“Fixer Upper” Junkies Are Adding This Small Texas Town to Their Search List
If you’ve found yourself watching endless hours of HGTV, you might have contracted it—the home improvement bug that has recently made Sherman, Texas a magnet for “fixer upper” addicts. Sherman has seen its share of property “flippers” in recent years, but these new folks are different. They find it hard to resist the challenge of taking a house that reminds them of a simpler time growing up in Grandma’s kitchen and personally saving it from destruction, sometimes one board at a time. For those who can look past the yellowed gypsum board and imagine showcasing the original shiplap and wood flooring, deals have been flying off the market, some much lower than $60/square-foot. Founded in the 1850s, Sherman has remained untouched by the ridiculous real estate price spikes that cities closer to Dallas have experienced, but prices are rising steadily. The small town vibe still remains, where one can sit on their porch, drink lemon- aid, and watch the slow-moving pace of their neighborhood.
Michael Repetto is a native Californian who came from Dallas to Sherman, looking for more affordable housing. “I remember the day that I walked into my first property on Travis Street in 2001,” he said. “I walked in, looked around, and remarked out loud, what happened to you? I knew instantly that I wanted to bring this condemned house back to its former glory.” Michael reuses and recycles, which makes for a very labor intensive but rewarding project.
One look at his artful transformations gives you immediate insight into the passion that the “art school dropout” has for his work. “I always found myself drawn to the art projects where I could use recycled material and I shied completely away from new work.” He smiles as he continues. “My houses are just huge art projects.” Michael knows that his personal taste affects his renovation budget, but he enjoys the custom touches. “I like my ceilings to have different shapes and textures.”
After a day of balancing his various house projects with his work on high-end antiques for clients in Dallas, Michael retires to his living room, the former second-grade classroom at the three-story Davy Crocket Grammar School, purchased in 2003.
His house on Rickett Street went from an eyesore to eye-catching, but it wasn’t a painless transformation. “When I opened up the ceiling in one room, a huge dark blob fell down on me and then to my surprise, started moving. It was an ant pile the size of an LP. Those are the kind of things that you don’t see on HGTV,” he said with a laugh.
Sherman homes have much to offer, to include the increasingly popular shiplap, glorious high ceilings, large front porches, and crown molding that is too great of an extravagance for most new home projects within this price range.
If you are retired or have the luxury of working remotely, Sherman is a place away from the big city with many of the same amenities. A rehab junkie myself, I appreciate a choice between Lowes or Home Depot as well as the centrally located restaurants and stores.
As Sherman is a college town, there are many “cheap eats” in addition to the more extravagant places to take your date. My personal favorite thing about Sherman is the escape from the big city traffic and no lines at the post office. It’s truly an escape from the rat race, complete with high-speed internet and strong cell service, something that is often hard to find in some rural areas.
I am still excited about my Sherman find, a 1930s project house that I purchased this summer with a large front porch, original doors and hardware, wood flooring, 11-foot ceilings, and several interior brick chimneys. I was lucky to find a realtor who responded quickly and closed the deal before someone else could snatch my prize! Like all old house lovers, I knew going into this that insulation and windows would be an important factor in estimating my cost and preparing an offer.
As this is my sixth home project, I can’t deny that I might never find a cure for the thrill I get from watching a sick old house gradually evolve into my new home. I really enjoy walking through the front door and feeling the happiness that comes from selecting or designing every single element and color.
© 2017 Simone Sander