You know the saying: “If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a house flip.”
Isn’t that how it goes?
Okay, maybe that’s not the original phrase, but the house flip frenzy is still happening for the same reason diet pills and spray tans are popular – we like things to be fast and easy.
Flipping houses is a gamble; and as in gambling, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. If the stars align and you find an underpriced house in a great neighborhood that needs a little TLC before hitting the market, you’re probably going to make some money.
But. . .
If you find that same house and then uncover the creeping mold, the cracked foundation and the sketchy electricity, you can say goodbye to your profit and your sanity.
Don’t get me wrong here – I am not against house flips. On a big, big scale it can be good for the seller, the buyer, and the neighborhood. After all, updating an eyesore and finding owners to love and cherish a property is a good thing.
Still, with television shows such as Property Brothers and Flip or Flop, with all of their fancy lighting, hunky contractors and 30-minute timeframe, it’s easy to get swept up in something that appears to be fast and easy when, in real life, it can be slow and really, really (really!) tough.
Planning on buying a ‘fix and flip?’ Here are a few tips to keep you in the money, instead of landing you in a money pit:
Rely on a Realtor and Other Professionals:
Realtors, real estate attorneys and accountants can help you navigate the dollars and sense of an investment. Could buying this house put your financial future in jeopardy? Or your other properties? Or your bank account? Before taking this step, recognize what’s at risk with you and your investments.
When it comes to the nuts and bolts of things, surround yourself with reputable, experienced professionals. Make sure all of your contractors and suppliers are licensed, insured, recommended, honest, trustworthy and competent. Also, work with people you like. You’re going to be working side-by-side on a huge project, and you want to get along with the people who are literally putting your house together.
Don’t Be a Hero:
If you have questions, ask. If you don’t agree with a suggestion from a friend, investment partner, supplier, speak up. If you don’t know how to rewire the water heater, don’t! Just don’t!
Do Your Due Diligence:
There are insurance policies for building repairs that all licensed contractors must hold in order to be in the business. There are specialty policies for buildings that are vacant or under construction. There are home warranties that can protect the appliances already in the home. Looking into insurance is just a way of looking out for yourself.
Look Under the Hood:
Hire the best inspector you can find and don’t balk on the cost. I promise that in the end this expense will actually save you money. An inspector knows what to look for, what is an easy fix and what is a nightmare. Stay away from the nightmare. Nightmares are…scary.
And Back to the Realtor:
No matter how great the house looks, if you don’t have a savvy Realtor on your side, it’s not going to sell. Look for a Realtor who has pulled comps for your neighborhood. Look for someone with experience, a solid marketing plan, a list of recommendations and a network of buyers and sellers.
This blog is a first in a series on the frenzy over fix and flips. Look for part two in the weeks ahead. In meantime, do you have a fantastic or frightening fix and flip story to share? Let’s hear it!
Live Basil Pizza is hosting Fresh Pizza Day on May 8 from 11AM – 10PM. And it’s free. Yep. Free. All five of the Live Basil Pizza locations are participating – and in lieu of payments, Live Basil is asking customers to donate to Jessie’s Homes for Families.
That’s pizza with a heart!
And pizza with some personality. Choose from one of Live Basil’s 13 signature pizzas or build your own. Ingredients are all-natural and organic. So a free pizza that is good for you and good for the community. What’s not to love?
For more information, visit livebasilpizza.com
We are a proud of our state, aren’t we? Maybe even, dare I say, arrogant, when it comes to Colorado? After all, we boast over 300 days of sunshine, are home to the esteemed Air Force Academy, and live in a place so stunningly gorgeous that Katherine Lee Bates wrote “America The Beautiful” while drinking in the views from Pikes Peak. (We will get to ‘drinking’ later.)
Colfax Avenue is the longest continuous road in North America, we host the largest rodeo, the Great Sand Dunes are a national monument considering the 46,000 acre park was created over a million years ago from wind and ocean waters, and we are the only city to turn down an offer to host the Olympics – we did not want the cost or the pollution to damage our beloved Colorado.
But that’s just the beginning. Recent news has only added to our egos because:
We Have Brains:
“America’s Brain Health Index”, a study conducted by the National Center for Creative Aging — ranks Colorado third in the nation for brain health. Researchers examined 21 criteria, including everything from physical and mental health, diet and social well-being.
Coloradans earned their high ranking, the report says, by “taking care of their physical and mental health and maintaining a diet rich in DHA-fortified foods and supplements.”
We Have Jobs:
Denver ranks No. 1 for professional and technical job growth.
Denver is No. 3 — and Colorado is No. 4 — among the top 10 cities and states for job growth, according to an Arizona State University report.
Colorado also ranks No. 1 for the rate of growth of government jobs.
We Have Beer!:
Denver was recently voted as the 2nd best city for beer drinkers. Why? Because we have 154 breweries and lots of hip craft brews, including Denver Beer Co. and Great Divide Brewing. And we host the Great American Beer Festival, one of the largest beer events in the country.
We Have Equity In Our Homes:
A National Association of Realtors report proves that not only is Colorado a great place to live, it’s a great place to buy. The following 10 real estate markets have realized the greatest equity appreciation since the fourth quarter of 2010, due to relatively low prices, low mortgage rates, and investor demand
1. San Jose
2. San Francisco
4. Los Angeles
5. San Diego
9. Cape Coral-Fort Myers
So what does this mean for you? Well – you are smart, happy, employed, beer-loving people who should consider buying your next home! See how I did that?
All jokes aside, the real estate market is healthy and the trend seems to moving in the right direction. When it comes to purchasing or refinancing or even remodeling, investing in Colorado is a sure bet. And we didn’t even need a fancy report to tell us that.
A colleague outside of the real estate business recently asked me if he needed a Realtor when purchasing new construction.
Well – it depends.
If you are the type of person who can cut your own hair, perform your own knee surgery, or fit your own contact lenses, then no.
(And, also, you rock.)
If you are like the other 99.9 percent of the people in the world who happen to be great at some things, but not an expert in all things, then yes. A Realtor, even for a new build, is essential.
Why? Well, a Realtor works for you, not the builder. This means that your needs and wants are the number one priority during negotiation, purchase, construction and final walkthrough. A Realtor is looking out for you. A builder is looking out for the builder – aka: himself.
Here are some added benefits:
If you know where you want to live and the model build you want, you are ahead of the game. If you don’t, a Realtor can offer valuable, unbiased insight on floor plans, finishes, and even plot angles. A Realtor comes to the table with a vast amount of knowledge about the builder’s reputation and can help you avoid costly mistakes and long-lasting headaches.
Using a Realtor will not cost you extra money, but will save you dollars in the end. A Realtor’s commission is paid by the seller – in this case – the builder. But the Realtor is working for you, to protect you from unnecessary upgrades in the beginning and from not getting everything you’ve been promised in the end.
A Realtor has been through the process of buying before (probably dozens, if not hundreds of times). And while this may not be your first home purchase, it is still beneficial to have someone representing you in the transaction. And since you are the one who is spending your hard-earned money and you are the one who is waiting months for a new home and you are the one who is going to live in said home for the next chunk of years, it only benefits you to have someone on your side. Why be the Lone Ranger when you could have Tonto?
Final note: If you are touring a new construction model and the builder may ask you to ‘register’. It’s best to either decline this offer or tell the builder that you are already working with a Realtor and will be returning with him/her at a later date. Builders will always encourage buyers to spend on upgrades, and having a Realtor representing YOU will protect you and your bank account. Negotiating directly with a builder is doable, but not recommended – like cutting your own hair. Performing knee surgery on yourself. Fitting those lenses.
I’ve been in the real estate business for a long time, so you’d think I couldn’t be surprised by anything anymore. Oh my friends — how wrong you are! I am surprised when I see a house with a hot tub in the main living area. I am surprised by cat pictures hanging everywhere. I am surprised that sellers think cooking fish the night before a showing is a good idea.
But the thing I am still most surprised by is the lack of attention even savvy sellers give to the outside of their homes. I’ve had clients de-clutter, paint, and stage their homes in a way that would rival design magazines, yet they’ve overlooked the old doormat out front. The dead plant on the back patio. The screen door that has been attacked by — well — probably those cats who were featured on the walls of that aforementioned home, but I don’t have proof. Cats are very sneaky you know.
Whether you are in the market to sell or just in the market to enjoy pulling into your driveway everyday, curb appeal is, as Martha would say, “a good thing.” And it’s not hard, it doesn’t have to be expensive, and it can change your listed home from a ‘maybe’ to a ‘make an offer’ — really. After all, buyers looking at your home is the equivalent of a first date. Remember first dates? Ah – first dates. You were a little bit nervous. You wanted to look your best. You cleaned yourself up. You put on a little shine. You smiled. You made yourself available for a second glance. You were ON THE MARKET for God’s sake.
Now your house is on the market. Be nice to your house and buy her a new coat of paint for the big (listing) date. Maybe trim the trees a bit, wash the windows, fix the cracks. Better Homes and Gardens offers a list of 20 ways to update your home’s exterior. I am not listing them all because, let’s face it, adding stone veneer probably isn’t on your list of to-dos. But if it IS, check out the full list here and let me know how it goes. In the meantime, try some of these smaller, more manageable projects:
Dress up the front door
Your home’s front entry is the focal point of its curb appeal. Make a statement by giving your front door a blast of color with paint or by installing a custom wood door. Clean off any dirty spots around the knob, and use metal polish on the door fixtures. Your entry should also reflect the home’s interior, so choose a simple swag or wreath that reflects your personal style.
Replace old hardware
House numbers, the entry door lockset, a wall-mounted mailbox, and an overhead light fixture are all elements that can add style and interest to your home’s exterior. If your existing pieces are dated or dingy, your home may not be conveying the aesthetic you think it is. These elements add the most appeal when they function collectively, rather than as mix-and-match pieces. Oiled-bronze finishes suit traditional homes, while brushed nickel suits more contemporary ones.
Create perfect symmetry
Symmetry is not only pleasing to the eye, it’s also the simplest to arrange. Think about it like a necklace with matching earrings. Symmetrical compositions of light fixtures and front-door accents create welcoming entryways.
Create an instant garden
Container gardens add a welcoming feel and colorful appeal to any home exterior — quickly and affordably. You can buy ready-made containers from garden centers or create your own with your favorite plants. For most landscapes, a staggered, asymmetrical arrangement works best to create a dynamic setting.
Do a mailbox makeover
Mailboxes should complement the home and express the homeowner’s personality. When choosing a hanging drop box, pick a box that mirrors your home’s trimmings. Dress up mail boxes by painting the wooden post to match the house’s exterior color, or by surrounding it by a beautiful flowering garden.
Renew planter beds
Get garden beds into shape by pruning growth, pulling weeds, planting flowers, and adding new mulch to restore color that was taken away by sunlight and harsh weather. If stone or brick borders your bed, consider cleaning and resetting any pieces that are soiled or dislodged. If your border is old or tired-looking, try upgrading to stone or a decorative cast-concrete edging system.
Install outdoor lighting
Low-voltage landscape lighting makes a huge impact on your home’s curb appeal while also providing safety and security. Savvy buyers scope out neighborhoods at all times of day. Fixtures can add accent lighting to trees and the house or can illuminate a walking path. If you aren’t able to use lights that require wiring, install solar fixtures (but understand that their light levels are not as bright or as reliable as their wired counterparts).
Replace gutters and downspouts
If your home has an older gutter system, odds are it’s also suffering from peeling paint, rust spots, or other problems that can convey a sense of neglect. Replace old systems with newer, snap-fit vinyl gutter systems that go together with few tools and require no painting. Copper systems, while pricier, convey an unmistakable look of quality.
Dress up the driveway
If your driveway is cracked or stained or has vegetation sprouting from it, you can upgrade it without a complete redo. First, repair the cracks and stains (and kill the weeds), then dress it up by staining the concrete or affixing flagstones. If you need more room to move your car or park, add stone, brick, or pavers to the sides of the drive to widen it with flair.
Please tell me how you have or plan to dress up your house for its next hot date! Visit me on Facebook and share your story.