Flipping, Flopping, Renting and Selling

Construction Day 1

Now that we have closed without a hitch, the real work begins.  We all meet at the new house to assess everything and put a little more detail around our budget.  When we walked in the door, I realized I had forgotten just how bad that smell was in the air.  We all agreed the culprit of the odor was the carpeting (sorry for the blurry picture).  This is the living room.  This room clearly needed the carpet pulled.  This is where we started.  To pull the carpet, we do not try to pull up the whole room at a time.  Using a utility knife, we cut it into 2-ft wide strips.  Pulling it and rolling it as we go.  We then band the small roll.  This way, we can put it into the normal trash tote used for pick-up.  Because we do all of the work ourselves, we can usually keep the amount of disposal small enough in a week we don’t need to get a dumpster.  If you were using a crew and demoing everything at one time you would need a dumpster.

Living Room

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The room we call Bedroom 2, also clearly needed the carpet pulled:

Bedroom 2

The first bedroom was more of a challenge, the carpet didn’t look awful so there was a long discussion of whether we could just clean it.  On day 1, we did not pull this carpet.  In the end, we did pull this carpet as well.

Bedroom 1.jpg

 

Closing Day

317The house we purchased was a bank-owned house so it can be a little more complicated than purchasing from an individual.  As described in my earlier post, when we finally found the house we were interested in purchasing, the bank rejected our offer.  They came back two weeks later with a counter-offer we could live with on our budget.  My dear spouse immediately went to Real Estate agent and signed all necessary paperwork and then we waited and waited.  After a week, we called and the Realtor said everything looked good.  They were just waiting for the bank to sign off on paperwork.  We waited. It is now the end of the month and the Realtor calls and says if you will close tomorrow, the bank will give you a $200 credit.

The next 24 hours were a whirlwind.  Although we had all of the cash, it was currently sitting in three different accounts.  We needed to get all of the cash into our business account.  We started the LLC at the beginning of the year, as we had two other accidental rental properties and wanted some protection before we expanded into more houses. What we did not realize yet, is transferring money into a business account is much different than transferring between personal accounts.  Apparently, if you do an online transfer from a personal account to a business account, it can take up to seven days for the funds to be available.  We only had 18 hours, not seven days.  Fortunately, all of our accounts are at the same bank.  Mr. Frugal Princess immediately went to the bank and got everything moved into the business account so funds would be available.  We use PNC Bank for our banking needs and I highly recommend.

After he was finished at the Bank, he immediately contacted our insurance agent and got homeowners insurance on the property to begin the next day.  This is important, as you do not want your new property uninsured.

We now have all of the money together, but we still do not have a closing statement.  Without the closing statement, we could not set up the wire transfer to the title company. Keep in mind, we are at the end of the day and we are scheduled to close at 11 next morning. Friday morning comes, still no closing statement.  We FINALLY got the closing statement at a little after 9 on Friday morning.  We reviewed and made sure everything looked good on the Statement.  Mr. then went to the Bank and did the wire transfer.

I want to take a minute and talk about the wire transfer.  When you get the wire information, do a little due diligence and make sure everything is legit.  If you are working with a reputable title company, there should be no issues.  However, be aware there have been issues with scammers tricking buyers into sending their money to a fraudulent account.  It took my less than 10 minutes to verify everything was legit.

When you are figuring the closing costs, have a small reserve for hidden costs. For instance, the cost of the wire transfer was $78 because it was coming from a business account.

Amazingly, everything came together and the closing went off without any problems.  We now had a new rental property.  Now the real work begins.

 

 

I want to start out by saying, we personally do not finance our investments.  We believe if you can’t do it with cash, you need to save more.  The way we are able to do this is we worked very hard to become debt-free.  Because of this, all of our income is now working for us – rather than us working to pay off debt.  Keep in mind investing in rental property, flipping, etc. is not really a get-rich quick thing.  This type of investing is just like your retirement investing.  Slow and steady wins the race. (No matter what you may read).

Before you find the perfect property, you do need to know how you are going to pay for this property.  Because there will be an asset attached to this property, you can get financing.  However, you need to be prepared to pay a higher interest rate. Other forms of funding can be found at local Community Banks, Credit Unions and personal lines of credit.

Please keep in mind, with any type of loan you need to make sure your debt-to-income ratio is not too high.  Keep in mind, it is very unlikely whatever property you purchase will be ready to re-sell or rent immediately.  There will be repairs (there are always repairs).  When we were purchasing our property, I estimated it would be eight weeks before we would have it ready to rent.  This means that particular piece of property it is an “alligator” for at least eight weeks.  By the way, an “alligator” is a piece of property that just sits there and eats money.

Knowing how much to borrow is also important.  You do not want to get half way through your project and run out of money.  Real estate investing is hot right now, and I can’t tell you how many houses we see around our community where someone starts and then simply does not have the means to finish. There is nothing wrong with starting with a small project first and building up to the big money projects.

Below is back side of new property.

back of north street

 

 

 

north street listing picWe all watch those shows on HGTV showing how easy it is to buy, renovate and sell a home.  Now you think YOU want to be a house “flipper,” a landlord, or whatever.  This is all about the reality vs. TV.

We are going to start by talking about finding property. It is nothing like what you see on TV.  You don’t just look at three properties and pick one.  To find the right property, in the price range you are going to look at 50+ listings.  By the way, the 50+ number is conservative.  When we are looking at properties, we look for a good deal.  This means in many cases we are looking at bank owned homes, or homes sellers are trying to get out from under.  We try to find houses we can get for 70-75% of their appraised value.  Because of the current market, this does mean we really are going through a lot of listings.

We started our search by using Zillow.com (all bank listings), Hudhomestore.com (HUD listings), and Homepath.com (Fannie Mae listings).  We would sit down on Saturday morning and make a list of all of the houses we thought looked promising.  We would then get in the car and do a drive-by.  The drive-by is very important, as it allows you to see not only the condition of the house, you also can see the neighborhood. While on these drives, we looked for any other houses we may have missed or empty non-listed house.  We would write these down to research.

When we would find a house in hour price range and in the right area, we would contact our Realtor to really take a look at the house.  I cannot emphasize enough if you are new to this, you need to use a licensed realtor.

In early Spring we found a house meeting all of our criteria.  The listing price was decent and in our price range.  The neighborhood is going through a re-generation.  Although the house had been empty for 18+ months, it did not appear to have any structural damage.

We made an offer. The seller REJECTED our offer, so we walked away.  We felt we had made a fair offer for the condition of the house.  Although we were disappointed, we knew there would be other offices.

Two weeks later (near the end of the month), the seller came back and accepted our offer if we would pay some of the closing costs.  We accepted and waited…..

Next Up Financing



 

Blessings

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Today is my darling granddaughter’s first birthday.  I had always heard what a joy grandchildren are for their grandparents.  I now blessed to know this feeling.  Having a grandchild makes you really think about the important things in life and what kind of legacy and world are we leaving to the children. Part of the legacy in my mind is spending time with family and teaching the ways of the world prior to millennials.  Teach the values of learning to read (and real a lot), good English, working hard and having a positive attitude as much as possible.  Unfortunately, my son and his beautiful family live about five hours away and I do not get to see them as often as I would like.  Because of this, I have a determination to set new goals for myself to afford me the ability to spend time with them whenever I want.

To accomplish this goal, I need to refocus my energy on saving and frugal living.  When you are blessed, you sometimes forget what it took to get you to a financially secure position.  My Dear Hubby and I have been discussing this a great deal over the last few months and have begun setting our goals for 2017.  The first goal is to finish our savings plan to set aside the money for a  new (to us) car in two years. This goal has been on our radar for a couple of years and we have been saving when we could.  However, it  is now the time to become more focused.  I have set a goal for us to have this fund completed by the first of June 2017.  In an effort to kick-start our savings plan in January, we have decided to go on a spending freeze.  We will have our normal budget for bills and work related travel expenses.  We will also have a small budget for perishable groceries.  My hope is if we can plan well, I will be able to add an additional $300 to the car fund, getting us a little closer to our goal. Over the next several weeks, I am going to document how we did on these savings and share.

We are also taking a serious look at our cable and entertainment options.  We have started looking for better deals and will likely make a big change in January.   As I set my goals for 2017, one goal will be to visit this site more often.  I do love to write, I really want to share, but I am really neglectful.

Back at Again

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It has been months and months since I last posted anything on this page.  Over the last several days, I have thought about how I have neglected this blog and what I am really trying to accomplish from sharing my thoughts.  Thinking about all of this took me back to the why:

The WHY is at the age of 49, I started my life anew.  I divorced after 29 years and 11 months of marriage.  This was hard, very hard.  However, it was something I needed to do.  I have often said, people under the age of 20 really have no clue what they want with their lives and it is far too young to make a commitment to someone for the rest of your life.  Now I know some of you are going to say I know so and so and they got married when they were in their teens and they are very happy.  For those rare gems, I say congratulations.

I made this very hard decision just a month shy of my 49th birthday.  The day before my 49th birthday, I started my new single life.  Over the next year, the realities of what was occurring set in.  The first is for the first year or so after I left, I paid the expenses for both homes.  I did this not only because I was able, but because I felt an obligation.  During this year, my youngest son got married and there were of course expenses.  Also, during this time I racked up credit card and other stupid debt.

When the divorce was finalized, it was necessary to split what assets were accumulated during this marriage.  Because I did have a better job situation, he ended up with 60% of the assets.  This does not make me unhappy, nor do I bear any grudges.  The reality was though, when I took inventory after all of the dust had settled, I somehow had gotten myself in almost $40,000 debt — without a house payment.  I really was starting from scratch — and I needed to do something about it NOW!!

The good news though is from all of this, I realized I needed to make some changes in my spending and savings habits.  I had to learn how to be disciplined with my money and get back on track. After all, by this time I had turned the BIG 50 and I didn’t have so many working years ahead of me any more to right this ship.  Luckily, someone very dear to me recommended I read Dave Ramsey’s book “Total Money Makeover”.

I knew to pay off this small mountain of debt I needed to make some drastic changes. The first thing I did was take a true inventory of my income and expenses.  I wrote everything down. I also tracked everything I spent for several weeks to truly see where my money was going. I then did the first honest budget I had done in years. Some of my previous posts talk about the zero-based budget. I plan over the next several weeks to do a new series of posts about budgeting and discuss how I was able to pay off this debt and the successes in my life since.

cash

Recently, speaking with some of my co-workers about budgeting and getting debt-free, the statement was made to me “we aren’t even ready to start a budget.” My question is if you are in financial straights, how can you not budget??? Believe me it is hard — very hard to get started, but to get on the right financial path it is absolutely necessary.  The very first thing you have to do to be successful is do a reality check with yourself about what you really owe.  Remember — no debt is good debt, no matter what you may have heard.

Three years ago, when I sat down and looked at my world — I was shocked.  I didn’t think I was doing too bad in life. I had just gone through a divorce and had a little more credit card than normal. I also had a surgery a few months before and had some doctor bills. But they were on a payment plan and I was not having any trouble making the payments.  I had a car loan (for a brand new car), but everyone has car loans — right???  When I sat down and put all of the outstanding balances together, along with the monthly payments — I was dumbfounded.  I was $40,000 in debt (with no house debt).  How in the world did it happen.  All my life I felt I was living within my means, making payments on time, had good credit — where did I get astray.

Let me say, it was easy to say it was because of the divorce.  It is because of all the extra expenses I have had recently.  Everyone has debt. I’m doing fine.  But it wasn’t — I was $40,000 in debt and 50 years old.  I decided now – not later, was the time to fix this problem.

The first thing I did was get organized and look at what I really “needed” to spend in a month.  I then split this into two parts.  I get paid two times a month, so at the top of the page I wrote what my income was and then subtracted everything due in the first of the month pay period.  I then took what was left over on paper and added it to my income for the end of the month and subtracted everything I needed to pay the second half of the month.  The first thing I noticed was the amount of money I had left over.  Part of this is likely because I forgot a bill here or there.

The bigger part is because I was not controlling my money and it was dribbling out of my hands without even noticing.  What I did to really help myself get on track is write down everything I spent — no matter how small the amount.  I also switched to cash for my “allowance” which includes eating lunch out, personal care, stuff I just want — those type of things.  Before this exercise I rarely had cash — it was easy to just pull out the debit or credit card.  I also switched to paying cash for groceries. I was very disciplined — if I ran out of cash — I couldn’t spend any more money.

It was amazing to see where all of my cash was going, looking back over the years I was really not very good with money (even when I thought I was great).  By controlling exactly how much I was giving myself to spend, I was really able to get a handle on all of those little drips in my cash.  Even though I am now debt-free, I still manage my cash the same way.

After doing this for a month, I was ready to really budget — and really start the journey to debt-free.

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