How Much We Made On Our First Flip

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Anyone who’s watched their share of HGTV knows that flipping houses is a risky business that can have a big reward. So how did we do with our first flip? I’ve avoided discussing the financial aspects of this venture for fear of seeming tacky, but I realize it’s one of the details people are most curious about (not to mention the numbers are right there on Zillow). So here it is: the nitty gritty on our first renovation project.

We bought the house in December 2015 for $102,500. At the time, the house was priced on the high side for its condition—livable, but in need of a complete renovation to bring it up to date. Similar houses in the neighborhood were going for under $100K, but most were being snatched up by cash buyers within a day or two of hitting the MLS. So we raised our budget slightly and snagged the Griffin house.

Our then-realtor (whom we have since parted ways with) estimated that we could renovate the house for about $40,000. Renovated houses in the area were selling for about $200,000, so we felt safe with the investment potential—especially given that our contractor assured us he’d be done within six weeks.

Well, six months passed, and it became obvious that our original budget was unrealistic for the quality of work we wanted to do. We gutted the kitchen and two bathrooms, added a new master bath, refinished the floors, updated the electrical and plumbing, added HVAC, did work on the roof, and a bunch of other stuff. Our final tally was around $75,000.

We grew anxious as our costs increased, but at the same time, housing prices in the neighborhood were rising as well, including one house two doors down that sold for over $300,000. We crossed our fingers and hoped the trend would continue, but the market took a bit of a dip just in time for our July completion date—summer doldrums are no joke in the real estate world. Still, things were better than when we started, and we listed the house for $265,000. After a few weeks with no bites, we lowered the price to $259,500, and a few weeks later we sold it for $256,500.

So the final tally is:

Purchase price: $102,500

Renovation costs: $75,000 (ish)

Sales price: $256,500 (- ~$5,000 toward closing costs)

Realtor fees (6 percent of sales price): $15,390

Taxes (approx. 20 percent of profit—still waiting for final numbers) & Fees ($3000ish in interest): $20,000ish

Total earnings: $38,610

We put a lot of hard work and time into this renovation, but it was worth it—we were very happy with the results. We also learned a lot, and I think we can shave down our renovation costs in the future, and maybe be more strategic about when we go to market—and how we work with our contractors. We’re definitely planning to do another renovation project in the near future. In fact, we’re currently under contract with another house in the neighborhood. Stay tuned for all the nitty gritty on our next renovation!

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A Bath Renovation for Under $1000

It’s been a few months since we wrapped up our first renovation project, and we’re happy to report that the house sold within a few weeks! Since then, we’ve been busy adjusting to life with a newborn, but that hasn’t stopped us from working on our own house between naps, feedings, and diaper changes.

The upstairs bathroom has always been one of our least favorite rooms in the house, with builder-grade beige tiles and cheap light fixtures, a particleboard vanity, and a drab paint job. We’ve considered hiring someone to update both of our bathrooms at the same time, while adding a third master (more on that later), but in a fit of DIY inspiration, we decided to do it ourselves.

The project is still underway, but we wanted to share our plans before the big reveal. We’ll include the final numbers in the next post, but here’s a peek at what we’re up to:

Budget Bath Update

 

Neighborhood News: The Future of Brookland Park Boulevard

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via Betty Clicker Photography

Richmond BizSense recently published an article on Brookland Park Boulevard, the historic retail corridor that happens to be a block away from the Griffin House. While the strip has been largely neglected for the last few years, it doesn’t take too much imagination to see what it’s likely to become—and this article is proof of that. Here’s what the owner of Jackson Ward restaurant Saison had to say:

“We have an interest in that part of town. We believe it’s a really forward-looking neighborhood – there are beautiful homes up there – and a really awesome opportunity in a part of town that we think is very underserved that we have interest in doing business in at some point.”

Between its beautiful architecture, low prices, and plentiful vacant storefronts, Brookland Park is poised to be the next hot spot in Richmond. Some have likened it to Scott’s Addition, while others have compared it Carytown. A few businesses have served the local community for decades, like Northside Hardware and Michaela’s Bakeshop. And now, we’re excited to welcome new businesses like Black Hand Coffee Company, a local tattoo artist, and maybe even some new restaurants.

Brookland Park Boulevard may not be much to look at now, but neighborhood residents can sense the buzz surrounding the street and look forward to the day when we can stroll around the corner for a freshly roasted bag of coffee or dinner with friends. It may happen sooner than we think! Read the full article here.

Griffin Before and After: All the Rest

Besides the bathrooms and kitchen, most of the rooms in the Griffin house were in solid shape and didn’t require more than cosmetic work. This involved removing the carpet (oh, the carpet!), refinishing the wood floors, removing the radiators, repairing the trim in some areas, painting, and upgrading light fixtures. Take a look:

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Master

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Griffin Before & After: The Bathrooms

The bathrooms were a huge part of the 3022 Griffin renovation.

Let’s jump right in and start with the powder room, shall we? It was carpeted, for one thing, and the sink and toilet were way too bulky for the space. We gutted the room, refinished the hardwoods, and found a smaller toilet and sink that fit much better.

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Powder

Upstairs in the hall bath, we ignored the advice of everyone who told us to get rid of the clawfoot tub and instead had it refinished. We ripped out the tile and installed fresh new white hexagons, installed wainscoting, repositioned the toilet to improve the flow of the space, and found an adorable little pedestal sink that doesn’t interfere with entry into the room. We splurged on a beautiful chrome antique-inspired faucet for the tub. This is Erica’s favorite room in the house.

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That room was a big project, but nothing compared to the master bath—which didn’t exist when we bought the house. We took a dark, awkward room on the back of the house and converted it into an ensuite bath and laundry closet. This involved tearing up the tiles, refinishing the floors, and installing a new tile shower and large vanity. The room is truly unrecognizable from its original state.

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Griffin Before & After: The Kitchen

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Ah, the kitchen. One of the most cringe-worthy parts of this house, originally. There were the super-shallow, avocado green wood cabinets. The beautiful but hard-to-access corner sink. The weird layout. The almost-nonexistent counter space. This is the room that took the largest part of our budget and time.

We completely rewired and replumbed the space. Ripped up the green tiles and refinished the hardwoods underneath. Installed new drywall. And then we installed the cabinets, counters, backsplash, and fixtures ourselves. Would we do that again? Maybe, maybe not. But we are very proud of the transformation and grateful to the family members who helped us make it happen.

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Griffin Before & After: The Exterior

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The day we’ve been impatiently waiting for is finally here: Listing Day!

It’s been a long, long time since we started this journey on a frigid December day. We had more than a few people act like we were crazy for taking on a major renovation project, but we saw the potential in this house from Day 1 and we couldn’t wait to bring it back to life. We had some surprises along the way, and it took much (much) longer than expected, but we learned a lot and we’re excited to do it again.

When we bought it, the Griffin House was hiding behind a cluster of prickly, deep-rooted bushes. Todd worked hard to remove them with the help of a few friends, and we replaced them with sculptural grasses, purple-hued bushes, and rosebushes. The exterior got some new shingles, a new door, and a fresh coat of paint with a subtle green tint. The backyard got some love too with a lot of cleanup (so many leaves!), a privacy fence, tree-trimming, and repairs to the shed.

She looks a little different, wouldn’t you say?

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Front

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What Wows You? The Little Things

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As we’re finishing up the big things on the renovation—the electric, plumbing, floors, painting, etc.—we’re starting to turn our attention to the smaller details we hope will impress potential buyers. Sometimes the smallest features can make a home stand out. For us, things like antique-style crystal doorknobs, soft-closing drawers, and an ice-maker on the fridge helped win us over.

We knew when we started the renovation that we’d be budgeting a bit for these details, and we’ve been brainstorming a list of things we plan to include. Here’s what we’ve got so far:

  • A smart thermostat (likely a Nest)
  • USB-compatible outlets
  • Dual-flush toilets
  • Under-cabinet lighting
  • 6-burner gas stove

So what are we missing? What are some smaller features that help a home stand out in your mind? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Finding Fixtures: Balancing Vintage Style with Modern Needs

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via Simply Grove

In our own extensive real estate browsing, we’ve noted how light fixtures can have a huge impact on the feel of the space, so we knew we had to get them right. Cheap, outdated fixtures can really bring down the look of a place, while attractive fixtures, carefully chosen to fit each room, can be a major focal point. We worked hard to find light fixtures that fit the home’s historic vibe while giving an occasional dash of modern style—and fitting within our budget. Because as much as we’d love to outfit the whole house in Schoolhouse Electric lights, that’s just not in the cards.

Here are a few of our finalists that fit the bill for being attractive, functional and affordable. Obviously, we didn’t use them all in the reno—you’ll have to wait for the “after” pictures to see which ones we chose!

Department of the Exterior: Outside Improvements

We’ve spent the last few weeks cleaning up the exterior of the house and building a new privacy fence for the backyard. Let’s take a little trip down memory lane: This is what the house looked like when we first bought it:

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It was hiding behind lots and lots of old bushes, plus the home’s original wood screens and lattice were deteriorating badly. We debated just a bit before deciding to pull out all of the bushes, and we’re so glad we did—it really opens up the yard. Here’s how it looks now:

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As you can see, we also changed up the lattice under the porch. We’d seen a similar treatment on other homes in the neighborhood, and we liked how it gave them a little more modern look without going overboard. Once it’s painted black (along with the porch floor), it’ll match well with the house numbers and light fixture we’ve chosen, which are both a bit more modern as well. The style of this house is very versatile, which makes details like these fun to play with. Here’s a better look at the fence, which has totally transformed the big backyard of this great corner lot:

 

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We’re not quite done with the exterior yet. We’ve been waiting for a stretch of sunny days to get the house pressure-washed and the trim painted, and once that’s done we can do some landscaping and add our new fixtures. We also got a more period-appropriate front door that will bring some sunlight into the foyer—I just have to decide what color to paint it. Red? Cobalt? Something else? We’ll keep you posted.