What the Flip? A 1909 Family Home Is Fully Restored and Grabs Top Dollar

Flipping a house is a lot of work, and can yield a big profit. But not every project is guaranteed to be lucrative. So what’s the key to successfully making over a fixer-upper and selling it for a gain? Our new series “What the Flip?” presents before and after photos to identify the smart construction and design decisions that ultimately helped make a house desirable to buyers.

Oklahoma City is an alluring place for home buyers these days. Its cost of living is low, there are plenty of opportunities for work and play, and you get the pace of city life with the quiet of the country nearby.

With a median listing price of $225,000, Oklahoma City is certainly a place to score a sizable single-family home for a reasonable chunk of cash, but finding an age-old property with good bones is a challenge. So when our flippers stumbled upon this four-bedroom, three-bathroom home from the early 1900s—in one of the city’s most prestigious and historic neighborhoods—they jumped.

Sure, the home wasn’t exactly in great shape, but that’s where the flip comes in. This old home went from drab and dusty to absolutely fabulous. It was purchased in July 2018 for $325,000, and in September 2019 it was sold again, for $642,000. The sellers doubled their money in just over a year—a result that any flipper could hope for.

So what made this such a successful flip? We turned to our experts to uncover the winning design and home improvement moves.

Living room

The living room is often the first space buyers see when they enter the home, so bringing this room up to date was key. The original room felt dark, dirty, and cramped, so the sellers had a big project on their hands.

“Lighting is key to this room,” says Malissa Kelsch, real estate adviser with Red Rock Real Estate. “Removal of window coverings and additional can lights deliver a distinctive sensation of relaxation.”

“They resurfaced the walls, which was a great choice to make the walls feel like new construction,” adds architect and interior designer Alondra Alberti. “The light paint and blond floor stain showcase how large the space actually is.”

But one of the most impactful changes was simply the removal of the accordion doors leading to the kitchen.

“The living room seamlessly flows into the kitchen to make it a perfect home for entertaining,” adds real estate agent Sarah Bernard. “This is the open, bright look that buyers today are demanding in new construction, so to renovate with this in mind makes lots of sense.”

Office

Previously, the home office looks like a strange afterthought. The flip transformed it into a gorgeous, usable room.

“Home offices are one of the most sought-after spaces in our current climate of working and teaching kids remotely,” says Bernard. “The new floor, lighting, and open, sleek modern space with windows make this a strong selling point for busy buyers.”

“The hardwood floors throughout facilitate the visual flow between spaces, creating a more harmonious relationship between the office and the rest of the house,” says Alberti. “I also love the contrast of the black-matte stair raisers and wooden handrails. It provides a sophisticated rustic appeal that a lot of buyers look for in a home.”

Kitchen

“It looked like a sad little kitchen crying in the corner,” Alberti says of the pre-renovation space. But the flip made a huge difference in this all-important room.

“They have repositioned and expanded the kitchen, creating an open concept tied in by a beautiful, massive island that not only provides contrast but also bar seating,” Alberti explains. “They did a great job combining different materials and textures. … It’s a design risk that elevates the home.”

Kelsch says the new kitchen is definitely more appealing to potential buyers.

“Additional usable counter space, storage, and lighting make this a desirable kitchen and a ‘wow’ feature in the home,” she says.

Bathroom

The old bathroom in this home was like a walk back in time, but not in a good way.

“The wallpaper and the top-and-bottom built-in cabinets made the space feel enclosed and restricted,” says Alberti. “The old shower doors are always a must-go—they have had their run for far too long.”

The updated bathroom now feels warm and welcoming.

“The shower wall niche was a particularly nice touch because it provides practicality to the user,” adds Alberti. “Those kinds of details are never overlooked by buyers.”

Bernard agrees: “The new, beautiful bath lets in natural light for the tranquility that homeowners want in their bathrooms,” she says. “The updated shower and more functional and modern vanity feel clean and fresh compared to the original.”

Bedroom

From the gray wall-to-wall carpet to the heavy drapes, can we all just agree that the old bedroom was the stuff of nightmares?

“The new bedroom sheds pounds of darkness that were exhibited in the old carpeting and bulky cabinets,” says Bernard. “The white walls and wonderful new windows are inviting in a room that anyone can envision themselves waking up in. This is a luxury look that buyers in all price ranges desire.”

“This bedroom has had a complete turnaround. The new vaulted ceiling helps make the room feel more spacious, and removing the cabinetry opens up the room,” says Kelsch. “Bringing in as much natural light as possible by taking down dated old drapes and updating furnishings and fixtures will bring top dollar to this house.”

Source: realtor.com

Virtual Staging: The Hot Trend That Can Help Sell Your Home During the Coronavirus Crisis

In this age of social distancing, you might want to limit the number of strangers traipsing through your house. So chances are good you’ve said sayonara to the idea of having a staging company come in to artfully showcase your home for sale.

That means it’s time to get creative in order to prep your property for sale. And guess what? There’s an app for that.

Actually, there’s a wide variety of virtual staging software options available, allowing designers to digitally add gorgeous furnishings and accessories to photos of each room in your house, enhancing its overall appeal.

Some tech platforms can even do virtual renovations like digitally erasing a tired sofa or peeling wallpaper, and revamping rooms with new wall color and different flooring so you can show it off online to potential buyers.

Eager to find out more? Here’s how you can make virtual staging work for you.

Virtual staging is a practical solution during the pandemic

When Ed Gory, a Realtor®, was preparing to list a vacant two-bedroom ranch house in early March, staging companies couldn’t physically work in the house. Gory’s photographer suggested he contact roOomy, a company offering virtual staging services. Digital decor elements are layered into high-resolution photos of the home and rendered into a realistic final image to look like you’ve actually accomplished the transformation.

“I’d never considered virtual staging before, because the finished product I’d seen looked a little cartoonish, but the technology has come a long way,” says Gory, who works at Intero Real Estate in San Carlos, CA.

“Since buyers weren’t able to visit houses, virtual staging provided a means for us to show something more exciting than a picture of a blank room,” Gory says.

It worked so well, in fact, that the house was sold five days later.

This didn’t surprise Lindsay Dillon, roOomy’s vice president of strategic partnerships and marketing. That’s because virtual staging is experiencing a surge in popularity.

“Even before the coronavirus, we were seeing a shift in how the real estate community was approaching digital content,” Dillon says.

Click the arrows and slide from left to right to see a fully staged room from roOomy.

Your home can be styled any way you like

Home stagers usually pull decorative items and furniture from their warehouse to fit your rooms, limited to whatever inventory they have on hand at the time. They also generally just add basic elements—think sofas, dining and bedroom furniture, plus artwork—but they won’t usually change out light fixtures, for example. Virtual staging designers have no limits, because they’re working with a huge digital library of 3-D assets.

“We want to show the space in its best light based on your target buyer,” says Dillon. But “we don’t want to be deceptive, so we won’t add a wall or kitchen island that doesn’t exist.”

Virtual staging can make a vacant home more attractive

Virtual staging is especially useful for sellers who have already moved out, says Lyndsey Garza, owner/broker at Galveston Vacation Real Estate. An empty house is typically much more expensive to stage, and it can be harder to sell.

“For people that don’t have the imagination to see something as an office or a kids’ playroom, virtual staging gives them room to think outside the box,” Garza explains.

Click the arrows and slide from left to right to see a fully staged room from roOomy.

Virtual staging is cost-effective

Sellers can save significantly with virtual staging, because the costs of physically staging a home—removing existing furniture, hauling in a bunch of new things, and then staging the home—really add up.

“Here, a 1,200-square-foot home could cost $2,500, but it’s about a third that price to do virtual staging,” says Gory. “Plus, you have a lot more control over the style, artwork, and even the plants you put out, so you could really dress up a house and give it a great online first impression.”

Garza notes that to minimally stage a four-bedroom, three-bath, 2,500-square-foot home in Galveston or the Houston area for three months, sellers fork over $3,500. A simple virtual staging would cost about $500.

“Very few sellers want to put any more money into their home, and virtual staging saves them money with less traffic through the home,” she says.

You can save valuable time when listing your home

Because virtual staging is done on a computer, it saves a lot of time, Gory says. Usually real estate agents meet with a live stager to assess the house, wait for an estimate, and then wait again for movers to bring over rented furniture—and finally, the photographer takes listing photos.

“That process could easily take a week from start to finish, and it took a lot quicker to stage virtually, because I did everything from my computer,” Gory says.

And consider this: If you’re in the middle of sprucing up your place, you don’t have to wait until your renovations are complete before posting listing photos—virtual staging allows buyers to visualize how great the house will look when you’re done.

Click the arrows and slide from left to right to see a fully staged room from roOomy.

Be transparent about what’s real and what isn’t

The last thing you want is a buyer who feels tricked into going to see a house that looks nothing like the photographs, says Garza.

“The downfall with virtual staging is that sometimes it can appear misleading: Even though the perspectives and measurements are theoretically correct, it’s fictitious—it’s an idea of what the space could be versus the actual space,” she says, adding that it’s important to clearly note on the online property listing that the images have been virtually staged.

Consider a true virtual staging platform

There’s a reason virtual staging hasn’t taken off in the past—it’s tricky to get right. Make sure you have confidence in the technology being used by the company you choose.

“Because we’re able to transform a 2-D image into a 3-D space with our patented technology and add real 3-D furniture to that space, we’re ensuring that what you’re seeing in scale is accurate,” says Dillon. “You’re not trying to fit a king-sized bed in a room that has no business to have one by using photo-editing tools.”

And be sure to carefully vet the companies you and your agent are thinking of hiring.

“Some of them look way too spiffed up and don’t fit the property, and sometimes it looks like you’re playing a video game,” Garza says. “I like to show clients samples, because I want sellers to be happy with what’s online. Then, chances are buyers are going to be happy with it, too.”

Source: realtor.com

How This 1920s California Bohemian Sold Over Asking—and Helped Set a Record

It doesn’t matter how perfect your home is—if your listing photos don’t stand out, potential buyers won’t come by to take a look. In our series “Lessons From Listing Photos,” we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes, and how their listing pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

In 2020, nothing is for certain—and in many places, that includes the real estate market. That’s not true for Berkeley, though. This Northern California city, located on the east side of the San Francisco Bay, is experiencing an upswing in an already booming real estate market. In fact, October 2020 racked up the most single-family home sales for the city in nearly two decades.

High demand is likely to have been part of the reason the former owners of this two-bedroom, one-bathroom bungalow in Berkeley were able to sell their home for $161,000 over the listing price of $1,189,000. They purchased their home in April 2014 for $1,020,000 and sold it in November, for $1.35 million. But, looking at the before and after photos, we also chalk this successful sale up to smart home staging.

If you’re getting ready to put your home on the market, there are plenty of lessons to learn from this particular sale. From clever design decisions to the little details that made all the difference, here are the moves that made this cozy home appealing to buyers.

Living room

This living room may feel completely different in the before and after photos, but if you look closely, you’ll notice there weren’t any major changes. Instead, the owners made a few smart cosmetic updates and did a great job of staging the room.

“The ‘before’ of this room felt small, dark, and choppy, due to the use of multiple paint colors breaking up the visual flow of the space,” explains designer Gabrielle Aker, of Aker Interiors. “The fresh coat of white paint instantly brightens the room.”

Danny Davis, owner and broker of San Diego Brokerage in Encinitas, CA, agrees that color was a key factor in the living room.

“In my decades of experience in real estate, no one has ever told me that they were looking for a dark and gloomy home. Everyone wants light and bright,” he says. “Incorporating stylish, minimalist furniture and light paint and stain colors often make a smaller space feel larger and more livable.”

Real estate agent Natasha Wood of Balaj Realty Group says making the floors more visible also made a big impact.

“Hardwood flooring can increase a home’s value by up to 5%, so showing that off is key,” she explains.

Kitchen

“Choosing the right professional photographer and staging company is very important when selling your home,” says Davis.

He explains that each listing must attract a buyer in the first few photos, or they’ll just keep scrolling. In the case of this kitchen, he says the listing photos showed exactly what buyers want to see.

“This kitchen, where families tend to spend most of their time, is so much more inviting in the ‘after’ photo,” he says.

“That warm wood island makes such a difference in this space,” adds Susan Covell Sands, owner of Susan Covell Designs. “The floor-to-ceiling white tile, new textured stone floor—all of it looks much cozier and workable than the ‘before’ photo, with its gray walls and old, orange-toned wood floors.

Nook

Before the overhaul, this nook just off of the kitchen was a strange bit of wasted space, a real shame in a small home.

“What a difference it makes to give a space a specific function,” says Covell Sands. “Showing the shelves with a laptop, lamp, and stool gives the potential buyer the understanding that this space could be more than just extra storage shelves.”

Davis explained that thanks to COVID-19, most of us are now doing many things at home that we used to do elsewhere, from working, to exercising, to school.

“It’s more important than ever to showcase an area where people can have a private space to work and take Zoom calls away from the rest of the family, pets, and mess that a home must accommodate in today’s lifestyle,” he says.

“Creating a useful space that has a dedicated function, especially in a small home, will invite buyers to imagine themselves in that space, instead of wondering what to do with it.”

Dining room

Even in the before image, this unique dining room was a showstopper, but after a few tweaks, it’s a home buyer’s heaven.

According to Davis, staging was a huge factor in this room.

“As for staging, it’s imperative that you stay away from bulky furniture in small areas and finish off a room with accents like window shades,” he explains, which is exactly what happened in this space.

Kendall Severson, co-owner of Interior Design Partnership, LLC, agreed.

“I love this transformation!” she says. “The ‘before’ picture makes the space feel heavy and small. They toned down the color and focused on white and natural elements. … They really hit the nail on the head when it came to scale and proportion in this space.”

Wood noticed that the stairs are also visible from this room.

“The updated stairway follows the natural movement throughout the home and creates a cohesive feel,” she says.

Bedroom

Having an extra bedroom that doubles as both a guest room and an office may sound like a great way to utilize a space, but our experts say that often sends buyers running.

“Defining a space with a specific purpose definitely helps a buyer envision themselves and their belongings in a home. That’s why staging is so valuable to home sellers,” says Davis.

He explains that the previous owners, once again, pulled off a major win in this room.

“Oftentimes, multipurpose rooms—such as a guest room/office—only point out to the buyer that the home doesn’t have room for both purposes, and that can have a negative effect on buyer perception,” he says.

Staging this room as a cozy bedroom makes the whole house feel more inviting and livable, he argues.

Source: realtor.com

6 Modest Front-Yard Updates Home Sellers Should Never Forget

Home sellers know that a tidy, tasteful home will catch any buyer’s eye. That’s why many people put effort into fixing up—and even staging—the interior of their home before putting it on the market and hosting open houses.

But did you know that an unkempt exterior could deter potential buyers from even setting foot in the door? That’s right. A shoddy-looking front yard could undermine all that hard work you put into beautifying the inside of your home, and that could jeopardize your chances of selling.

“You only get one chance to make a first impression, and it happens when a potential buyer sees the exterior of your home,” says Kate Rumson, interior designer. “We all tend to form opinions in the first few seconds of seeing a home for the first time—make those seconds count!”

Don’t let your home’s exterior fall to the wayside. Whether your front yard is in need of a few tweaks or a full face-lift, the following tips will help boost your home’s curb appeal and make sure everything matches.

1. Replace your garage door

Garage doors tend to be large, so they’re a major architectural element of your home. Replacing one can be costly, but this one upgrade could help sell your house faster.

According to Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value report, garage door replacement has consistently topped the list of remodeling projects that give you the biggest return on investment. In fact, this year’s report found that by replacing your garage door, you could recoup 94.5% of the cost when you sell your home.

“Old or damaged garage doors will make a house feel dated and not cared for. If your garage doors are in poor condition, replace them,” says Rumson. “Don’t let potential buyers think that the damaged garage doors represent the rest of your home’s condition.”

As for the cost, garage door replacement can range from $600 to $2,750, according to HomeAdvisor.

2. Do a front door audit

The first thing potential buyers see as they walk up to your home is your front door. The door can give house hunters a hint of your design sense and what decor delights await them on the other side.

Ted Roberts, chief style and design expert at Schlage, says to consider the color and materials of both the inside and outside of your door. He says the hardware on a door is also important to the overall aesthetic and that door hardware should be updated to create a unified statement throughout your property.

“Updating your front door can do wonders for your security and style. If your door hardware is showing signs of age, this fall could be the perfect time to upgrade to a new handle set and an electronic lock that adds smart, keyless convenience,” says Roberts.

3. Complement your colors

Choosing the right colors for the inside of your home takes careful thought and consideration. But no matter what paint you choose, make sure the palette transitions smoothly from exterior to interior.

“Interior and exterior colors don’t have to match, but they need to complement one another,” says Rumson. For example, a traditional forest-green exterior trim looks great when paired with navy blue, tan, or blush interiors.

“Make sure that the colors of your exterior accurately represent what buyers should expect to see on the inside,” Rumson adds.

4. Consider new window frames

Photo by Spivey Architects, Inc.

Installing new window frames will create the appearance of brand-new windows, and is a quick and inexpensive way to make your home look newer and more attractive to buyers, says Rumson.

Consider updating your outdated window frames with new, stylish black window frames.

“Black window frames will boost your home’s curb appeal, make your home more unique, and create a great contrast with the rest of your interiors,” says Roberts. “Because black windows make such a statement, they don’t always need shades, blinds, or curtains, offering an opportunity for you to sidestep what can be an occasionally costly investment.”

5. Refresh your landscape

The American Society of Landscape Architects recommends that homeowners invest 10% of a home’s value in landscaping. A well-manicured front yard can be eye candy to potential buyers.

Professional landscaping can be pricey, but we’re not suggesting a full foliage overhaul. Simply take a few hours on a weekend to freshen up your existing landscaping with plants and fresh mulch.

Over 75% of top real estate agents nationwide say that well-landscaped homes are worth anywhere from 1% to 10% more than homes without landscaping, according to research at HomeLight.

6. Install outdoor lighting

Photo by Solid Renovations

“Outdoor lighting is important for safety, but it can also significantly improve the curb appeal of a home,” says Rumson.

There are a variety of outdoor lighting options, from decorative lighting (like sconces by your front door) to landscape lighting (to illuminate the pathway to your porch).

“It’s an easy update,” says Rumson. “You will find many beautiful options and styles at your local home improvement store.”

Light up your home’s exterior walkway with a set of 10 solar-powered, black LED outdoor lights ($79.97, Home Depot) or a lantern sconce ($59.97, Home Depot).

Source: realtor.com

6 Coronavirus-Friendly Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $10K—and Will Bring In Offers

Getting a home improvement project to pay off is notoriously tricky. There’s no guarantee you’ll recoup the money you pour into a bathroom remodel or an outdoor kitchen. Plus, the COVID-19 pandemic has made completing even minor projects more difficult, as many nonessential construction projects have been halted.

And while it might seem crazy to take on a big-ticket project in a time of economic uncertainty, many home buyers are still looking for turnkey properties with attractive amenities. So if you’re a seller with a house in need of a little TLC, you should focus on relatively low-budget upgrades that will seriously juice your home’s value.

Below, our experts spill on the improvements under $10,000 that buyers are perennially interested in, plus the trending ones whose popularity is likely to last.

Deep cleaning: $500 or less

Scuffs on doors, counters, cabinets, and walls; a ring of scum around a drain; cobwebs in basement corners; toys or tools peppering lawns and patios—these all look bad in the eyes of potential buyers. Luckily, eradicating these blemishes doesn’t take much.

“Deep cleaning is one of the most important things you can do for a little money that dramatically increases your value in the market,” says Heather Wendlandt, a real estate agent with the San Diego-based Team Kolker. “The Magic Eraser and elbow grease can go a long way.”

She says deep cleaning, plus basic paint touch-ups, can increase home values by thousands.

Front-door upgrade: $2,000 or less

Thee front door is the first part of a home that a potential buyer will interact with, so it’s worth lavishing attention on every detail. A fresh coat of paint, new hardware, or updated accessories like house numbers, door knockers, and attractive lighting are all easy and relatively inexpensive to obtain.

Wilmington, NC–based real estate agent-turned-blogger Rebecca Fernandez says that when she was given a listing that sat on the market without activity for months, a front-door upgrade helped make a difference.

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Watch: 5 Smart Upgrades To Help Coronavirus-Proof Your Home

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“I convinced the homeowners to provide me with a budget of $500,” Fernandez says. “It was a very small Cape Cod home, painted dark beige, with an unflattering wood front door. To add contrast, I purchased black vinyl shutters and painted the door a dark red. Next, we cleaned up the front lawn and purchased a door mat, flowerpots, and mums, since it was autumn, and we wanted it to have a fresh, seasonal look. After those minor tweaks, with new pictures online and the added curb appeal, we drew multiple buyers and sold the property quickly.”

Touchless fixtures and fresh-air systems: $200 to $5,000

During the pandemic, certain fixtures have become more relevant—and coveted—than ever.

What buyers want right now are touchless fixtures like sinks and toilets that eliminate your need to come into contact with a germ-filled surface, says Scott Campbell, team leader at Cedarburg, WI’s Re/Max. Both of these upgrades cost a few hundred dollars to install around the house.

Another pandemic must-have is excellent airflow.

“Updating mechanical systems and adding a RenewAire system that pulls fresh air into the home every few hours is a huge plus for buyers,” Campbell says. “Ultraviolet air exchanges that help kill viruses are also smart investments and very practical for home showings during the pandemic.”

Better kitchens and bathrooms: $9,000 or less

Kitchens and bathrooms that look outdated or cheap can sink the value of an entire home.

Tracy Jones, an associate with Re/Max Platinum Realty, witnessed firsthand how a kitchen face-lift boosted her home’s value.

“During the years we’ve done some hefty renos, but resurfacing our kitchen cabinets cost less than $4,000. We replaced the cheap-looking plywood cabinets with white doors and custom-built drawer fronts with soft-pull hardware,” she says. “We also upgraded the 1990s Formica countertops with granite for $4,000, creating a modern look.”

Jones believes these upgrades helped them bring in a profit. They bought the home for $189,000 in 2006 and sold it for $425,000 in 2020.

Bathrooms can also make or break a deal.

Erik Wright, owner of New Horizon Home Buyers in Chattanooga, TN, says he helped renovate and flip a home that cost him $80,000 and was sold for $140,000. Of the $15,000 he invested in home improvement, Wright put $9,000 toward upgrades on the kitchen and bathroom, including light fixtures, new cabinets and counters, fresh towels, and new vanities and faucets. All told, he cleared $45,000, primarily through minor tweaks.

Backyard upgrades: $500 to $10,000

Backyards are now thought of as an extension of the home.

“For those in the suburbs, pools, koi ponds, and fountains are newfound hot-selling items,” says Neal Clayton, licensed partner at Engel & Völkers in Nashville, TN. A small water feature that makes a soothing impression can be purchased and installed for as little as $500.

“Fire pits and outdoor kitchens with basic cabinetry are also frequently requested as people find creative ways to expand their living spaces,” Clayton says.

Home office: $10,000 or less

Home offices were on their way out before the pandemic, but they are all the rage now. Converting a room and buying all of the furniture, accoutrements, and shelving cost well under $10,000, experts say.

If you’re on the fence about carving out a home office space, consider this: Many buyers won’t consider a home these days if it doesn’t have a place where working or schooling from home is feasible.

Source: realtor.com