As Redmond, my three-year-old with Down syndrome, became less medically complex and more independent, and as my older children both went to school, I found myself considering ways that I could work part-time, while allowing time for the creative outlets of writing and speaking. Should I invest in a coffee shop or a bowling alley? How can I take my interests, gifts, and talents and apply them to something that will bless our community, support local businesses, and bring some cash flow into our finances? (Farmers tend to have long-term investments, but face challenges with daily cash flow.)
I've always been interested in real estate and the lure of charming old houses. I love watching home renovation shows, and have dragged Rick along into my obsession. My parents flipped several houses during my growing-up years and I was right there to help hold dry wall in place or hand Dad whatever tool he needed. Mom took my sister and I to open houses "for fun", and she eventually turned her curiosity into a career as a real estate agent. So when the thought occurred to me that I could invest in real estate, it felt like a good fit. I started researching the ways I could get involved.
After a lot of reading, talking with other investors, and prayer, I decided that I should try my hand at house flipping. That is when an investor buys a property that needs to be updated, renovates the home, then resells it in hopes of making a profit. Not only does the investor hope to make money, but for me there is a strong sense of satisfaction in a house transformed, a community improved, and an investment made into the local businesses who help complete the project. I was very concerned that I would not be able to convince Rick, but after I explained it all to him, then investigated our situation further with experts, he agreed to give it a try.
Rick is busy with farming, so his one request was that I find someone else to partner with me so he would be free to farm. God led me to a wonderful couple. I'm friends with the wife and know what a great eye she has for design, and I discovered that her husband is one of those guys who can fix just about anything. They'd been prayerfully considering an opportunity to flip a house, and together we discovered that we made a good team. I handled the administrative end of things - finding the house, laying out the vision, and helping to make some of the big decisions. They handled a lot of the design and the labor to see it through to completion. Rick and I helped with things like painting, landscaping, clean up, and demolition as we were able.
I found a historic house that had seen better days, but had great bones. The location was excellent and the charm was undeniable, but it was a big project. We decided to take a risk and learn together as we went. I formed a real estate investment company, and we employed approximately 20 local small businesses and individuals to help make the dream a reality. It's located in the heart of a small town, and the major changes we made to the exterior have improved the look of the whole area. Members of the community have repeatedly thanked us for raising their property values and for the beautiful transformation.
Our original estimates were quite a bit off, and the project took over double the hours we had figured. After we were well into the project, we decided to finish the room above the garage, which added nearly 400 extra square feet to the home. We fixed many things that are not cosmetic (hello, vapor barriers), that aren't seen in the pretty photos, but made the home safe for many years to come.
It went on the market last week and I did my first "for sale by owner" open house. Due to Coronavirus, we had to do some different things to allow for social distancing, but we made it work and had a good turn out. If this project turns out well for us, we will be free to do another. We like the small town we started in and would love to stay there and bring more improvements to the area. We've learned so much along the way and are hopeful that we'll get to take our new knowledge and apply it to the next project. (Maybe just not such a big one next time!)
Here are some before and after photos for you to enjoy. I'd love to know what you think.
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