What was once an abandoned building near the corner of Airport Boulevard and Oak Springs Drive is now a community event space owned and operated by a team of female realtors.
Launched in June 2019 by Kristina Modares and Stephanie Douglass of Realty Austin, Open House Austin is intended to serve the community as an accessible and affordable event space, as well as a resource for those interested in learning more about home buying and real estate.
Becoming fast friends
Modares and Douglass first crossed paths while renovating their homes in East Austin. The two quickly formed a friendship after discovering how much they had in common. In addition to independently renovating their homes, each of the women were realtors and shared a similar vision for the types of clients they wanted to work with: first-time buyers.
As homeowners themselves, Modares and Douglass felt like the buying process wasn’t as transparent or accessible as it should be and sought out to improve the process for future first-time homebuyers.
“I didn’t know what I was signing, I didn’t know the process, I just did it,” says Douglass. “But I think knowing what I was doing would’ve been a way better experience.”
Modares had a similar experience when trying to make the switch from renting to buying. After looking into buying a house to share with roommates, Modares felt like the process did not cater to first-time buyers or millennials. She decided to get her real estate license and then “spent a lot of time learning about the process of home buying,” she says.
Modares and Douglass have since made real estate education a staple in what they provide to their clients and the community. The women strive to be transparent throughout the entire home-buying process, whether that’s by sharing how much they get paid as real estate agents, explaining how and why each step is necessary (and which ones aren’t), or by documenting the behind-the-scenes of their personal renovation projects.
“[First-time buyers] want value, they want information, and they want to make an informed purchase,” Douglass says.
Mapping the homeownership journey
In an effort to make home buying accessible to all, the women plan on hosting a monthly home buying workshop at Open House Austin. They also believe education goes beyond the purchase, and want to support first-time buyers throughout each step of the homeownership journey, whether that’s with basic home care, the renovation process, or preparing to sell for the first time. To do this, the space will be open for other home professionals to teach or share resources.
“We are trying to make people’s lives better by building [their] wealth and helping them realize that owning your home is an asset and an important step in growing net worth,” says Douglass.
Open House Austin, located at 3307 Oak Springs Dr., is also home to two food trucks, LeverCraft Coffee and Trill Taqueria. Additionally, Austin Skincare Co. will operate out of the space. While the building is only 504 square feet, the entire 7,487-square-foot lot was renovated to create an open, inclusive community space where anyone could feel welcome to gather.
“We’re all invested in how we’re doing,” says Modares. “It’s a little ecosystem, and we want everyone to do well.”