Friday, April 19, 2013

Lessons Learned From TV House Flippers


New HGTV Show “Flip or Flop” Premiered This Week 


First off, the show “Flip or Flop” opens up with scenes from coastal Orange County, Calif. so already viewers feel like they’re going to be privy to a soap opera. Enter a beautiful young couple dabbling in the business of buying and renovating houses for a profit, a practice known as “flipping.” It’s the perfect setting with likeable characters and lots of house flippin’ drama!

But the show can also be a great learning experience for those considering a home renovation or buying a home they plan to renovate for their own use.

Condensed into a 30-minute show, each home renovation goes through the typical highs and lows. The debut show opened with the couple teaming up to check out the house they want to buy at a government auction and heading to the auction without a minute to spare - and without seeing the indoors or backyard of the home they want to buy. After winning the auction during competitive bidding, the new owners make their first thorough inspection and discover the home is trashed, has illegal additions and features a pool that’s become a musty swamp for tadpoles. Their initial estimate of a $25,000 renovation soon turns into more than $70,000, threatening to wipe out any profit.

“This is a nightmare!” the new owner exclaims at one point in frustration. “This house is a disaster.”

Lessons learned:


1. Don’t buy a nightmare house! You should seriously consider how much money, time and energy you want to invest in a house loaded with problems. Remember that a reputable contractor can help you determine the cost and scope of a total renovation. They can walk you through existing and potential problems and tell you how they would tackle these.

2. Do consider buying a lower priced property that needs a renovation but could become the perfect home for you with the right fixes. Sometimes, it is better to buy a home that needs a renovation rather than buying a higher-priced home that does not need a renovation, but doesn’t fit your likes or needs.

3. Carefully consider your renovation and design choices and make sure you know what you want before it’s too late to make changes. You could get stuck with something you hate. In a second episode of “Flip or Flop,” the couple chooses a new paint color for the exterior of the home based on a few brushstrokes of paint samples that they paint themselves. After the whole house is professionally painted, the couple then stands in front of the house, looking agape at the unappealing muddy brown they chose. They had thought it would be lighter. They end up spending an additional $2,000 to have the house professionally painted a different, lighter color.

4. Admit that there are areas where you are clueless and need the advice of a professional. The “Flip or Flop” couple hired a home designer who helped them envision how structural changes could modernize a home.

5. Take a chance on a home that may be less than perfect. The “Flip or Flop” couple ended up in the black (we won’t say by how much) in both of the first episodes, but the renovation process for both houses was quite patchy at times. Best of all, both homes found buyers who were thrilled with their newly renovated home.

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