Most Stockbridge real estate turnaround practitioners follow what might be called “The House Flippers’ Creed”: buy, fix, sell—as quickly as possible! The speed factor isn’t just because, as in most businesses, volume dictates profitability. It’s also due to the investment’s interest expense—the value of money over time. You don’t need an economics class to see how it can gnaw away at a bottom line.
Now it seems that The Creed’s fundamental hypothesis is being challenged in many parts of the nation—at least by buyers targeting dated homes for their own use. According to last week’s Wall Street Journal essay about the rising tide of “Extreme Makeovers” which focused on residences that have had a single owner for decades. Many are in need of “new interior styles” and technology—and they’re attracting buyers East and West. In other words, dated homes are getting lots and lots of work: extreme makeovers.
Typical was a Washington State 2-bedroom island house, “one of the ugliest houses on the beach,”—so dated that “it generated distaste” among buyers. A sharp-eyed real estate appraiser bought it for $550,000 (a steal for that beach neighborhood)—then began the time-consuming and expensive process of transforming it into a property “that looks new and hip.” Cost: $150,000.
The takeaway for Stockbridge buyers with enough passion and energy to plow into such a project—is that the results can be worth the effort. One interviewed design expert said, “It’s a metaphorical change of clothes.” Added another, “It’s as much about the style as repairing the plumbing.” But even so, such projects often run into complications. That will come as no surprise to veteran Stockbridge house flippers, who know that even in unextreme makeovers, bringing a property up to snuff almost always entails at least a few unexpected hiccups.
Of course, less extreme makeovers still comprise the lion’s share of Stockbridge purchases—and Stockbridge house flippers are in competition with this season’s buyers who will or won’t renovate to suit their own residential preferences. Regardless of which buyers’ camp you fall into, I hope you’ll give me a call to examine this season’s offerings!