10 Pool Design Ideas to Transform Your Backyard

A swimming pool can be a superb addition to your backyard. Not only does it provide a fantastic way to cool off and enjoy some exercise, but it’s also a great place for socializing. And the best news? Gone are the days of standard rectangular pools that look somewhat out of place.

New materials and building techniques have enabled imaginative designers to create endless pool designs. So, no matter your space, you can almost certainly find a pool to fit. Whether it blends in or stands out, the choice is yours.

Let’s take a look at ten fabulous pool design ideas:

1. The Natural Look

This design focuses on allowing your pool to fit in with the nature around it rather than standing out like a sore thumb. Remember, there are no straight lines in nature, so a curved pool design is best. Surround the water with natural elements such as rocks, pebbles and shrubs, and maybe even add a waterfall. Use local plants and trees to complete the look, or simply work with what is already there.

2. Shipping Container Pool

This innovative design allows you to quickly and easily add a pool to any space. Work with a professional company to create a heated pool that’s safe and attractive. It can either stand atop the ground, complete with viewing glass and steps up to it, or be dug into the soil.

3. Flower Pool

This colorful design sees your swimming pool bordered by a dazzling array of flowers. Sure to cause a splash, it not only looks fantastic but will smell great too. Care should be taken to prevent the pool water from reaching the plants; otherwise, you’re free to experiment. With proper planning, your pool can be surrounded by color throughout the season.

4. Desert Oasis

Create an oasis in the desert with this fabulous design that works great in hotter climates. Your pool sits amid a landscape of drought-tolerant plants and shrubs, with boulders and sand to complete the look. Add a palm tree for that classic vibe, and be sure to provide some shade, perhaps a canvas canopy.

5. Tropical Paradise

This is a top choice for subtropical climates and makes the most of the weather and plants that you’re likely to already have in your yard. Coral stone flagstones surround a brilliant, blue mood-lit pool, recreating the tropics’ bright white sands and sea. Further back, lush green tropical shrubs, grasses and trees complete the look.

6. Historical Restoration

If you own a historic house, why not create a pool that matches it? Use materials that would have been common when it was built, such as period clay tiles to match a Colonial home, for instance. And don’t forget to add the relevant features from the time, including fountains and spa areas.

7. To Infinity and Beyond

If you own the house on the hill and your yard commands a stunning view, it’s well worth creating a pool that takes it all in. Infinity pools are a great choice in these situations, allowing you to swim to the horizon and enjoy the view.

8. Rustic Retreat

Looking to capture the rustic feel of a Tuscan farmhouse? This design uses a curvilinear pool shape that fits naturally into the landscape. Surrounded by large natural stone paving slabs, pebbles and grasses with the occasional shrub, it oozes charm.

9. Enclosed Lap Pool

Designed for those looking to enjoy a little exercise all year-round, this heated pool is ideal for cooler climates. Rather than being outside, it’s enclosed in its own room, with large windows looking outside and providing natural light. As a narrow lap pool, it won’t take up much space either.

10. Rock Pool

With a cascading waterfall and natural rock flagstones surrounding the pool, you’ll feel as if you’re swimming in a secret cave! Large, free-standing boulders add to the effect, with the occasional shrub or fern to provide a little color. A rounded pool design works best in this case, adding to the rugged, natural look. For something a little special, why not add a rustic stone bridge?


The Pros and Cons of Open Kitchens

Open kitchens have had their heyday, but some think the trend could be waning as people spend more time at home and with each other. The design offers fantastic opportunities for families to connect but can also be seen as lacking privacy and making it difficult to establish “zones” in the home.

So, how can you decide whether an open kitchen design is something that will work for you and your lifestyle? Check out this list of pros and cons to see what benefits and drawbacks open kitchens can have.

Pro: Increased Interaction

One of the biggest advantages of having an open kitchen is the ability to interact with family and guests during meal preparation. While traditionally, you would have been tucked away in a closed kitchen to prep and cook, an open kitchen means no breaks in the conversation and an opportunity to socialize with everyone. By bringing the action into one space, you don’t feel like you’re missing out on the fun.

Pro: A Good View

If you have little ones, an open kitchen allows you to keep an eye on their activities while you make meals or clean up, ensuring that everyone’s on track and you don’t have to worry every time things get suspiciously quiet in the next room. An open kitchen offers opportunities for you to be involved in homework time, craft time or just “tell me about your day” time, all while getting meals ready for the family.

Pro: More Light

Open kitchens allow more light to flood the space, thanks to fewer walls closing things in. It can brighten the space and make it feel even more open, airy and cheerful. In addition, more natural light means the potential for fewer light fixtures being needed, so less energy consumption.

Pro: The Illusion of Space

Even in a smaller home, an open kitchen will make the room seem less closed in and more spacious. Without the constraints of walls, you can push the kitchen out further or bring things in closer, helping you make the most of your space. An even more open design can be achieved with fewer heavy cupboards and more open shelving or the use of cabinets with glass doors to lighten the look.

Con: More Noise

With open kitchens comes the potential for more noise due to the lack of walls keeping sounds contained. Whether it’s kids burning off energy in the loudest ways possible, lively conversation during after-dinner drinks, or the clinging and clanging of pots and pans during cooking, noise can travel easily in open kitchens. Bringing textiles such as rugs, mats and curtains into the mix can help, as can including textured ceilings and paneled screens to help absorb some sound.

Con: Messes on Display

With closed kitchen designs, hiding messes from guests is a lot easier. Unfortunately, open kitchens don’t really give you that option, so you end up having to choose between being extremely diligent about cleaning and organizing or being comfortable enough to say “don’t mind the mess.” Incorporating plenty of storage and organization options, eliminating clutterand using various cleaning tools to make it easier to manage messes are ways to keep your open kitchen looking great.

Con: Traveling Odors

When cooking in an open kitchen, food odors aren’t contained like in a closed kitchen and can travel to other areas of the home. This might be fine for smells like bread baking in the oven or a fresh pot of coffee brewing, but odors like used frying oil or cooked fish are likely not the ones you want moving into other spaces and possibly lingering there. Opening your windows, using your range hood and air fresheners should help.

Con: Limited Storage Space

Without additional walls to house storage options, open kitchens can make it more difficult to put away the things you need and keep everything from looking too messy. Incorporating an island with storage into the kitchen can be a good solution, or you can take advantage of ceiling space with hanging racks for things like pots and pans.

What to Rent: Condo vs. Apartment

If you’re looking to rent, you may be struggling to choose between apartments and condos. At first glance, they seem more or less the same. But delve a little deeper, and you’ll find many differences. Let’s take a closer look and figure out which is the best option for you.

Both apartments and condos are individual residential units within a larger building containing several other similar units. They can be within tower blocks or smaller buildings, with or without amenities such as a swimming pool or doorman. But despite these similarities, there are several differences worth knowing.

1.     Ownership

Ownership is by far the most significant difference between condos and apartments. In an apartment complex, all units are owned by one person, whereas in a condo building, each individual unit has a different owner.

2.     Management

Apartment building owners generally work with a management company to deal with tenants, maintenance, and other tasks. A condo building is usually managed by a homeowners association (HOA), which sets the rules and takes care of shared spaces. When renting a condo, you deal with your landlord, the owner of the unit, rather than a management company.

3.     Maintenance and Repairs

While renting an apartment, if something goes wrong, you can generally contact the management company 24/7, and they will take care of the issue. In a condo, however, you’ll need to get in touch with your landlord, who might not always be available. In case of any urgent repairs that surface, you might have to pay the bill yourself and recover the money afterward. It’s best to agree on such scenarios in advance.

4.     Rules

In a condo, the HOA will set the ground rules that owners and tenants must adhere to regarding common spaces and outside decoration. Within the condo unit, the owner may impose additional restrictions, such as no pet policies, for instance. Apartments also come with rules, though these tend to be stricter with no room for negotiation. In either case, be sure to check the lease agreement thoroughly before you sign.

5.     Costs and Fees

In a condo, the unit owner is solely responsible for setting the rent. This means that tenants in the same building, in similar units, often pay different rents. In addition, the rent will typically also include the HOA fee and the utilities. You’ll basically be paying a flat fee throughout the year and won’t have to worry about seasonal fluctuations. With these fees added to the rent, condos are often considered more expensive, but it isn’t always the case.

When renting an apartment, utilities are often billed separately, while maintenance and repair costs are typically rolled into your rent, in addition to the upkeep of any shared amenities.

Condo or Apartment? Which Is the Right Choice for Me?

To answer this question, it’s worth looking at the major advantages of both options.

Condo Pros:

  • Great condition and amenities: Condos owners tend to put more personal touches into their units and may install upgrades to improve their chances of finding a tenant. Plus, there’s a chance that the owner previously lived in the unit, so it’s more likely to be in good condition. Apartment owners may be more likely to cut corners on these things.
  • More room for negotiation: Not all condo owners are looking to make a profit from their tenants. Some simply want to cover their costs and ensure the unit is lived in and looked after. As such, you may find more room to negotiate on price, pet policies and renovation requests.

Apartment Pros:

  • Experienced management: With a professional management company, many things are streamlined, such as trash collection, online rent payments, repairs, complaints and maintenance requests. They are often available round the clock to take care of issues as and when they arise.

In general, if you prefer the peace of mind of not having to worry about dealing with maintenance and repairs and don’t mind having any say in what appliances and amenities you have installed, an apartment is a good choice.

Meanwhile, a condo may be the better option if you’d prefer a more personal relationship with your landlord and the potential flexibility that might come with that. The flip side is that in case of repairs and maintenance, things don’t always run as smoothly as they might with an apartment.

Check out This New Collection of Rooms with Breathtaking Views


We build homes in varied landscapes, but often a common thread among them is strategically placed windows that allow us to enjoy what the outside world has to offer. Even when indoors, we seek comfort in the natural world.

A room with a spectacular view quickly becomes a favorite place, whether it’s a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or living room. We want to have glimpses of trees, water, sky and mountains when we’re gazing out the window deep in thought, and those glimpses are our focus, or when we’re going about our daily lives, and the glimpses simply act as amazing backdrops to everything else.

The outside world can also be an important source of inspiration for designing and decorating our indoor world. We take note of textures and colors, evoked feelings, and even sounds and scents, and attempt to bring those to life inside our homes to capture what we love about the outdoors. This new collection of rooms with breathtaking views has us feeling a deep appreciation for the world outside our doors, and we’re excited to share them with you!

1. A Skyview Spa

2. A Treed-In Sanctuary

3. A Child’s Perspective

4. A Never-Ending Cityscape

5. A Lakeside Escape

6. A Star-Filled Slumber

7. An Exotic Vista

8. A Mountainous Outlook

9. A Glimpse of Paradise

10. A Sophisticated Seascape

Do I need a REALTOR® to sell my home?


Asian couple, woman in red dress, sitting on a couch, smiling and shaking hands with a realtor

These days, you can find an online video or how-to article for just about any DIY project… but when it comes to the single biggest financial decision of your life, there are sound reasons for choosing a professional. 

A REALTOR®1 will guide you through the entire process from start to finish. They provide skilled guidance on preparing your home for the market, viewings, negotiations and navigating the legal process of the transaction. Their expertise in the real estate market can also help you set the correct listing price for your home.

Here are some benefits to consider:

MARKETING AND SHOWING YOUR HOME: Top realtors will have access to best-in-class marketing services to show your home at its best and to as wide of an audience as possible. From photography services, staging, viewings and digital marketing, having a skilled professional on your side will get the most traction to your listing.   

ACCESS TO A LARGE NETWORK: A licensed real estate agent will have access to a large network of potential buyers. Through their professional databases and relationships with other agents, a realtor may have other clients, or colleagues with clients, who are interested in purchasing your home. They also have access to insights that can help you make a more informed decision, like comparable prices, market conditions and other trends.

NEGOTIATING: It’s called the art of negotiation for a reason – it is a real skill. A realtor is a professional negotiator who understands your local market. They know what has sold in the area and where demand is coming from. Lean on them to help you get the best sale price for your home.

NAVIGATING THE TRANSACTION: Having an experienced professional on your side will take the stress out of the critical paperwork that is necessary when selling your home. When working with a realtor, you will have the confidence that all your affairs are in order.

ACCESS TO OTHER PROFESSIONALS: It’s always helpful to have referrals from friends and family when hiring a professional. Just as you may be referred to an agent, your agent can refer others to you. Real estate professionals have access to a large network of home inspectors, appraisers, contractors, financial advisors and mortgage brokers, and movers, to name a few.

Want to find a Royal LePage real estate agent in your area?

1The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA.

Do I need a REALTOR® to purchase a home?


Realtor in a blue suit shows a young couple a property, couple entering through front door

While there are plenty of great resources available to help you narrow down what you’re looking for, and research the region or neighbourhood that may best suit your lifestyle, consider these benefits to hiring a real estate professional when buying your next home.

A REALTOR®1 will not only take the time to help you find the right property, but also assist you through the buying and closing process. By getting to know you they can make suggestions of similar properties in similar neighbourhoods that may be off your radar. They have their fingers on the pulse of communities across the region they cover. They will advise you through the offer process and once a bid is won, they can recommend trusted professionals to help you complete the transition. 

Here are some benefits to consider:

ACCESS TO A LARGE NETWORK: A licensed real estate agent will have access to more available properties than the general public. Through their professional databases and relationships with other agents, a realtor knows what properties are coming on the market before they are posted, and may have other clients, or colleagues with clients, who are preparing to sell a home that fits your criteria. Some homes are sold prior to being listed and others are only publicly listed for a very short time. You could miss out on your perfect home.

NEGOTIATING: A realtor is a professional negotiator, and it is part of their job to get you the best possible deal on a property. They have insights into the local market, and with access to important data, they have a deep understanding of property values in a particular area at a given point in time.

NAVIGATING THE TRANSACTION: A real estate agent is an expert in their field, and having an experienced professional on your side will take the stress out of the critical paperwork that is necessary when purchasing a home. A realtor will guide you through one of the most significant and important transactions of your life.

ACCESS TO OTHER PROFESSIONALS: It’s always helpful to have referrals from friends and family when hiring a professional. Just as you may be referred to an agent, your agent can refer others to you. Real estate professionals have access to a large network of home inspectors, appraisers, contractors, financial advisors and mortgage brokers, and movers, to name a few. When you hire experienced experts, you get what you want the first time while saving time and money.

Want to find a Royal LePage real estate agent in your area?

1The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA.

Maximize Your ROI with These Home Renovations

Too many homeowners, reinvesting money on fixing up their house presents a slippery slope. On one hand, there’s virtually no renovation that will offer a 100% return on the investment, whether $5,000 or $50,000 is budgeted.

Then again, home improvements increase the overall value of the property while also making the house more enjoyable to live in. Most experts agree that if the money is available, building equity in your home is one of the smartest investments a person can make and there are various ways these projects can pay you back.

Improve Energy Efficiency

Upgrades that help a home become more energy efficient potentially offer a three pronged ROI – they increase property value, lower utility bills, and are eligible for government tax breaks. In addition, the house will have purer air quality and will be more comfortable without drafts or warm air leaking out. Some of the best projects for improving efficiency include:

•    Window and Door Replacement / Restoration – While window replacement is typically listed as a project with a great ROI, that’s really only true for homes built after World War II. Replacing windows in older homes actually decreases their value but in newer dwellings can save up to $400 annually. Installing a new steel entry door remains the top renovation project for 2014, offering a 96.6% return.

•    Energy Star Appliance Upgrade – The effectiveness of replacing household appliances depends on the age of the old equipment. For instance, a new refrigerator will use about half as much energy as one that’s 10 years old, while a washing machine upgrade can save about $100 per year. This might not seem like a lot but if the annual cost deductions are measured over 10-15 years the savings can be quite significant. Plus, tax credits of about 10% of the total cost can be acquired after purchase.

Other energy efficient upgrades include adding insulation to a basement or attic and installing programmable thermostats.

Curb Appeal Renovations

Improving the look of your home is also a big selling point and the following investments for prettying up the property make your home more attractive – to both you and a potential buyer.

•    Garage Door Replacement – Replacing an old, damaged, or bland garage door consistently offers one of the best ROI, around 85% on a $1,500 project.

•    Siding and Shutters – New vinyl siding will give your house a fresh new look and will recoup almost 80% of your investment. Shutters add detail and can be salvaged or reclaimed for maximum return.

•    Aluminum Fence – A classy looking aluminum fence will improve the curb appeal of the home while also offering a return of investment around 65%. The fence also adds security and aluminum is maintenance free compared to wood or wrought iron.

Other types of landscaping will get you around 50 – 75% but should be limited to usable space such as a backyard barbecue or pergola. Shrubs, mulch, and trees add value but also require upkeep.

Quality of Living Remodeling

The benefits of quality of living upgrades are hard to measure in only dollars and cents. Enjoying your whole home could be considered priceless but these projects are a good place to start:

•    Attic Bedroom – Adding functionality to ‘dead’ space greatly improves quality of living. Turning an attic into a bedroom is great for a child to have their own space or for a spot for guests to sleep. It’s a roughly $50,000 job for electricity, framing windows and walls, insulation, and finishing but buyers love extra bedrooms and the ROI is almost 85%.

•    Deck (Wood) – A deck could have both peace of mind and curb appeal value as it aesthetically adds living space to the exterior of your home. A $10,000 deck offers a return of a whopping 88%.

•    Home Office – The cost versus value report for 2014 lists a home office as only a 48% ROI. That being said, if a home office enables you to telecommute and save gas money as well as vehicle wear and tear while eradicating a long drive back and forth to work, then the return is much higher.

The one thing to remember about reinvesting in your home is that since barely anything offers a 100% ROI, it’s not always recommended to renovate just to sell. Because of this it’s important to take energy efficiency, curb appeal, and quality of living projects into account for what you’ll enjoy the most while still making money… someday.

Author Bio

Christian Sculthorp is a marketing representative for the Ottawa General Contractors, a full service home renovation and custom home company. He’s passionate about getting people great bang for their buck – whether it’s through marketing or home renos.

What Is a Property Survey and How to Get One

Buying a home is often more complicated than you expect. Even if you’re not a first-time homebuyer, it may involve more than you remember, especially if it’s been a while since you last purchased. One potential complication could be the requirement to have the land surveyed before closing on the property.

There could be a variety of reasons for a land survey. For instance, perhaps you need to check the boundaries or learn about potential restrictions to the property. Or, a property surveyor might be required when you’re looking to build an addition to a property you already own or construct a fence on the lot, for example.

Whatever the reason, you might be wondering exactly what a property survey is. So, below, we’ll explain what happens when you need to survey the property and how to hire a surveyor.

What is a Property Survey?

If you need to determine the boundaries of land — whether you’re developing the lot or for another reason — a land survey is essential to show you where your property begins and ends in relation to neighboring properties.

You may also have to get a survey when you’re buying a property. It could even be mandatory, depending on where you’re located. Your lender or title company may also require you to oversee the details of a survey, but this isn’t always the case.

Finding Your Land Survey

Notably, there might already be a survey report available. So, first, check with the seller if you’re buying or with their lender or title company. The tax assessor’s office might also have a copy of the property survey. If you own the property and don’t have a survey report, there could also be a copy at your local property records department. You might also ask your neighbors if they have a survey report for their property. If they do, ask them where they got it from.

Unfortunately, if you do find a survey report, chances are that it’s likely old and outdated. However, the details in the survey will still be accurate unless the parcel of land has changed due to suburban development.

Property Survey Types

Because there are many different reasons for having a survey, there’s more than one type of survey, including:

  • Land surveys to check the boundaries of a lot;
  • Monumentation surveys for those who want to construct a fence on their boundary;
  • Mortgage surveys to show the boundaries of the whole property that will be mortgaged;
  • Topographic surveys to show the elevation of the land;
  • Floodplain surveys, which establish flood risk areas.

Therefore, when you need a survey, be clear on your reasons for it. This will allow you to better estimate the cost of your survey when you contact a surveyor.

Officially Documenting Property Lines

Although surveys aren’t mandatory everywhere, they are essential. That’s because a survey is a way to officially define the property lines, thereby removing any misunderstanding that might have developed.

Surveys may also be needed for a title insurance policy, which will need to be established prior to closing, if any encroachment could affect the title. As an example, most lenders will conduct a survey when granted a mortgage to purchase a home.

A survey will also be needed before contractors begin construction work in order to ensure that they have all of the necessary permits. For instance, if you’re planning an addition to your home, you might be able to use an old survey report, but a new survey might be necessary to obtain the permit to build.

How Much Does a Survey Typically Cost?

Different types of surveys have different price points, but the size of the home also factors into the overall cost. Furthermore, the location and the history of the property can also change the property surveyor’s costs. For example, a straightforward survey to determine the boundaries of the lot can cost as little as $100 to more than $600.

Likewise, a mortgage survey — which the borrower will pay and not the lender — will run around $500. And, no matter what type of survey you need for your property, the cost will go up as the complexity of the property increases for the surveyor.

Hiring a Property Surveyor

When closing on a home, your lender or title company may require you to have a property surveyed. If this is the case, you’ll need to find a surveyor fairly quickly. So, ask your lender or title company for their recommendations for a surveyor to check your property. They should have some good, reliable suggestions for you. You can also ask friends and family if they know anyone trustworthy.

Additionally, each state has a surveying society that is affiliated with the National Society of Professional Surveyors. Search their website for surveyors in your area who are licensed and qualified. Then, when you find a surveyor, explain your requirements to determine whether they can meet your needs. Ultimately, you need to make sure that they’re licensed to practice in the state the home is located in.

Also, remember that, in some cases, it could take two or three weeks to complete the survey (although, most of the time, it should take less than a week). The complexity of the survey will also be a factor in the timeline, and locating the property records and deeds may also slow things down. Specifically, if the details those records provide are lacking, that can cause problems for the surveyor, as well.

If you’re buying or preparing to bring in contractors to improve your home, a survey will address any inaccuracies or misunderstandings about the boundaries. This will also help you avoid costly mistakes and prevent you from getting into a dispute with your neighbor.


How to Flip a House: 7 Things to Consider Before You Get Started

TV shows make house flipping look like a sure-fire way to make a lump of easy cash. However, the reality is often quite different, and there are several things worth considering before getting started. It’s always best to go in with your eyes open, so with that in mind, here are seven things to think about.

Your Job

The first thing to think about before you get into the business of flipping houses is your job. Are you prepared to commit to flipping properties full time, or are you thinking of it as a side hustle? Take the time to weigh out the pros and cons of both options. House flipping can be very expensive, and having a stable source of income can ease the financial strain, especially if you’re new to this. However, flipping is very time-consuming. Ask yourself if keeping your job will give you enough time to handle the flip and whether you’ll have enough financial stability without your current employment.

Your Budget

Flipping properties is more expensive than buying a house to live in, so budgeting for it is slightly different. Apart from the cost of purchasing the property, you will need to factor in the costs of building materials, hiring contractors for work you can’t do yourself, selling costs, and the holding costs while the property is still in your name. Also, keep in mind that house flipping is seen as a high risk for conventional lenders, and your mortgage application may be declined. If a cash purchase is not an option for you, you will need to find alternative ways to finance the purchase of your investment property.

Understand the 70% Rule

The 70% rule should be the cornerstone of your house flipping budget. It will help you determine the maximum price you should pay on a property in order to maximize profit. Ideally, your maximum buying price should be no more than 70% of the after-repair-value (ARV) of the property minus the renovation costs. Anything above that, and you risk either just about breaking even or, worse, losing money.

The Neighborhood

A successful flip relies heavily on location, so it’s important to know whether you’re dealing with an up-and-coming market. Keep an eye out for how long houses typically spend on the market in the area you’re prospecting, but also what type of properties are being sold. For example, an area where foreclosure sales are common may give you a good chance to grab a bargain, but it’s also a sign of a declining neighborhood. Finally, don’t forget to check what’s being built nearby. A new school, a park or a shopping center can become selling points that will also boost the value of your property. A nearby power plant, not so much.

The Timeline

One of the most common mistakes first-time flippers make is underestimating how long it takes to flip a house. This is why establishing a time frame is just as important as setting up a budget. On average, a loan approval takes about two weeks. You can also expect to wait anywhere between 30 to 60 days from the time you made an offer until you actually have ownership of the house. Depending on the state of the property, repairs or renovations can take another couple of months. The entire time, you’ll be accruing carrying costs that will directly impact your budget, such as loan repayments, insurance, property taxes, utilities and so on. Setting up a realistic time frame will reduce the risk of unexpected delays, as well as the risk of straining your budget.

Sweat Equity vs. Contractors

Try to determine very early on how much renovation work you can do yourself and whether you’ll need to hire contractors. If you already have carpentry, plumbing or tiling skills, building up sweat equity is a good call and can take a load off your budget. Otherwise, it’s best if you hire a professional team. Keep in mind that a DIY renovation may not pass an inspector’s assessment, and the buyer might back out as a result. And the more time the property spends in your possession, the more you’ll become encumbered with monthly loan repayments.

What Happens if the Flip Flops?

If you struck gold and found a property that needs minimal touch-ups in a hot market, it is possible to flip a house in a month. Realistically though, the process may take anywhere between 3 to 6 months. And in a worst-case scenario, the house may remain on the market for much, much longer. So ask yourself what would happen to the property during this time. Perhaps you can rent it or live in it yourself. Or perhaps even wholesale it. Whichever the outcome, always have a backup plan if the house you are planning to flip doesn’t sell.

How to Flip a House: A Beginner’s Step-by-Step Guide

So, you’ve decided to enter the exciting world of house flipping. You’ve done your research, considered the pros and cons, and you’re ready to give it a go. But where exactly do you start? In this guide, we’ll take a look at the key steps you’ll need to take to flip your first house.

Find a Property

When looking for houses to flip, it’s important to think like an investor, not a homebuyer. You’re not buying a home that fits your needs, but a property that can be improved with little time and resources and then sold quickly.

The first thing you need to scout is a good location. Look for properties in up-and-coming neighborhoods or in residential areas that are in high demand. The type of property is also important. A stylish old house may seem like it will sell for a higher price after being fixed, but it may need extensive repairs that will set your budget back. Distressed properties or fixer-uppers may be cheaper but can pack higher renovation costs. Ideally, the property should be a modern construction, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, in the middle to upper price range for the area it’s located in.

Find Financing

Unless you’re buying your investment property with cash, finding financing can be tricky but not impossible. If this is your first flip and you don’t have enough savings, you’ll most likely need to apply for a loan. However, conventional lenders perceive house flipping as a high risk, so you will have to prospect other avenues. For example, you can obtain a loan via a hard money lender, a private lender or a HELOC. Remember to factor in not just the price of the house but also renovation costs and carrying costs such as taxes, insurance and utilities.

Buy the Property

Once you’ve found your investment property, reach out to the seller and make an offer. Use the 70% rule to determine the maximum price you should spend on the house to turn a profit. Calculate the after-repair-value (ARV) of the property, multiply it by 0.7, then deduct your estimated renovation costs. If the seller accepts your offer, you can then discuss closing the sale.

Assemble Your Team

The sooner you can fix up the property, the sooner you can flip it. And nothing speeds up the flip like several pairs of helping hands. So ask friends and family to help, even if they’re just decluttering and repainting the walls. Also, find reliable contractors to work with if there are any repair jobs you can’t do yourself.

Repair and Decorate

To maximize time efficiency, draw up a task list in advance. Start by decluttering any old or broken items and giving the property a general clean. This will help you find any hidden problems that may be covered by old furniture, for example. Work your way through the major repairs first, such as patching up holes in the walls, changing the flooring, retiling and so on. Ideally, there shouldn’t be too many big jobs to fix. Then follow-up with cosmetic repairs, such as painting the walls, changing the carpets and blinds, landscaping, replacing door handles and light bulbs. The last items on the list are small decorative touches and one final general clean.

When renovating the house, avoid using the cheapest materials, but also expensive or custom-made upgrades and furniture. They will strain your budget and can result in delays. Also, avoid adding too many personal touches, such as paintings, odd decorations or bold colors. A few houseplants are cheaper and more effective than a full-sized wall decal, for example. The house should look inviting but also impersonal to allow buyers to better envision their life there.

List Your Property

With repairs and renovations done, it’s time to put your property on the market. Take plenty of good quality photos, maybe even a video tour and write a description highlighting all the property features, from square footage and the number of bedrooms to neighborhood amenities. It’s important to maximize your listing’s exposure, so try posting it on several platforms. You may find it helpful to work with a real estate agent at this point. Not only can they advise on how to tailor your ad to attract the right type of buyer, but also help negotiate a profitable sale.

Sell Your Flip

Pick the buyer making the most attractive offer, and make sure that the sale won’t take too long to close. Of course, a pre-approved buyer will speed up the process, but it’s still wise to consider delays caused by inspections, appraisals, title claims and so on. Otherwise, the selling process should be fairly straightforward. Remember to pay off your loan, declare your earnings and then… who knows? Maybe even start scouting the market for your next successful flip.