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Old 07-28-2009, 09:47 AM
Location: Dripping Springs , TX
786 posts, read 2,647,484 times
Reputation: 237



You are right to be concerned about wanting to see the inside of the houses. I am not sure what the typical house is like in Virginia, but I can tell you that a typical house layout in Toronto, Ontario, and Austin, Texas is like night and day. The first big adjustment we had to get used to and reflect in out online searches was the square footage.

Our current 3,800 sq ft home in Austin is both bigger and smaller than our 2,500 sq ft house in Toronto. It is bigger in terms of overall size and room size, but, we are still trying to figure out where to put some of the furniture we had back in Toronto. The big difference is that here there are no basements. Our finished basement added about 1,200 sq ft to the house. So instead of looking for a 2,500 sq ft house in Austin, we had to look at 3,700 sq ft in order to have comparable room.

Houses in Austin and Toronto also treat bedrooms, bathrooms and closets differently. When I first starting looking down here I could not believe the amount of space that was dedicated to the master bedroom suite (bedroom, bathroom closet and sometime sitting area). It made our master suite in Toronto look small and our agent up there was gushing about how much closet space we had in the house we were selling. And most of the master bedrooms here are on the main floor rather than the second floor.

As I said, checking out model homes will probably be the fastest, most informative, and least intrusive way to get a feel for the house interiors here. For the price of getting on their mailing lists and getting nag emails once a month, you will get to see some of their physical layouts, and should be able to walk away with a lot of floor plans that will also provide a lot of information. That will give you the feel for the newer house layouts. Layouts of older homes may or may not be much different.

When you go into the builder models, make sure you tell them that you are from out of town and only thinking of moving to the area. That way they will give you the small "welcome" chat rather than going for a hard sell and wasting your time.

Good Luck
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Old 07-28-2009, 05:31 PM
Location: SW Austin & Wimberley
6,329 posts, read 17,241,842 times
Reputation: 5521
I think a scouting trip and seeing homes is very valuable and I would do the same if relocating, or considering. No argument there. It would be part of the mix, wanting to see what sort of place my money would buy. I guess I'm just surprised to learn that some people would make the layout or aesthetics of Austin housing a deal breaker, or one of the first things to check off a list.

In other words, how likely is it that there are individuals with specific floor plan, layout and price range needs so narrow that no home would exist in Austin TX that would adequately serve their needs?

Stated another way, how likely is it that someone has been offered a job in Austin, accepted the job, come here for a house search, then not been able to find a suitable house and thus cancelled the new job and the move, returned home to surprised friends and said "all the houses in Austin suck. We're not moving there".

I'll go out on a limb and say I don't think it's something that happens at all. I mean, come on.

So that's why, if someone says "I gotta get inside some Austin houses so I'll know if moving to Austin makes sense", I'm dubious about whether or not this deserves to be a top tier decision point. For me, I'd want to know simply, "are there homes available that attend good schools, are within close proximity to places and things I like to do, in my price range, that offer the features and amenities I desire?" If enough people told me "absolutely, without a doubt", I'd probably be ok with that.

Then again I move a lot (6 houses in 13 years - all in South/SW Austin - yes this annoys my wife) and could pretty much live in any dump if I thought I could make a profit on it in 2 years.

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Old 07-28-2009, 05:48 PM
Location: Dripping Springs , TX
786 posts, read 2,647,484 times
Reputation: 237
To me, the biggest reason is to understand what size of a house you will need. When we started our "let's think about Austin" adventure, we were thinking that we would make a killing on the lower house prices. A 2,500 sq ft house in Austin was about $100 - $150K cheaper than what we thought we could get for selling our house in Toronto.

After we saw a few houses (builder models) and understood the usual layouts better, we realized that we needed 3,500 sq ft or more to make up for a lack of a finished basement. That made the house prices basically even.

I don't think people would call off a move because of a house layout, but some may have to do it if they have to upsize or some similar reason. One possibility would be someone with small kids that will not accept a main floor master bedroom. I know there are houses out there with the master up, but they are few and far between.
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