How To Start Over From Scratch: Moving To Arizona

For years I've wanted to move from Cincinnati to anywhere warm. Cincinnati is an AWESOME city. The changes it has gone through in the past 5-10 years are gigantic. It's actually cool. I'm serious. But, the winters I just can't handle. So for years and years I tried to move but "couldn't".

SPOILER: One of my last renovations in Cincinnati

I was scared.

How could I start all over again?

I'd have no business connections. I'd have to know a new city and it's neighborhoods. I'd have to know what buyers were looking for in that part of the country, how much that would cost to do and how much a buyer would pay?

How long would it take to gather all of that information

How would I be able to replace all of "my people"?

Would I be successful?

Even though I had lived in Phoenix before, it was more than a decade ago as a college student at ASU. Aside from remembering the name of some streets and parts of town, I knew nothing of the real estate market. I got my Crossfit Level 1 Certification just in case. Maybe I could coach while I figured things out.

Turns out.... I was an idiot for doubting myself.

My first house in Phoenix.

Six months ago I landed in Phoenix and hit the ground running as if I'd been here all along. Last month marked my 10th year in business and I forgot about it because I was...

TOO BUSY WORKING.

Some of it seemed like luck. I met my contractor, Pace Morby, through Instagram. He is about to begin my third renovation here. But was it really luck? I had been chatting with him occasionally on Instagram posts for about a year. Networking from afar if you will. One of my agents, Michelle Houze was referred to me by a Cincinnati friend. Her and then another agent I met, Rachel Hugenschmidt, showed me the neighborhoods and what people were looking for in a home. Another contact I found at an AZREIA meeting I attended a couple winter's ago while vacationing here (nerd alert---> me, who does that on vacation?). He went to the University of Cincinnati back in the day. He'll be checking on one of my remaining Ohio homes when he attends a football game there soon. One of my favorite furniture dealers was found on Craigslist. Some people have reached out to me, while others I have hunted down. Things are weird, adventurous and random.

I love it.

My second renovation in Scottsdale.

There was no reason to be scared. The skills I learned over the past 10 years transferred. If you know how to learn, you can relearn. I didn't know anything about desert landscape, but I knew how to figure it out. I dove in. Head first. I went to nurseries. I learned names of cacti, how much palm trees cost and what an irrigation system costs. I asked my contractor 1.2 million questions, pinned ideas and studied comparable homes. I'm still asking a billion questions and learning on my own home.

Dragged some great staging stuff with me from Cincinnati like that vintage kimono. :)

The secret to starting over or learning new things is this....

Just do it.

Start.

GO.

If you're thinking about changing careers or locations, do it. If you want to flip houses, do it. Just learn. Learn more. And then learn even more.

Learn EVERYTHING.

A Disaster Turned Miracle: The House Nobody Wanted

Things have been a little spicy here in the 'Nati over the last year. No houses. NO HOUSES. Very little inventory means houses are selling for a premium, before list even! Desperation! I had to get my hands on one or some. Your patience wears thin. Until that is, you search one day on your pretty little MLS. You never do that. You leave that for the wholesalers. But, you're desperate. You search the street you've been stalking for far too long and there it is. The most beautiful and crappiest row house you've ever seen. Listed at the rock bottom price of $60-ish,000. 

WHAT IS WRONG WRONG WITH PEOPLE? 

Why was this not pending already? One of Cincinnati's finest Realtors, Aaron Binik-Thomas took me to see it. Isn't she so ugly she's pretty? (The house. Not Aaron)

The only reason I went to see this house was because it was on this street. The houses on the opposite side of the street all have three story views of the City of Cincinnati while the houses on this side are shunned. Forgotten. Kicked to the curb. The other side of the street sells for $200,000-$800,000 (for real tho, it's those views) while this side wishes it had a life. The only reason I continued to think about this house after I left was #rooftopdeck. I get weird when opportunities present themselves that can only mean awesomeness or complete disaster. The house was a hot mess. That's how I like 'em. However, it had somewhere between 3 and 13 floor plan issues. A crapshoot. Literally 3 minutes into the showing I told my agent we were out. 

That night I lay awake thinking about the house and how cool a rooftop deck would've been to build. While we wouldn't fetch $800,000, certainly a rooftop deck would bring the value up drastically. But, how could I make this work!? The kitchen was in the back of the house and separated by the staircase. I'm not moving stairs. I'm just not. (I don't know why.) To access the third bedroom you had to walk through the second. Lame. There was only one tiny bathroom in the house. Two would be better.

But how!?

This house sucked.

First Floor

First Floor

 And then...

my brain turned on.

The next day I texted Aaron and told him, "I've got it!" and let's go see the house again. I know he thought I was nuts. That's ok. I'm used to that sort of reaction to my whims. We had to see it again because I barely glanced at the place the first time around. I hated it that much. I needed to make sure my plan would work. 

Low and behold, the puzzle pieces went into place. The old kitchen would move to the dining room, something I had wanted to do in another house of mine. Glad I stored that idea away in the ole memory bank. The old kitchen would become a bedroom. The walk through bedroom would become a hallway to the master bedroom, the master bath, the master closet, a laundry closet and....

access to the rooftop deck. BOOM.

Subtract two and carry the five and we had ourselves a winner. 

First Floor: 

First Floor

Second Floor:

Second Floor

Second Floor

It was too good to be true. It all worked.

Then construction happened and good became awful, timelines became horrendous, people were fired, spiral stairs ended toward walls and so on. A year went by. Such is the rehabbing life. Fortunately, everything turned out wonderfully in the end and I didn't want to hand over the keys. I just wanted the rooftop all to myself. 

Some advice to anyone wanting to pursue disasters turned miracles like this: study this floor plan well. Walk through houses with broken floor plans and think it through. Draw it out. Practice with the app MagicPlan, which I use for my floor plans. Even if you have no intention of buying the house. Even if the house is your mom's sister's cousin's former roommate's. Practice! Then, bust out these ideas when you find that diamond in the rough that nobody can figure out but you. 

See more photos of this house here.