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I left my previous job, and began flipping houses in Portland, Oregon in 2010. Having a love for architecture, renovation, and real estate in general, was necessary. It can never just be about the money, or it won’t last. That being said, it wasn’t until my first house sold, on the first day on the market, for the full asking price, that I was convinced I made the best decision. Here are the four things you’ll want to get right.

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First, work with a Realtor who really knows the local market that you’re looking in. Hire a savvy agent who demonstrates they’re in the know of what’s happening in the neighborhood, what houses are selling for in terrible condition, but also the ones in great shape. Your Realtor should also know what houses people are flocking to right now. When I first began, I got my real estate license at the same time and I searched the MLS database for local houses that sold within the first seven days on the market. I wanted to discover some common characteristics. One of those was that in 2010 in Portland, Oregon, about two thirds of houses had white kitchen cabinets. Interesting. When it came time for my first flip, guess what color cabinets I chose? J Find a Realtor who gets it.

Second, come up with a great investment and profit plan, or just use mine. When figuring out how much money I should pay for a fixer house, I use this formula: 0.75(ARV) – Cost of Repairs. What that means is take 75% of the “after repair value” or how much the house will sell for fixed up, then subtract the estimated cost of repairs. That is the most I should be paying for the house. For example, if my savvy Realtor shows me comparable houses that have sold for $300,000 fully fixed up, and the fixer house I’m looking at needs about $30,000 worth of work, then the most I should be paying for it is: 0.75($300,000) – $30,000 = $195,000. After all of the agent, interest, and listing fees, this would leave about a 15% profit on the sales price, or about $45,000 in this example.

Third, hire a great crew. On that first house I flipped, my husband, father in-law, step-dad, and even friends had a hand or two in helping make it profitable. Let’s be honest, when you flip your first house, it can be a bit unnerving. For that first one, I am all about having a little sweat-equity in there to ensure you don’t spend too much money. But I always recommend hiring licensed professionals for the big stuff. And after you gain some confidence from successfully flipping your first house, for the next ones, hire it all out. When I’m looking for new people to work with, I first ask for personal referrals from friends and family. If your best friend has a great heating and cooling person they have been working with for 20 years, start there. If no referrals are coming your way, go to a trusted source online where consumers rate their experience with contractors. Either way, I recommend having at least three people come out to the house to talk with you about the scope of the project, and give you an estimate. It’s also a great time to set up expectations with these potential contractors to make sure you and your project are a good fit for them. Ask them for references, and call those references! One of the things I always ask is: What was the best part about working with this contractor, and if you had to pick something, what could they have done better? Don’t let them off the hook. Have them tell you something.

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And lastly, create a project calendar and tight timeline. The calendar should include all the work happening at the house, and how many days each project will take. I let the contractors know they will be working with others each day they’re there. There is no reason you can’t have a water heater replaced in the basement, at the same time kitchen cabinets are being installed, and the exterior of the house painted. Most of the projects I take on, ranging from $25,000-$150,000 remodels take about 4-6 weeks. The three main reasons for tight timelines are: 1. Buy and sell the house in virtually the same market. The housing market can change quickly. I want to make sure that ARV I calculated before buying the house hasn’t changed by the time I sell it. 2. There’s a great energy generated when there’s so much work happening at once, especially with a great crew. Momentum builds, and with each week that passes, the house transforms. That’s great for morale. 3. The less time you own that house, the lower your expenses are. Most of us don’t have $200,000 in the bank to buy a house for cash, so we pay a lot of interest, fees, taxes, and bills the longer we own the house. Lower those by being efficient and having a tight timeline.

I have been flipping houses since 2010, and have done well on each one. Does luck play a role? Maybe, but having tested guidelines certainly helps. For me, there really aren’t any secrets. If there are flipping secrets out there, I don’t know them. I’ve learned these four things will get you moving in a successful direction.

Bobby Curtis is a serial renovator and principal broker with Living Room Realty in Portland, Oregon.

 

 

Child proofing should be at the top of your list when you have little ones at home. “Unintentional injury” is the leading cause of death among 0 to 17-year-olds and nearly “9 million children are treated for their injuries in hospital emergency departments each year” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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To get you started, here is a room-by-room checklist for making sure your new home is safe for the entire family.

Kitchen:

  • Store soaps and cleaning products up high.
  • Lock cupboards and drawers that contain anything you don’t want your little one getting his or her hands on, like if the garbage is in a cupboard under the sink or knives are stowed in a drawer.
  • Tuck away appliance chords to prevent a reaching two-year-old from pulling the toaster down on his head.
  • Keep the knife block as far back on the countertop as possible.
  • Cover exposed outlets. Even if they aren’t reachable from the floor, they could become easily accessible when you have a mini sous chef helping to prepare dinner.
  • Install an oven lock.
  • Be vigilant when using the oven, stove, blender or garbage disposal.
  • Cover burners and knobs on the stove.

Living Room:

  • Cover exposed outlets and don’t forget to encase surge protectors.
  • Mount bookshelves to the wall. You might hesitate to do this until you’ve finalized the room’s layout, but that could be dangerous if your child is a climber.
  • Tack or tape lamp chords against end tables and walls.
  • Check for any wobbly furniture, like plant stands or entry tables, and keep them in storage until your child is older. Same goes with floor lamps.
  • Anchor the television to the entertainment center or wall.
  • Cut or tie window-blind chords so they are out of reach.
  • Install window locks.
  • Purchase a fireplace cover.
  • Add corner guards to furniture with sharp edges.

Bathroom:

  • Keep cleansers, medications and anything with a chord, like a curling iron or power razor, out of reach or in a locked cupboard.
  • If the garbage is not locked in a cupboard, be aware of what you discard. That razor blade that wasn’t accessible from a shelf in the shower could easily be plucked from the trash.
  • Install a toilet seat lid lock.
  • Develop the habit of keeping the bathroom door closed.

Other:

  • Set the water temperature no higher than 120 F.
  • Designate a place for guests to hang their coats and purses. Pocket knives, medication, change and other small items are kept in handbags and pockets, so keep them out of reach.
  • Install locks on doors that lead out of your hom
  • Add doorstops to keep fingers from getting pinched.
  • Make safety gates your new best friend, especially near stairs.
  • Block any openings that are wider than four inches with plastic shields.
  • Put new batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

If you  are putting your home on the market anytime soon, safety should be a top priority. Below we outlined a few tips to help you prepare.

  1. Make sure valuables are locked up or off-premises during showings and open houses. Jewelry, cash, liquor, checkbooks and credit cards, prescription drugs, keys and other small valuables should all be out of reach when your home is being toured. Safeguard your personal information, too – lock your computer and filing cabinets and don’t leave bills that might show your account numbers lying out.
  2. Choose an agent who uses an electronic lockbox system. Modern electronic lockboxes restrict access to licensed real estate professionals and track every time someone uses the lockbox to enter your home.
  3. Don’t show your home by yourself. If you wouldn’t normally let a stranger into your home and show them around just because they asked, adding a For Sale sign to the yard shouldn’t change that. Direct any inquiries about the property to your real estate agent, who will pre-screen buyers and collect contact information before bringing anyone through. If you opt to sell your home without the help of a real estate agent, this still applies – insist that all showings be prescheduled, collect contact information and verify drivers licenses of potential buyers before they come for a tour, and try to have someone else there any time you are showing your house.
  4. Either take your pets with you or keep them penned during showings. This prevents both the possibility of your pet getting loose during the showing and/or attacking an agent or potential buyer. Even usually calm animals can sometimes get defensive when unfamiliar people are in their space and you could be held liable for any injuries.petsemail
  5. Check that your home is securely locked up after showings and open houses. Doors and windows might be left unlocked unintentionally by distracted buyers trying to take in everything about your home, or would-be-thieves who intend to come back and use the entry later. Either way, you can help keep your home safe by doing a quick walk-through to check the locks after any tour.
  6. If you are selling a vacant home, consider a home staging service. Staging a home can help keep it from looking empty to a casual passerby and decrease your chance of a break-in. Use timers on the lights to boost the illusion that someone lives there. Bonus: According to the National Association of Realtors, “staged homes sell 80% quicker, and for up to 11% more money than non-staged properties.”

 

2014 has been a big year for brass in home decor, though it’s by no means a new concept. Once a norm in houses around the world, at some point brass just fell out of favor. Some homeowners became so disdainful of it that they would go so far as to paint over brass light fixtures and nobs. But brass is back in a big way (although we are not talking about the ultra-shiny brass of the 80s), and the trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. The brass of today is all about creating a warm and timeless look, but with a fresh modern twist.

Design*Sponge believes brass’ appeal may be due in part to the fact that it looks good at any level of wear. Brand new is beautiful, but many years in it develops a gorgeous surface patina of wear that many prefer to its original shine. We think it’s safe to say that the brass revival is more than a fad at this point.

In hopes of inspiring you to experiment with using brass in your own home, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite brass products and uses in decor below. See what you think! Would you install brass in your own home?

Oak and brass shelving system featured on Remodelista.

 

This Hexagon towel holder by Urban Outfitters.

 

A DIY dresser revamp with antique brass bamboo handles, feautured on the blog Natty By Design.

 

This modern yet classic bathroom featured on Domino.

 

This midcentury sconce by Schoolhouse Electric.

 

Sources: Design*SpongeRemodelistaUrban OutfittersNatty By DesignDominoSchoolhouse Electric.

We’ve been loving the kilim trend for years now, but we’re smitten with Barrington Blue‘s take on the classic textile. Based in Los Angeles, Barrington Blue’s Carrie Olshan creates one-of-a-kind home accessories using vintage textiles found during her travels.

Her bright, cheerful creations are just the thing to switch gears from spring to summer.

Images: Barrington Blue