4.02.2016

OT: The house next door is for sale and they are having an open house. No, more like an OPEN HOUSE!!!!!

Our neighborhood was quiet and affordable until about five years ago. That's when the speculators and people arriving fresh from S. California showed up with bags of extra cash and the desire for their own, "West Austin/Hill Country Homes." A couple of speculators bought the large, rambling house next door. It was decades old and not particularly well cared for. Over the course of the next two and a half years, up to the present, the speculators tore down the old house and built a nouveau riche dream home, of sorts. The construction was stop and start. We never knew if we'd have peace and quiet or an army of saw and power tool wielding construction workers next door.

Soaring windows, multi-level pools and a hot tub big enough to hold Shamu. Faux Modernism in every kitschy architectural touch. They even built a recirculating "stream" along the front of the house which runs for about 200 feet and ends near the storm drain at the corner of their property. (Water rationing anyone?).

So, now they are (almost) ready to sell the house. The price tag is a choking one million, seven hundred and eighty nine thousand dollars, U.S. Today is the open house. They've spent weeks "staging" the house with trendy furniture, plants and throw rugs. The landscape company came this morning for one last "spruce up." There are balloons and "bandit" signs at every street corner, throughout the neighborhood. A three piece ensemble of musicians showed up to perform. They have cakes from "Nothing Bundt Cakes" and tea from one of the boutique tea shops that have sprouted up around oh-so-current Austin.

And the big draw for gentleman home buyers is the opportunity to test drive either the black or the bright red Tesla S automobile. How amazing? Right?  Look at a $2,000,000 house and test drive an electric car at the same time. Chic.

After having been inconvenienced over and over again by the speculators' contractors we are disinclined to help out with the marketing of the house. To that end I've parked an ancient, pollen covered, Toyota Corolla with no hubcaps at the top of our adjoining entry way. It's there mostly to keep the herds of black Range Rovers and BMW X cars off our driveway. I've put the trash bags full of leaves out on the curb for the trash collectors and our lawn guy took a couple of weeks off. I was thinking of hiring some people from the theatre community to do, "Trailer Trash Homecoming" in the front yard, complete with Colt 45 malt liquor and big, bare bellies with tattoos, sitting in lawn chairs but my spouse said, "No!"

There are several problems with this whole gentrification thing that I'm having trouble getting over: One is that the asking price is ten times what most of the surrounding neighbors paid for their homes twenty years ago (when the neighborhood was casual and middle class) which means our property tax comparables will skyrocket (and we live in a state with no income tax which means everything comes from one of the highest property taxes in the country). The second is that when projects like this are successful in a neighborhood it opens the floodgates to an army of wannabe speculators and then all hell breaks loose.

Ah. The maturing of Austin, in which we get to pay in advance for the next generation's expenses and live day by day and month by month with fleets of cement trucks and dumpster deliveries rumbling up at all hours of the day and night. One issue I dealt with this year was not being able to do videos in our little studio. Couldn't do audio with all the jack-hammering. Sometimes it seems like the only answer is to sell and move along but ......

I sure like my house and my studio. And my dog loves her yard.  Ah crap.


11 comments:

Dave Jenkins said...

I wish I could tell you it will get better, but it probably won't. When the money on offer becomes big enough, grab it and go. At least your retirement funding will be assured.

Kirk Tuck said...

Not too worried Dave, been saving for decades...

David Smith said...

Ah, you can never go home again, even if you never leave.

I watched that happen to Seattle and Vancouver, BC and the BC interior, too, and it's painful to go back now to visit friends and family, even after thirty years.

Nothing holds still. Nothing. I think in some way some of us are like the Hmong or Dagar who gradually get squeezed off our lands into the hills, then eventually they come and take the hills away from us.

So it has always been.

Anonymous said...

On the positive side, at least the hammering and sawing is over with. Finally.

Of course the new owners may decide they don't like the shared entrance to the driveway, reroute it and put up a nice stone wall around the house with electric gate to keep the commoners from looking into their "compound". Tall fences make the best neighbors has some truth to it.

JD in Adelaide said...

Hope you have your ducks in line for running a business from your home (zoning, variances, business licenses, etc). The new neighbors may decide that they are bothered by your business and seek to have you shut down or move. If they can afford the house, they could likely out lawyer you too.

cfw said...

If the Mrs. won't let you do the "Trailer Trash Homecoming," then you need to blanket the back window and bumper of the Corolla with "Trump" stickers and "Keep Your Laws Off My Guns" and "NRA" stickers, and a big oversized "Protected by Smith and Wesson" yard sign!

Kirk Tuck said...

HI J.D. We have all our ducks in a row. And, I wouldn't make the assumption that qualifying for a loan on a house is the same as having real, tangible, liquid assets, it just means you currently have income.

Michael Reed said...

Kirk is right about buyers have income and "qualify". doesn't mean the buyers can actually afford to own. Since the house looks completely rebuilt with lots of gingerbread touches, some one might fall in love with this house and bite off more than they can afford. very possible to see a for sale and/or foreclosure in a few years. seen this where I live.

Anonymous said...

In CT we have a higher property tax and it also applies to vehicles. We also have state income tax and sales tax. We woke up to a couple inches of snow and no electricity.

Can you give me the address of the house next door?

Thanks.

The surgeon said...

Great blog Mr Tuck.

Some advice from social housing groups in the UK for your adjacent property.....

1. Ask your local graffiti wall painters to do some nocturnal artwork on your neighbour's walls. "Barrio Axteca" and "Aryan Brotherhood of Texas" would see you off to a promising start.

2 Borrow or hire a couple of pit bulls to chain to the wall. Leave turds where they fall, obviously. You might need to walk them around the block occasionally. You will need thick black collars with spikes for the pups natch! I assume you have the necessary piercings and facial metalwork to complement the look - right? Also a pair of torn jeans that hang off your arse (sorry, ass,) revealing a hairy cleavage.

3. Intermittent tyre burning sorts out your environmental credentials.

4. A pile of used syringes, styrofoam and condoms gives a neat look. Throw in some smashed bourbon bottles for extra zing.

All best from the "You-Kay"

Kirk Tuck said...

Um. If I did all this then I might not want to live here. Besides, the homeowners association would probably just have me whacked.