The Party House (828)

We purchased “The Party House” and got started working on demo in February of this year.  Even when we stripped it of it’s dance floor, 8 track shelf, castle-like entrance and bar; the name remained and the ‘fun’ of the party continued.  We had quite a few hurdles to overcome working on this property and felt triumphant to get it to a state we are proud of.  Beyond the success of a beautiful transformation and quick sale, we also had another priceless event to make this flip even more memorable.

The property is a ranch style house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs plus a full basement with an additional bathroom and two rooms which could be used as bedrooms.  It was a massive project to take on with some major obstacles not typical of every redevelopment project.  We wanted to keep some of the features the last owner had spent so much time and energy to personalize the home and add some of our own re-purposed materials.  One of the biggest challenges was managing how to change the not so functional spiral staircase into something unique to fit the character of the home.  Now the house is clean, warm and ready for the next owners to tailor to suit their needs.

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The new basement is bright and inviting, we had to use a few barrels from the old bar just for staging and the memory of how far this basement has come.  *Still a fun place for a party.*

After a rush of showings and a few offers within the first 48 hours on the market, our realtor called to say she had been contacted by one of the people who used to live in the house.  I was put in touch with Liz, the daughter of the former owners, who expressed her gratitude for someone buying and fixing up the home she loved so dearly.  We agreed to meet and show them how the house looks now.  Liz and her niece Jessica, who was also raised in the home, came to walk though last weekend.  It was an emotional trip down memory lane for them to see the changes and to appreciate seeing the house “brought back to life,” as Liz put it.

Liz recalled when her family moved from across the street in the 70’s and how important this neighborhood was to introduce both her and her sister to their husbands.  She FullSizeRender (1)remembered carrying bricks between the houses to construct the patio, how her dad put a giant freezer in the storage area and then built walls around it, and the hours spent on the pool table and entertaining in the basement.  She talked about where the original stairway to the basement was and how her dad “got a wild hair” to put in the spiral staircase in the middle of the entryway.  And she is looking forward to bringing home whiskey barrels from the bar as her own memento, as she remembered her dad’s dedication to making wine that everyone said tasted awful.  Jessica also had fond memories of the home and especially the bedroom in the corner where her name remained on the wall when we bought the house.  We had been calling the pink room “Jessica’s Room” all along.  She reported unfortunate memories of taking a few tumbles down the stairs when she was young.  And remembered dancing with her cousins on the dance floor and mimicking a champagne celebration by shaking up sprite, loving the sound and feeling of shoes sticking on the wooden floor.

It was extra validation of a job done well to hear from people who lived in and loved this home.  They adored the improvements of opening up the main level living area, adding a laundry room upstairs and brightening up the basement with a sliding glass door and removal of dark paneling.  They appreciated the original touches remaining in the house which blend in now with the fresh space.  Liz stated she believed her mother, who wasn’t able to keep the home and has since passed, would be so pleased to see what has become of her home.  It was an honor to have Liz and Jessica visit, hear their stories and to have them feel so happy about the effort we put into this renovation.  The business of flipping houses can be profitable and it’s the impact on people’s lives which is truly priceless.

Consistent Distractions

We take our job very seriously.  We have invested a lot of time and energy into learning our trade and understanding the business.  Naturally we love the design aspect, shopping, checking out properties, educating about creating a healthier earth and watching  home transform.  And it’s critical we understand the systems to doing things the right way and avoid unnecessary risk.  When it boils down to it, it’s crazy fun.

Life as a real estate investor means we live on the fly, how we spend our days often gets made up as we go.  The best scheduled plans can quickly get detoured when a potential deal needs to be accessed because offers are made quickly.  Part of the excitement of the business is the unpredictability and it can also be a source of frustration.  At times we have found ourselves distracted by the excitement and wasting time on the wrong tasks.

Because of the tendency to chase shiny things, we have begun to emphasize improving our systems to implement tasks and routines with flexibility.  This allows us to keep focused on structure while still allowing for unplanned events.  We time block when to work on marketing, communications, renovation tasks, analyzing deals, education and networking meetings.  We keep each other accountable for sticking to assigned tasks and staying focused.  Our business is more productive because of this method.

Keeping in mind the necessity of avoiding distractions, I stood in our construction zone making a mental note of all of the duties which would need to be worked on over the next few days.  Tile on the kitchen floor to be repaired, trim around the windows, installing appliances, paint etc.  I placed a phone call to the contractor to go over what I was seeing when outside the window I spotted a flash of white.  Grateful to have the major part of my conversation completed, my focus wavered from his words to narrow in on the bright spot across the street.  I darted to the window like a labrador retriever and there it was, a small furry ghost on the tree, the neighborhood albino squirrel.  Okay, so we are not perfect.  We can’t time block everything and may still chase ‘shiny things’ on occasion.

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Not the actual squirrel, you would stop to look too wouldn’t you?

Have you considered real estate?

With so many HGTV and DIY shows making flipping look easy, many people have the idea real estate investing is simple and fun.  Choosing design plans, shopping for features and creating something beautiful out of what once was ugly – yes some parts are pretty cool.

In general, the thought doesn’t actually motivate most individuals into action to buy a house and begin construction.  This, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing.  Real estate is not as simple as it looks when trimmed into a 30 minute episode.  Unfortunately not all construction goes as planned, surprises can be hidden behind walls, permits can be stalled, and any number of things can go very, very wrong.  Experts who have invested in essential education, have systems for staying on time and on budget, and utilize a network of other seasoned investors can overcome these home nightmare obstacles without faltering.  For the beginner without knowledge about the process, these same obstacles can drive them to bankruptcy.

Okay I know this post started out scary, I promise there is an upside.

If you are a person who has an interest in real estate and realize you lack the time, energy or education necessary to take on a project there is still a way you can be involved and make money.  Redevelopment companies like, EcoLiving Property, grow business by building relationships with lenders who can fund the purchase and construction of a project.  The lender is given a first or second mortgage position to secure their legal interest, meaning the lender acts as the bank owning the property and collecting the interest.  Except you can earn double or more what a bank charges for interest on their mortgages.  The best part is, unlike your money in the bank or in the stock market, your investment is secured with the property and insured – no matter what could go wrong, you can’t lose money.

You may be wondering why wouldn’t we just get a mortgage loan from a bank, especially since the interest is cheaper.  The way our business works, we need to be able to purchase houses quickly and banks – to put it kindly – operate at their own pace.  Additionally, since the houses we purchase are distressed properties well below market value, banks cannot loan on properties without functioning kitchens and bathrooms.  Besides, we figure in the cost of paying our investor to our flips and we value their part in our business.

To review how the process works:

  1. EcoLiving Property finds an extremely undervalued property and presents you with the project.
  2. We borrow the funds from you to purchase and renovate the property.
  3. EcoLiving Property utilizes systems to complete an eco-friendly renovation staying on time and on budget.
  4. We list and sell the property.
  5. At the closing you’ll receive your principle plus interest payment.
  6. You can continue to invest in future projects and continue earning.

If this sounds like a more foolproof way to get involved in real estate investing, you’re correct!  However, we will not make money for just anyone.  We want to build investor relationships with those who have the same passion for our mission.  Our homes aren’t your typical flips, we aim to create green, energy efficient and clean home environments and hope you share this vision as well.   If you’re interested in hearing more, I’d love an opportunity to answer your questions.  Please give us a call.

 

Shopping and ReShopping

We will close on our first deal of the New Year next week and have eagerly begun design plans and purchasing for this renovation.  Our decision to start a home redevelopment company was simple.  The real and more important challenge became how to rehab homes to cleaner, greener living environments for the future families who would own them.  With each project we intend to take the care and thoughtfulness as if these were houses our families planned to move into.

Our passion for creating cleaner and greener homes comes from a deeply personal concern for human health and the health of the environment for future generations.  We, like many others, know how illness can devastate a person and their family.  Understanding the science of some diseases and the environmental factors which can cause them, drives us to be mindful of avoiding as many toxic chemicals as possible in our house flipping projects.  Again, we want to ensure the homes we create are environments we would feel confident about living in ourselves.

Yesterday was a productive day of shopping cabinets, counter tops, sinks and lighting fixtures.  We bought a few things to add to our stored items for this house and are beginning to see the design plans come together.  I like to actually have a visual of the items we are putting into each room while we continue shopping, so I started a spreadsheet with pictures of the items we have purchased so far.  I struggled to find a photo online for one of the vanity lights we bought and was disappointed when I did.  The light was listed for sale online with the following warning:

Prop 65 Warning

WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm.  

Upon further investigation…  This warning means a chemical material used to make this lighting fixture is included in the approximately 800 chemicals listed as hazardous to human health according to the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.  The list, determined by The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and the California Environmental Protection Agency, summarizes naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals known to cause cancer and birth defects.  The companies can knowingly continue to use these materials as long as they notify the consumer with the Prop 65 label.

Now do we believe by using this vanity light you are asking for cancer? No.  Do we believe this company manufacturing the lights maliciously plan to make people ill?  No.  Is it possible that businesses ignore the health of consumers over the profit for the company? Perhaps.  And do we, as a business trying to be profitable, have to also ignore the health of consumers?  Absolutely not.

Unfortunately it will be impossible for us to eliminate ALL the harmful chemicals which are utilized in housing materials, however, we are committed to reducing as many as possible.  And for all of the progress we made in buying products for our newest renovation, you can consider us in need of one more new vanity light.