Tarek El Moussa has helped turn around some seemingly hopeless houses on “Flipping 101 with Tarek El Moussa.” Yet on the latest episode, he tackles a home with such a terrible track record, a happy ending is far from guaranteed.
In the episode “Ups and Downs in the Hills,” El Moussa meets Alicia and Jacquelene, two real estate agents who have bought a house in Trabuco Canyon, CA, for $405,000.
While this house has great views, El Moussa knows it will be a difficult project. The house doesn’t have a driveway, the deck off the kitchen is only partly finished, and the three-bedroom layout is tight. Two different investors have already tried to flip this property and failed.
Will El Moussa succeed where others have crashed and burned? Here’s how he helps this renovation team give it a go, teaching the rookies (and us) tons along the way.
Don’t overcrowd your kitchen
Jacquelene and Alicia work hard on updating this house, but there’s one thing they can’t change: the size of the kitchen.
With a staircase on one side and the exterior wall on the other, Jacquelene and Alicia make room for a large island with seating, but they aren’t able to fit in a dining table or breakfast nook.
Still, El Moussa is happy with the way Jacquelene and Alicia laid out the space.
“If you would’ve done a breakfast nook, the kitchen would’ve been even smaller,” El Moussa says.
It’s a good lesson that even a clever designer can’t fit every feature into a kitchen. It’s best to keep a small kitchen feeling open with island seating rather than overcrowding it with a dining table.
Incorporate soft grays into a white kitchen
Lots of buyers like an all-white kitchen, but a white-on-white color scheme can feel a little stark. So El Moussa is happy when Jacquelene suggests a very light gray herringbone backsplash.
“I like the contrast,” Alicia says.
With wood shelving and this light gray backsplash, the kitchen now has a little bit of warmth, and yet the space is still light, which will please buyers hoping for an all-white kitchen.
Glass railings make a deck look bigger
Off the kitchen, there’s a partly finished deck. There’s also another spot for a deck outside the master bedroom. While finishing these decks proves to be a headache, these flippers get these structures up and even finish the outside space with a glass railing. The glass looks chic and allows for great views.
“I know these decks were a complete nightmare, but it’s the reason why you’re going to sell the house for what you sell it for,” El Moussa says.
Skip expensive porcelain flooring
Alicia and Jacquelene want to give this home a high-end feel, but El Moussa warns against over-spending on finishes—especially flooring. Jacquelene shows El Moussa a woodlike porcelain sample, but he says it’s not a smart choice.
“Way too expensive,” he says. “With the labor to lay the tile, it’s going to be way more than the vinyl.”
The flippers end up choosing a vinyl flooring—which looks good, is durable, and is relatively inexpensive. With this quick tip, El Moussa saved these two big money!
Invest in blinds for rooms with less than ideal views
Jacquelene and Alicia’s flip has great views on one side of the house, but one room, located under the garage, has a terrible view of the underside of the driveway. Luckily, El Moussa has an easy fix.
“Maybe install a blind or something, because that looks awful,” he says.
Blinds or curtains might not exactly fix this room, but it’ll help buyers forget about the unsightly space under the driveway.
Don’t choose busy tiles
When it comes to the bathrooms, Alicia and Jacquelene have a difficult time agreeing on finishes, each preferring a different set of tiles and cabinets. While both Alicia’s wavy shower tile and Jacquelene’s hexagonal floor tile are great options, El Moussa says it’s also important to think about how these two tiles will look together.
“One thing you never want to do is do a busy floor and then a busy shower wall,” he says.
Alicia and Jacquelene end up using their favorite tiles in different bathrooms, pairing these busy tiles with simpler tiles and appropriately colored cabinets. Now, both bathrooms have a “wow” factor without overwhelming the space.
Do these students pass ‘Flipping 101’?
After buying this house for $405,000, Alicia and Jacquelene plan to spend $200,000 on the renovation. They actually end up putting in $220,000, and with $66,000 in interest and $30,000 in closing costs, these two have a break-even price of $721,000.
These novice flippers list the home for $925,000, which would leave them with a nice profit of $204,000. There’s just one problem: By the end of the episode, the house still hasn’t sold. So whether El Moussa has met his match will have to remain a mystery, at least for now.
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