A House Flip Gone Wrong (And House Flippers Gone Insane)

Y’all, let me tell you the story about the house next door. When I came for the first time to look at our house eight years ago, I almost just kept on driving by without stopping. There were two issues that I thought I would never get past. The first was the lack of a paved driveway on our house. As it turns out, that will be a blessing when we finally do pour our driveway, because had there been one, it would be in the wrong spot and it would have to be taken out first, costing thousands extra in labor.

But the second issue was the house next door. It was a hot mess. And the house was only part of the issue. The main issue was the huge metal building/shop they had built right up against our property line, and which they used as a shop where they worked on cars and engines of all kinds almost every day.

I was never really bothered by the noise of revved engines throughout the days, but I was bothered by the fact that the property, front and back, was always filled with cars and RVs and trucks and lawnmowers, and anything else that had an engine that could be worked on or rebuilt. The back yard (that house is also on a one-acre lot like ours) was filled front to back with so much stuff that it looked like an actual junk yard — the kind of junk yard where cars go to die, and people go to search for parts that they need.

And because that was their main focus (both hobby and business), the house never got much attention at all. It seemed to be falling apart right around them — two brothers who had gotten the house when their parents died, I believe. For the eight years we lived here with them as neighbors, they never had a sound roof on that house. For years, half of the roof was covered in a blue tarp. And then they got their hands on some extra metal roofing and starting patching their shingle roof with random pieces of metal roofing.

Despite all of this, I will say that they were wonderful neighbors. They were both the types of people who would do anything for me that I needed. Several times, they fixed my car, changed my oil, repaired flat tires, etc. I gave them my old car, and in exchange, they mowed my yard (again, one acre) every week or two for about two years. I didn’t love looking at their property, but I did enjoy having them as neighbors.

They moved last year, after living in that house for decades. I was so interested to see what the inside looked like. I wasn’t shocked. It looked exactly how I would have expected it to look after two unmarried, older brothers, who clearly weren’t too concerned about the state of their home, had lived there for decades with their pit bulls and other random family members in and out over the years. The original hardwood floors were in sad shape. All of the windows were old (just like ours were) and some of them were broken and covered over with cardboard or plywood. The walls hadn’t been painted in probably decades. It needed help. Lots of help.

I talked with Matt about buying the house and flipping it, but we decided that it just wasn’t something we’re ready to take on right now, and even if we were ready to purchase a house to flip, that probably wouldn’t be the one. It has two front doors, which is confusing. The layout of the home is kind of awkward. And it has no garage or carport, and there’s no place to put one since they built that huge metal building right there on the driveway. That would be a deal breaker for lots of home buyers, so it would be a deal breaker for me buying it as a flip house.

Anyway, let me show you the house as it’s looked for the eight years we’ve been here.

This actually looks pretty tame. 🙂 There are only three cars in the driveway in this Google maps image, but sometimes there were up to fifteen in the driveway and on the street, and they would stay there for a long time. They were always being threatened and fined by the city because of it, but they seemed completely unbothered by it. And this doesn’t even show the junk yard in the back. But you can tell that the house itself, while definitely needing some attention, could probably be cleaned up and turned into a cute house. I mean, it’s a long, ranch house that doesn’t have much character, but there’s nothing terribly offensive about that house.

Anyway, as I said, they moved out last year, and the house went on the market for $160,000. That alone shows you just how crazy the real estate market is right now. Remember, Matt and I bought our house on one acre of land just eight years ago for $80,000. So this one was selling for literally double the price that we paid for our house. And the condition was every bit as bad (and probably far worse) than ours was when we bought it.

I don’t know how long it took to sell, but it needed a ton of work — a new roof, all new windows, some major floor repair/refinishing, a total tear out of the existing kitchen and bathrooms, drywall repair (or probably all new), all new exterior siding, and on and on.

It finally sold to someone who planned on flipping the house. And I’ve been watching as they’ve worked on it over the last few months. And as they were finishing up about a month ago, I walked through the house to see the progress.

It was fine. Very clean. There wasn’t anything special about it at all — all white walls, no crown molding, standard door and window casings, new laminate flooring covering up the original hardwood floors, new basic windows. Here’s a picture of the front dining room/living room area.

The kitchen and bathrooms were all in black and white, and looked to me like a bachelor from the 1980s had designed them. But I guess they were an improvement from what was there.

The house definitely felt cold and sterile with everything being so stark white, but of course, any buyer can change that with a bit of color on the walls, or with their furniture, decor, window coverings, etc. I honestly thought that they had done a fairly decent job on the flip.

I wasn’t thrilled with the exterior color they chose. It’s so harsh and seems to clash with the stone.

It just seems like such an odd color to choose to go with that stone. And so much money wasted, because paint isn’t cheap! But my hope was that perhaps the next buyer would take a couple of days and give that house a neutral coat or two of paint to tame whatever that is. And I was so hoping that they’d remove or move that metal building, but it’s still there. Still an eyesore sitting right there at our property line. Ugh. Oh well.

So this was just a standard, basic flip. And it was pretty unremarkable and non-newsworthy, right up until they put that “for sale” sign in the yard a few days ago, and out of curiosity, I looked it up to see how much they were asking for this house with its new makeover.

Y’all, I nearly choked on my tea. I could not BELIEVE what I saw. Are you ready for this?

They’re asking $439,000 for that house.


Now before you Californians and New Yorkers say, “That seems reasonable,” let me remind you that this isn’t California or New York! This is central Texas!

Again, eight years ago, Matt and I bought our house on one acre of land in the city of Waco for $80,000. It was a fixer upper and needed tons of work, but even now, it’s valued at around $250,000.

And this house I’m showing you, just last year, sold for $160,000. And now they think it’s worth $439,000?! And that’s after an $11,000 markdown! So they originally priced this thing at $450,000!!!

If anyone buys this house for that amount (I can’t imagine anyone would actually pay that), that would make this house the highest-priced house not only on our street, but one of the highest-priced houses in this area. And there are some really nice houses that are RIGHTLY priced around $350,000 all the way up to about $675,000 in this area, but those are houses with real character, set back on huge, gorgeous lots filled with trees. But to think that this house commands a price in the range of some of those houses is absolutely ridiculous.

There has been a huge influx of people from California moving to Waco and surrounding areas. And I feel like these sellers are counting on come Californians seeing that price, not understanding the Waco real estate market, having a California real estate mindset, and snatching it up thinking that it’s a bargain.

Let me show you what you can get in the Waco area for that same price.

This home is in Woodway, which is a suburb of Waco, and a much nicer area that Waco proper. (It’s where I grew up, and where my mom still lives.) This house is $450,000.

Here’s another house in Woodway, and this one is $429,000. Look how cute! It actually has character.

This one is located in Waco. I think it’s 5 bedroom, 4 bathrooms, priced at $444,498.

This is Texas real estate. What you would pay millions for in California, you pay less than $500,000 for in Texas. And what you would pay a million for in California, you can get here for about $150,000 to $200,000.

And then there’s the house next door. I just can’t wrap my head around it.

So after seeing that price, I looked at all of the pictures they provided, thinking that I had missed something. Maybe there was something really special that I had overlooked. There certainly wasn’t anything about the exterior that I had missed. It has new siding and a new coat of dark gray paint (which I just don’t understand), but it was still the same long ranch-style house with little exterior character.

And yes, I had missed something, but nothing good. I want y’all to look at this kitchen. They ripped out the original (which needed to be done, as it was beyond repair), and installed this brand new kitchen.

I want you to take a close look at the layout. This is a standard U-shaped kitchen, but look how they installed the cabinets. Let me show you up close.

Instead of wrapping the cabinets around from the back wall to the side walls in a continuous way, they installed a full wall of cabinets on the back wall, and then had to leave these awkward spaces between the back wall and the side cabinets.

So what does that do for the stove? It gives the kitchen a floating stove with no countertop space next to it.

I’ve seen some awkward kitchen layouts in older homes. Heck, our house had an awkward kitchen layout when we bought it. But when I remodeled it, I fixed it. This house has a U-shaped kitchen, and there are standard ways to utilize a U-shaped kitchen. This isn’t one of them!!! And if they didn’t want a U-shaped kitchen, there was a ton of space to redesign the entire thing and make it an efficient (and much larger) kitchen. But this is some half-baked idea with moderate effort that they now expect to get almost half a million dollars for.

And they also did something that is one of my biggest pet peeves EVER, and that I see DIYers and house flippers do all the time. Do you see this gap of space between the cabinet and the wall?

Yeah. Evidently they couldn’t be bothered to remove the baseboard before installing the cabinets.

This is a shortcut I’ve seen even high-end designers do. I remember seeing Candice Olsen’s people (remember Divine Design?) do this in several of her rooms where she added built-ins, and it bothered me so much every single time. If you’re going to add cabinets or built-ins, REMOVE THE BASEBOARDS so that they fit right up against the wall!! How hard is that? It’s those little details that will take your project from looking like a DIY project to looking like an professional upgrade. But literally nothing about this kitchen looks like a professional job. This has “first-time DIYer” written all over it.

Anyway, I just had to share this with y’all. I almost find myself getting offended by it. 😀 It offends me that our house, after all the work I’ve put into it with custom upgrades and touches, is valued at $250,000, while they think they can sell this thing for nearly half a million dollars. It’s absurd.

I genuinely hope some family from California doesn’t see this online, compare it with California prices, think they’re getting a steal, and buy it sight unseen. I know Californians are doing that right now (buying Texas real estate sight unseen), and I’d hate for anyone to get suckered into such a price for this property.

I honestly would have just minded my own business if it hadn’t been for that price tag. I just can’t get over it.

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