that are already remodeled and some that are ready for that special touch. Talk to your agent about what you previewed, and what it might take to bring the raw material up to the finished product and compare that to your budget. It will help with your decision to proceed.
Best of luck, if you are coming to town and want to take a look at some things I am happy to help you out. My contact information is on my website (below).
Web Reference: http://www.susanavant.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 2, 2008
Everyone has great advice in this thread! One question I have is, have you subscribed to the neighborhood associations in Barton, Zilker, or Hyde Park? They will help you answer which of these neighborhoods are best suited for your lifestyle. Prudential has a rock solid relocation department to help you with everything from discounted moving to selling your home in S.A. and purchasing your next home here in Austin. The Live Well Team also has Elite Conceirge Service to assist you with your closing and utility set-up, recomendations, and drycleaning if you so choose. As for the Remodel or Fixer-Upper. We just spent 62k rehabbing a property that was original budgeted at 30k. In my experience, fixer-uppers are not for the faint of heart, otherwise you can find yourself spending much more than you originally planned. Good luck with your search!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 26, 2008

My team and I have handled many relocations and work all over Austin. We have put together a comprehensive relocation package including our exclusive concierge program for relocation buyers and relocation guide. Also, we have experience with older homes in the City of Austin and would be happy to work with you and your husband. Check out my website at ejmckinney.net and call me today. I can provide you listings in Barton Hills, Hyde Park and other areas as well, and I would be happy to do a market analysis and neighborhood overview for you on any home.

Looking forward to working with you,

E.J. McKinney
Keller Williams Realty
Web Reference: http://www.ejmckinney.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 26, 2008
Good evening Juli,

Obviously you are looking for a more local answer for your question from someone is Austin... may I suggest Josh Thomas.. he seems like he may know a thing or two about those areas you mentioned.

However, you did also mention you were relocating and it says you were from San Antonio, so I will actually ask you a question about your selling side and then perhaps you may already get your answer?

If you haven't already put your home on the market; would you take a gamble and put your home up for sale w/out cleaning it up or perhaps remodeling some old and outdated features in the house? Let's play real estate: If you knew that your house needed about $10k worth of repairs and/or upgrades, but decided against it; how much lower do you think you will now have to price your home to be competitive? $10k? $15k? or even $20k? The answer is un-certain as it still has to do w/ what's going on in your local neighborhood, but the facts still remain: there is much more inventory than there are buyers, so buyers have the upper hand. I've seen buyers love the house completely, but did not like the 3 yr old fancy carpet installed; therefor they thought that was worth asking for a large discount from the price because it looked too worn for their taste.. guess what.. they GOT IT!!

So, bottom line is this.. if you feel like you could take the time and the money to have the remodeling done post move-in, then you probably should be looking to land a healthy deal on the buying side. Otherwise, if the house is decked out to the hilt and is priced right; then you may end up paying full price and even being in competition w/ another buyer that wants the same "move-in" ready house.?

Just my thoughts... best of luck
Web Reference: http://www.eXposedHomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 26, 2008
Juli Lee - congratulations on considering Austin!

Either has upside depending on where it is located. The bigger question for you is whether you can deal with the construction as you are reduxing your place. Living through a construction site can be very challenging (I have done it 3 times!).

The areas that you mention actually have both options available to you today. If you decide to do the redux route, you have to secure and outstanding Team that will help you pull the project togher from design through build. This is one of the most critical components of any redux. There are some outstanding architects and builders in the market today that would do an outstanding job.

The question to ask in either scenario - fixer or redone - how is the home priced compared to the comparables and what does the future look like in that area. These are critical questions to ask in assessing possible outcomes. You will also need to decide what is your target time table that you will be in the home.

I would be glad to work with you in determining some possible options that accomplish your goals.

Ritch Haenke
Coldwell Banker United Realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 25, 2008
As with any other place, you will get a better deal on a fixer upper. I have noticed a trend of extraordinary premiums placed on the sale prices of remodeled homes. Obviously, the remodelors are trying to recoup their expenses as well as make a little profit. I would say you are better off with a fixer upper if you are handy and patient. If you are neither of those, or only one, go with the remodel.

In the end, you will probably spend more on a remodel, but the trade off is....you didn't have to mess with it.

The areas you are looking in are great Central Austin neighborhoods. You can get pretty good deals on fixer uppers this time of year. The remodels are priced fairly high, but man do they show well.

Give me a call and we can look a little more in depth with the number comparison between "Fixers" and "Fixeders". I'll be happy to draw up a CMA for you and email it to you with no obligation.

Contact through my profile.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 25, 2008
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