–by Mary Helen Darah
Megan Hornsby, a Realtor with Key Realty Toledo, began buying rentals and investment properties in 2013. She began flipping refurbished homes into fabulous finds in 2017. Although she is quick to point out that she couldn’t do it alone. “It is truly a family affair,” stated Hornsby. “My husband Aubrey and parents Tim and Patty assist with the “flop to flip” process. We look for foreclosures, distressed and abandoned properties. Many times, we find that one house that needs help on a nicely maintained street. Basically, we take on the properties that no one wants to take on or the ‘eyesores’. We use the philosophy that if it is good enough to rent we will buy it. It is an opportunity to take a home and beautify it.”
The first step of the “flip to fabulous” team is to schedule a showing of the property and look at the comps. “We need to make a good enough profit to work with for we always over-improve a house and need to factor in the capital gains tax. We look for a decent floor plan, ‘good bones,’ and square footage that’s not too big or small. We then crunch the numbers. If we have time before we close, we bring in a contractor to weigh in on the property and then we get flipping,” she said.
Once the Hornsbys purchase the property, the locks are changed, utilities are placed in their names and bids from contractors are secured. “We work from the outside in,” explained Hornsby. “We make the outside look better so people know we are working on the house. We then create a Pinterest board where we will place samples and ideas to gain interest for the property. We then decide on what kind of theme we want and the best way to restore the house without taking away from its character.”
The “outside-in approach” includes such items as landscaping and house numbers. “We like to provide a ‘wow factor’ with landscaping, cool house numbers and a pop of color on the front door,” said Hornsby. “We want the house to stand out and be remembered.”
The team then moves inside and makes every effort to maintain the original character of the house. “Instead of knocking things down or removing items, we will replace hardware, refinish cabinets and refinish tubs. We always try to do what makes historic sense for the property.
Depending on what the house needs, we may flip a house in 30 days. The longest has been a year, start to finish. It depends if it is a refurbish or a total redo. We had a home that hadn’t been lived in for 30 years. Now that took a lot of effort.”
The Hornsby team has sold every property they have flipped. “Right now there is nothing on the market, she said. “The house we recently had on the market had 38 showings the first day. Many of our homes are perfect for first-time homebuyers. They get snatched up especially with the current low-interest rates and being priced less than what people would pay in rent.”
Of course, flipping does not come without frustrations. “The most frustrating thing is dealing with contractors saying and then doing what is expected. Covid has also increased demand for materials and therefore increased our costs which we, unfortunately, have to pass on to the buyer. I wished it wasn’t like that. Thankfully things seem to be improving. In addition to those obstacles, we deal with properties being broken into and the ever-present ‘domino effect.’ I swear, sometimes I feel the houses are alive and want to be fixed or they don’t. It is those temperamental homes where you take the singles off or remove a fixture and find hidden costs.”
In spite of a few challenges, Hornsby loves turning flops into fabulous flips. She finds the design aspect of flipping her all-time favorite as well as revealing the home to potential buyers for the first time. It’s amazing to see their reactions,” she said. “We go live on Facebook to show our reveals. We also send out postcards to the neighborhood and show how much the flipped house raised their home values. We once had the Maumee Police stop us to thank us for flipping a house in a neighborhood where all the homes were beautiful but the one we renovated. The house looked so bad and we brought it back to life. Young professionals moved in. It was truly a win-win. Everyone benefited.”