Have you ever woken up on a Friday morning with no intention of moving and by 5PM that day have submitted an offer on a home? That’s what Sylvia and I recently did, and it’s not the first time.
We really thought our current place in Westlake would be our “forever” retirement home. We’ve slowly improved and updated it, but still had a major kitchen and master bath redo and expansion in our future. The location is, in my opinion, the best in Austin for both our current working/family and future empty-nester lifestyles. 8 minutes to Town Lake, Zilker or Downtown, easy access to Mopac or 360, walking distance Trianon Coffee, FroYoyo, a Thundercloud Subs and more. Even a Cap Metro bus stop 6 minutes walk from our front door goes through Zilker Park and into downtown.
Our daughter can walk to Westlake High, and we’re within even closer proximity to the elementary and middle schools, which is what draws so many families and gives the Woodhaven neighborhood such a good mix of great people. It’s really perfect. A geographically “central” location without the quirky annoyances and absurdities of the 78704 areas.
But …Prices in the ‘hood have gone through the roof. It’s not going to be affordable or practical as a retirement home. If we make the contemplated improvements, our “retirement” home – a basic 1970s rancher – would be transformed and more highly valued and thus produce an annual property tax bill bigger than I want to swallow for the next 30 years. Sure, we’d be building equity, but still, property taxes seem to have gone too high already.
And blame it on ego, or whatever, but we’ve worked hard to provide for our kids and ourselves, we save heavily and live frugally, and I just don’t see the point of all that if we’re going to live out the rest of our days in a small old 1,800 sqft ’70s home with a cramped 8×5 master bath, even smaller closets, and an apartment sized kitchen. We deserve more and we’ve earned it. It was fine for 4 years, but it boils down to that common “love it or leave it” decision that confronts those in our situation, where central Austin land values have made the home you already own unaffordable to improve or financially impractical to hold longterm.
Therefore, we’d been more seriously tossing the idea of returning to SW Austin a year from now, after our youngest graduates high school, to Villages at Western Oaks, Circle C or Legend Oaks. Somewhere in that 78749 zipcode (Mopac/Davis/Slaughter area) which, in my recently adjusted opinion, is now the very best overall neighborhood in Austin for both families and empty-nesters. Good schools, awesome amenities, convenient location. Since we sell in that area, we know the market and keep our eye on activity, and lately it’s been hotter than hot.
When I saw a new listing pop up that fit our (future) needs – 1-story, 2200+ sqft, nice master bath and kitchen + home office – I nonchalantly printed and gave it to Sylvia, who was going to be in the area anyway, and said “here, while you’re down there, go preview this one, just for the heck of it”.
When she got there, there was a line to show it. 30 minutes later she got in and called me saying “I really, really like this house”. Hmmm. “How much do you like it, on a scale of 1 to 5?” I asked. “5” she said.
So I went and had a look. I could have gone either way. It’s a great house with an awesome forested yard – perfect layout for us in a premium location. But, we hadn’t made the decision to actually move this soon. This seemed sort of sudden. Nevertheless, as I’ve advised other husbands, when your wife says “this is the one”, let her have her way. Make it happen, dude.
Of course it went into multiple offers, over list, but we brought our A-Game and prevailed by paying what seems like “too much”, but really isn’t when all factors are considered.
And so, just like that, we’re moving again.
We’re either crazy, stupid or smart. I’m not sure which. In this case, we had zero search planning or discussion, no hand wringing, no months of looking, looked at just one house on one day and bought it in less than 24 hours. But we’ve made similar abrupt purchases in the past 20 years and, oddly, they always turn out to be better purchase decisions than the carefully thought out reasoned ones. I’m not sure why that is, but I’m sure others can relate.
I do second guess the rationale, but after walking through it again in my head, and with a calculator, always end up again feeling like it’s a very solid decision. In this way, even though we’re Realtors ourselves, we are not much different than the many buyers we work with when it comes to buying a personal home. We experience the same trepidation, especially when the decision has to be made so quickly – in fact instantly. In this market, there is no real time to contemplate, reflect and think. Act now or miss the boat. Trust your gut, make the decision, then do it.