We started flipping houses for a living in 2002. That was long before the days of reality flipping shows and when the Thomas Guide was our navigation system (if you aren’t familiar with, see below). We kind of fell into flipping houses naturally. My husband and I were desperate to purchase our first home and the only houses available at the time were ones in need of repair. We thought that there was no way we could buy a house and then make the changes we wanted, so we kept passing on most of the houses we looked at. It was such a letdown and we sat cramped in our two-bedroom apartment with two kids for the next year.
One Sunday morning we were reading through the paper (one of our favorite things to do each morning was to grab the classified section and look at the “Homes for Sale” section. This was long before the days when you could just pop on our computer. This was good old-fashioned black and white ink that rubbed off on your fingers. Anyways, you get it...it was basically like the stone age compared to how accessible all this information is now.
There was this one listing that stuck out that read, “VIEW! VIEW! VIEW! All for under $399,000”. So, we packed up the kids and headed to the open house. It was terrible. The house was built in 1976, there was a weird odor coming from the basement, it had no yard, roof was a wreck and you couldn’t get into the house through the garage. I was disappointed, but my husband turned to me and said, “this is it!” His enthusiasm for this house shocked me as it needed to be gutted, and I didn’t even know what that meant. I had no idea you could actually just take everything out and start over. It was really the VIEW that sold my husband on this house…it truly had a beautiful view overlooking a blueberry farm and it faced east so the morning sunrises were going to be amazing. Needless to say, we bought the house (for $343,000) and that’s really where our story began.
Home Depot…the only hardware store at the time where you could walk in and have everything you need under one roof to completely renovate your home. We literally lived at this place. So much so, that my hubby waved to the employees every time and they called him by name.
Long story short, we were hooked. We found a contractor to help do some of the work and I tried my hand at design. It was really bad, I think I was still stuck in the 90’s because I gravitated towards an all-white kitchen (melamine) with black 12x12 squares of granite tile for the countertops. We didn’t even have a backsplash, heck, I didn’t even know what a backsplash was or why someone would need one. My poor husband worked every day on that house painting the rooms, tearing out tile, ripping out landscaping and making deals with vendors. We were approaching our budget’s end and had to make sure we were going to be able to finish the house.
Weeks turned into months and by then the basement had flooded (who knew that as a buyer a sewer scope is something that you should definitely invest in as part of your inspection…apparently… not two young first-time homebuyer back in 2001). We had definitely bit off more than we could chew, but we were seeing the results of our renovation and we were more excited than we were discouraged. On we went until we were done and happily furnishing the place.
WOW! Was it amazing. (at least for 2001…I mean who doesn’t love river rock?!) We ended up living there for another year before we came across another home in the neighborhood and decided we wanted to do it all over again. We called our real estate broker and he sold our house for $525,000. We quickly did the math. After spending $40,000 on the remodel, the profit wasn’t too shabby. We came to realize that we had fallen into something we both enjoyed doing that could become our new career. I ended up getting my real estate license and the husband set out to conquer the flipping world.
The hubby joined a “Foreclosure Group” in our city and began attending weekly meetings. In these meetings, each member was given a huge stack of papers (like the size of an encyclopedia, all volumes) it held the property profiles of all the homes that were in foreclosure that week and we would then have to decide which ones looked interesting and go drive them (using that handy Thomas Guide book). The first house we ever “won” at auction ended up costing us more than we made. And, my husband swears it was haunted. Like, legitimately. We had the entire crew leave the house and refuse to work there because they thought it had a ghost living in it. It didn’t help that the neighborhood was called Phantom Lake, either. We had to find a new crew to finish the job and the house went into the red very quickly at that point.
We had no idea what we were doing and wished that we had never been the highest bidders on this house. Through trial and error, we learned to never over-pay for a home just because we wanted to be the “winner”.
Don’t overpay, know your numbers and stick to them.
Not all houses are winners.
You don’t always have to win.
You make your money in the buy.
Work with people you trust.
Put together a good crew.
Home Depot really does have everything, to this day.
Beige is beautiful (just ask our first house).
Let’s praise the people who invented the GPS.
And, please don’t ever use granite tiles for your kitchen countertops…EVER! If you have doubts here is that kitchen (ca.2001) WHAT is that flooring we picked out!
Times have changed since we first created this kitchen and our design have evolved…But, this is where we began and we are humbled and grateful for all the wonderful family meals we made here! Onward & Upward.
Here is a photo of one of our most recent and favorite kitchens! We have obviously come a long way!