10 Killer Ways to Flip More Houses for Under $20

by | BiggerPockets.com

House flipping does take some money to be able to do effectively.

With the average kitchen remodel weighing in around $20,000, new bathrooms several thousand dollars and the properties themselves costing over $100,000 in many cases, things can get expensive fast.

Although you can certainly flip houses with no money using the tactics we’ve taught here many times on BiggerPockets, for those smaller expenses to make sure your flip is a successful one, there are a number of things you can buy for believe it or not, UNDER $20.

And each one can help you make your house flip a successful one, whether you’re acquiring, renovating or selling. Here’s the top 10 list below.

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10 Cheap Items to Help Your Next Flip Be a Big Success

1. Bandit Signs – $2/Sign

Bandit signs are a tried and true way to find potential sellers to keep your house flip pipeline full. Although I now have my acquisition manager do this for us, the return on what we pay for our bandit signs has paid us many times over in the profits they ultimately generate.

You’ve probably seen these kinds of signs around your town. You’ll usually find them hanging from telephone poles, street signs or plunked into the ground in some cases.

The idea is to communicate your message to potential sellers in the area. You might have a sign that says “We Buy All Properties – Any Condition”. And to make them worth your while, all you need is one deal to help pay for the signs many times over. At only $2/each (and in some cases, even less), they are the best deal going.

Keep in mind that if you decide to use them, make sure you find out the legalities of using them in the town you post them in. Sometimes, the town allows you to hang bandit signs only on weekends.

(Note from the Editor: Seriously guys and gals… don’t break the law. BiggerPockets doesn’t advocate the use of bandit signs when not legally allowed.)

2. Outdoor Hose – $15

A new driveway can cost thousands of dollars to pave – budget you may not have to spend. Although a freshly paved driveway can really do wonders for the curb appeal of a flip, sometimes the cost is just too far out of your budget.

If you want to get the same effect, a little hose down oftentimes does the trick. Before an open house or just prior to taking a photo for the listing, using a $15 hose to wash down the driveway can really make the property look even more like new.

3. Mailbox Decal Numbers – $6/Number

Something as simple as buying a new mailbox, or painting an old one in a bright color can also add to the curb appeal. Chances are, the mailbox is the first thing that the potential buyers will see when they come to your property for the open house.

But a mailbox is useless if the buyers can’t see the house number posts on it. Sticking on a new mailbox decal is an extremely inexpensive way to make a big effect – as well as help buyers find the house in the first place.

4. New House Numbers – $10/Number

Similarly, the metal or wooden house numbers secured to the front of the house are also very important. Not only will the potential buyers most certainly see them, they will look at them right when they are entering the house—potentially their own future home.

These numbers, along with a few other front door related accoutrements (like a nice Fall wreath for example), can go a long way to sprucing up the house and helping it sell fast.

5. New Doorknob – $15

A new doorknob for your front door is essential for two reasons.

First, the doorknob is the first part of the house that the potential buyer will touch. This may seem insignificant, but it is actually quite important.

Research has shown that potential buyers don’t only consider the visual, rather, they use all five of their senses when recollecting the twelve or so houses they looked at. Maybe they don’t remember the doorknob specifically, but it attributes to the overall welcoming feeling they get from the house.

Second, after you purchase a new house, you will want to change the locks. By buying a doorknob, you replace the lock and kill two birds with one stone so to speak.

6. LED Walkway Lights – $4/Light

To enhance your curb appeal, you don’t have to get too fancy. Cheap solar-powered LED lights to line your walkway, lawn, or driveway can be quite effective.

They make the whole front yard seem more uniform and calculated, not to mention add to the safety element when open house visitors come late in the day. Best of all, they just look really cool when its dark.

7. Measuring Tape – $17

Before buying a property, you’ll want to assess all the different areas of the house. Quite frequently, this will include measuring the exact dimensions of each room by hand.

This way, you can give any potential contractors measurements ahead of time to get a more precise estimate for the cost of their work.

8. Faceplates for Outlets – $3/Plate

When designing a house, something that many experts will talk about is that you should make all of the rooms flow together. While a seamless hardwood floor is perhaps the best way to accomplish this, it might not be within your budget.

However, if you are consistent with the little things—the door hinges, doorknobs and wall trim—you can offer a similar effect. One of the cheapest accessories to add to every room is a new faceplate to each electrical outlet. It keeps the rooms unified and gives a subtle yet effective indication that the house has been renovated with great attention to detail.

9. Cookies – $10

As mentioned before, you should try to stimulate all of the buyer’s senses during an open house. Perhaps the most important (other than visual) is the buyer’s sense of smell.

Studies have shown that the smell of homemade baked goods can trigger potential buyers, so that they remember that particular home in the future.

If you don’t believe any of that, at the very least you are offering a tasty treat to the potential buyers, and you might leave them feeling happy! Suggest it to your real estate broker who’s showing the house.

10. Cheap Plonk – $15

Finally, if you want to bring something to the open house that’s a little more classy than baked goods, you could try pouring a little vino into a set of glasses and offering it to your guests as they arrive. You don’t have to go expensive either—”cheap plonk” (the stuff under $10-15), will do the trick nicely.

Don’t get me wrong – you don’t want to get your visitors drunk, but a nice glass of wine at an open house (or even champagne) can make open house visitors feel even more welcome – and in the mood to submit offers to boot!

If you’ve made it this far, please leave a comment below! What cheap or inexpensive things do you do to help you buy, renovate or sell properties?

Please leave a comment below and let me know! I’d love to hear your ideas.

Photo: Nic McPhee

About Author

Mike LaCava

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".


    • Hello Dawn,

      You are probably right. My electrician handles all that now and he works under a project manager or GC as my business is growing. We also switch out the outlet as well. I think we pay around $10 per outlet,cover and labor. Hope that helps.

    • Hahaha…
      I thought the same thing @Dawn!
      Figure for $3 you should get contractor 10 pack.

      Probably picks up them the same place he got his diamond encrusted Tape Measure. 🙂
      $17??? Last one I bought a few months back was a nice 2 pack Husky with a 35′ and mini 16′ set that was only like $14 to start and was on the clearance table at Home Depot for I think $4.88.

      You can’t really sweat the small stuff but it is nice to find the good deals even on little things.

  1. Robert Watkins on

    I always enjoy what you have to say.. We forget the simple things like this, the basics if you will. Thank you very much for your post. It is a great motivator.
    These things do a great difference to the buyer. It makes the home so clean.

  2. Another great blog, Michael! House numbers are a great tip … I forgot to do that on my last project! It’ll be a must from now on.

    I like to get a nice Welcome mat for our houses (about $12-$14 here in CT). I don’t know if I’m right, but I like to think the message – it’s not just a blank mat to wipe feet on, it actually says “Welcome” – provides a subtle little friendly feel and sets the stage for feeling like you’re being welcomed into a home, not just looking at a house.

    Someone had mentioned air fresheners in a previous post. I got some nice plug-in fresheners from Yankee Candle (personal preference) for our latest project as well and I believe those were less than $20.

    Thanks again for some great tips!

    • yes the money is in the details Sharon. Every house my contractors get better and understand more about the details. Still waiting for the day when my final walk through has nothing on the punch list. Getting close I must say.

  3. I think this is great. I am always intrigued by the “intangibles” that draw potential buyers in. Heck, some of this stuff, like the LED lights, I may even do on my own home… !!

    • Absolutely Chris. Landscape whether light or heavy is very important and something you should consider in the rehab process. It’s often overlooked and under estimated by beginners. Even if you think you don’t need any I suggest still leaving $500 for a budget.

  4. I had no idea that LED lights were so inexpensive, that is definitely a must for my next flip.
    What are your thoughts on staging? I’ve only flipped 1 property so far and it was in a low income area so I didn’t want to invest in staging, at what point do you recommend it or believe it is necessary?

  5. Something that I always do now is upgrade to Stainless Steel appliances even in my very low end places. I find for the same suite of 4 appliances I usually only pay $150-200 more total for those over White or Black.

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