Advising Flippers BEFORE they flop that flip!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Olsen Ziegler Realty

Don't Fllop that Flip

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Don't flop that flip potential flippers!

Julie (co-owner, Realtor and ASP with Olsen Ziegler Realty) recently had the pleasure of working with a couple who called about gathering some ideas for their flip.  The house is very small, very gutted with some areas of dry wall and some redesign.  She was very impressed with the progress considering there is really only one person doing all of the construction-type work. The reason they called us, after finding Julie on, was to ask if Julie would be willing to help them with placement of certain things, like the laundry area, kitchen cabinets, and assorted other details like flooring, fencing, bathrooms, etc. 

Julie spent two full hours at the house with both of them, and  made a lot of progress.  Because she is a Realtor as well as a stager/renovator, she was able to help them with not only the placement of things, but buyer preferences, as well.  It is very important to ensure that a house being flipped for resale purposes, has the right appeal for the buying audience.  Although there are many stagers out there who do beautiful work, it is a distinct advantage to hire one who is also a licensed Realtor and knows the area market(s). 

In this case, she was able to assist them with kitchen cabinet selection, ie, they were going to put in white cabinets and she told them natural maple is the way to go.  They discussed appliance color, and she highly recommended stainless steel, stainless steel-look, or black, but definitely not white.  They asked about "staging" a café table in the kitchen an eating space, to which she said it would scream---no eating space!  She suggested designing the kitchen to include an island or a peninsula.  Buyers want an eating space in the kitchen whether it is a bar-type peninsula or an island.  Placing a small café table in the middle of the kitchen would raise a red flag. 

Moreover, they discussed different types of flooring.  Julie recommended neutral, flecked berber carpet in the family room, especially because there are two sets of double French doors in the room and it would warm it up.  The kitchen will be ceramic tile due to the fact that the laundry area is also built into a closet in the kitchen and adds to the need for a durable floor to withstand water.  Originally, they were thinking of putting engineered wood flooring throughout the main level, but the durability factor is in question for a kitchen/laundry area.  So, the wood flooring will go in the living room, front hall to the kitchen back hall and into the bedroom/office.  This will make for a very nice flow and a warm, inviting  entry.  A small ceramic tile area will be at the front door, again to serve as a durable space for wet, snowy, muddy feet.

Because the house is small and only has two bedrooms upstairs, which were masterfully redesigned by these flippers, she suggested that the space separating the two rooms be made into a work area.  Instead of having a niche area with nothing in it and because the rooms would probably be used by kids, she suggested building in a counter with some shelving so it could serve as a work area.  Buyers really like these special additions as it open space is turned into useable space, especially in a small home where good, useable space is a premium.  Moreover, the area will be cabled for internet and phone so it will be ready to use.

Julie also worked on some outdoor items, including the redesign on a back porch, for which she recommended a pergola, to allow light into the family room, but also provide as a buffer to the hot sun in the summer.  Placing a full porch roof off a back family room with the only light source on the longest wall being a set of double French doors, would darken the room and block the view from the kitchen.  The pergola, instead will not obstruct the view and will allow filtered light in, not to mention can be a made very beautiful by growing flowering vines on it.  Light is a BIG deal for buyers and a home, large or small, needs to capture as much light as possible.  Blocking light by placing a roof on a porch, awnings on windows, or heavy blinds or curtains on windows is not a good idea. 

A final suggestion Julie made was to try and incorporate a pocket door for the full bath on the main level.  Because the full bath, office/bedroom, master bedroom, and kitchen pantry are all in the same short hallway, and because the full bath is the only other bath in the house, other than the master bath, the pocket door will allow more space in the bathroom and one less doorknob in the hallway!  Too many doors make for a closed, cramped hallway. 

They discussed many more details than I have written here, but I thought I would elucidate on some of the major recommendations and suggestions Julie made as both a stager and Realtor.  Again, having the advantage of being in both pairs of shoes (or flip-flops)is a good one.  Julie truly enjoyed the two hours and we wish them every success in completing their flip by April.


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Regina P. Brown
MBA Broker Consultants - Carlsbad, CA
M.B.A., Broker, Instructor

Chris, that is awesome that you took time out of your day to help them.  Also remember to advise them on potential financing problems for the buyers, if they sell shortly after buying.  It causes a red flag for the lender's underwriter.

Join my AR group and post your blog at

Regina P. Brown

Jan 25, 2009 12:02 PM #1
Debbie Malone
Londeree's Real Estate & Property Management - Lynchburg, VA
From Lynchburg To The Lake (434) 546-0369

Chris, This is a great example of the choosing the right Realtor (R) to represent you. We've been flipping for 25 years and after I got my RE license, I got my ASP designation too. It's been very helpful to investor clients -an added benefit.

Jan 27, 2009 12:04 AM #2
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Chris Olsen

Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate
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