Asked and Answered

Did you think I forgot about you?

Not possible.  I promise!

Things just got a little crazy around here and I haven’t had time to post, so I thought I would take this chance to answer some recent emails that I’ve received from you guys – I thought the questions were some that a few of you might have.  So here we go!

(By the way – if you’re here from Lindsey’s lovely features of our 5th flip or dining room chair redo on Better After, welcome!  I’m so happy that you stopped by.)

Hi Liz- beautiful work!! Where is the pendant light in the 5th house kitchen from? Thanks!!! Becky

Becky, that gorgeous light from Home Depot!  You can still find it here.

"After" Flip Photos: Closeup of Kitchen Sink

Liz, I don’t even know how I found your blog, but I love reading it.  The work you and your husband do on the flips is amazing.  I thought all the neighborhoods looked very Texas-like and then I saw an old post referring to [a local lake].  I assume that is the one in Dallas – I’m located in Fort Worth.  We live in a very similar neighborhood – late 50s, early 60s ranch homes.  I’m and ex-CPA who now stays home with my kids.  I’ve been itching to flip a house for a long time – but 3 kids in 4 years kind of slowed me down.  This fall I will finally have 2 in school, so I’m wanting to have a project.  I’ve already scouted out a few homes in my area, 4 of which are foreclosures.  At this point, I don’t know how to proceed.  I don’t know the best resource to find out info on the foreclosures.  I originally found them on Zillow which I know can be outdated.  Can I just call the bank or trustee directly?  Do you have to have the full cash amount in hand?  I’ve been looking for websites that give foreclosure listings.  I know I will probably have to subscribe, so I want one that’s trustworthy.  Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated.  Thank you, Caty

Hi Caty!  Ooh, it sounds like you have lots of fun ahead of you.

My first question is whether the homes that you are calling foreclosures are “REO” or “bank-owned” properties that have already been foreclosed on and the bank is the seller, or if the original owner still owns the home and the house is being foreclosed on at auction.  The answer as to how to proceed will depend upon the answer to that question.

Since you found the properties on Zillow (and yes, Zillow can be very outdated), I’m assuming that they are REO properties that are listed on the MLS.  If that is the case, then you can simply contact the real estate agent associated with the listing.  If, however, the house will be foreclosed on at auction, then yes – the best route would be to call the trustee directly if you have his or her contact information.  And yes, if the house is being sold at auction then you have to have the full cash amount in hand – typically that is handled in the form of cashier’s checks.  As for gaining future information about foreclosures, I would suggest subscribing to Roddy Report (it’s specific to the DFW-area, but I would assume all major metropolitan areas have a similar service available).

foreclosure auction

(Instagram photo of a recent foreclosure auction – we didn’t get the house we bid on.)

Liz, I have been following your blog for quite some time and I love every house!  I have a question for you.  How do you pick the houses?  Do you have certain non-negotiable aspects like neighborhood or proximity to the city?  My husband and I are relocating to Amelia Island, near Jacksonville, Fl.  We are trying to buy on one income so we have the second income to put away (early retirement).   This puts us in a price category where we either buy at the top of that one income budget and inherit someone else’s shotty remodel, or, we buy the real fixer upper way way below our budget. Then there is the dilemma of buying near the beach or near the historic district.  I was just wondering what process you go through when deciding what to buy. Obviously, we are not flipping but do want to think about future resale.  Thanks for any advice you have.  ~ Nancy

Um, can I move to Amelia Island with you?  I won’t be much trouble, I promise.

So far, neighborhood has been a non-negotiable aspect for our flips – but I don’t know that will always be the case.  In your circumstance, I would just live where you want to live and hopefully other people will fall in love with the same aspects of the neighborhood, etc. that you did – but I wouldn’t buy a home in a random neighborhood just because it’s a good deal.  A good deal alone won’t make a good home.

Other than neighborhood, the questions we ask ourselves before buying a flip are:

(1) What’s the price – can we still make a decent profit after we’ve renovated the house?

(2) Is there something weird and unchangeable about the house?  If so, it might be best to move on.

(3) Can we add all the features that buyers in this neighborhood are demanding and, if not, can we afford to reduce the price enough so that buyers will still be interested?

Nancy, I hope that helps you in your search!

framing & drywall Flip 6

Hi Liz!  I found your blog from a post on Better After and have been perusing your flips ever since.  They’re awesome and something I wish I could do myself.  For now it’s just working on our house.  Do you happen to know what paint color the kitchen cabinets were in your 3rd flip?  I love the way they turned out and have some similar colors planned but wanted to add that one to the list.  Anyway – keep on doing an awesome job!  When you love what you do it shows :)  Thanks!  ~ Alicia
Thanks for your lovely email, Alicia!!  :)  As it just so happens I have a handy spreadsheet with all of that information – those kitchen cabinets were Pure White (7005) by Sherwin Williams.

The Flip is For Sale

Hi, I just found your blog! I’ve been wanting to flip a house for about a decade and think I’m ready to finally jump in, but the financial part is kind of concerning to me. I’ve never bought a house before so that is very scary for me. I have no idea where to start. I noticed that you use contractors a lot, do you ever do the work yourself? Do you or your husband work any other jobs or is this bringing in all the income?  I have so many questions but I don’t want to overwhelm you!  Thank you, Heather
Hi!  Great questions, Heather (and feel free to keep them coming).  Other than some landscaping, we do hire out all of the physical labor – we don’t have the time or the necessary skills in the areas of plumbing, electrical, etc. to take on those jobs ourselves.  As for whether we have other jobs, the answer is yes – my husband and I have our own real estate brokerage and we’re always helping clients buy homes.  So luckily, it’s still something that we love to do, and having our brokers’ licenses comes in handy with buying and selling our flips!

Introducing . . .

Hi, I just found your wonderful blog and have enjoyed looking through your flip projects.  You guys have done an amazing job!!  My husband and I are looking into buying a new to us but old house that needs lots of renovation before moving in.  We have a contractor that we will be using and he will give us a quote on the work we want done but in the meantime can you give me an idea of what you normally spend on your flip renovations?  We would be doing new drywall, trim, hardwoods, kitchen and two baths, one being a powder room. About 1800 sq ft.  Thanks for any information you have for us.  ~ Londen
I wish I could give you exact numbers, but I think your contractor would be the best resource for that.  However, if you have issues with any of the quotes he gives you, I would recommend getting bids from another contractor that you can compare, or for specific trades (like plumbing, etc.) if the quotes in certain areas don’t seem right.  You’ll probably sleep a little easier if you know that the prices you’re paying are fair.

Average Budget

(The budget breakdown for our first 4 flips – read more here.)

Thanks for your questions, everyone!  If you have anything else you’re just dying to ask, fire away!
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  1. It’s nice to read your post again. I had fun reading this one. Keep on posting, Liz!

  2. Lucinda says:

    The day has finally come and the contractors are scheduled to come tomorrow. Tony ended up having some minor knee surgery last month but he has demoed all three bathrooms and and the bar area. I’ll let you know the progress!

    Thanks again for all your help!

    • Liz - It's Great To Be Home says:

      Awesome, Lucinda! I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I hope Tony’s recuperating well!

  3. It’s been a long time that I visit your blog again Liz and I’m glad you answered those questions . Anyway, I would like to ask also something about the first image of this post. I really like the tiles of that kitchen in the wall and I would like to know if what is the name of that tiles but I’m not sure if that is a tiles or a wallpaper lol.

  4. The granite in the picture with the light fixture from Home Depot is beautiful! Can you tell me the name of the granite? We looked long and hard for something like that and never did find what we wanted. Thanks