05/13/13 1:00pm

The only difference between this 1981 West University property’s new listing and a previous one in mid-March appears to be the $110,000 escalation in price since its sale in mid-April, for $525,000. The current photos are a bit grainy and bleak, but they document how the unoccupied interior and lot-filling pool and deck have been faring as prices rise:


03/13/13 12:00pm

This Briarmeadow contemporary with broken-pediment facade bleached its previously ruddy exterior as part of an all-over renovation sometime after last December. That’s when it was bought by its current seller — for $247,000. It’s back on the market now, lighter in color but heftier in price, listed for $449,900. The home’s dog-leg driveway across the front lawn still feeds into a side-entry garage, now showing a newly uncovered cinema-screen expanse of wall to the street. Replacement landscaping at the base of that blankness will screen more of it, eventually. Despite the speedy roof-to-garden change-outs outside and flooring-to-cabinetry swap-outs inside, the listing explicitly declares that the transformed 1977 property is “NOT A FLIP.”


01/25/13 2:30pm

It was supposed to be a teardown, this almost-defiant home in Ayrshire. That’s what had happened to the original homes on either side of this still-single-story one, located on a cul-de-sac one house away from the railroad and utility easement that separates the neighborhood from Bellaire. Demolition is what a view-screening label dictated on just about every interior photo in the before-the-redo listing. The buyer and design team had other ideas, though, and renovated the 1957 ranch-style house into something more 2013-ish, outside and in.


11/13/12 1:45pm

Since its listing 3 weeks ago, a re-remodeled home in Briargrove Park has taken a couple of breaks (for a day or less) from the market. The status is now on again, however, for the overhauled gated-courtyard property, which is capped by an almost dainty topknot of a chimney cap. Windows in the front rooms face a gated courtyard instead of the street, and a pair of smaller windows lie behind brick columns on the recessed porch. Interior revisions moved, removed, or expanded archways, doors, and parts of walls to reposition how rooms function. A massive brick fireplace now covered in stone tiles (above) provides the main living space a punchy A-side hearth, B-side backdrop to the front entry hall. The home was built in 1974, remodeled in 2006. Other going-for-a-flip tweaks to the home since its purchase in late August for $275,000 freshened the finishes and replaced the deck, windows, and roof. Despite its on-and-off market behavior, the new asking price has stayed at $449,500.


08/09/12 4:15pm

The grass is always greener when it’s part of an overhaul. A redo (above) of this 1968 home in Forest West (at right) lawned-up the yard, boosted the landscaping, and thinned out the tree limbs. Then, the makeover moved inside, adding fresh paint, a new HVAC system, carpet, and 2012-ier finishes in the kitchen and bathrooms. The home is just a couple lots away from the crosswalks of HISD’s Clifton Middle School and adjacent Forest West Park.

The revamped property was listed earlier this week at $159,900, but in February 2012 it changed hands for $85,000. That previous listing’s initial asking price was $139,900 — in September 2011. But it tumbled every few weeks thereafter: from $132,500 in early October to November’s double-dips of $124,900 and $114,900 to holiday pricing of $109,900 . . . and a new year-new price of $99,900.


07/25/12 3:38pm

Here’s an idea: How about buying that old rundown Houston house where President Lyndon Johnson lived in the early 1930s that nobody seems to want, then trying flip it for more than twice the price? Great idea, but you got beaten to it.

The 1904 farmhouse-style structure on the corner of Hawthorne and Garrott in the Westmoreland Historic District was snatched up for less than $285,000 this past March — about a year after it first went up for sale (for a significantly higher price). As of mid-June the home is back on the MLS, with a few photos of the renovation-in-progress to spur interest. What could the would-be flippers do to the place that would bring in a price around, say . . . $619,900?


08/01/11 8:11am

Only a few days after it sold, the 1961 Tanglewood home and bomb shelter on Brown Saddle St. featured on Swamplot back in January has been put back on the market. Only this time, the listing doesn’t mention the shelter or the abandoned pipeline slicing through a portion of the property — or really anything about the building itself. No more interior pics, either. The low-slung modern structure is now tagged as “not liveable” and won’t be shown — though the agent does fess up to having a key. The asking price? Only $550K more than what the property sold for earlier in the week, when the home and its interior were touted as sales features. At 38,263 sq. ft. (that’s actually been marked down a few thousand sq. ft. from the earlier sale), the lot is advertised as the biggest in Tanglewood.


05/17/11 5:35pm

Oily 3-time Survivor loser Russell Hantz (pictured above in the shark-wrestling competition from Survivor: Samoa) tells Entertainment Weekly he’s come to town “to bring Houston’s economy back on its feet.” How’s he gonna get the market back from its tippy-toes? By flipping houses — then bragging about it on-camera. Apparently, a gig like that pays pretty well.

Hantz’s reputation as a tell-’em-straight kinda guy was sealed in January when the Daily Beast revealed him as the mysterious source of persistent leaks about the reality show’s top-secret storylines. In his contracts, Hantz had agreed to pay “liquidated damages” of $5 million if he revealed which contestants had been eliminated before episode air dates. CBS responded to the breach by suing the message-board commenter who posted the tips — and featuring Hantz in Survivor: Redemption Island, which began airing in February. (The suit against Survivor Sucks website poster Jim Early was dismissed.)


04/18/11 9:33am

If, when the place was up for sale last year, you only liked what you saw of the legendary ornate sorta-replica French palace in Sherwood Forest that Houston strip-mall king and car collector Jerry J. Moore pieced together for himself from actual French parts, you’ll absolutely love the home in its latest incarnation: The 12,734-sq.-ft. interior has now been gutted completely. And, the home’s current owners hope, you’ll be willing to pay about $5.15 million more for it in its current condition than they were when they bought it about this time last year for just $3.75 million — you know, when the interior had things in it like floors and walls and ceilings, not to mention functioning electricity and plumbing. Also swept away by demolition crews for today’s more sophisticated, imaginative, and demanding buyer — Moore’s famous 26-car garage at the back of the property, with the “treehouse” quarters above it, as well as the poolhouse. Listing agent Diane Kingshill of Martha Turner Properties tells Swamplot both of those structures were in poor condition and had mold.

But if any mold was also hiding in the marble flooring, chandeliers, or extensive wood paneling of the main house, it’s clearly gone now. All that sweat equity put in by the current owners has many more benefits — certainly enough to justify the $8.9 million asking price with which the home has returned to this year’s much stronger market. Just see what interior vistas have been opened up, in a home once full of visual obstacles:


12/23/10 12:46pm

Remember this home in Spring Branch Woods? Maybe not. Because the last time it went up for sale the home was in such bad shape the listing agent resorted to illustrating it with a gallery of cheesy stock photos, along with such enticing adjectives as “inhabitable.” And then there was this classic offer: “A diamond in the WAY rough, enter at your own risk, with a mask.”

The next day, enterprising Swamplot reader Claire de Lune drove by the property, and sent in a few photos of the place, including the one above, which helped explain the agent’s photographic choices — at least the image of all those children, running.

On October 15th, the home sold for $80,000, down a bit from the $110K asking price. And tax records dug up by a reader show the buyer, Titan Premier LLC, financed $71K of it — not exactly the “cash only” offer the seller had wanted. Then, at the beginning of December, the home went . . . gasp! . . . back on the market.

How does it look now? Just a little different:


09/08/10 4:04pm

This reinvented Ranch on Staunton St. in Afton Oaks has had a little work done since the last time it was on the market — way back in April of last year, at around $400K cheaper than its current price tag. That American colonial look is gone, wrapped by layers of stucco and Hardie panels and a new standing-seam metal roof. Other nips and tucks for the 60-year-old include a ceiling lift, a new fixed-in-place fenestration program, and a few hundred sq. ft. of additions.

A couple before-and-after comparisons for the 3-bedroom, 2,688-sq.-ft. redo:


02/25/10 11:09am

Two months ago, a group out of San Antonio bought up the $32 million and somewhat-tattered note owed by the owners of the Metropole Apartments at 3616 Richmond (between Edloe and Buffalo Speedway). But Lynd Residential Properties and McCombs Enterprises weren’t interested in collecting payments — they foreclosed on the property right away. And now they’re hoping to sell the 289-unit property — for more than $40 million. Globe St.‘s Amy Wolff Sorter explains politely how it came to this:

Metropole’s story begins in 2005, when Cambridge Development acquired a vacant office building with plans to convert it into living space. Cambridge Development finished its work in 2007, creating a luxury high-rise multifamily complex right around the time fundamentals began to weaken. Cambridge Development brought the asset to market in late winter 2008. Metropole was under contract several times but never made it out of escrow.

. . . and the new owners swooped in at the end of last year. They tell Sorter they’ve already brought the occupancy rate up from 75 percent to “the low 80s,” with rental rates of approximately $1.50 per sq. ft.

Photo: Metropole

10/05/09 10:29am

Houston Rockets owner and real-estate power forward Les Alexander appears to be doing his single-handed best to boost the upper end of the New York City real estate market. Who’s gonna help him out? Last week, he finally closed on a 6,321-sq.-ft. empty penthouse atop a new Robert A.M. Stern waterfront condo building in the West Village — for $25 million in cash. After pausing to take a deep breath, Alexander then put the unit back on the market — for $39.5 million.

New York real estate blog Curbed says Alexander’s move “has to be the most audacious and downright crazy real estate move of 2009 (though there’s still time!):”

In a matter of hours, the penthouse has gone from selling for $3,955/sf to asking $6,249/sf. Talk about appreciation!

Didn’t the buzzer on that game already sound?

The bare-bones pad features 4 corner terraces, but just a single bathroom and small Kitchen — enough to meet city requirements. The condo building is named Superior Ink, in honor of the factory that was torn down to construct it.

Photo: Related Companies

04/16/09 11:11am

The reader who provided this “tip” wouldn’t or couldn’t tell us where the information came from, so there’s no particular reason to take it seriously. But it raises a few interesting questions about the future of the 8-acre property at W. Alabama and Dunlavy that’s apparently soon to be the former site of the Wilshire Village apartments.

. . . So here it is:

The buzz in the air over the demolition of Wilshire Village is Mr. Dilick plans to try to sell the property soon after the demolition, word is he hasn’t the funding to develop this tract.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

11/03/08 1:26pm

2524 McLendon St., Houston

Inspired by the not-so-unusual tale of the house at 2524 McLendon St. in Brentwood (which was apparently renovated, sold, and then demolished just last month), commenter Jimbo posted this challenge to Swamplot readers — which has so far gone unanswered:

Is there a suitable adjective for the activity of renovating a house to flip only to have the new owner demo it immediately?

An adjective? We’d settle for a noun.

It’s not Sisyphean because I’m sure they made money but there must be some fancy Greek mythology parallel for it.

Yeah, try Greek — or maybe Aztec . . . or some term from the mortuary business, or . . . Ayn Rand?

Photo of 2524 McClendon St.: HAR