Rachel Briseño Bruno has lots of fond memories of spending childhood summers with her grandparents in their Highland Park home. Around the time of their wedding, she and her husband Jaime were given the opportunity to purchase the home from a family member. They’ve lived in the house for almost five years, and in that time, they have completed several renovation projects. The house was built in 1946, the same era as most of the homes in the neighborhood. Rachel, who is a REALTOR® with RE/MAX Unlimited, says being close to Interstate 37 and Highway 90 makes it easy to get to most places. She’s less five minutes from her office and Jaime can easily commute to his job at the Toyota plant.
Q: Has the neighborhood changed since you moved in?
A: Yes, a lot of it has to do with the people who are coming in to renovate these homes. We’ve seen a lot of flippers. Southtown was obviously the hotbed for growth and for flips for many years and now that that area has kind of gotten unaffordable most people who still want that convenience to downtown are coming to Highland Park because we’re so close, but again we’re not in that same price range yet. So, we’ve seen a lot of investors come in and purchase homes and totally renovate them. There are some homes that definitely need some love, so that’s always much appreciated. But you also still have those neighbors who have been there for many, many years. On my block, most of these families have owned their homes for many, many years. It was the family home that now an adult child has purchased.
Q: Are there still a lot of families with young children?
A: On my block, yes there are. On Halloween our neighborhood is full.
Q: What are some of the amenities in your neighborhood?
A: There aren’t a ton of amenities. We don’t have an HOA or anything like that and we’re not in an historic district. The best thing for me is the convenience to downtown. I spend a lot of time in the Southtown area, so we are less than five minutes away from that but without having to pay that high price range.
Q: Where do people like to go shopping or for entertainment?
A: In the southeast area, we spend most of our time in Southtown. We do most of our shopping in the Brooks area. The Greenline Park is a great place where I like to go running on the weekends, so that’s where we spend most of our time.
Q: What updates have you made to the house so far?
A: We’ve actually had to do a lot of stuff. We spent a lot of time doing the big stuff. We had to replace the roof and level the home. We’ve had to upgrade some of the electrical work. So those were our big projects when we first bought it. We’ve renovated our kitchen, which was our big project last year. We’ve added additional lighting and taken down some walls in our living room and dining room just to give it a more open type feel. So those have been our two big fun projects and the next fun project is we’re going to do the bathrooms. After the bathrooms, that’s about it.
Q: What should someone know about buying and renovating a home in Highland Park?
A: Most older homes need a full renovation. Since our home is almost 75 years old, we've had to update almost everything structurally, new plumbing, electrical, foundation etc. But it's been such a labor of love and I've really enjoyed taking this old house and making it my own.
Q: Does the area have many homes available to purchase?
A: There still are yes, I see them coming up often on the market. There are definitely still opportunities in Highland Park. The interesting thing is just seeing prices change. Over the years, they’ve definitely gone higher and higher. It is still relatively affordable compared to a lot of other areas of the city.
Q: What’s the average price for a house in your neighborhood?
A: My house is a 3-bedroom with 2 baths and about 1,400 square feet, mostly renovated. We would probably list it for about $185,000 or $195,000. So, still under $200,000, but they’re getting there.
Q: So, is this the house you plan to stay in?
A: My husband and I have talked about this a lot and no, I don’t think it is. Just because of the fact that I’m in real estate and there’s always opportunities that come around. But I do see my forever home being in Highland Park, this is the area that I would like to try and stay in.