The Live-in Renovation, a Love Story

I bought another house!


Okay, not surprising, but the circumstances are pretty unique on this one. 

I always have my finger on the real estate pulse of the 78702 zip. Obviously, I wish I had bought up all the real estate in 78702 10 years ago. Unfortunately, I was 19, barely passing my UT classes & super broke. 

Here's what happened in bullets: 

  • Lily, my sweet 19 year old sister, saved up a good chunk of money from her high school job and expressed interest in investing in real estate (!!)

  • We looked in Portland, where she lives, but I was worried about not being there. The Portland real estate market is pretty crazy as well. Crazier than Austin!

  • Meanwhile, I found a little "livable" gem of house in the Holly neighborhood of 78702, and as always, I thought about ways to make it mine. Usually this results in: "okay, not now."

  • This time, I thought about sweet Lily's wish to invest, about my ability to rent out my current house and the extra cash I had in the bank, just waiting for a deal

  • Together, Lily and I only had enough to put 5% down. This meant, I would need to buy it as a primary residence (aka, I needed to move into it within 60 days of closing)

  • I talked to my lender about potentially qualifying for a primary res loan on a $300,000 house. She ran my numbers and it wasn't working. My W2 income from teaching part time wasn't enough, and my other income hasn't been coming in for two years, so it looked like I made a lot less than I actually do.

  • Back to the drawing board. Mom? She was willing, but her debt-to-income ratio was too high to help

  • Without me mentioning anything, my dear friend Eleanore said that if I ever wanted to go in on a deal, she would be game. Eleanore has a w2 income, which is super valuable in getting a loan! Eleanore is a perfect human.

  • So it came to pass, Eleanore, Lily and I bought a house in Holly together. It's perfect and awful and I don't know how it's still standing. But it's ours, and I'm so excited about it.

The House

The house was built in 1927. The family that was living there has relocated to Manor, and were super excited about getting more space and more house for less money. They had lived in the house for 45 years. It's walking distance to everything I love (JUICE, BBQ, COFFEE, TOWN LAKE, BARS, ETC) and biking distance from everything else. The house is commercially zoned, which is awesome for the future. The lot is TINY and the house is in pretty rough shape. Still standing, high ceilings, and wild potential. 

The house was listed originally in at the peak the Austin real estate boom in 2016 for $449,000. After sitting forever, the sellers switched real estate agents. The new agent listed it for $400,000 as a residential and a commercial listing. Again, the house sat and sat. The sellers switched agents again, and listed for $330,000. Two buyers went under contract, but wanted to negotiate too aggressively during option.

While I consider myself pretty aggressive, I'm also fearless and I saw the value and the potential of this property. I understand why others passed, but this property was uniquely appropriate for me. I offered $305,000 with sellers paying for closing costs. After the inevitable real estate drama during contract, the house appraised for $342,000 and it was ours. (Hellooo, built in equity!)

Here's my sweet gem of a house. Theses photos are of the original house and then progress made so far. We have been at somewhat of a standstill due to foundation repair, but they finish soon and we'll be off to the races! Hard numbers down below.


  • Purchase Price: -$305,000

  • Seller credit toward closing costs: +$5,000

  • 5% total down payment: -$15,500

  • Realtor Commission back to me: +$7,320

  • Appraisal: $342,000

  • Total equity on closing day: +$52,500

  • Total cash in deal so far: $8,180

  • Renovation budget: $35,000