Guest Post: 5 Things You Won’t Learn From Cable TV by Cary Baumann

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.

Get Mentors.
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.

Use Professionals.
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.

The Healthy Abode: Paint by Melanie Holden

Happy spring everyone! How wonderful it is to throw open those windows and ventilate all of the stale indoor winter air. Love it! Fresh air brings a renewed energy to the soul. With the anticipation of flowers blooming and the earth coming out of hibernation, lets talk color to give that renewed energy a jump-start. Winter can get so drab with the long nights and lack of daytime sun. Thankfully, the days are getting longer and the Missouri Botanical Gardens helps ease the winter blues with their annual orchid show to help brighten those dreary days. I love gathering inspiration from the delicate and breathtaking display and translating it into colors and décor in my clients’ homes and businesses.

spring flowers

Before the weather gets too gorgeous that you’ll be enjoying it outdoors, you may want to consider painting a room or two in your home. Paint can be one of the quickest, most inexpensive ways to make an enormous impact on a space. Whether you hire a professional painter, or you’re a do-it-yourselfer, please don’t cheap out on the paint! Why not? You’re probably wondering why splurge for the pricier brands when you could get a similar look with a cheap one. Though I’m partial to the selections from Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, and Yolo Colorhouse, I’ll admit that almost every brand of paint has some pretty colors. However, the lesser quality paints or stains will not likely cover in the same way as a superior mixture so you’ll likely have to use more to get the coverage required and it may not be as lustrous a finish. So, what are you really saving if you have to purchase more to get results that are not as desirable as the alternative? Nada!


As a tag note, please make sure that you are making a wise choice with the color. The color you choose for a space can even influence the disposition of the occupants within that space. We’ll need to talk color psychology one of these days to dig into just how much of an impact color can possess over your mood – footnote for a later date… But back to today –don’t be afraid to experiment. If color is not your forte or if you are uncertain about your selection, I encourage you to hire a designer that you trust for an hour or two to give his or her 2 cents. Investing in a professional opinion will save you time and money in the long run. Wouldn’t you prefer to go through this just once anyway?


So, what else can you do to be responsible with your paint selection? Let’s talk about the VOC thing. VOCs (or volatile organic compounds) are air pollutants that evaporate effortlessly at room temperature and contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer (greenhouse gases), smog, and poor indoor air quality. Paints and stains are among the leading indoor air toxins. It’s no surprise that most finishes are jam-packed with nasty VOCs that threaten your family’s health until fully off-gassed. According to the EPA, polluted indoor air is among the top 5 hazards to human health. Why in the world would you want to introduce more pollutants into your home if you didn’t have to?
Until recently, VOCs were essential to the performance of paint. Paint of some sort, even if it’s a simple shade of white, is essential in most spaces. Thanks to research and technology, you now have some wonderful options for paint with very low amounts of VOCs or no VOCs at all! Most zero-VOC paints can be mixed into any color, though you sometimes may be limited when using very deep colors.

sitting area

Sherwin William’s GreenGuard-certified, zero-VOC interior paint line, Harmony, is one of my favorite go-to products when specifying paint for a client. Benjamin Moore’s Natura line is another great option. Both are available as a durable primer or top-coat paint in a variety of sheens. Other great resources for VOC-free paints include Green Seal-certified Yolo Colorhouse, Green Planet Paints, American Pride, and Safecoat (just to name a few). Soy-based Green Planet Paints even takes an additional stride by completely eliminating Petroleum from their paints, a step that further reduces the environmental impact associated with manufacturing paint. These products are a little pricier than their smellier counterparts, but what is your family’s health worth? What about the atmosphere around you?
Thanks to this technology, we don’t ever have to go back to the days of chemical headaches and that awful paint hangover feeling the day after painting a room.

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