Christina and Tarak El Mousea
You've surely watched Tarak and Christina El Mousea's HGTV program, "Flip or Flop;" perhaps, like me, you are so addicted that you watch the reruns.
When I first entered the real estate business it was by accident. I was a banker who was just out of graduate school. The problem was that in those days bankers didn't do well when it came to salaries, no matter the advanced education.
So I needed to make extra money if I was going to live the American Dream the way I wanted to. That was, I thought, an undeniable fact.
Galveston, where I lived, was at least half full of homes built just at the turn of the century. They were skeletons of the beauty they once were, as owners had moved on to new one-story ranch-styles with wall to wall carpet and Formica counters and olive green appliances.
The historical homes were turned over to the less fortunate. About half bought, the remainder rented. And the houses deteriorated in a hurry.
It seemed to me that there was an opportunity there. Within walking distance of the largest collection of historical homes was the massive University of Texas Medical Branch.
Those students, employees, professors, and physicians needed places to live, and I figured they'd rather live as near to UTMB as possible.
So my wife, brother and his wife, and I bought one for $6,500 that was about 5,000 square feet and on a double lot. With our own hands, and with the help of a plumber, electrician and HVAC technician, we carefully converted it into a duplex.
And then we ran an ad in the paper that said we would be showing the two units during our lunch hour.
When we arrived at about noon, there was a line of about thirty waiting to see our two units. Bingo!
I continued the formula on my own, and renovated about seventy homes. Some I sold, others I kept as rental properties.
So I was flipping before the verb came into popular usage.
TARAK & CHRISTINA
I especially like the approach that Tarak and Christina take. They do their best to do their renovations correctly, regardless of the cost. Rewiring and replumbing an entire house rather than patching over the problems, for an example. I did that, too.
WHAT I LEARNED
What I learned along the way was the same as Christina preaches: Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. That's just an indisputable fact.
The idea that the return on a bathroom remodel or a kitchen remodel, or both at the time of sale does not give a sufficient payback is folly.
There is no way to accurately measure what the return on investment would have been had the home been sold without the remodeled kitchen and bathrooms.
What I can tell you for sure is that the one with the updates will sell faster and closer to the actual listing price. That RIO, in my mind, is intuitive, I'll agree with you. But, nevertheless, Tarak and Christina have found it the most important component of their successes. I have, too.
Bill Cherry, Realtor