Resources

Tips for Flips

1. Do the math

Figure out what you can spend on both the house and the renovation, down to the last dollar, and include how much risk you are prepared to take. Price out the cost of carrying a short-term loan (if you need one), taxes, utilities and maintenance on the home for up to a year. Price out your material costs and labor. Look at comparable sales in the market to see what the likely sale price will be and don’t expect a penny over. Once you have a financial plan in front of you, with a reasonable margin for risk, begin shopping for homes that meet that budget. Don’t let a huge fixer-upper with potentially larger returns muddle your math.

2. Know your market

Is this an already established area with rising prices? Is it a transitional neighborhood with good potential that may not be quite “there” yet? Is this an area with good schools that will attract families? Is this a community popular with retirees? Knowing your market will help you to choose the most desirable home and it should help you know what your profit margin will be. Every neighborhood has a not-to-exceed price. Know what that is. Doing your homework on recent sales and average days on market can give you an idea of how long to hold the property before flipping. Perhaps you want to rent it for a year or two until the neighborhood really takes off, or do a quick renovation because the neighborhood is very competitive.

3. Know your buyer and renovate with that buyer in mind

If this is a neighborhood with good schools, then your buyer is a young family. Older homes may not have the open kitchen/family room that these buyers demand. Spend your money making the family space open and inviting. Make sure there are enough bathrooms for kids and invest in a Jack and Jill vanity in the hallway bath. Finish the basement if possible. Don’t focus too much on the master suite, but make sure mom and dad do have their own bathroom. If this is a retirement area, look for a home with just one main level or a ranch style. If there are stairways, open them up and widen tight spaces. Make sure the home is easily accessible from the street—no big stairways up to the front door. And turn the yard into a patio for a maintenance-free outdoors.

4. Educate your buyer

You put in the work—make a list. Disclose every system that was replaced, from HVAC to electrical and any structural problems that were repaired. Take a snapshot of a new roof. Note which windows are new. List new appliances and fixtures and present a binder with all instruction booklets and warranties. Display instructions next to any new “smart home” features, like security, sound system and lighting controls. Let buyers know every detail of how this charming historic home is updated to today’s standards.

5. Don’t overprice

It’s tempting to look at your renovation, love what you’ve done, factor in all the sweat equity and overvalue the home. Remember, your buyer likely didn’t see it when you started. They didn’t know the kitchen was disgusting and the basement stunk. They have no idea how much stress you went through. They see the finished product only, and they have been shopping the market, touring the comparable homes. Every neighborhood has a general price point, and you need to stay within it. Underpricing slightly could result in multiple offers and a final sale price above asking. Better than having all your hard work sit on the market for months.

6. Give me a call!

Give me a call at 301-332-2004 if you have any questions about flipping homes. I have years of experience seeking out homes and the neighborhoods that are ideal for flipping. I can assist you in finding and purchasing these gems. I also worked as a project manager for several real estate investors overseeing their renovations from start to finish. Finally, my extensive knowledge of the market enables me to direct you towards attractive pricing and packaging of your flip. In our current real estate market, the buyers have a lot of choices. In many areas, the shelves are simply overstocked. And since no two homes are the same, making that distinction between your home and the dozens of others is key.

Mortgage Calculator

Moving Tips

Before Moving
Places To Notify

Let the Post Office know when you’ll be moving and what your new address will be; a temporary forwarding address might be necessary if you do not have a permanent one by the time you move. As an alternative, the post office will hold your mail and forward it upon written instructions from you.
If you want to rent a post office box in the new city, you must do so in person. All post office box rentals are for a minimum of six months. First-class mail is forwarded free of charge for one year.
Magazines and Newspapers are forwarded for 60 days. Standard Mail (B), formerly called fourth-class/parcel post, is forwarded locally for 12 months at no charge. You pay forwarding charges if you move outside the local area.
Only one change-of-address card (Form is 3575) is necessary per family if everyone in the household is moving and if all people have the same last name. For other cases, one change-of-address card per person can be used. Mover’s Guides, which contain Form 3575,. are available at your local post office, from your postal carrier, or via the Internet at www.usps.gov/rnoversnet. Use the postcards included in the Mover’s Guide to notify your correspondents of your new mailing address. Publishing companies prefer at least four weeks’ notice — preferably six. Early notification of your new, complete mailing address, including ZIP code, can avoid.postage-due costs and eliminate the delayed receipt of your magazines and other publications.
Prepare a list of friends, relatives, business firms and others who should be notified of your move.

The following checklists will be helpful:
Places to Notify

UTILITIES

Electric
Gas
Water
Telephone
Fuel
Sewer District
Trash
Cable/Satellite Television

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Doctor
Dentist
Certified Public Accountant
Lawyer
Broker

INSURANCE AGENCIES

Life
Fire
Auto
Home
Health
Accident
Hospital

ESTABLISHED BUSINESS ACCOUNTS

Dry cleaner
Bakery
Drug Store
Diaper Service
Department Stores
Water Softener Service
Lawn Service
Dairy
Laundry/Dry Cleaner
Banks
Credit Card Companies
Automobile Agency
Real Estate Agency

PUBLICATIONS

Newspaper
Magazines
Newsletters
Professional

GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC OFFICE

Library
City Hall – Refuse Services
City and/or County Tax Assesor
State Motor Vehicle Bureau
Social Security Administration
Veterans Administration
Draft Board

OTHER

Relatives and Friends
Business Associates
Book, Video, CD Clubs
Other ORganizations and Clubs
School and Colleges
Landlord (if you are a tenant)
Tenant (if you are a landlord)
Church

School Information

Utilities

Telephone
Verizon (Toll Free): 800.483.4000

Electric
Dominion Power: 888.667.3000
Northern VA Electric: 888.335.0500
Potomac Electric Power Company: 202.833.7500
Allegheny Power: 800.255.3443
A&N Electric Cooperative: 757.665.5116
Choptank Electric Cooperative: 410.479.0380
Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative: 888.440.3311

Gas
Washington Gas: 703.750.1000
Columbia Gas: 800.543.8911
Columbia Gas of MD: 888.460.4332
Elkton Gas: 410.398.4626
Washington Gas (Frederick): 800.531.0008
Washington Gas (Toll Free): 800.752.7520

Water
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission: 301.206.9772
Alexandria: 703.549.7080
Arlington: 703.228.3636
Fairfax: 703.698.5800
Falls Church: 703.248.5071
Herndon: 703.435.6814
Town of Leesburg: 703.771.2701
Loudoun: 703.771.1092
Prince William: 703.385.0396
City of Manassas: 703.257.8219

Cable (TV & Broadband)
Adelphia Cable: 888.683.1000
Comcast Cable: 800.COMCAST
Cox Cable: 703.378.8422

Water or Sewage Companies
American Water Works: 800.452.6863

Municipal Utilities:
Easton Utilities: 410.822.6110

Transportation

Get Acquainted with Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC Transportation
Navigating a new area can be confusing and stressful. To help you prepare, we invite you to look through our Washington, DC transportation guide, offering information on local and regional railways, rental cars, taxi services and public transportation.

Metrorail
Metrorail is the most heavily used Washington, DC transportation service. Operating five different lines throughout the city and into the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, Metro is extremely easy to use. Each traveler is required to possess his or her own fare card, which are available for purchase at all Metro stations. One-day Metro passes are also available and allow unlimited journeys with no time restrictions until the Metro closes.

Taxi Cabs
Throughout the Capital Region’s urban centres, taxis are a convenient, popular form of USA transportation. Taxis can generally be hailed on the street, although it is a good idea to bring along the number of a local taxi company if visiting a more remote neighborhood. Tipping taxi drivers is customary throughout the country and highly appreciated.

Uber
They’re finding better ways for cities to move, work, and thrive. Download the app and get a ride in minutes.

Lyft
Rideshare with Lyft. Lyft is your friend with a car, whenever you need one. Download the app and get a ride from a friendly driver within minutes.

Car Rental
Although often unnecessary in urban areas like Washington or Baltimore, rental cars are an ideal way to explore the outlying region, which is spanned by major interstate highways and beautiful scenic byways. Cars with built-in GPS systems are available from many rental agencies for an additional charge. For car rental details and companies, visit airport web sites and look for ground transportation links.

Rail
Rail service is available throughout the Capital Region and beyond on the nationwide Amtrak system. With its hub at Washington, DC’s Union Station, Amtrak’s high speed Acela service provides multiple daily connections to Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Within the Capital Region itself, Amtrak offers “The Carolinian,” which serves Baltimore, BWI Airport, Washington, DC and the cities of Alexandria, Fredericksburg, Richmond and Petersburg in Virginia; “The Crescent,” which offers transportation between Baltimore, Washington, DC and the cities of Alexandria, Manassas, Culpeper, Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Danville in Virginia; and the “Northeast Regional,” offering service to Baltimore, BWI Airport, Washington, DC, Alexandria, Fredericksburg, Richmond and Williamsburg, terminating in Newport News, Virginia. New lines now offer service terminating in Lynchburg and Norfolk, Virginia.

Virginia Railway Express provides commuter rail service weekdays between Fredericksburg and Manassas Virginia and downtown Washington, DC. The MARC (Maryland Area Regional Commuter) Train Service operates three lines throughout Maryland and downtown Washington, DC.

Airports
Two major international airports serve the Capital Region: Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), 26 miles west of downtown Washington, DC in northern Virginia, and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) in Maryland, located 29 miles northeast of Washington and 10 miles south of Baltimore. There are a number of ground transportation options available from both Dulles and BWI.

Individuals arriving in the Washington area from other USA travel destinations may also use Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), conveniently located just across the Potomac River from downtown Washington in northern Virginia. Ronald Reagan is accessible by Metrorail, the greater Washington region’s rapid-transit system.

For airport and air service information, please visit each airport’s website.

Many smaller airports with good flight connections serve other cities in the region, including Richmond, Williamsburg, Norfolk, Roanoke, Lynchburg and Charlottesville.

Passport & Visa Information
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, when they meet all requirements. Travelers must be eligible to use the VWP and have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel.

ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival. The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, though it is recommended that travelers apply as soon as they begin preparing travel plans or prior to purchasing airline tickets.

If you are not a citizen of a participating VWP country, you must apply for a visa. There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply. Details about obtaining a visa and visa application forms can be found here.