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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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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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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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!

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.

Great News for the Neighborhood

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When we were hunting for a house to renovate, we always took into account the surrounding homes. Were they in good shape? Were any being renovated? Had any recently sold? For the Griffin house, we were encouraged by a home that had recently sold for an above-average price on the next block, and another that was undergoing a full renovation two doors down.

As we’ve started our own renovation, we’ve watched the house at 3018 Griffin come to completion and hit the market. The renovator, a local realtor, did a great job of maintaining the home’s historical integrity while still giving it a beautifully modern look. He priced it much higher than we expected—$324,950—and we held our breath to see when and if it would sell.

We didn’t have to wait long. The house sold within a day, for above asking price. This is good news for the person who put so much care into this renovation, and very encouraging news for us! Check out all the photos of the house here.

In related news, Zillow recently ranked Richmond as the fourth hottest housing market in the country for 2016.

Floored!

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Our first order of business after getting the keys to the house: Removing the gnarly carpet from every room. When we first looked at the house, the wood floors appeared to be in good shape, but we weren’t totally sure what was hiding beneath all of that carpet. So we held our breath (literally—there was some crazy dust happening) and got to rolling.

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That carpet may have been ugly, but we can thank it for protecting these floors for the last 50-odd years. Besides a few spots, the floors are in fantastic shape, and not having to refinish them will help us save a lot on this renovation.

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Anyone in the market for some “vintage” carpet? We’ve got quite a bit of it stored out in the shed. Let us know, we’ll make you a deal.

Meet Griffin: The Before Pictures

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If you’re wondering where we will be for the next several months, or what we’ll be doing, you can bet it has something to do with this guy. We’re calling him Griffin (a.k.a. Griffindor), and he’s a project we’ve been planning to take on for about a year.

After looking at multiple historic homes in the area in varying states of disrepair—and making more offers than we remember—we finally got lucky with this four-bedroom, two-bath home on the Northside of Richmond.

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A lovely woman named Gladys had lived in the home for most of her adult life, and although the floors were covered in stained carpet (including the bathroom!), the shed was caving in, and the kitchen probably hadn’t been updated since 1920, it was clear that she had really cared for the house over the years.

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With its high ceilings, spacious rooms, big backyard, and historic details (like an amazing clawfoot tub), we saw the potential in this house, and we decided to take a big—and admittedly scary—leap. This is our first real estate investment project, and we’re hoping it works out. If it does, there’s a good chance this won’t be the last home renovation we’ll be doing.

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We’re pretty excited for the months ahead, and for sharing with you as the transformation takes place.

 

We’ve got a thing for old houses.

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Pop Quiz: What do Charleston, Boston, and Richmond have in common?

Answer: They’re all cities we have called home over the last few years. They’re also cities that are known for their history—and beautiful historic homes.

We’re Erica and Todd Curran, and we’ve always had a thing for old houses. When we started searching for our first home five years ago, age was a crucial factor—we wanted nothing built after 1950. And while the number of bedrooms and the size of the kitchen were important, we were equally won over by details like beadboard walls, soaring ceilings, exposed brick, and lived-in hardwood floors.

That’s our first house, at the top of this post, a nearly 100-year-old cottage near Hampton Park on the Charleston peninsula. We adored living there, but felt the call to move closer to home, and we’ve since bought a 1920s American foursquare in a streetcar suburb of Richmond, Virginia (pictured below, with us and our nieces on the porch). As we’re slowly making this house our own, we’ve decided to embark on a full renovation project on another neighborhood house a few blocks away.

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We’re just two normal 30-somethings, learning as we go. As we move forward with our labors of love, we’re planning to document the process to share with anyone who’s interested. Because we know we’re not the only ones out there who have a thing for old houses.