Flipping Houses for Profit

House flipping can be a hands-on way to learn carpentry and home remodeling skills while earning money for your dream homestead.

| May/June 1974

  • DIY Home Remodel
    Decorating a previously unfinished room with paint, carpet and even interior walls can significantly increase the value of a home.

  • DIY Home Remodel

With some capital, a lot of work and a little gambling on the real estate market, you can get out of the city hassle a lot faster than you think. The secret? Buy an old house, commit to some DIY home remodeling, sell it and double your money in 60 days. My husband, Bill, and I did just that . . . and neither of us really knew all that much about carpentry or flipping houses for profit, or about property deals. Here are some tips for your own home fix-up.

First, shop around for a real estate agent who's on your wavelength. (We were lucky enough to have a friend in the business.) Then, with his or her help, look for a sound older house — 30-to-40-year age bracket — that has the basics. The one we found was a $16,000 steal in a sought-after neighborhood with a fair yard, trees and an unfinished concrete (as opposed to dirt) basement. That last point was a plus because it gave us the opportunity to create more living space . . . hence more square footage and a higher resale price.

It's best to let your agent do the dealing for the building you choose . . . and don't mention at the bank that you intend to remodel and sell fast. Bankers like to think they have you for life. Since your friendly broker does know your house flipping plans, however, he can help you cut corners on such matters as the down payment. We got by for $1,000 down and $140 a month. Just remember, the faster you get the property back on the market, the fewer of those installments you have to come up with.

Once we had our house, we decided we didn't want to live in the mess of remodeling. So we stayed in our apartment . . . another $95 reason why we set a deadline of 60 days for our revamping job. It seems we were wise: Friends of ours who were also redoing a house chose to live on site and found their own occupancy a drawback. Trying to work around your furniture is a lot to cope with and takes precious time.

With that point settled, Bill and I got down to our project (evenings and weekends only, since we both had full-time jobs). We decided that DIY remodeling  was the best way to go, because it would keep our costs down. Hard-working friends who are sympathetic to your cause can make the business go faster.

Our first remodeling act was to enlarge a dinky closet in the master bedroom to a full-size walk-in with bifold doors (buy them unfinished at the lumberyard, and ask for irregulars . . . they cost less). Then Bill tore into the outdated coal bin in the basement and removed sundry shelves, junk and trash . . . while I refreshed the kitchen with paint, curtains from a bargain center and new white knobs on doors and drawers. (When you shop for paint, by the way, go to the best supplier in town and ask for their contractor's grade. It costs less than top line but covers well — fast — and is a better product than discount stores sell.)

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