House Hunting: Here we go again…


For the past two weeks I’ve been studying, researching, pondering and planning my next venture in real estate. I announced my big plans on this blog in June, and after a few weeks of packing/moving/settling in, I’m ready to hit the ground running.

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While I may not be posting as often or regularly right now, it means I’m working overtime to make this dream happen and share the process with you. There’s so much that goes into producing those “After” photos, and I’ve always been fascinated with the business and investing side of it. And I know many of you are curious as well.

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This blog has always been an open and honest place for me, and the more transparent I am, the more readers can benefit. So I’ve decided to let you all in on this with me for a first hand look at the ins and outs of real estate rehabs.

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You’ll be able to follow along as I house hunt, land my first deal, plan the renovation, manage contractors/timelines/budgets, stage and decorate, and finally sell. You’ll witness the good, bad & ugly and hopefully lend your advice, input or support in times of need. Then we can all celebrate together once it’s sold and do it all over again. Now that I’m taking this on alone I’ll need all the help I can get (even if it’s from afar).

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And yes, I’ll be sharing the numbers. All the details on the purchase price, rehab/closing costs and profit. I’ll share how I acquire deals, source materials and financial strategies. I want this blog to become a wealth of knowledge and a continuation of this journey that began five years ago.

Are we getting excited yet? Good, because it’s time to see some houses!

House hunting is always my favorite part of the process, even more than when the project is finished. It’s full of unknowns and potential and keeps me up at night (in a good way).

These homes are all in the 200-250k price range in the foothills of Northern California (I’ll share more once the house is purchased). I viewed a few more than what’s shown here, but knew right away they wouldn’t work so those aren’t included. Here are the top six contenders:

House 1

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First impression from the outside was that it’s pretty average. The neighborhood wasn’t ideal either. But the size was great—a 1300 sq ft 3 bedroom 2 bath.

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Vaulted living room ceiling but no real character, and the kitchen wall/fireplace would have to be removed.

There’s a bedroom and bathroom on the main/top floor:

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The backyard was nice with a large deck and quiet wooded setting.

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Downstairs there’s a lower deck, two more bedrooms and another bathroom.

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The Verdict: It’s not horrible, but it’s so generic. Definitely none of the cabin style charm I’m looking for. And it was tied for the most expensive property, so it wouldn’t be a wise investment unless they significantly dropped their price.

House 2

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This property is a 1200 sq ft 3/2 in a private gated community. There’s no parking/driveway/garage so that would be a large added expense right off the bat.

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It’s a bit cramped inside, so I’d want to open up and reconfigure the kitchen.

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The best part about this house is the ceiling. Gorgeous rustic wood in every room.

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This house had a few updates already like a new roof and dual pane windows. But the condition of the back deck was questionable and there’s no laundry hookups.

Off the kitchen downstairs is a hallway leading to a bedroom and bathroom.

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From the bedroom window you can see the back deck:

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Upstairs there are two bedrooms and a bathroom, and it is everything I have ever dreamed of in an A frame cabin (excuse the photo cropping here, but you get the idea, right?):

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The Verdict: I love this house. There are a few deterrents (lack of driveway/entrance, a bit small, no laundry) but so much potential. Keeping it on the radar for sure.

House 3

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Hello curb appeal! The exterior of this place is easily my favorite. It’s a 2/2 and roomier than the others at 1656 sq ft.

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But I could tell within seconds that this place is a money pit. Photos  tend to hide flaws, and this place has a ton of them.

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The overall layout and structure was nice, but a closer look reveals crooked walls, sagging ceilings and uneven floors. It looked as if it was pieced together.

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I really wanted to love this place. And there’s a lot to love about it… I could easily visualize the “After” from these photos…

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There’s a large deck off the back, but the tile job was questionable.

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The laundry room is accessible from the deck sits adjacent to the kitchen. This could be a fun makeover.

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Both bedrooms and a full bathroom are upstairs.

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Look at the slope on this ceiling…

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The Verdict: This home won on best location and curb appeal, but sadly, the risk of it becoming a money pit is too great to make it worth it.

House 4

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A sweet little storybook home.

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Another 3/2 but a bit smaller at just 1144 square feet.

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The size is apparent when you walk through the door, with a compact kitchen straight ahead and a cozy living room to your right, with no real space for an eating area.

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Downstairs is a bedroom and adjacent bathroom.

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Upstairs you’ll find a really neat loft area, which they’re claiming as a third bedroom even though it’s not enclosed.

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Just off the loft is another bedroom. I’m digging all the wood paneling here. Not an ounce of drywall in this house!

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Next door is a bathroom/laundry room:

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The Verdict: Nice curb appeal, good location, but a bit cramped. There’s also no parking/driveway and it may require more maintenance/repairs than I’d like.

House 5

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This home is also in a private gated community with lake access. Has a new roof but needs exterior paint, and the deck is a bit worn.

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Inside there’s a large open kitchen/dining/living area which I love—no walls to knock down!

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This space would be transformed with paint and new flooring.

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Off the dining area is a sliding door to the deck.

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And beyond that is a laundry area, bathroom and main bedroom.

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There are custom built in storage closets everywhere, which I love.

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This bedroom was my favorite, but in the midst of my excitement I neglected to take proper photos. Those of you who follow me on Snapchat may remember! More built ins:

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The ceiling is a show stopper—my favorite single part of this house. All I have is this fuzzy screen shot from a video I took, so you’ll have to use your imagination…

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Upstairs there’s a loft (which they’re counting as a third bedroom) with more amazing ceilings. The potential in here is insane.

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There’s a full bathroom currently under construction and more lovely pine built in closets.

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On the other side is another bedroom with more fantastic ceilings and built ins.

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The verdict: My favorite yet. And it’s the least expensive out of all the properties. It’s a pretty far drive though and there’s no cell service/reception in the area which will make the rehab process tricky. But I think I could make this place amazing.

House 6

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A classic A frame in the woods with a creek running through the yard. Sign me up.

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Another 3/2 with just over 1300 square feet. The kitchen is small but I wouldn’t have to gut it and start over (the only house with salvageable cabinets).

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There’s a small but open living room with a dining area on one side.

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To the left of the kitchen is a hallway with a storage closet, bedroom and bathroom.

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Upstairs there are two bedrooms on either side of the staircase, but they’re not enclosed.

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Pure A frame heaven.

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One bedroom also has a door to a private balcony.

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And finally, a half bathroom:

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The verdict: Great bones, a lot of potential and it needs the least amount of work of all the homes. However, it also most likely needs a new (very large) roof and an even larger new deck. It’s also a 30 minute drive from any sort of civilization.

Overall, my favorite is House 5, followed by House 2, then House 6. It’s all going to depend on the numbers. The more research I do, the more conservative I want to be going into this, but it’s tough to find those deals here in California—the market is not nearly as investor friendly than other parts of the country (I’m looking at you, Texas and Florida). This is compounded by the fact that these homes are a 4+ hour drive away so I’ll be mostly orchestrating the renovation from afar.

As anxious as I am to get started, I need to wait for the right opportunity rather than jumping on the first decent property I can find. It may be a bit of a waiting game, but I’m actively working every day to make it happen. It will be interesting to see how this evolves over the next several months!

Stay tuned for Vlog 26, coming up next…

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14 thoughts on “House Hunting: Here we go again…

  1. I am sooooo happy that you are going to share all that goes into a house rehab!! My husband and I are thinking of doing the same with our adult children and have so many questions. Your last home was just beautiful with so many great tutorials. In fact I am using your door makeover on my daughters new home this week. Looking forward to each post!!

  2. Wow, it’s great to hear (read) your input on looking at these different houses. Want to come to SC and tell me if the houses I’m looking at are $$ pits? Or do you have any other pointers of how to know (for reference, we are talking about a 60’s brick ranch). Love your blog!

  3. Thank you for sharing the details! I can’t wait to see more, but I am even more excited to see what you do with the house you ultimately purchase!

  4. This is so much fun! You need to give each of these homes fun little names 🙂
    I can’t wait to see which one you pick. Like you #3 has the exterior curb appeal to die for. I do love #5, but the roof lines of #6 are so fun!
    I’m looking forward to following along. I miss Northern California so much!

  5. Very exciting. I agree with the verdict on #5. The lack of cell service is a challenge, but can be overcome. Looking forward to seeing your choice and progress. We are using one of your tutorials for our master bathroom wall…simple and nice. Thanks!

  6. Can’t wait to see what house you choose!! Can’t wait to see this process! Your going to do great!! You are right about the Texas house market! We live north of Dallas and the houses are way more affordable than other parts of the country, we will be buying in the next few years, looking for something that’s not cookie cutter and that needs a tiny bit of work (no full remodel or anything crazy, just something I can add my own personal touch to!) You and Chip and Joana have inspired me! I want to knock down a wall! Haha

  7. Thanks for bringing us along on the process – very exciting! Just a question – with no cell service, aside from the renovation challenges, would that put off potential buyers as well? I can’t imagine I would buy something where I had no phone reception.

    1. Hi Kelly, it’s my understanding that residents can purchase satellite service to get internet access that way. These communities are primarily vacation homes or retirees though, so public access is not quite as critical. Every town past a certain point up the hill is like this so these folks expect it 🙂

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