Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tour de Rent House

Holy moly I've been AWOL! Long time no see, huh? I've been busy selling houses which is awesome, but I've totally neglected to check in! As I mentioned in my last post, we're in the process of doing some work on both my dad's house and on our investment property. Before I show you what we've been doing, I thought it would be good to take a little tour of the houses and to talk about our history with them.

Today: the rent house. We (my dad & I) bought the house in October of 2011 when the market was very different from what it is now. We knew we wanted the home to be in the same neighborhood that my dad lives in, mainly for convenience. At the time there were 6 or 7 homes for sale, and after viewing them all, we narrowed it down to three, took a second look, and submitted an offer on our favorite.

It's truly funny to look back at the process--there was plenty of inventory to choose from, and also pretty substantial room for negotiations (a far cry from today's seller's market). After agreeing on the terms of the contract, everything progressed pretty smoothly. There were a handful of items discovered on the inspection that we took care of after it closed, and we were able to rent it out less than a month later.

We've been extremely lucky to have wonderful tenants who have made managing a property relatively easy. There are of course things that come up that need to be handled, but our tenants have all made the experience a positive one (as I knock on every wood surface). Our first set of tenants lived there for a year and a half, and our current tenants have a two year lease that will take them through May of 2015.

Now, shall we take a tour? (Please forgive the low picture quality--they're tiny and I'm blowing them up more than they should be.) These were taken in 2011 immediately after we closed. We didn't do a single cosmetic update (we only did things that were safety-related or required by the Austin Property Code for landlords), but the interior wasn't too bad.

You'll see that the walls were an interesting shade of grellow (green + yellow). Sort of an avocado, if you will? The floors in here are a painted concrete (they're brown with a twinge of purple), and the baseboards were painted to match which sort of makes it look like the floors are going up the walls.

Formal dining & office

This shot is of the dining room, and you can see that on the left are slate floors which are just inside the front door. This house is home to many a flooring product, as you shall see.

Here's the kitchen, which had a much greener coat of paint. That doorway leads to the office, and the door leads to the pantry. The counters were laminate and had been re-coated with a brownish/purpleish speckled treatment. As far as laminate goes, they looked pretty nice, but they were still screaming "update me!" And, if you haven't noticed, we have floor type number three. The kitchen sports some pretty large tiles (18"x18", I think) as well as some large grout lines.


This photo is of the breakfast nook, which is attached to the kitchen. Through the doorway straight ahead is the laundry room, a door to the back yard, and a door to the half bath. To the right is a doorway and a passthrough to the living room.

Breakfast nook & laundry room

Here's a better shot of the laundry room which has some awesome built-in shelving. What built-in item could be more awesome than that? Perhaps the cat door that's set straight into the wall.

Laundry room

Here's the half bath that you can access from the laundry room.

Half bath

The living room has the nicest floors in the house--a very pretty hardwood. I'm not sure what kind it is, but I love it. I also love the brick fireplace, which surprised me because normally I'm not a huge fan of brick. You'll notice we're back to grellow in here, and have a second door to the backyard.

Living room

The living room is sort of an odd space. It's a rectangle, but it's strangely cut in two by the doorway you see on the left (which leads to a closet, the garage, and the master bedroom) and the doorway on the right (you can barely see where the wall ends and the baseboard is white--that doorway leads to the kitchen). Those doorways create a sort of walkway that splits the living room into ⅓ and ⅔ pieces. Our first tenants used the ⅓ side as a sitting area, and our current tenants use it as their formal dining. Those wall sconces always seemed super strange to me, but our current tenants replaced them with different fixtures that look much more modern and intentional.

Living room

The master bedroom debuts flooring number 5: a beige carpet. The master is a decent size and has that same green that's in the kitchen. The strangest part of the master is that it's open to the bathroom sink (a feature that no one seems to love, and is on our long-term to do list to change).

Master bedroom

Enter flooring number 6: green tile. The doorway to the left leads to the shower/tub and toilet, and there's a doorway to the right that you can't see which leads to a walk-in closet.

Master bathroom

The shower isn't anything spectacular, but it's nice enough, and clean looking (and clean-being, for the record).

Master bathroom

The closet is a nicely-sized walk-in and has lots of storage

Master closet

Now let's head upstairs, which is a very long and narrow space. On one side is a large bedroom, then we have a full bathroom in the middle, and another large bedroom on the other side.

Here's the first bedroom. This picture doesn't do its size justice, but the current tenants have two bunk beds that sit next to each other lengthwise on that left wall, and there's still tons of room left for the kids to play.

Second bedroom

You may have noticed that there's some furniture in this picture because I didn't take any of this side of the room before the first tenants moved in. I wanted to include it to show you the very strange paint choices. Green walls like the kitchen, white trim, and then grellow doors and doorways. I mentioned that we didn't do anything cosmetic before the first set of tenants (or even the second set) moved in, so they both managed to see past these very odd choices.

Second bedroom

The upstairs bathroom introduces flooring number 7: white tile. You'll see we're back to grellow in here, and while it's not horribly outdated, it could use some love.

Upstairs bathroom

Alas, the third bedroom and final room. I didn't even bother to include a picture showing the majority of the room because there's nothing exciting to see on the other half. What is exciting are these navy blue doors! Again, this is once it was being lived-in, and the tenants just rolled with it.

Third bedroom

Finally, the back yard. It's a nice little space with a wood deck. You'll see in the top left corner that there's no grass and there are two randomly placed bushes. That little corner is where they stored some sort of boat or boat accessory (please excuse my complete lack of boating vocabulary & knowledge), which looked pretty odd once the boating thing was removed. Our first tenants worked at a landscaping company and he told us it would be fun for him to nurse that corner back into shape, and so he did! Jackpot.

Back yard

When it was time for the first set of tenants to move out, the carpet in the master bedroom was totally trashed, but not due to anything they did wrong. They had 3 or 4 large dogs and it totally reeked, even after they had it steam cleaned. Somehow our current tenants viewed the home and saw past the overwhelming dog smell that filled the whole house (the steam cleaning seemed to have worsened it, kind of like how dogs smell worse right after you bathe them) as well as the odd paint choices and constantly changing floor types. They signed a lease knowing that we'd be replacing it, but I was really holding my breath (both literally and figuratively) about how much of the smell would linger after we got new carpet.

Luckily, this all happened while I was in the process of reno-ing our condo, before I was a realtor (read: when I had more free time to get things done because my job had very clear hours).

Sidebar: people think that being a realtor means I set my own hours and can have all of this awesome time off, but this is both true and untrue. It's true because I don't have to be in an office from 8-5 and don't have a set lunch break or a certain number of vacation days. It's untrue because I'm always just a phone call, text, or email away from my clients and whatever issue of the moment is occurring. I respond to things quickly, by choice, because that's something that I know they value and that not all other realtors agree to. So, what this means is that I'm simultaneously always available and never available to get things done. I can't do much without being interrupted, but that's fine with me. When I'm on vacation, I'm still working, much like people in other professions. But, have I mentioned that I love my job, and not to mention, my clients? They're the best, and I'm happy to be available to them at all hours :)

Ok, back on topic. I decided to rip out the carpet one afternoon and my god is that harder than you'd imagine. The hardest part was moving it once I'd ripped it up because carpet weighs a ton, which I hadn't really considered. Pretty much as soon as it was out of the house, the smell went away. Whew! We had new carpet put in (aka flooring type number 8) and we were ready for our second set of tenants!

Since they've moved in, two pretty impactful updates have been done: painting and a mini kitchen reno. The rent house is slowly but surely joining us in the 21st century. Stay tuned to see where it is now!

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