House Talk: What we’ve learned from flipping houses (so far)

Oh the joys of the ups and downs of the real estate investment life. We live quite a unique everyday lifestyle but to be quite honest, it’s something that we wouldn’t change for a minute. Some may or may not know that we actually live in our flip houses while we renovate them which is a whole new game versus being able to clock out, and leave work to head home at the end of the day. Living in a construction zone has become second nature to us, which is somewhat scary when I really can admit that–but it is what it is. While, there are MANY stressful days involved, as decision on decision is required to be made to get from one project to another, we are so thankful to have landed right where we are, together. We’ve learned so much with each and every home so far that we’ve transitioned and I want to share a few of the things we’ve learned about real estate along the way! Of course, we’re constantly students to this process, so I’ll always be adding more and more to this list, but these are just a few things that have been burned into our brains thus far.

1) Real estate is ever changing, as is the stock market. Literally NO day is the same in any way, shape or form. We never know where we’ll end up after each project, which is sometimes fun–sometimes chaotic. More of second part than the first. But, we feel like it’s always an adventure to say the least. Real estate investments require a lot of risk not only up front, but throughout the entire process from buying to selling. We do a lot of homework on these properties from start to finish, and know that the market is constantly ebbing and flowing in one way or another. While you could say it’s a somewhat “safer” investment to get into real estate investment properties, there is definitely risk involved no matter what as money is tied into each one. You can’t just cross your fingers and hope it works out for the best, you have to really be involved from the beginning to the end and know when and where it’s smart to invest your dollar.

2) There’s a buyer for EVERY home, no matter how long it takes to sell. Also, there are ALWAYS buyers looking to buy homes, no matter the time of year. We’ve had most of our success in January which is quite different than the average “sell in the Spring” that most everyone hears when it comes to selling your home.

3) Return policies are burned into our brains at Lowe’s, Home Depot, At Home, Home Goods, etc. But, always keep your receipt just in case because life tends to happen in between purchases. We know this all too well.

4) Location is EVERYTHING. Seriously it’s everrryyyytthhiiinnnnggg. I can’t stress this enough. Promise me, that you’ll keep this in mind when you’re looking to buy, even if you’re not an investor yourself.

5) Renovating houses is NOT easy and is NOT what you see on HGTV. You have to have an imagination that can see far beyond what’s in front of you at the beginning. For us, it’s not a team of workers that we send into these properties either. It’s just the two of us 95% of the time which is very different than what you’ll see on TV. It takes a lot of work and creativity with early mornings, and late–late nights to get these projects complete. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve found ourselves at Home Depot more than 3x in a day….On the flip side of things-one thing we have really learned from is that you’d be surprised what a can (or 30) of paint can do for a house. It goes a long way. Well, the right color of paint–I should add. (Looking at you, previous pink bedrooms and baths that we’ve had to cover up in the past.)

6) You have to flex your decision making muscles on a daily basis. If you don’t have those muscles, you’ll need to head to the gym plenty of time beforehand. There’s no time to sit on the fence, especially when it comes to making offers and negotiating. There will always be someone that can outbid you or outwork you. ALWAYS.

7) You can’t learn everything overnight. Homeownership is not a walk in the park, no matter how many houses you’ve bought. Literally every single house has had it’s own set of issues that we have had to resolve in one way or another. You can’t predict what will pop up no matter how much you know up front. Saying that, being financially prepared and having good outside help is key when it comes to needing true (and honest) experts. Also, check your references when it comes to hiring out for help. I say this and MEAN IT. We’ve learned the hard way that just because someone “says” they know how to fix something, it’s not always true or the right way.

8) Investing in a good inspector is EVERYTHING. Again….it’s evverryyytthhhiiiinnnggg. While, no, they can’t look behind the walls–they can give you a pretty good indication as to what you’re purchasing. They won’t ever be able to catch everything 100%, but being able to trust their experience is vital. We have used the same inspector since the beginning and he used to build houses himself, so we know he knows what he’s looking at. Don’t ever choose to skip the inspection! —EVER. NEVER. EVER.

9) Quality over quantity every time. You can’t cheap your way through renovating, no matter what you think about saving money to cut corners. There are some things that you just HAVE to pay top dollar for. Whether it bites you in the butt on the front end or the back, it will come back on you when you try to get the cheapest option. You have to understand that you’re renovating a home for someone to LIVE in. If you wouldn’t want to live with the choice of what you’ve bought or put in, why do you think someone else would? As our inspector has told us about other properties, “You can’t paint lipstick on a pig and expect is to pass.” While profit is of course important, doing quality work with quality products is MAJORLY important to us in what we do, no matter what.

10) There won’t ever be a perfect house. There will always be something somewhere in the house that doesn’t sit well with you. So, you can look and look some more but if you’re waiting for a house to check off every single item on your wishlist, you’re likely to never be satisfied. Most things are fixable and re-arrangable so you have to keep that in mind. A little elbow grease and some paint/wood working can go far when it comes to making minor changes to the things that bother you in the house.

So, with that–like I said–these are just a few of the things we’ve been able to take away from flipping/real estate so far. We’ll always be learning new things each project that we work on, and we’re more than okay with that! It’s all apart of the game and we’re ready to play! 😉

I’d say the most common thing I hear is that other people want to get involved in flipping houses, but I’ll be first to tell you that it’s not what you’d think or could even expect when you get into it blindly. It’s ever changing and growing us and I’m sure in 10 years, this list will look completely different! But, we wouldn’t have it any other way! Bring on more projects, more homes and more “afters”!

I hope you guys have a fantastic Thursday!

PS You’ve basically made it to Friday at this point, so I say go for it and celebrate! 🙂

Questions for YOU today: (Comment below with your thoughts!)

Are you a homeowner? If so, what’s a big lesson you’ve learned so far in the process?

What’s the most important room in your house?

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

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