11 Super Cheap Ways to Flip Houses Fast

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When you flip houses, it’s simple: the faster you can sell your flip, the more money you’ll make.

And sometimes, the speed in which you sell your house flip can make the difference between your flip being a home run and it being merely average. This is because the longer the house sits on the market, the more you pay in soft costs. Soft cost such as finance charges, utilities, maintenance and a host of other costs start to really add up the longer the house stays on the market. And the longer it takes to sell, the slimmer your margins will be.

So what are some super simple and cheap ways to sell it as fast as possible?

Flip Houses Fast Using “Outside-In” Thinking

One of the best ways to sell your flip fast is to make the house as attractive as possible to potential buyers. When you’re doing the rehab, always add features to the house that the market wants the most. Your real estate agent can certainly advise you on this or if you have a builder who has worked in the area before, he can give you some good pointers as well.

However, most house flippers when they are first learning how to flip houses have a tendency to focus all their efforts on making the inside of the home as attractive as possible. The inside is certainly important, but unless you make the house super attractive from the outside, all that work you’ve done on the inside will have gone to waste.

And this is why “curb appeal” is one of the most important aspects of selling your flips fast.

Curb Appeal: The Magical House Flipping Helper

Curb appeal is simply how a house looks “from the curb”. In the case of house flipping, the better the house looks from the outside, the more likely a potential buyer is to explore the inside. Curb appeal is a very important variable to control as it can make a huge difference on the salability of the house.

If the outside doesn’t look refined and inviting to a potential buyer, then chances are slim they’ll get to the inside. Regardless how great a job you rehabbed the inside, you must put that same care and attention to detail on the outside as well.

Of course, there are some major exterior improvements that you’ll need to consider as well. Such things as exterior painting, re-siding, roof replacement, window replacement and major landscape renovations are all large investments and need to be considered within the context of your budget as well as town bylaws. These are what I would consider “major” improvements to the exterior and must be done if they are sorely needed.

With regard to painting and residing, there are cheaper ways of getting around the major expense by getting the house powerwashed or just doing some cosmetic touch ups if needed. However, if the extent of the exterior work is more than that, you’ll have to seriously consider those costs in your original numbers when figuring our your MAO, ARV and using the 70% Rule. If the house needs to be re-painted, then you’ll have no choice but to do it. Just make sure you factor the cost into your numbers ahead of time.

And always consult with your general contractor on any of these major decisions. Also keep in mind the more work your contractor does for you, or at least tells you that it needs to be done, the more money that goes into his pocket. So seek a second opinion on the major decisions if needed.

Short of those kinds of major curb appeal enhancements however, there are a number of less expensive ways to dramatically improve the curb appeal of your flip and help you sell it as fast as possible. Below is a list of ways in which you can enhance the curb appeal of the house you are trying to sell.

11 Super Cheap Ways to Flip Houses Fast

Most of these methods below can all be done for under $500 and some of them can be done quickly just by taking the time to do them yourself. Of course, if you do any of these yourself, you’ll save labor costs, but it all depends on what kind of budget you have an what level of involvement you want in your flips. For me, I have people do all these for me as I’m usually spending most of my time networking, making offers and looking for my next flips. But on occasion, some of these Ill get involved in if needed when I’m on site. Its totally your call there.

1. Trim the Bushes: Simply trimming back overgrown bushes can dramatically improve the curb appeal of a house. Sometimes taking them out completely if they’re too big will double the curb appeal in a single stroke. We just did this with a house we sold and it made a major impact by totally transforming the exterior of the house in an afternoon.

2. Cut Down Overgrown Branches and Trees: Just like trimming the bushes above, if you have a house with a tree that overhangs the house, cut it down. And if necessary, cut down the whole tree. This can usually done for less than $1,000 and oftentimes less than $500. The dual benefit is that when you curt down an overhanging tree, you will also lighten up the interior as well. In this way, you get a double benefit. Oftentimes the interior improvement is as much if not more dramatic than the exterior curb appeal improvement.

3. Power Wash the Exterior: If the house needs to be re-painted or re-sided, then do it. In most cases though, you won’t absolutely need to although it may appear that way at first. For example, when remove overgrown bushes or trees, chances are you’ll then expose siding or shingles covered by mildew and mold. Instead of repainting or residing, powerwash it instead. When its all done, the look and feel of the home will be drastically improved. A neighbor of mine just did this with his cedar shingles and the house now looks like its been completely resided. All he did was rent a power washer from Home Depot for $65 for the whole day. You can get a new electric pressure washer for around $150 or a gas one for around $300 – far less than a complete re-siding or re-painting.

4. Plant New Plantings: Nothing looks better from the curb than brand new bushes and blooming flower beds to bring a splash of color to a house. A few new bushes and some flowers can not only beautify, but they can also cover up less than attractive parts of the house as well like an ugly foundation. Whether you do this will largely depend on the time of year and your location. If you’re learning to flip houses in Florida, then this obviously applies year round. If you’re selling your flip in the dead of winter in North Dakota, then you’ll probably want to scratch this one off the list.

5. Spiff Up The Beds: Another super easy way to increase curb appeal is to define all beds with sharp edges. When you apply new natural mulch to make the beds look crisp, clean and defined, the difference is amazing. This is an easy one to do yourself too.

6. Kill The Weeds: Make sure you remove all weeds as well and apply a weed killer to the lawn and the beds. They may grow back, but a good weed removal spray will take care of these pests for months.

7. Mow The Grass: Keeping the grass cut and watered for a healthy looking lawn dramatically increases curb appeal. Make sure you fertilizer to feed your lawn as well. And if there are any bare spots in the lawn, a little Scotts PatchMaster will go a long way. If the bare spots are more extensive, loom where it’s needed and fill in any bare areas with new grass seed.

8. Leverage Your Local Nursery: If you’re lacking landscape designing skills, one trick I’ve used in the past is to take some pictures of other nicely landscaped homes in the area and take those pictures to the local nursery. The staff at these places love to help and in the process, you can get some free design assistance. Best of all, most nurseries will provide this kind of guidance for free. And if the advice is really good, just make sure you purchase your plants there.

9. Apply a Driveway Sealer: A nice clean, glistening black driveway can make a huge impression on potential buyers. This alone creates a fresh new look without spending a whole lot of money. Resealing should be done every 3-10 years anyway and the frequency largely depends on the weather in your area. if you do this one yourself, it will cost you under $100 for a driveway that’s 1,000 square feet. Short money for what kind of effect it has on the attractiveness of the house.

10. Install a New Mailbox: Getting a new mail box is super easy way to enhance curb appeal. This is especially true if the one you have right now is old and battered. A local handy man will do all this for you for under $200, which includes all labor and materials, whereas you could do the job yourself for $75 or less. Small money, big impact.

11. Improve the Walkways: By cheaply repairing your walkway to your front door, you can really make a quick change that immediately adds to curb appeal. If you don’t have a walkway, consider adding a flagstone walkway over the existing grass. Flagstone walkways can really make a house look appealing and inviting, while adding symmetry in many cases. Depending on the amount of stones you’ll need, you can usually do this all for under $500.

And here’s a wicked easy “bonus tip”….

12. Sweep Up: Doing something as simple as sweeping the sidewalks or picking up any loose debris around the house are two more super simple, yet very effective things to further enhance curb appeal. While you’re waiting for you real estate broker to come by, you can do this yourself in under 10 minutes. Just grab a broom and start sweeping!

If you do any or all of the things listed above, I guarantee that you’ll quickly add tons of curb appeal to your house flips while making the house look real nice and be something you can be proud of.

And of course, by doing any these things, you’ll not only will you save on soft costs like financing and carrying costs, but you also may be able to fetch a higher price then your original ARV.

And when you flip houses, isn’t that the best scenario?

If you’ve read this far please leave a comment below! What are your best curb appeal tips? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Photo: Viernest

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About Author

Michael LaCava is a full time real estate investor, house flipping coach and the President of Hold Em Realty located in Wareham, MA. He runs the website House Flipping School to teach new real estate investors how to flip houses and is the author of "How to Flip a House in 5 Simple Steps".

15 Comments

  1. Love the idea of using the nursery. Never done that one but I will. One thing I usually do is change out or paint the front door a nice color. Depending on the house, it makes a big difference and not too pricey to do.

    • Great point Jerry. I have painted doors as well. Sometimes matching to shutter colors looks nice. I agree.
      Thanks for sharing

  2. That’s a very comprehensive list Mike. You are absolutely right about curb appeal. If you can’t get them in the front door, you can’t sell the house. These are great tips for brand new rehabbers. Don’t skimp on the “small stuff”.

    Sharon

    • Hello Mindi.
      Yes another good idea. I have put matts out but I will try to personalize them more. Thanks for the comments

  3. Michael,
    I have been buying and holdings properties for a while now. This also applies for all of them since some of these things are just way too cheap to do! I just saw in the home depot mailboxes for $20.
    Next week I am closing the first property that will be intended for a flip. These list of tips will be writen down in paper and delivered to the people that do all the work for me. I really appreciate the post and lets see how it works!!

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