Saturday, February 01, 2014

Flip House: Take Two

When my husband and I were in our twenties and idealistic, living in high-cost-of-living Chicago suburbs, a tiny two bedroom house with no garage could easily run you over $100k.  We were used to Pekin prices, where one of the nicest house in town might go for that.  (this was 1984).  And along with some of our other early married dreams (a horse-drawn sleigh through our land to our tiny mountain cabin somewhere exotic like Colorado), we dreamed of eventually moving back to our small town and fixing up homes for a living.  30 years ago, the dream is born.  Four kids, 4 houses of our own, several career changes, and 30 years later we are living that dream.

We survived our first flip house.  We hoped to complete it in 3-4 months.  It took nine. We thought we'd do two of these a year, piece of cake.  We are doing one every two years.  It was a strain on the marriage and family life, taking up many, many weekends pulling out old nails, ripping up floors, painting old siding in the glaring sun.  But in the end, we did good.  We left the house 1000% better than we found it.  We made a little tiny postage stamp of the neighborhood a place where a family can enjoy living again.  We made some money on the house, not enough to buy the horse-drawn sleigh, but enough that we were pleased.  Of course if we figured it out to an hourly rate that might depress me.

We worked on that first house, removing the dirt and grime, the neglect and odors, the damage and disorder.  We lovingly and very slowly, improved it, giving it a fresh face, a solid foundation, and a few bells and whistles.  By the time our three months had turned into nine, we were both sick to death of visiting 'the flip house' and yet not ready to hand our baby over to just anyone.  Well, actually we were willing to hand her off to anyone for the right price, but we were attached.  So much positive energy, wishful thinking, color swatches, elbow grease, all handed on to the next owners.  And when it was over, it was a very happy and mildly sad time.  I needed a break.  I wasn't ready for the commitment it takes to give up shopping weekends and barbecues for paint rollers and putty knives.  But, here we are, one year after that first sale.  And we are ready to love again.  Like the first house, we stumbled upon this one after rejecting many on the market.   It took so long for the current owners to respond to our offer, we had almost forgotten about it after the first week or two of anticipation.  But then in January, the news came.  The prior owners were accepting our offer and we potentially have another baby to raise.  Another house that is. Another flip house.

I'm excited, anxious, kind of like the second pregnancy.  You know the pain ahead of you, your eyes are wide open, and yet it was a good enough experience, that you want to try it at least one more time. So flip house #2, here we go.  Let's hope you too someday become the house we drive by occasionally to see how the new owners are taking care of you, commenting once again with parental pride, "It really does look good, doesn't it"

Flip House #1: After. 2012