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How We "Flipped" a Flip

In the course of just a couple of years, our first home sold for a difference of about $260k from the time an investor & flipper bought it to when we sold it ourselves. Buckle up, because here's a crazy story about how we "flipped" our flip in a sought-after suburb in Greater Cleveland.

I had the great pleasure of taking 2 sets of couples through our home before we looked at it for ourselves in 2019. Isn't that awesome?! The investor that flipped it did some wonderful things. Apparently our home used to be covered in ivy & was the "house you wouldn't stop to trick or treat at" for years. They completely gutted the interior & exterior. They knocked down walls, finished the basement, waterproofed it & brought it up to modern standards. HOWEVER, they made some odd choices & overlooked a few major things that most buyers didn't want to take on.

Our home sat on the market for a couple of weeks at the original list price in the summer of 2019 before going under contract. When I showed the first couple the home prior to the seller accepting that offer, it was listed at the top of their price range, was going to be their second home now that they had a baby & were out-growing their first residence, & they wanted to be in the specific suburb of Bay Village.

They loved so many aspects of it, from the open layout on the first floor, to the updated kitchen & wood beams. HOWEVER, the home was vacant & they had a really hard time laying out the odd shaped bedrooms in their minds. There were a few things that the home just "didn't have" like a coat closet inside the front door, storage for lawn equipment, etc. I did my best to help visualize but having furniture in the home would have certainly made a huge difference. They loved that the home had 2 full bathrooms, but the master bath didn't have a shower, only a free-standing modern tub...which was gorgeous....but sooo un-functional! In the end they decided not to put an offer in & moved on.

Fast forward later in the summer, when the original buyers' financing fell through & the home hit the market for a second time. The home sat for a few more weeks (probably because most buyers either 1. were thinking the same thing as my buyers had thought or 2. thought something was wrong with the house because the previous deal had fallen through), before they finally reduced the price. (photos are from our listing later)

Now the home was in another set of my buyers' price range so I went to check it out with them again! This couple also loved all those aspects of the home but just couldn't get past the tub situation. It's hard to picture what life will be like in a home when someone isn't already living in it. Once again the home was listed at the top of their price range & they couldn't justify anywhere close to what the seller wanted & take on the project of figuring out how to make that darn master bath more functional for every day life. They also decided not to put in an offer & ended finding a perfect home for their needs.

Another 2 weeks went by & our poor house kept sitting there on the market haunting me. It had so many gorgeous things to offer...why did the flipper fudge up on the master bath?! Did they really think people were going to bathe before work every morning?! It was bothering me. I wanted to find someone that was willing to take on the quirks & character it had to offer. Who was the perfect buyer to take this project on? I saw so much potential.

One day my other half & I were sitting at a brewery (of course) having lunch after a couple of unsuccessful showings of our own as we were also on the hunt as first time home buyers at the time. I was still thinking about that darn house, so I turned to him & said "Hey, remember that house I was showing you with the weird master tub situation in Bay Village? It's STILL sitting there. What would you think about looking at it for US?" Lucky for me, we had just finished our General Tso's (which is his absolute favorite meal ever) & he was feeling good. He said "Sure, that one looked interesting. Let's go check it out."

Because it was vacant I scheduled a showing & we were inside the house 20 min later. We walked around, coming up with ideas along the way & I told him about my exciting vision I had to remedy the dumb bathtub situation. We decided at that point to crunch the numbers & put in an offer.

Now, while the market wasn't quite as HOT as it is today, it was still considered a strong sellers' market in Bay Village at that time. We decided we couldn't justify paying full price to take on what the house was lacking so we put in an offer pretty significantly under asking.

At the time we were "ballin' on a budget" & severely overpaying for granite countertops & a gym in our apartment for the 3rd year in a row. Yes, that's right, we spent an entire college tuition+ on rent over the course of 3 years, flushing our money down the toilet. It still pains me to this day. Between major career changes, our daily hustle & the fact that we are pretty frugal in general, we knew it was time to buy our first home. We work too hard for our paychecks to not start build equity! What a pivotal, life-changing decision that was.

Of course, our offer was rejected, my heart was broken & we moved on. We looked at a couple other houses over the next 2 weeks & nothing quite seemed like a good fit. We told ourselves that if that house was still sitting on the market 2 weeks later, it was "meant to be" & we would up our offer.

The home was still sitting there 14 days later, so we bucked up & wrote up another offer trying to make it look as attractive as possible. The seller countered back, then we countered back, then they countered back again, & things just didn't seem to be coming together. We walked away from our home a second time. Ugh!

About a week later, the listing agent contacted me & sent a "final counter" out of the blue. They were clearly getting desperate. The longer the house sat there, the more stale the listing got. We could finally stretch ourselves up to where they were & we went under contract! Woooohoooo! We got it! Looking back I still can't believe how this all went down. It's crazy to think about!

We were so excited. We planned to live there for 8+ years & do so much over time. I designed a walk-in shower for the master bath on the back of an Aldi grocery list to be put in where there was a closet in the adjacent bedroom (our office). We wanted to add some additional storage out back with a modern shed, turn the stupid canning closet in the basement into a beer closet, install a new garage door w/an electric opener & so much more.

By some miracle we were able to take on all those projects during the pandemic & more. This timing coupled with the state of the market & lack of inventory, led us to decide to put our beloved home up for sale waaay sooner than we anticipated. We ended up being able to justify moving into our "forever" home that has more space years before we ever imagined & start building an investment portfolio ahead of schedule!

The moral of this story is that you can add value to any home with some elbow grease, creativity, fiscal responsibility & saving. If the return on investment makes sense, it's usually worth the wait & challenge. While there is some "luck" to real estate when it comes to timing & the current market, there is always a way to turn something that nobody wanted into a home that attracts every buyer shopping in that criteria. Your home is most likely the biggest investment of your life & if you do it right, you can make that investment work for you & turn it into something spectacular whether for profit or your own enjoyment!

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