When is it time to sell your starter? When is it best to stay put and invest/build the home you want? Many of the first time homeowners I met at the beginning of my career are now at a point where they have equity in their starters and have the opportunity to renovate, build and expand or move on to the next- something with more space and a bigger list of “must haves.” It can be a hard decision because we are emotional about our homes, especially our first, and either way, that chunk of equity you have built will be used up!! Well, not really…remember, it won’t disappear. The money you use to fix up or move up will be invested right back in the home you want. Investing in your future means investing in likely your largest asset, your home.
Enter Colby and Peter, Coronado residents living in a one-bedroom remodeled craftsman bungalow with their two dogs, Cameron and Zev. Colby purchased the couples home a few years before the pair met. Now, the equity in their home coupled with their need for more space has them considering their options, cash in on the growth or stay around for the party? The couple spent an afternoon showing us around their cozy quarters and their expansive lot while sharing their expansion plans and anxieties.
N: Can you both share where you’re from and what you do for a living?
C: I am the Director of Operations for Celebrity Dance Competitions, a Phoenix based company that host dance events for kids across the US. I grew up in rural Nebraska and moved to Arizona to work for Celebrity which is owned by one of my best friends; he started the company in 2004 and needed help as it continued to grow. I move to AZ in July of 2010.
P: I grew up just outside of Boston, in a really run-down town that kind of used to be the ideal suburb outside of town, GE was based there. I was really lucky to have a lot of great teachers and opportunities in the arts which meant I spent a lot of time in the city. My mom wanted a different life, and probably better weather, so, in my third year of high school we moved out here. I went to ASU, tried to move away multiple times but now-I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
I worked retail for a long time, in my last few years I took an interest in all the different components that make businesses successful in terms of marketing. I was able to start PIEL Creative, my design agency. I have all different types of clients ranging from eyewear to flowers, fashion to furniture. My clients can worry about the things that really matter, their team, their inventory, their customer service and I can provide the next layer, the digital layer. I provide multi faceted marketing support wether it’s building a website, managing social media, creating branding materials, etc.
N: How did you two meet?
P: An app. This photo shoot is happening today on the anniversary of us meeting. Our first date was at The Main Ingredient, I showed up early, had a beer, then he texted me saying he forgot his wallet at home … had another beer, thought, wait maybe he saw me and thought, quick, what can I say, “I forgot my wallet …” and then he’d never find it , but he made it. I wore this overpriced ratty tank top that says ‘Let’s Stay Strangers’, I never wear it anymore cause I’m 30 now but it’s one of the things I’ll never throw out.
N: What made you decide to purchase this home?
C: After owning two homes in a row, I didn’t want to move into an apartment. It was late 2013 and the prices were still low but there were a lot of unattractive flips. I started looking on my own online, using Zillow, Realtor, etc. I came across this house with interesting finishes inside, a great color on the outside, all new pluming and electric. The down side was, it had five or six dead trees, no landscaping and no fence. The outside color of the house was great but everything else was a mess, it had three layers of old asphalt shingles topped with a metal roof! It also had a large backyard that once had a second house, which was gone when I purchased it, and garage. I knew that over time, I could slowly make it into what I wanted it to be.
N: What is your favorite room in the home and why?
P: The bathroom, it’s the most serene room and probably the first room Colby completely changed. It looks and feels great.
C: I love the living room with its rounded ceiling and antique wooden gate posts.
N: What was your vision for the home when you purchased vs now?
C: When I first moved in the vision was to do basics. I needed furniture and to clean up the yard. I bought a chain saw, shovel and rake. After the first year, I removed all the dead trees except one that I couldn’t dig out and cleared all trash and rocks from the yard. After spending a year in the house, I knew that I wanted to build a rental property in back but didn’t have the funds to do so and not enough equity in the home yet. After a few more years in the house, the vision has changed a bit, the homes older age is becoming apparent and there are updates to make in the house in addition to building a new structure.
N: What was this neighborhood like when you purchased vs. now?
C: There were at least five other homes on my street that were empty including both houses next to me. I love the Coronado area, but it is an area that has been in transition for a while. There is a struggle going on between new people moving in the area and the old guard. Things are getting more expensive as people update, renovate or build new homes. There is a perception that gentrification is a bad thing. I don’t think it’s always a bad thing and it’s not something that forces people that own their home to move out. But I understand that change is difficult for some.
N: What are your plans for the house?
C: The current plan is to apply for home equity line of credit in June, hire a drafts person and begin the permit process for the guest house. After we have things more penciled in, adding a fence and an outdoor seating area off the front and north side of the house will follow this fall. We would also like new concrete driveway strips- large paver style strips. Once the new structure is complete, focus on the issues with the main house- hopefully while bringing in a little rental income from the new structure.
N: What are some hang-ups, questions or issues you are running into about your remodel/expansion plans?
C: I am nervous about the permit process since I have heard that it can a while. I have never built a home or an addition, so I don’t know what the process requires or the time that it’s going to take. I was initially worried about applying for a line of credit, but those fears have gone away. We are also trying to decide if we furnish the new space and rent it on Airbnb or does a consistent rental make a better choice for us.
N: What are your long term real estate goals with this home?
C: Long term I would like to eventually move to a slightly large space with two bedrooms and maybe two bathrooms which would open both the backyard rental and the main home as rental space to provide income and maybe leverage for another rental property.
N: What advice can you give to others about home ownership?
C: You will almost never find a house that is exactly what you want, but you can do the work on your own if you’re patient.
Deciding to take an equity line out on a home can be an awesome way to re-arrange finances, remodel or upgrade your home, pay off debt as well as invest in other projects- it can also be confusing to know where to start. For a quick guide to refinancing and equity lines click to view our simplified guide.
The neighborhood of Coronado is an awesome place to invest; centrally located, one of our few walkable neighborhoods, rapid growth and unique architecture. We look forward to seeing Colby and Peter’s vision come to life here and hope to bring you a property update later this year!