exterior before and after of the Little River House by Becca McLagan

We Flipped Our First House— Here’s How

I have spent years obsessively watching shows about home renovation. Hometown, Fixer Upper, Rehab Addict, Grand Designs, Income Property, Property Brothers, House Hunters Renovation, Beachfront Bargain Hunt, Stone House Revival, oh my god all the things. The amount of life I’ve exchanged for this kind of television is outrageous.

For me, it has never been enough to watch. I wanted to DO. Maybe you can relate?

After years of renting, my husband and I finally got the chance to buy and renovate a home. The minute I saw our Little River House (if there’s one thing I’ve learned from HGTV, it’s that you name your homes), I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to flip it.

This was two years ago in 2017. We were newly married, new to the area, and somewhat unemployed (more on that later). We had never owned a home or power tools before. Why did we feel so confident about this house and its potential? Naivete. Plain and simple. Not knowing anything about anything, our only decision-making process was to “go with our gut.”

God, intuition, beginner’s luck- whatever you choose to call it. These things definitely played a hand in our first renovation and house flip.

I remember walking in the front door for the first time. The tenants who’d been living there for a decade had packed the house to the gills. It was tough to navigate the 800 sq. ft. of living space. It smelled like smoke and we could see nicotine stains on the walls. The carpet felt original (note: “original hardwood floors” is cool, “original carpet” is not. The cabinets and counters were sticky.

And yet, the view to the river was special. That’s all we noticed. On the spot, we offered over-ask price. A few hours later, we got the call- the house was ours!

And now that it’s done

I’ve been waiting to write about our first house flip for a few reasons:

  1. How do blogs work? idk
  2. It’s hard to write about something WHILE you are experiencing it. Or at least, it’s hard for me.

With a little hindsight and a successful sale, I can’t wait to share everything about this flip! Look for upcoming posts detailing each project.

But this is POST #1 (woo!) and it’s not meant to be a tease.

How to flip a house + make a year’s salary

WE BOUGHT SMART
    • Actually, we offered $5000 over list price. We studied the market. Even with overpaying, we knew we were getting a deal.
    • Location! We didn’t know ANYTHING about our new city. But at our first showing, we met the neighbors, felt the relative quiet of the street, saw the river and park in the backyard, and thought…seems alright.
    • Our real estate agent, who is also a close friend, brilliantly led us through the first time buying process. FIND A GOOD AGENT. Life will be better. (Hint: call me!)
WE BUILT SWEAT EQUITY
    • Another time when naivete came in handy. YouTube, articles, the Home Depot staff, neighbors, family- we learned from every resource we could. We did most projects by ourselves and with our families.
    • If our families hadn’t helped… we would still be sitting on the floor in the middle of a torn apart kitchen, hammer in one hand, scratching our heads with the other. Our people knew FAR more than we did, and they played a major role in getting the home finished.
WE SOLD AT THE RIGHT TIME
    • Spring of 2019 was an extreme seller’s market. I had done enough research to know that prices were at an all time high- possibly peaked. Though we would have happily stayed for a few more years, we felt compelled to list.
    • While all the renovating was happening, I got my real estate license. This not only provided an education, but forced me to keep a close eye on market conditions. We also saved on closing costs, since we didn’t need to pay a listing agent’s commission.

Before the kitchen renovation- Little River House @beccamclaganrealestate
After the kitchen renovation- Little River House @beccamclaganrealestate

The power of a side hustle (or two)

Matt and I both worked full time jobs. I teach middle school English and Matt drove for FedEx, meaning all renovations were done on nights and weekends. And because one side hustle wasn’t enough, I decided to also get my real estate license.

That’s four jobs between the two of us.

Much of the time, we were tired and crabby. We often felt like we didn’t recognize our own lives. Sometimes, we honestly weren’t sure if the grind was worth it. I mean, what had happened to our free time? What was “hanging out with friends?”

We had an end goal in mind, but we didn’t let ourselves dwell on it. Our dreams are big and scary. Matt helped remind me that while it’s great to have vision, it’s necessary to get work done. So, we put our energy into making small progress each day.

Looking ahead

There will be many more posts about the Little River House flip. You can also hop over to the Renovations page to view the full gallery. You are welcome to share this content, contact me with questions, or leave comments below.

I’ll end today’s post with two questions to consider:

What is your biggest, scariest dream? And what in the world is holding you back?

Much love,

Becca

It’s great to have vision; it’s necessary to get work done.