Thursday, August 27, 2015

Selling our home

All photos courtesy of Twist Tours

Neil and I just finished signing the closing documents on our house. By the time this post is live, the money will be in our account and we will no longer be homeowners. *Insert celebratory cheers!* All things considered, the sale of our house went smoothly, and we couldn't be more thankful for how things turned out.

This house was the first home we owned. It was where HP was born, learned to walk, and said his first words. We have so many good memories from our time there: walks through the neighborhood while wearing HP, exploring the creek and trail in the parkland behind our house, baths for HP in the kitchen sink before bedtime, conversations with neighbors, and snacking on our harvest from the front yard, to name a few. It was a good home to us.

We moved out of the house last summer to be in a more walkable location. This spring we decided that we would sell when our tenants' lease was up at the end of June, regardless of whether or not we were leaving Austin. Things moved faster with Neil's job search than we anticipated and we ended up with a very small window to get the house ready to sell after our tenants moved out and before we left town. We managed to list it the day after we moved to Bloomington.

The first weekend we received six offers--five above asking price. I thought it would be smooth sailing from there, but we went under contract three times before it finally sold. It all worked out for the best, as the final contract was actually the best offer we had received throughout the whole process. We were incredibly lucky with our timing for both buying and selling--we bought before the market took off in Austin and sold in a strong sellers' market.

We bought the house in the spring of 2012 and moved in just a few weeks before HP was born. To anyone considering buying a house while pregnant, I recommend not buying a fixer-upper. I am sure that is obvious to most everyone in the world, but apparently not to us. Here's the list of work we've done on the house since buying it (items in bold done by us, and by us I mostly mean Neil):

  • Removed ceilings and abated the asbestos (asbestos was in the popcorn on the ceilings and was cracking/peeling)
  • Installed new ceilings
  • Patched, cleaned, and stained concrete floors
  • Put in radiant barrier in the attic to improve energy efficiency
  • Installed new insulation in the attic
  • Installed a ridge vent on the roof
  • Installed a whole-house fan
  • Refinished the pantry with all new wood
  • Put in a garden and built compost bins 
  • Replaced a rotting window in the enclosed garage with French doors 
  • Installed a solar tube in living area
  • Remodeled the kitchen
  • Remodeled the bathroom
  • Installed new energy-efficient windows
  • Repaired the foundation
  • Replaced the back half of the roof (the front had been replaced a few years before we moved in)
  • Installed a new bamboo privacy fence
  • Refinished the bathtub
  • Repaired drywall cracks
  • New paint everywhere (ceilings, cabinets, trim, and walls)
On the one hand, I am so glad we put the work into the house. We were able to sell the house for a profit. Most of the price increase was due to appreciation (the market in Austin is bananas), but a big chunk was from the work we did. I feel fortunate that Neil is able to fix/remodel/install things for a fraction of the cost a contractor would have charged. That said, many weekends during the first two years of HP's life were spent on house projects. In retrospect, I wish we had bought something more move-in ready. I console myself with the knowledge that we made the best decision we could with the information we had at the time.

I have many thoughts about what we will look for in our next (hopefully forever) home. But for now, we are going to enjoy a few months of just being renters.


  1. Yay! Congratulations! I am glad it is over and you guys can relax for a while. The relief I felt once our house in Nashville was sold was awesome, so I can only imagine you're enjoying something similar.

    1. It feels SO GOOD. Thanks letting me vent to you about the stress of it all over the last few months.

  2. Yay, congrats!! I love your home, and that backyard, swoon. I miss those crazy live oak trees and SHADE. I'm bummed we won't ever get to do an Austin get together but so happy that everything worked out so well for you guys. Question on the concrete floors - did you rip up carpet, etc. and finish them yourself? If so would you recommend that and did you like have concrete floors? Sometimes I think that at some point (years away) I would like to redo our floors and I love the look of concrete and they would be nice and cool but wonder if they are actually nice to live with.
    Oh and please do let me know what you decide to do in terms of putting your profit all towards a new house or saving/investing some, curious to hear but what a good conundrum to have!

    1. The backyard was one of the big things that sold us on the house. The lot was more than a third of an acre and it backed up to Boggy Creek and the new Southern Walnut Creek hike and bike trail. It was beautiful, but turns out Neil and I both hate yard work. There was an episode of GND not too long ago where you discussed neighbor's who don't keep up their yards and I thought, "Hmm... They might not like living next to us!"

      Re concrete floors: we loved them. We hired someone to do them for us and are so glad we did--there is no way they would have looked as good had we done it ourselves. When we bought the house it was painted concrete with many divets throughout where other flooring used to be installed. The black mastic was showing through the paint, since whoever painted it did not use the correct paint or technique for floors. The smallest bedroom had carpet, which we had removed by the asbestos removal folks when they did the ceilings because the mastic underneath was asbestos as well. The contractor we hired cleaned off all of the paint, patched all of the holes, then sanded, stained, and sealed the floors. It was very much worth the money. I am sure the cost varies, but we paid $3875 for a little over 1000 sqft of living space. They are easy to upkeep--just sweeping and mopping. Every six months you have to wax them to keep them from getting scratched. Annoying, but not too bad. You also have to be careful with the backing on certain kinds of rugs because it can mess up the floors if you're not careful. As you mentioned, they are nice and cool which is great in the summer. Overall, I would recommend them.

      As for investments, we are still in discussions. We immediately funded our Roth IRAs for the year ($11k) since we hadn't been doing that while we were pouring money into the house before the sale. I opened an online savings account and we've put most of it in there for now, but I think we'll split it 50/50: keeping 50% in an online savings account for a down payment, closing costs, and some extra money for repairs to any new house we buy and 50% invested in a Betterment or Vanguard account. We are planning to get a 10 or 15 year mortgage with our next house, so it will be paid off before our kids leave the house even if we don't pay it off early. Neil has no desire to leave his job or move to a part-time situation in the near future so there isn't a huge benefit to reducing our fixed monthly costs as we are already living well below our means. But the thought of not having a mortgage and owning our home outright? So satisfying. So we'll see. By the time we buy in the spring the interest rates are likely to have gone up, which will make paying off the house early a better proposition financially. But then there's the benefit of all the compound interest from investing while we're so young. Can you tell I'm conflicted? Ha! I think our one splurge purchase after the sale is going to be a Madsen bike and rain cover ( so we can cart the kids around during the winter months. Maybe I should write a post about our long term financial strategy/goals soon, since I clearly have a lot to say.

      It would have been great to meet up in Austin! But perhaps our paths will cross in the future anyhow; I have no doubt we'll be back to visit before too long.

  3. Haha, no we definitely hate yard work as well! I hope to one day have time to putter around in the yard and think I will enjoy that, the reason it stresses me out right now is bc of the threat of a letter from the HOA, dun dun DUN. Oh man, now I am dreaming of concrete floors! I love the look and they sound easy to maintain. That price doesn't sound bad although we'd need to redo baseboards and our home is larger, about 1,775 sq ft. Oh and I have to convince Chris....ever onward in my quest to make our cookie cutter suburban home into the mid-century modern home of my dreams :)

    Thank you for sharing your ideas for how you'll spend and save! It's so hard when situations have no one right answer but any way you go you are putting yourself in a good position, so awesome.