Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Buying on South Padre

A few folks have asked how to buy a place on South Padre and although I don't have many tips, you have to be ready to "swoop and pounce" for a good deal if you're in the under-250K league like us. Swoop and pounce means you have to (1) make one or two or three visits to the Island and (2) you have to pounce because the good deals last hours, not days or weeks.

I've never seen anything like it. One house out by the Tiki was listed on Friday and we liked it, but by Sunday a contract was already written and accepted - no deal for us. Gosh, we wasted three hours getting that offer right. Heck, we wasted a long drive all the way to Padre. So we kept looking and found some of what the house inspectors call "bulldozer material." I mean, these were nice houses back in the 1960's and 1980's but they were in such bad shape the house inspector refused to survey them. Whoa! Hey, they were in our price range, but we appreciated the advice.

On the third shot we found something that someone obviously took care of, a little old, but the house inspector said it was not so bad, like definitely not bulldozer material. So we wrote it up and laid down a check for a grand in earnest money. Since we already did one application, we flew through the papers in less than an hour. Scribble, scribble, scribble.

It was accepted in several hours - unbelievable!

I want to offer some advice because that house inspector was a real help, even though realtors really hate them - with a capital "H". To tell the truth, we offered before having the inspector come by but the idea was that our offer was contingent on the survey. He found stuff I could't ever find. It was well worth the $250. Don't ever buy a house of any kind on Padre without spending this little bit of money, even if it is new. What happens is that the salt environment is so harsh and the contractors are so loose (no offense, but there are lots of kinds of contractors and self do-ers) that you really need a second opinion. Write it into the contract that your offer is only good if you like the house inspection.

So yes we had some issues and after we move in, I have a good document from the house inspector for planning what I want to upgrade over time, like maybe getting a new A/C sometime but no big rush. Apparently, South Padre island chews up A/C units and spits them out. I had no idea. Well, welcome to the Coast, gringos!

So if you have a nice realtor like we did (leave a message below if you want to know our favorite), a few weekends, and the ability to swoop & pounce, that's about all there is to say. If you're in the plus-300K league, well, things are much more relaxed and the deals on houses and units don't disappear in minutes - some have been on the market for many, many moons. This is similar to any other coastal resort town in the US, except maybe things in Florida are still screwy because of all the hurricane damage (yes, it is really bad stil, since November, with blue tarps still on many roofs).

So yes, you're in a flooding area subject to high winds, hurricanes, and the Formosan termites, but it takes only some "swoop & pounce" to seal the deal if you really love the area. For middle-class, regular old folks like us with two grown kids, that was quite a feat.


Chris Davis said...


Great blog. Just stumbled across it from Sandy Feet's today.

Being a Brownsville native, I, for one, am interested in who you used as a realtor and house inspector.

Keep up the great work!

Sam said...

Hey Chris,

I used the House Detective, Mr. Wells (no relation to me), who operated out of Brownsville I think. Lots of experience on the Island, too.

Laurie Gaudie was our realtor, a real nice gal with an infectious laugh. Not uptight at all - must be because she grew up in Brownsville. She's got a link on Sandy's main website.


blockislandblog said...

Hi Sam,
Just wanted to say thank you for keeping up on my blog. It's nice to know someone finds my blog intersting enought to read!

Chris Davis said...

Hmm, I thought Tom Rowles (an excellent builder, btw) ran The House Detective here in Brownsville. Maybe Wells works for him.