House Stalking

My friends, Steve and Lisa, had a favorite house in the neighborhood next to theirs.  It was right down the street from a friend’s house, and they drove by it often.  They already had a great family home that was fine for them, their two kids, two dogs, and cat.  But it wasn’t their dream house.  They used to joke that if the house they were stalking ever went on the market they would buy it.  And then one day they were driving to a party at their friend’s house … and their dream house was on the market.  They live there now.

My friend Hope had a yellow Victorian in East Atlanta Village (EAV) that she loved.  It was on a hill, and for years she dreamed about that house.  It finally went up for sale, and we walked over to the Open House one Sunday.  We were so curious to see what was inside, and the inside was … disappointing.  Shoot.  Not a match and house stalking turned into house headshaking.  (Ah, what could have been…)

Last week, I had a client contact me to look at a stone cottage in Decatur.  He had been house stalking it for a couple of years and it was finally for sale.  We saw it the second day it was on the market and it literally went under contract at about the time we were driving to the listing.  It really was an awesome house, but as they say, timing is everything.  (I am keeping my eye on the status, and I have to ask … is it wrong to wish for a financing hiccup?  I know it is, but fingers crossed anyway…)  So this client and I continue to look, and he’s okay with missing out on the house. Just seeing the inside seems to have satisfied his curiosity.

For me it’s a little different, I house stalk former residences.  I drive by and see what the new owners have done, and think of what my life would be like if I hadn’t moved.  It’s a mix of heartache and surprise when you drive by a former residence.  I’ve lived in 22 places in 25 years, so I have a lot of former residences, but there are a handful that really made an impression.

The first single-family home I owned was on Berne Street in Ormewood Park, and I still drive by it often.  The new owners added a garage and expanded the back.  But all my front yard landscaping still remains.  (Including the frilly Japanese Maple that cost a fortune.) I house stalk the neighbors there as well, as I still feel connected to that particular street.

One house on Berne has had my attention for several years.  It’s on the same side of the road as my former house and about a block away.  You know I love those Mid-Century Modern (MCM) houses, and take a look at this one from 1945:

931 Berne Street
931 Berne Street – Front. (I’m wild about the paint color and trim lines. And look at that mailbox and the pom pom tree. OMG Love.)


Deck Ready For Relaxing!
931 Berne Street – Rear. Isn’t it odd that you don’t often see back porch swings? Love that it’s in the shade. A great little rest spot to have a refreshing iced tea (make mine the Long Island variety).

And guess what?  It’s now for sale.  It’s listed by my friend and fellow agent, Tiffanie Jones, and I’m going to co-host the Open House there this Sunday.  (In part, so I have a reason to stalk the street without causing a call to Zone 6. “No officer, I wasn’t casing the house… I was stalking the house.”)

The Open House address is 931 Berne Street, Atlanta, GA 30316.  Click the link for more photos and come by and see us from 2 to 4pm on Sunday, June 28.

And if you’re currently house stalking a property, give me a shout. I can set you up in the FMLS system so you will get an immediate alert if it ever becomes active on the market.

I’m an agent with Red Robin REALTORS® one of Atlanta’s premier boutique real estate brokerages. Contact me at or 404-247-9981.

You Never Know What’s Behind the Door

I had a serious, “Am I going to fall through the floor?!” panic attack last week.  Yep, you never know what’s behind the door when you open that lockbox.  Here’s how it went down…

I’m working with a client who is an architect, actor, and creative mind in search of his next address.  He’s been living in a mid-century modern (MCM) condo on Peachtree Street for well over a decade, and he was actually pretty content there.  But a developer buyout is forcing him to make a change.

Personally, I’ve lived in all kinds of properties.  And by “all kinds” I mean different architectural styles, layouts, density, zoning, etc.  I’ve owned brick ranches, an arts and crafts bungalow, modern and historic condos, etc. Anyway, I mention that because I get it when a client doesn’t yet have a clear picture of “what’s next” – because what’s next can be anything you can imagine.  And this guy has imagination.

At the condo he’s living in now, he fashioned many features that were custom designed (by him, of course) and built to fit the space.  And he wants to also do that with his new home.  So last Friday was an exploratory mission.  I pulled 5 properties covering the 3 categories that interest him:

  1. Modern condo
  2. Historical home
  3. Mid-century modern (MCM) ranch

He specifically asked to see Oakland Park, which is a modern condominium I lived in for many years (and I’m still a property owner there).  The two units we looked at had characteristics of his current condo (like concrete ceilings), and the price point is reasonable, so he felt he could make design changes and still be invested in the property for an affordable amount.  The showing outcome was a “strong maybe.”

Just a few blocks away from Oakland Park was a 1st day on the market listing for a 1920 Victorian on a hilltop corner lot 1 block from Grant Park. The remarks indicated it needed “restoration/renovation” but the listing didn’t prepare me for what we saw when I opened the door. Someone forgot to mention that half the house was missing.

Since my client is an architect and he has a curious nature, we walked through all the rooms on both floors, even though he knew it was more construction than he was interested in.  This was one of those “dream” properties because you are buying into what it can become.  A nice corner lot, a block from Grant Park, on a hill, with instant curb appeal.  But it’s a full renovation.  (If you’re still interested and don’t mind going on a “step with caution” showing, contact me and we’ll take a look together.)

Next up were a couple of MCM ranch homes off LaVista.  Probably not a fit because of the floorplans, but I personally loved the period details including a working, original-to-the-house stove and boomerang-patterned kitchen countertops.

For next steps we’re organizing some fact-finding on ownership of another historic property and I’m doing a little sleuthing into some condo units that are still builder-owned.  As you can see, I’ll do more than open the door for you (as long as it’s legal!).  This client wanted to look at an empty property that’s not on the market and I had to remind him that’s called “trespassing” 😉 Thus my need to dig into tax records, so we don’t end up in handcuffs.

I’m an agent with Red Robin REALTORS® one of Atlanta’s premier boutique real estate brokerages. Contact me at or 404-247-9981.

Even Ugly Houses Can Feel Like Home

My parents lived in the same house for over 50 years. They bought the land and built a one-story brick ranch in an undeveloped area of a mid-size southern town. My mother used to talk about how chickens (that did not belong to my parents) would run around untethered. Pat and Irene were newlyweds and buying a 3/4 acre lot, hiring a builder, and moving a new family were all big endeavors. But when you’re young, somehow change seems easier and you are more open to experiments.

The lot they bought was in a capital city that was also home to a state university. So despite the free-range chickens, my parents were urban pioneers who broke ground in an undesirable area.

Under construction. 1958.

And when the house was built and the family was moved in, I guess my parents felt like the house was “done.” And I mean “done” because they never made any changes or updates to the house. And I seriously mean no changes. Same pink bathroom. Same green bathroom. Linoleum in the kitchen. A wood-panel den. Exterior doors with hand-crank louver glass panels. A tin roof patio. Two car carport.  We never owned a dishwasher.  And the kitchen cabinets, countertops and sink were all original.

I was the youngest in the family and by the time I came along my parents had been living in the house they built for almost 20 years. And as I grew older, the house grew older with me.

I remember sitting alone in my bedroom as a teenager, among the hand-me-down furniture that my two older sisters had already used, and I would dream of how my own space would look when I could finally get out of there and make my own decisions. And in my mind it looked NOTHING like that house.  I hated the architecture and the furnishings and everything about it.

And now that I’m on my own, living in a loft right on the Atlanta Beltline, do you know what my space looks like?

It looks like my childhood home.

When we emptied my parents’ house, I took every porcelain bird knickknack, ugly lamp, and worn piece of furniture I could haul back to Atlanta. I even took their rotary dial telephone. (It still works. I’m not kidding.)

Can you find my parent’s pieces scattered through my loft? Hint: look for electric orange and avocado green.


Velvet barrel back chairs. (Note: Orange Cat is not vintage. Circa mid-2000’s!)


An “earth tone” acrylic painting and green lamps (you may not be able to see it, but the gold bases light up, too.)

My parents are gone and my time capsule childhood home is gone. But they live in my memories. And pieces of them live with me. But now I embrace the ugly because it’s what make my own space feel like home.

If you want to see how I’ve integrated my mother’s questionable taste (and I write that with so much love) into an industrial live/work space in Old Fourth Ward (O4W) come by my office in Studioplex for a tour and a cup of coffee from Mom’s percolator.  I’d love to help you find a house that makes you feel like you’re truly at home, too.

I’m an agent with Red Robin REALTORS® one of Atlanta’s premier boutique real estate brokerages. Contact me at or 404-247-9981.