Networking 101

Networking.
Almost nothing scares a recent graduate or a young professional more than the concept of networking, of breaking into or starting a conversation with a complete stranger “with an agenda”. Professors don’t explain this in college, but there’s almost nothing more important to a budding (or practicing) design professional than networking. Looking back on twenty years, I’ve come to realize that having a good network was maybe the single most important thing I could ever have been, should ever have been, working on. As many of you have I’m sure, I’ve witnessed talented graduates languish unwanted, and watched experienced designers, project managers, and specification writers find themselves suddenly unemployed due to sudden changes in the market or the economy at large.

Not viscerally understanding the importance of, and the practiced skills involved with, building quality professional relationships is a serious flaw in design education and maybe just education in general. For a number of reasons, we have become more focused on the final product and the time and technology involved, than we have on the relationships necessary to first acquire and then execute it. With a broad and diverse network, a person can more effectively connect with potential employers and clientele, find better services and consultants, learn about new products and methods, meet kindred design spirits, and find complementary working associates. These connections individually and collectively are opportunities for “lucky” coincidences to happen, and when added to skill makes for a powerful combination that almost inevitably leads to success. Indeed, success is not an accident, it is a combination of intentional actions fortuitously combined with chance opportunity. Networking is simply intentionally building that web of opportunity, and the more strands you have the more likely you are to catch something.

How does a person “network”? Get to know people…lots of people…all sorts of people. Get to know them in meaningful ways by having real conversations about real topics, i.e. build relationships. As with any relationships, personal or professional, they must be built on sincerity and trust, involve risk, and they take time, patience, and skill to first establish and then maintain them.

Don’t sweat proper technique. Be yourself.

Sincerity.
Be the genuine you, not some schmoozing character you play when professionally socializing. Learning who you really are (what you want and need, strengths and weaknesses, etc.) takes time to fully understand, and it’s a work in perpetual progress. Likewise, accept others for who they are; people just like you with needs and wants, goals and ideas, skills and talents, flaws and beliefs that may differ from yours (and viva la difference). Coming from a place that isn’t true to you is deceitful, and while there are those that are good at misrepresentation and even successfully benefit from such behavior, it is still a lie and almost guaranteed to get you into big trouble.

Trust.
In order to speak of trust, let me speak of sales, which is often seen as synonymous with networking. As human beings we are “selling” all the time- it’s a natural part of interpersonal communication. However, “sales” taken literally, is persuasion with an expectation of getting somebody to buy something, be it an idea or a product or a service. It’s a slippery slope from persuasion to coercion, from choice to force, from dialogue to diatribe. Consider the classic “used car salesman”, whose task it is to quickly move product regardless of the point of view of the buyer which leads to an immediate breech of trust, compromising the new relationship before it even begins. By contrast, a good salesman patiently speaks as well as listens, teaches as well as learns, in an open and fluid conversation accepting of the idea that the available product (or service) may not even be appropriate. In so doing, trust is earned and a natural relationship (two people relating to one another) builds, in both the short and long term, setting the stage for future business well beyond the limits of the initial two-party relationship.

Give and Take.
A natural and necessary part of relationship is risk. In order to gain, you must give, and to give is to risk; rejection, failure, ridicule, even being taken advantage of. Volunteer and get involved, in the conversation and the action. And for maximum effect, make sure to go outside your comfort zone and traditional circles, although those are good too, especially at the early stages. Get out there and offer up what you have (time, skill, and passion), that which you are comfortable with laying out there for others to benefit from. And you will find others will do the same for you (resources, connections, wisdom). There is no hurry, just pay attention and listen at first and then speak when you’re ready. You can give more and risk more as you develop your understanding of self, the profession, and the world at large. Understand that the rewards will grow as you risk more, and give more, but no risk, no reward.

Patience and Time.
Note that there was a critical difference between the two sample salesmen above and it has to do with the investment of time and patience or the lack thereof. One has a “time is money” approach; the salesman’s time is critical and the buyer’s time is irrelevant. Their purpose is to promote the pretense of respect, building just enough trust in the relationship to complete a sale before moving on. The more successful salesman respects the time of all involved, allowing the necessary conversation to happen and thus the relationship to sincerely build, not pushing but pulling. The sale is a goal but it is only a potential byproduct of the relationship. Building quality relationships takes time, so be patient and don’t impose any expectation beyond that of establishing a good relationship. Depending on the situation, numerous encounters under a variety of circumstances may be necessary for the right moment to occur and the “magic” to happen, but never force it or lose it forever. To go in expecting more is to set the stage for disappointment and failure.

 

Effort.
Networking isn’t easy, but nothing worth anything is. Are there those naturally talented at it? Sure, but for most it’s an acquired skill, and as with all skills- practice, practice, practice. Extroverts are naturally comfortable with others, which inevitably results in more experience (effort) but not necessarily more talent (gift). It’s a practiced art to be able to meaningfully converse with others, to guide conversation in productive directions in a manner that isn’t uncomfortable, unclear, or unnecessarily time consuming. You won’t be good at it right away and that’s okay, but with time you’ll learn your voice and you’ll learn how to listen, to think on your feet, to see the hint of opportunity, and to paint a beautiful and fruitful conversation.

So, to all those in the design profession or just entering it, to those practicing and those currently unemployed, I sincerely hope this helps. Frankly, I’m still sorting it all out myself. Yes, there are technological tools that make parts of the networking process easier (initial contact, following up, etc.), but they are just tools and do not replace the need for a personal investment. You can use LinkedIn, FaceBook, and Twitter, but the real networking, the real relationship building happens face to face with both feet in the water, your “self” at risk. There’s no way around it. There are no shortcuts. And there is no substitute. So, get started now and prepare to reap the rewards for a lifetime.

Is this all a shameless plug for DesignSpeak? I’ll admit it gladly. Networking is a big part of why it was conceived. But while networking is an important job unto itself, it should also be and is a lot of fun. So, in hopes that you’ll start your network or just expand it, see you soon.

Color Scheme 101: When to Select Paint Colors by Kimberly Reuther

One of the first thing most of my clients ask for is help in selecting paint colors for their home.  As anyone who has painted the same room several times over can attest, finding the right color is tricky!  It makes sense to call in a professional and we’re happy to jump in!

However, choosing a paint color for your walls is actually the last thing in a long process of determining finishes and materials that will go in your space.

What?  A good majority of people think just the opposite.  Since, paint is relatively inexpensive and easy to do yourself, most choose this route as a weekend project.  I had a part time job a few years ago at a retail bedding/furniture store.  So many people would come in with a paint swatch and tell me how much they loved their new bedroom color.  However, they had been searching for 6 months trying to find bedding to match.

There are hundreds of thousands of paint colors, so starting with a paint color is kind of a backward approach.  You will find that it is easier to select a color from an object you already have, such as bedding or an area rug.

My advice is to start with an overall color palette for your home so that it all “flows” together.

Here are the key steps in selecting a color palette:

1.  Find an inspiration for your color scheme.  It could be nature, an area rug, an article of clothing, a piece of art, or a room you saw in a magazine.  Use it as a jumping off place to pull together a few colors you love.  I always find it helps to pull a bunch of fabrics and textures.  Consider elements you cannot change such as existing wallpaper or fabrics in your scheme.

2.  Create a color board to help you with the selection process. Choose finishes/materials with the least amount of options first (ie. cabinets, countertops, furniture).  This will help you narrow down so many choices.

3.  Consider the amount of each color you want to incorporate into your space.  Some rooms may be more saturated than others.  You may choose to eliminate one color entirely from a room in order to let it stand out in another space.  As you pull together your options, you see which colors naturally makes sense as wall colors.  If your original choices didn’t work, you can now revisit paint colors specifically for your walls.  It is often helpful to get large paint swatches and tape them up on the walls so you can see them in different lighting.

4.  Now that the walls are chosen, you can bring in the other elements to pull the whole scheme together.  Accent colors play a big role in your overall scheme.  Notice the deep colors of the art and accessories that tie back to our original paint palette scheme.

This was previously published on AT HOME’s website.  View the original post here.  You can view more of Kimberly’s work here.

ST. LOUIS “GREEN” – PART ONE; WHAT SHADE OF “GREEN” ARE YOU?

by Derek Maschek (MASCHEK design and fabrication, LLC)
MASCHEKd@MASCHEKdf.com

The problem; how to create a cost effective “green” home (or any other building) in the St. Louis area, and this includes renovating an existing building as well. This is ground that has been tread aplenty in recent years, and yet remains ambiguous to many home owners and professionals alike for some reason. I hope to simplify and clarify what seems to be an unnecessarily complicated and confusing topic, saving time and effort while hopefully helping to avoid predicable disappointments. As usual, there are caveats (i.e. “it depends”) that can complicate things again, but I think the overall strategy for accomplishing a cost effective “green” home is really pretty simple and straightforward, as it should be. Then again, I have a fairly practical view of the topic, not that I don’t love my trees. But if you are in the Show Me state, seems to make sense to me, to…well, show that it makes sense.

The first thing we need to do is clarify what it means to be “green”. This is an unclear and emotionally charged term, often meaning different things to different people. All the nuanced meanings are related conceptually, but are critically different when discussed and applied in reality.

Many professionals prefer “sustainable”; meeting immediate needs without jeopardizing a future ability to do so. I personal love this term, but it is a VERY high bar to truly accomplish, maybe more of an ideal than a reality. To truly be sustainable, a residence would not only need to be completely independent of any services (domestic water, sewer, non-renewable energy), it would need to give back in order to recoup losses used to construct the building.

Those more concerned with environment than return on investment (ROI) might prefer “ecological”; environmentally friendly in a “living building” sort of way. Look into the Living Building Challenge for more info on this, but prepare yourself for a college PHD-level exercise in research and calculations. This is just out of the realm of possibility for most people and businesses, but cheers to those that attempt it. We love you for you zeal and shall sing your praises to the heavens.

Those less concerned with the environment but are more focused on a quantifiable ROI prefer “high-performance”; basically meaning energy efficient. This is a great term, used more by engineers, builders, and product representatives that sell energy efficient systems. But because of the practical and simplistic nature of it, it is probably also the most befitting my approach. My only regret is its limitation in that it excludes environmental concerns beyond those directly related to energy consumption. To me, that misses the bigger picture of what it means to be “green”, and so I find it wanting.

I prefer to just say “smart”. It’s a better way of designing and building, with numerous benefits over conventional methods, both economic and environmental, and anybody can take this as far as they want to with more or less zeal. Who doesn’t want to build smart after all?! Every situation and client is unique with different wants and needs, opportunities and restrictions. Done right, it’s actually cheaper than conventional construction methods initially and performs better over the long haul to boot, regardless of location. And feel free to throw in as many of the environmentally beneficial products you feel are appropriate, and get a little warm and fuzzy along with the cost-balancing stuff.

In order to determine which variant of “green” is best for you, answer a simple question; is your priority economic or environmental? Most want a balance of the two of course, but only one can and always does prevail. I usually hear something like “we want to be as environmentally responsible as we can afford to be”, which to date has always translated to an economic priority. It is the very rare committed few that pursue “green” driven by environmental altruism, although God bless them and I hope to work with one some day.

Now, I’m begging you to please, please, please be honest with yourself. Your answer is the foundation of an entire design and construction process. Some call it “concept” or your “level of commitment”. Regardless, if it is not addressed truthfully, expect disappointment and frustration, and in all likelihood wasted time and money for all involved.

While I discuss both aspects in this series, there’s definitely an economic priority to my input as that seems to be the usual driving force behind any “green” project I’ve been involved with. Frankly it’s just less messy overall, more easily explained and understood, and filled with less ambiguity. Don’t feel guilty for not being primarily environmentally motivated, as we live in a real world with real limitations. Designing smart is still environmentally conscious, it just acknowledges and embraces the cost-benefit equation.

PART TWO (COMING SOON); THE PROGRAM

Prepare yourself by reading my blog on Designing Small is Designing Smart.

great clients = great projects by derek maschek

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater Masterpiece

As I get ready to do something I’ve never done before (to “blog”), I’ve been pondering what exactly I will be talking about. Let’s face it, blogging is just editorializing, talking about stuff that could be anything from pure opinion to well researched short topics. It’s conversational, topical, ideally informative, and preferably entertaining. One topic continues to rise to the top as an item of critical importance to those of us in the design service profession; the client.

Clients are critical, for without them we literally have nothing to do. Even if we’re designing our own dream homes, some theoretical super “green” high rise, or even a floating city as a movie set, there is a client involved. This client may be imaginary, but there is still a list of wants, needs, and limitations that make up the foundation of the problem that any project proposes to solve. Design professionals are in the end, just problem solvers, so no problem, no solution.

What I’ve come to really appreciate about great architecture, and all its design cousins, is that the resulting physical thing (the answer), while attractive and meaningful, is servant to the problem statement, the question being asked. This question is the foundation of the project, and it lives in the mind of the client, although it is the job of the design professional is to help discover it truly and describe it thoroughly. This is a collaborative process where the design professional is critical, but where a forthright, cooperative, patient, and trusting client is invaluable. Without the client fully embracing their role, their responsibility in this partnership, the designer is limited to making it up and mailing it in.

Fallingwater Interior

As I want to salute and define what it means to be a great client, let’s assume a talented, experienced, and thoughtful design professional is on board. I’ll talk about design process in the future, defining what the differences are between bad, average, and great design professionals.

A great client is an active partner in a process of problem discovery, willing to accept that the initial problem statement may be partially or even completely wrong. “I need a two storey addition on my house because I need a master suite and new kitchen, and it should be built on the back right here.” It’s a great place to start, a very necessary step, but what should happen next is a lengthy and thoughtful process of understanding what is and what needs to be, as well as what limitations and opportunities exist that will impact the project. Afterwards, we may learn that an addition wasn’t necessary at all in order to accomplish a renovated kitchen and a basement master suite.

As we all know, time is money, and thinking takes time. Particular in tough economic times (now), with tight budgets (usually), or with challenging schedules (often) this phase is often truncated or eliminated in order to expedite the next phase (design and documentation). While understandable on the surface, does it make sense to rush into battle without some understanding of your enemy, the field, the weaponry available on both sides, and then of course the role of this battle in the bigger war? It is critical to think before leaping, and that takes time. To inadequately plan is to just roar your battle cry and go charging down the hill and hope for the best. Almost any professional will keep a client out of harm’s way, giving you something safe and functional, something adequate. But such thinking does not make for great projects.

Fallingwater Exterior

A great client also trusts the design professional and the discovery process. If there is no trust, the whole design process is irrevocably broken and the result will be mediocre at best. Trust does not mean being led by the nose or letting the professional have their way. It means allowing the process to work, for questions and answers to flow, and then questioning answers, even when they seem obvious. Depending on the complexity of the project, there could be numerous formal rounds of this, although truly the questions never cease to come until the project is built.

Lastly, a great client is a thinking client, one that challenges their design professional and is willing, even asking, to be challenged themselves. For the process to work best, all parties involved need to be offering up their best, while insisting that their partners are doing the same. You would be surprised how opportunities are uncovered and obstacles are hurdled by honest and thorough collaborative deliberation.

So, what makes for a great client? Time and Patience. Trust. Thoughtfulness.

Done properly, this process results in projects exceeding expectations. You’ll see I’ve included images of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. This is the first time I remember learning of a project achieving such awe inspiring timelessness because a client offered an inconceivable amount of patience and trust to the architect. The client wanted a vacation home that celebrated their family’s favorite swimming and picnicking spot, and trusted Mr. Wright to give it to them while they vacationed abroad. What they got was totally unexpected and completely restated the original problem statement. Their house was built over, on, and around their favorite spot. Their house became their favorite spot.

Fallingwater Exterior

Fallingwater Interior

To read more of the history of Fallingwater, please visit the website.

Please contact Derek via email for more info or questions about a specific project. 

it’s time to “speak” up!

Whether you are building your retirement portfolio or training for your first marathon, you may search for advice online but ultimately you covet a face-to-face experience with a professional.  When it comes to tackling a home remodeling project, however, homeowners often don’t know where to get the information needed to ensure their project’s success.  Searching for advice online usually results in more confusion and frustration.  Where are all the design professionals when you really need them?

That’s where DesignSpeak comes in!  We’re here to help you connect with the many talented individuals residing in St. Louis.  Our goal is to demystify the design process in a fun and unintimidating way!

One such approach is our annual “ispeak” cocktail party, which is being held this year on the rooftop of Park Pacific boasting beautiful architecture and sweeping views of the city. Interior designers, trade professionals, design students and homeowners are invited to meet and mingle in keeping with the concept of “speaking about design.”

This is an amazing opportunity for you, the homeowner, to toss your most pressing questions in DesignSpeak’s proverbial lap.  We welcome your dilemmas so that we can give you the best possible solutions!

“What do your spaces say to you?”  “What’s your greatest design challenge?”

We are excited to have your participation in this engaging event!  Attendees will be visiting stations detailing our upcoming events and view cutting-edge products followed by a lively mini-presentation inspired by the principles of design.

Join the movement to make your voice heard on September 21. The cost of the event is $25 for homeowners, which includes an open bar, hors d’oeuvres and a bonus one year membership to DesignSpeak.

To learn more, view the constant contact invitation here or contact kimberly@designspeakstl.com for details.

 

 

how to prepare for your home design or renovation project by paige gilbertson

Define your environment

Spend some quality time assessing how you live in your home, not just the space you are looking to renovate. Good designers weigh how the layout, traffic patterns and needs of your lifestyle balance with the functionality of your home. How does the layout of your space psychologically affect your emotional well-being and life? More than you may realize. It’s hard to identify those trouble spots without spending some time analyzing all areas in the home.

Exercise

Start by listing your general wishes for the house (a fully functional office, room to entertain friends, an inviting outdoor space, storage for your Boston Terrier figurine collection.) Just brainstorm, don’t think too hard or try to limit your ideas. Next list adjectives you want associated with your space (calming, inspiring, themed, glamorous, rustic, ethnic, urban, sleek, etc.)

Frequently, clients think they can’t have it all, but more often than not, design professionals are able to incorporate all their client’s wishes by thinking a little outside the box!

Scope of Project

This is a term you will hear the professionals using time and time again. Once you decide exactly what your project will be, you need to set some parameters. To define your scope of project you need to, not only answer the questions in the exercise below, but expand upon them into as much detail as you can. It’s like having a business plan: the more detailed you can be, the clearer your vision will be and the better your chances are of having a good experience and successful renovation.

Answer these questions with as many specifics about your expectations

  • What is my timeframe?
  • Do I need to hire a professional? (interior designer, architect, general contractor, project manager) See article Who are these people?! And what do they do?
  • What is my budget maximum?
  • What vendors do I have in mind for materials?

Do your style homework

Frequently, when meeting with clients, it becomes a designer’s job to be an interpreter, to read between the lines. Clients will show the designer pictures from magazines that exemplify what they believe to be their ideal look for the room. Sometimes it’s just the color scheme, the furniture arrangement or texture story that really speak to you. It’s very important to look critically at what you do and don’t like about photographed rooms to hone your vision and get exactly what you truly want.

Exercise

Read design magazines, blogs and websites to find out more about what’s going on in the design world. Tear pictures out of magazines. Try to define what about each picture catches your eye. Is it the light, bright airy feeling, is it the furniture arrangement, is it the fabric and rug textures, or could it simply be the wall color? Get a binder and put those inspiring pictures together, jot down your thoughts about each room on a post-it affixed to each page. This will help hone your vision and give your project more focus. Create floorplans

Create floorplans

Don’t want to waste time and money? Smart designers start their physical design process right here: with floorplans. After defining your desires for the space, it’s time to get down to the dirty business of laying out that idea. Retail furniture stores like Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel can help you get ideas on various furniture arrangement possibilities just by visiting and looking at their how they display their floor models in settings.

Exercise

Go to an art store, like Dick Blick or ArtMart here in St. Louis, and grab a packet of ¼” scale graph paper and a ¼” scale furniture template (only a couple bucks!) Sit down and map out your room. Pencil in a couple different arrangements to see what may or may not work. It helps to sketch the room out once and make some photocopies of just the walls and doors so you can try out many different plan ideas. One idea should stand out as a natural arrangement. Before completely committing to your space plan, lay out newspaper on your floor to make sure the footprints of the items you are selecting will indeed work.

Some general spacing considerations:

12-18” between sofas and coffee tables or ottomans

3-4” between upholstery and side tables

24”+ for traffic paths (wheelchairs need 36”)

36”+ between dining chairs and walls

Budgeting & Materials Research

Building on the previous step, creating floor plans, you now have an idea of what items to budget and research for your project! Go out to shops, look in magazines and check out websites of retailers to get an expectation of what the components of your project will cost. Above all, do not forget to include LABOR, this can easily double the cost of a project.

Exercise

Create an Excel spreadsheet that lists all items you will need to purchase (see our sample budget spreadsheet) to obtain a clearer picture of your total cost.

Some tips regarding budgeting and materials research

  • Be realistic–those lamps you love…$1800 each? Clip a picture for your designer or lighting showroom salesman, they can probably find something similar in your price range.
  • Don’t forget all those incidentals-they can really add up (curtain rods, rug pads, chocolate silk shades for your chandelier that was purchased with cream silk shades.)
  • Delivery costs can add as much as 20%, so be sure you are factoring in those figures.

how do designers charge? by paige gilbertson

Designers’ fee schedules work in all sorts of manners and many designers use different pricing schematics based on what type of design work they will be doing on a particular project. Here are the most common ways in which designers bill for their services:

Retainer

Retainers are usually employed for any type of design project that is not consultation based. This retainer is agreed upon by the designer and the client and usually is set up to cover the designer’s and designer’s employees time in preparing the initial design plan. Retainers are used in conjunction with other fees listed below.

Fee Based

After the scope of work is defined, the designer or firm will submit a proposal to the client. This is a set price that is to be paid incrementally throughout the lifespan of the project, typically monthly or at set milestones in the project (deliveries, construction completion.) The firm determines their fee based on several factors: projected employee hours, costs, square footage and other factors. This can be dangerous if the project is under-estimated.

Square Foot Based

Same as fee based, but price is set only by square footage, no other factors.

Hourly

Depending on the designer’s education, experience, skill level and where you are located in the nation, an hourly fee can fluctuate from $50-$500+/hour. Hourly fees are usually charged when the services are largely consulting in nature, and on an as-needed basis (selecting paint colors, rendering floor plans, product selection.) This method is most popular with independent designers not associated with a firm.

Cost-Plus

The designer plans and executes design of the space. The client purchases furniture and accessories from the designer directly and the client pays the item cost (design net price) plus (markup percentage.)

Hour and Cost-Plus

Hourly fees are paid for consulting services, budgeting and client meetings. Then any items procured through the designer are handled cost-plus.

 

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.

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