March 30, 2010
by kimberly reuther
A&E and HGTV still haven’t called, nor have their cameras ever appeared at one of the many properties I “flipped” or rehabbed.
I’ve been at it longer than these stations have existed: buying foreclosed and distressed properties fixing them up, staging them and selling the property for a profit. It did surprise me that someone found flipping real estate to be worthy of a television show until I saw a few of these shows. Suddenly the way I rehabbed felt very boring.
I never removed kitchen cabinets with an axe. In fact I haven’t done any demolition work with an axe. I have never convened with my posse in a large black SUV. I have never gotten in a physical altercation with any of my contractors. But, I have had insects rain on me like a spring storm. I also have encountered smells that are beyond description and scenes that are not suitable for television. So, now you know why the cameras haven’t shown up.
Staging Your Home To Sell and Other Real Estate Investing Tips
Those of you wanting to try your hand at real estate investing should know that if cameras did follow me the show would be very different. Here a few things I’ve done that the cameras may have missed.
My network of friendly competitors and mentors contributes the most to the success of my business. Viewers never see Armando call his mentor when he gets in a bind. I have a feeling his mentor may suggest he not engage in fist fights with contractors.
Take pride in your rehabs, adopt the philosophy “if the job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. We are lucky in the St. Louis area to have such skilled trades, so call your mentors and find out who they recommend. Use ASID designers for staging as well as kitchen and bath design. Use structural engineers. Use Realtors for marketing. Unlike the television shows, my projects go relatively smooth. I owe this to the slew of talented people that help me with my rehabs. If the television experts used professionals they would know that not staging at all is better than bad staging (and axes are for lumberjacks).
Make a Great First Impression.
Great, not good. Good isn’t great enough. My clients are always anxious to hurry and get their projects on the market. Seeing how far a project has come, a client frequently sees it as ready to go. The competition may have started from an entirely different place. That’s why yours must be great. A buyer isn’t going to come back and take a second look if she wasn’t impressed after the first visit. The taping schedule forces TV projects to hold open houses while the paint is still drying or flooring still needs to be laid. Don’t lose your patience at the end and give buyers the impression that you hastily threw the entire project together.
Don’t Get Greedy.
Price your project to sell quickly; there’s no prize for the house that sits on the market the longest. Your first offer could be your only offer, so try to make a deal. Not all projects are winners. You may have to take an offer that makes you pick up your lemons and move on to the next project to make lemonade. After the television show ends you don’t always know what price the property fetched or if it even sold at all. Many investors will turn a rehab project that is not selling into a rental and attempt to sell in a better market. Being a landlord is very different than being a rehabber, but both are very real possibilities.
Don’t Stop Doing What Made You Successful.
Be disciplined to stick to the systems you have refined that have produced the desired results. I suppose the television personalities had to realize some level of success in real estate to attract the attention of producers. Though their television antics are entertaining, I would find it hard to believe that the behavior exhibited is the most profitable and efficient way to rehab houses. If you want to be a successful real estate investor, think of the overall process of rehabbing as a routine elimination of weaknesses. Initially you may not fetch the price you want because you overlooked certain things. But as you learn from your mistakes, you’ll eliminate your weak points, and the end result will be a smooth and efficient rehabbing method that will consistently earn a profit.
If you’re interested in rehabbing, and you have realistic expectations and a good work ethic–give it a try. The risks can be high, but currently there are a lot of properties available and prices have sunk to rock bottom. The prices of large black SUVs have also come down.
Interior Designer Cary Baumann’s company, Cary and Company, LLC, was voted BEST Staging Company by St. Louis AT HOME Magazine.