HGTV’s Desert Flippers follows real estate agent Eric and designer Lindsey as they face triple-digit heat and harsh landscapes to renovate dilapidated homes and sell them for top dollar — all while raising three small children. Ahead of their season two premiere, we asked stars Eric and Lindsey Bennett to share their experiences and take us behind the numbers of flipping houses.
What made you decide to get into house flipping?
Eric: Real estate sales and investing has been in both of our families for generations, so the foundation was there (pun intended). At the time we met, we had both been inspired by reading, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” and I had a flip partially negotiated. It took meeting Lindsey, the initiator, and we jumped into our first flip together.
Run us through your first flip.
Lindsey: Our first flip was a 3 bed/2 bath California Ranch built in 1979 in Desert Park Estates in Palm Springs, California. We were in way over our heads. We purchased the home for $125,000 and set a $10,000 remodel budget. We ended up spending $35,000. The house needed everything — an open concept and new windows, roof, cabinets, counters, appliances, flooring, plumbing and electrical, pool plaster and equipment, and landscaping. We scraped by with finishes from re-sale and clearance. We learned by doing in this flip. We found affordable sub-contractors and managed them. We made many mistakes. When it was finished, however, we felt like we had conquered Goliath. We learned so much and felt like we could do anything after that.
What was your most challenging flip?
Eric: Our biggest flip was a 5-bedroom, 1930s Spanish estate in the Movie Colony in Palm Springs. Not only did we have to pay double the list price to get it, but we were just starting out and didn’t really have the funds to do the deal. So, we borrowed from family, friends, banks, and clients to purchase the home, subdivide the lot, renovate… and then sell the home and the lot separately. It was a grueling remodel and was extremely stressful because of the large amount of money on the line — but most of all it was the trust that our family, friends, and clients put in us. We did not want to let them down. In the end, it was a successful flip — probably the most successful flip we will ever do — and it launched us into the next level of house flipping.
What advice would you give a realtor who is considering flipping properties?
Eric: Start with one very manageable flip — low hanging fruit will keep you safe until you have a larger war chest and more experience. Also, we like to see people flipping as a secondary source of income. Keep with the real estate sales and take on flips as the opportunities present themselves.
What surprised you the most about this particular project?
Lindsey: We found a pool/spa in the backyard buried under overgrown trees and cover that was worth about $25,000! We had an inkling that it was there, but we didn’t get to see the home before we bought it and the aerial footage available didn’t show a pool. This pool/spa with amped up landscaping made it a tropical oasis in the backyard and added tremendous resale value.
Any favorite changes you made to this property?
Lindsey: I love that we opened up the main area with an open-concept kitchen, living, and dining space — doubling the size of the kitchen and adding more natural light with an indoor/outdoor feel.
Eric: I favor permitting the fourth bedroom and incorporating it into the living space which helped sell the home faster and for a higher price.
All photos courtesy of HGTV