First home blog…
My first house, was 4 houses back, and about 8 years ago. I was 23 years old, and had just acquired my Texas real estate license. My parents’ rode the California real estate wave, and gained financial stability because of real estate. So in 2003, clutching a business degree, and everything I owned in a Chevy Tahoe; I moved to the city in which I predicted was going to be the next California type real estate wave… AUSTIN TX. I can’t say enough good things about this city, so I won’t start; but let’s just say I’m always going to own a piece of this city! Fresh out of college, with optimistic hopes, and not much money; I knew I wanted to invest in real estate, just like my parents had. I initially earned my REALTOR stamp because I wanted a better education and the benefit of collecting commissions from my own deals, turns out I’m a REALTOR, not just an investor.
My friend Jesse and I, bid on a HUD foreclosure, back when they were less popular and you could get a great deal. We put in an electronic bid for 106,000.00$ and we were worried we bid to low. The house location was in Austin Texas, off Anderson Mill rd and 183, below the water tower, with the 183 Hooters neon orange sign viewable from its’ backyard. I don’t know why we felt so strongly about this house, but we loved the mature neighborhood, and the 1974, 4 bedroom, 2 bath, 1600 sq.ft., corner house on NewBerry Dr, which needed some TLC and new appliances.
Turns out we overbid the property by 6,400.00$ past the 2nd highest bid. Technically it was my third deal as a licensed real estate agent, and my first HUD foreclosure experience. I know now, there were some investors in that bidding pool laughing at me then, but we had already imagined the backyard parties and went forward with our over-bid on NewBerry Dr. 😀
My Dad was always remodeling our home growing up; so between my friend, who was a natural mechanic, and I; we decided to save the 250$ for a licensed house inspector, and knock out the inspection ourselves. We were pretty sure going into closing our construction budget for the planned updating was on point, and nothing major came up in our inspection. 😉 So we closed on our … “MY first home”. Closing day was probably one of the most exciting days in my life. I still clearly remember that afternoon, like this big, sunny, surreal moment in my life. Leaving the title company that afternoon it didn’t hit me till I got back to my post college apartment and plopped on the couch. I just bought a house. I’m a home owner… I own Austin Texas real estate! I just bought my first house!! I got in my car and went straight to NewBerry Dr, rush hour had no affect on my high. I called my business buddy (future roommate) to see where he was at. No surprise, he was already on his way there.
Now let’s fast forward a few weeks through some remodeling, some drinking which auto-cancelled work on the weekends, some light arguing about who was suppose to do what in the remodel, a credit card maxed out thanks to our not so realistic construction bid… Add on the discovery of soggy grass, which turned out to be a broken septic tank, a small overlook on electrical standards with aluminum wiring, termite issue, slow draining foundation-buried pipes, and one of our large trees was really dead… it wasn’t just a seasonal thing… There was definitely some good bonding time and some great construction lessons that came out of it. If you do not remodel on a regular basis, just know that carpenters are skilled craftsmen, and any construction work you do for the 1st time, will take you a long time because of the initial learning curve and not having all the right tools. Summing up, we incurred a 6,400.00$ loss from the initial bid, our construction costs came up to 17,500.00$. This is 10,000.00 over our initial estimate and planned spending was only
suppose to be 7,500.00$ 🙁 (to our credit we did upgrade to hard wood floors, a great decision). You would be amazed in the amount of things you uncover or just absolutely have to upgrade, when you start updating parts of your house. You keep telling yourself that you will get the money you’re spending on remodeling, returned + interest, when you sell. A couple backyard parties, just like I had pictured, ownership of a cool place and a conversation piece… I was not paying rent, I received tax breaks, my credit score improved; I had an appreciating property in Austin. We were not sitting on that much equity, but we did raise the value of the house slightly pass what we spent in remodeling, and made a good name with the neighbors. Life was moving forward for me… and I was officially a home owner.
My reflective truth today, is I underestimated lots of costs in my first real estate transaction. My current self would have liked to reach through a time portal and shake some sense into my 23 year old self. It’s a nice story of two rookie real estate agents, trying to take on their first investment; but my first house could have been a much better investment, if I had accepted advice from a veteran REALTOR. I assumed that the “foreclosure” label meant you are getting a great deal. When really, that’s all it is, ‘foreclosure” is just a label given to property which has been foreclosed by a bank. The price you get that property, vs. what it’s really worth is your walking-in equity, and probably the most important initial factor in making a real estate transaction a ‘great deal’.
IF someone could have been there to help me understand the levels of sliding value which are hidden in a house through its construction make up. If someone would have told me there are ways to escape the contract and re bid on the foreclosure even lower. If someone would have told me to just hire an experienced, licensed inspector (unless you build houses for a living, you should always hire an inspector); or let me know when I went to sell, that the buyer most likely will hire a licensed inspector, and problems will be discovered anyways; or that it’s typical to have the seller get the septic tank pumped and inspected before closing. If someone would have given me better deferred maintenance advice, better lender choosing advice, better construction estimating advice; better building code advice, better dead tree and soggy grass advice, better neighborhoods to invest in… advice. If someone would have warned me that inexperienced buyers frequently underestimate time and money spent on labor, money spent on random trips to Lowes, the fact that becoming the remodeler, meant missing almost a month from my day job, which nearly lost all my sales momentum with my Real Estate Brokerage, Century 21. Lots of “ifs” would have been eliminated… IF I had used an agent with real estate investing experiences, who knew the market better than I did. I absolutely would have made a much larger profit when I sold in 2005. That I do know.
A home buyer is not saving money going home shopping with your “smart friends”, with a rookie real estate agent, or Uncle Bob, the part time family REALTOR. Instead you are opening the door wide open to mistakes. When was the last time you signed paperwork having to do with a couple 100,000.00 DOLLARS involved? Big money means big financial swings; wouldn’t you want to put yourself in the best position for an upswing? It is highly important to use the services of a real estate professional. Seller’s sign listing agreements with selling agents, which in turn, offer part of that commission to the buyer’s agent. When you sell your house, you are in a negotiating position with a REALTOR, not when you are buying. I go beyond most agents, and tell you upfront that I will rebate a portion of the buyer’s commission I receive, back to you, improving your investment even more. You gain the full confidence in using a licensed real estate investor to help you find the best investment home for you, and our services are always taken care of by the seller. Using a professional when hundreds of thousands are being negotiated and mortgaged should just make sense.
I sold the NewBerry house easily, for 134,000.00$ in 2005, a year and a half after buying it. Not any type of profit to brag about, but a ton of first time home buying lessons. Fortunately I had the energy to make the right remodeling moves and as usual Austin carried my house’s value with friendly real estate appreciation rates. The lesson here is: Utilize the right help when you are making any type of large investment. There are tons of valuable points, and realistic market knowledge, which the right real estate agent will bring to the transaction. A buyer’s agent prescreens houses, has access to all types of properties available, qualifies the property and seller with your mortgage type, navigates through all the numbers, has the appropriate industry connections, calculates true value, and handles all the correct contracts/disclosures. When buying real estate you should always use a buyer’s agent. That’s the best initial home buying advice I can give.
The United State’s housing market crashed in late 2007 and lingered around till summer of 2010, thanks to unrealistic subprime lending practices, and the natural cycle of our financial economy. Real Estate has been turning around in 2011, some U.S. cities are still double dipping negatively, but in general we are stabilized and moving up. Mortgage rates are currently at an all time low (April 2011), and in areas like Austin TX, we are starting to move in a positive direction. Owning real estate in Central Texas is a great investment assuming you receive the correct advice. Now is the time to buy in central Texas and first time home buyers are still my favorite type of client. Don’t forget I offer commission rebates, I keep up with the changing government incentives for first time home buyers, and I’ll make sure you are making a smart investment. Send me an email when you are ready to join us at the owner’s table. 🙂
-Mike Dee, VP at Broker Empire Corp
PS> I understand myself blogging about the use of a buyer’s agent, may seem bias; but my advice would 100% be the same, even if I were in a different line of work. I currently reside in Rosedale Estates, in a green home I built myself, this being the second home I’ve built for myself in Austin. From San Marcos to Georgetown, I have sold approximately 17 Million in residential home sales, 6.5 Million in commercial transactions, 3.5 Million in property leasing (MikeDRealty.com, BrokerEmpire.com, austindiscountrealtor.com, 512rebates.com) 3 Million in home and commercial Construction sales (512developing.com, 512remodeling.com, 512homebuilder.com) The Construction and Real Estate business mix just makes sense to me. I can look at shelter from a general contractor’s point of view and a real estate agent’s. When you are ready to move from a lease, to a sound investment, and an attractive house, call the agent you have the most confidence in. I hope that agent is me. Thanks for reading.