Rehabbing for a million dollar sale

21 Replies

I bought a foreclosure in a million dollar neighborhood.  I live there and rent out the guest apartments and part of the main house.  In the next few months, we're going to start the process of renovating the place so we can sell it for top dollar.  I've always been a rather frugal person, and all of our renovations so far have been BRRRs.  My point being that I'm sort of a fish out of water when it comes to high end finishes and what people who buy million dollar homes look for.  I'm in Northeast Florida in a beach community if that helps.  

For anyone whose niche is flipping higher end properties like this, what do buyers look for?  What are absolute must haves?  To give you some basics, the main house has 4 bedrooms with a really nice sized master suite (1000sqft) - has its own florida room overlooking the pool and its own office.  Main house is 4000sqft.  Guest house is 900sqft and has 2 one bedroom apartments.  Total land is about 1.25 acres.  One mile from the ocean.  

Thanks!

  • Nice granite counter tops (look for stuff with lots of motion & veins, not the cheap "flecked" stuff) in the kitchen & bath, unless you go with high-end marble in the bath.  High-end backsplashes...glass mosaic, subway tiles, etc.
  • Hand scraped hardwoods for traditional feel, real wood not engineered and definitely not laminate.  You can use the same for a more contemporary, but you can also go with a very smooth finish.
  • Floor & cabinet colors should be dependent on the style of the property.  Go for darker cabinets (like an espresso finish on a maple or something else with minimal wood grain, you can also go with a dark or cool - think gray - painted finish) for a more contemporary style property.  Traditional styles, go with white, distressed or traditional cabinetry and floors can be anything from dark to light, as long as they coordinate well and have texture.
  • Traditional style fixtures go with oil rubbed.  Contemporary can play oil rubbed, but brushed nickle is a more expected finish.
  • High-end appliances...all stainless...commercial grade, gas cooktop - think Viking or Wolf.  Built in wine fridge.
  • Open floor plans
  • High ceilings
  • large master bath with separate tub & shower, split vanities (do "his" higher) and make sure the shower is decent sized...frameless glass enclosures are nice.  Jetted tubs are not mandatory, but deep soaker tubs are.
  • kitchens with islands
  • Little extras like a pot filler above the cook top, 2 dishwashers, double convection ovens, appliance garages on the counter tops, "wired" homes to plug in MP3 players in rooms
  • walk-in pantry
  • spacious laundry room with a sink and room to hang/fold
  • You can put carpet in the bedrooms.  That really becomes a personal choice for people, but stay with a frieze, if you do, unless you are using a professional designer.
  • If you're in an area where "green" is important, think about using as many renewable products as possible, i.e. bamboo & cork for flooring, reclaimed wood as accents, etc.  Low VOC surfaces & paints, etc.
  • Energy efficient windows, doors, & insulation.

I'm sure there's more, but that should get you started and give you a good idea.  Then visit HGTV.com for more ideas!

Sounds fun! My suggestion is walk ever house that comes on the market in your ARV range and above. That will give yo clarity on what the market demands.

Originally posted by @Erin N. :

I bought a foreclosure in a million dollar neighborhood.  I live there and rent out the guest apartments and part of the main house.  In the next few months, we're going to start the process of renovating the place so we can sell it for top dollar.  I've always been a rather frugal person, and all of our renovations so far have been BRRRs.  My point being that I'm sort of a fish out of water when it comes to high end finishes and what people who buy million dollar homes look for.  I'm in Northeast Florida in a beach community if that helps.  

For anyone whose niche is flipping higher end properties like this, what do buyers look for?  What are absolute must haves?  To give you some basics, the main house has 4 bedrooms with a really nice sized master suite (1000sqft) - has its own florida room overlooking the pool and its own office.  Main house is 4000sqft.  Guest house is 900sqft and has 2 one bedroom apartments.  Total land is about 1.25 acres.  One mile from the ocean.  

Thanks!

What did you pay for the property and what is the current market ARV for it? Is there an address for the property or is that a secret of some sort?

Hey @Erin N. , sounds like a fun project and an awesome property.  Would love to hear/see updates as you dig into it.

@Hattie Dizmond gives some great tips.  I would also recommend an outdoor kitchen of some sort, here in Florida, that is huge.  

Listen to the most recent podcast as well.  Will Barnard digs into how he is successful with high end flips.

http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2015/07/09...

@Andrew Davis  great catch!  Outdoor kitchens are big in Texas as well.  I knew I was forgetting major things.  It takes a village, and @Will Barnard is the village chief!

Account Closed I would like to believe you didn't intend your post to sound as hostile as it came across. There was no reason for Erin to post additional financial details or the property address, as he/she was not asking for help evaluating the deal, establishing an ARV or doing any of the other things that would make that level of detail necessary. Erin was simply saying this project is outside the price point that he/she normally deals in and was looking for finish suggestions. I'm sure the address is no more of a secret than the last name of members who choose to only display their last initial. Just sayin'

Thank you everyone for input!  @Hattie Dizmond your list is very comprehensive, and I knew it took some time to put together. Thanks so much for that! I'm leaning more toward tile (travertine?) instead of wood just because that's almost all I see here. I've set up a MLS search for homes within 4 neighborhoods close by that sell for $750k-$1.25m. I figure that is going to be good for getting a feel for what sells well here.

One area I'm particularly nervous about is the master suite/owner's retreat area.  There is really not a proper master closet to speak of - a wall of 3 24" deep closets with bifold doors.  I almost want to split the 300 sqft master bath into a closet/bath so I don't have to take from the bedroom space for the closet.  Any thoughts on floorplans for master suites? I've found a few online, and it seems to be the current trend to flow from the bedroom through the closet to the bathroom or vice versa.  I'm very open to suggestion.  When it comes down to it, I really have a 750 sqft open square to work with between the bedroom and bathroom (the wall in between them is really no biggie).  I know the master suite is going to be critical to getting top dollar.  

As for sharing the address, as I had stated it's my current home.  I don't feel comfortable sharing that on a public forum.

Thanks again everyone!  You're the best :)

@Erin N. There's no need to provide the address.  It isn't necessary to answer the question you've asked.  

Tile is awesome and completely appropriate, if that's what's expected in your area.  I know tile is popular in coastal communities.  Travertine is always safe, but you might think about doing something a little more updated.  The large format tiles with the linen finish are really sharp looking.  And, you might standout by going with a "softer" feel with the handscraped hardwoods.  I don't think you can go wrong with any of those choices.

As for the master suite, you definitely want a substantial walk-in closet.  Those linear, shallow closets really date a property, and don't offer what buyers at that price point are going to be looking for.

Also, there was a trend of having the closet be the connector between the sleeping space and the bath, but that's pretty much old hat.  (People want to show off their master suite, but they might not want everyone seeing in their closet!)  However, I would definitely encourage closet access from within the bathroom, not directly from the bedroom.  For one, it limits the number of doors in the sleeping area, thereby maximizing wall space and creating a cleaner look.  Also, it just makes sense!  The other thing...direct access to the outdoors, with possibly a semi-private sitting area, from the master is a bonus.  If you weren't in Florida, I would suggest a FP in the master as well.  I don't know how big of a deal that is in FL.

If you want to PM me with the actual dimensions of the 750 sq foot box you have, I would be happy to sketch something out.  Designing is actually one of my favorite things.

While I don't have direct experience an important point that has been touched on  is some things differ regionally so do walk the open houses.  Floor coverings and exterior finishes are different across regions so what is expected in a million dollar home in Florida might be different from somewhere else.  There may be some amenities that would be expected in your area so read ads at this price point see what do they emphasize?    There are many things that don't vary (high end appliances, countertops, closets) but others like your stone floors are more local. 

It also seems to me that if you go up in price point some of the neutral look is lost and standout colors and design are expected but I could be wrong about that.   

get ready for some sticker shock too.

This post has been removed.

Originally posted by @Hattie Dizmond:

Interesting... try not to make too many assumptions -- especially of the thoughts and intent of others and questions meant for others. The accusatory tone is somewhat offensive and disruptive. 

If you are unfamiliar with design features in this price point in your coastal area of FL, might I suggest you hire a consultant or designer (make sure the designer is an investor at at minimum, investor experienced as many designers love to pick expensive name brand stuff that you could easily make the same look at half the price).

Hattie's list is good and outdoor kitchens are a must in coastal areas like yours and mine. Travertine is a good choice but it must be accompanied by other finishes that compliment it. Style is also key, moderns sell the best and for the most so clean lines, open floor plans, and polished nickel or chrome hardware and finish plumbing fixtures.

This type of home sounds like ibis right up my alley, unfortunately I am too far away to physically consult you on this project. 

@Erin N. Congrats on the step up. Lots of good suggestions already. One thought is to look for the "gratis" industry magazines like "Coastal Living" or "Dream Homes" (San Diego) sitting out in front of broker offices or similar venues catering to this segment. The photos are nice and big and illustrate a broad range of price points, styles and finishes in the local market. With Amelia Island up from JAX there should be some version of it there.

A bit obvious but sometimes not fully exploited are SKYPE call walk throughs with missing team members or out of territory consultant for a quick take. I used this often between Mexico/US years ago before the tech became more comment place. Now with higher resolution and apps drilling down on details is easier to put into a work flow of virtual management. 

GG quick tip: video walk thru day one for personal record, review, reflection. It is amazing how easily it is forgotten that closet door swings left not right or soffit really does extend longer than thought. Then up load into a DropBox project folder for the team to view as needed.

Originally posted by @Account Closed :
Originally posted by @Hattie Dizmond:

Interesting... try not to make too many assumptions -- especially of the thoughts and intent of others and questions meant for others. The accusatory tone is somewhat offensive and disruptive. 

You clearly didn't read my post very carefully.  I was not assuming nor accusing.  In fact, I made a statement that I hoped you didn't intend for your post to sound like it did.  I was simply pointing out the "tone" of what you wrote.  You'll find, if you care to look through my posts - of which there are plenty to sample - I don't rely on "tone" for my messages.  If I have something to say or wish to actually accuse someone of something, I'll simply come right out and say it. 

Account Closed also makes million dollar houses on the coasts, new devs tho, you might also want to want to connect with her.

I would say to try to do a walk through at every house that comes on the market in your area and somehow make a note of the finishes and amenities those properties have. Pay close attention in case you see someone making an offer and if you can try to have a chit chat with that person and ask them what about the house sold them. Of course those houses should be priced in the price range you are thinking of for your property. 

I am an architectural designer and where I am people like huge open spaces, high ceilings, cathedral ceilings work well. The living areas should be open and provide an easy flow for walking from one area to another. Huge windows to bring in plenty of light and provide inspiring views. Functionality at ever turn. The master suite should be awesome with an office space,You might think of having  a swimming pool, a nice court yard and bbq area, definitely provide a well defined entertainment area inside and outside, perhaps a spa with a bar area, redwood decks even a tennis court but you can take that as an option. Water, water, water, landscaped streams, water fountains, enough parking space, both covered and uncovered for about 4 or 5 cars. 

We all know that its the woman that make the decision about what to buy so I would listen to what the women suggest on hear. I always bring in a woman consultant to stage a house and recommend finishes, features, and fixtures. 

Try to think what could be a wow ! factor for your particular house, Would it be views, landscaping, entertainment features, a chef's kitchen, guest quarters etc etc, 

What would make a buyer feel you built that house just for them?

Expectations are very different in different areas. I would speak with a local designer that understands your goals. What is considered high end in some areas is considered outdated in others. The Cherry Cabinets and Granite look has been out of style in CA for two plus years but it still works elsewhere. A local designer will be able to help you maximize your investment.

Maybe you can upload a pic of the house. It's important that the exterior of the house and interior work together and aren't competing styles. Also, if you have pics of the interior, it will let us see what you have to work with. 

For instance, is there carpet or tile in the house right now? If there is carpet and it's on a slab foundation, you might be able to finish the concrete as @Lynn Currie does on her builds. Maybe she can weigh in with ideas too. 

There's different options on cabinets too, from sleek modern style laminates, to the more traditional. Once again, the style of the house guides the style indoors. 

Here quartz is much more in demand than granite. Engineered wood is supposed to be better in humid areas than hardwood, etc. 

@Will Barnard is correct, using a designer for consultation would be a good idea, and probably will save you money in the long run.

Please @mention me if you upload pics! 

@Erin N.  I agree with @Joe B.

In central Austin, a million dollar home can be very simple, 2000 sq. feet, and have no garage. Thirty miles outside of the city, a million dollar home would likely be 3500 square feet+ and have a 3 car garage.

A million dollar home in your location might look very different. If you don't know what that is in your market, get educated before you spend a dime. Go to open houses in your neighborhood, bring in a designer, and look at MLS photos online of houses that sold at that price and note the finishes and quality of work.

Keep us updated and post photos. We'd love to see what you do!

Everyone has offered me so many great suggestions! Coastal Living is a great one for sure. I've got a search going on the MLS for million dollar homes that pop up in my area for sale so I can tour them. Also to @Lynn Currie 's point, a million dollar home in my area may not have to be as awesome as it has to be in a suburb or somewhere farther from the beach or in a different zip code.  I was a little surprised to see the state of some of the houses that have sold in the last year around here for upper 6 and lower 7 figures.  Some of them needed complete rehab!  Most of those were ocean view, though.  But a few were roughly as far from the ocean as I am and in a similar neighborhood.

I really can't thank everyone enough.  You guys are the best.  I will be reaching out to @Hattie Dizmond for some design perspective for sure and @Karen Margrave .  I may even post at least the floorplan on here for suggestions.


One thing I cannot change that is going to be something I need to overcome is the ceiling height.  This is a ranch style home with a low roof, and I have 8' ceilings.  I can't do vaulted ceilings and such (maybe a little bit in the kitchen/dining/living area).  Because of everything being all on one level, one of the strengths (at least I think it's a strength) is that the owner's retreat/master suite really has its own wing of the house while the other bedrooms are completely on the other side. There's a bar/family/entertaining room, kitchen/dining room and living room separating the two bedroom wings of the house.  I know that layout doesn't appeal to everyone, but it would certainly appeal to a family with older kids where the parents really want their own private space.  Probably wouldn't work so well with people who have small children who want to keep a close eye on them at night.

I'll try to get the layout sketched out and uploaded in the next few days.  Thanks again everyone for such thoughtful feedback!

In my area, I would approach the 8' ceiling in one of several ways:

  • It might not be a big deal. A fantastic mid-century remodel would be a dream!
  • If the numbers work and you could make it look good, pop the roof up a couple of feet in a few key areas.
  • More windows! Natural light 

Good luck. Sounds like a great project!

I'm sure by now your project was completed and sold and hopefully for a good profit! 

Can you share some info about it?

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.

By signing up, you indicate that you agree to the BiggerPockets Terms & Conditions.