• Casey Littler

Our first "flip"

Ok, where do I start. In all honesty, I've only just come up for air. The anxiety and stress I/we have dealt with over the last few weeks has been insane! Well, mainly for me! I'm not really a stressed person and I've never suffered from anxiety (to this extreme). But I think it's fair to say, packing up, moving cities, studying, starting a new career, buying an old house, renovating, parenting, new friendships, sick Dad...... was probably a bit much to take on. Any who, we can now say we have done it!

Looking back on it all I feel so excited and proud of what we achieved, but not the way I handled it. I wish I had more poise, more calm and simply trusted that it would all work out (like it always does!). But I guess that's something I might develop as I grow through life. I am however, learning to trust in the process and to try and enjoy each day as it comes.

I have always been a big goal setter and planner. I struggle with that now as I'm not entirely sure where life is heading. I have a general idea, I know what I love to do and what makes me happy, so for now, I am jut following my heart and doing the things I actually love.

Ok, so renovation advise! Flips aren't that easy to do in NZ. And I would say especially right now when materials and products are so hard to source and property prices are so high!!

This was an actual flip in the sense that we hired builders and labourers for all the jobs. Nothing was just done by ourselves in the weekend, or a little "cashie"on the side for friends. This was a full blown business venture. This is turn meant our spending costs were a lot higher than we had planned. The first renovation we did was our home, so Ben spent as much time doing jobs on it (outside of work) to keep costs down. We did a lot ourselves and it took us well over 8 moths to finish, in fact, more like years!

This isn't an option for a flip. We started at the end of January and finished at the end of April. You really want to get it done asap, keep your interest payments down and get your money out sooner. Yes, some people might be different as they might be full cash buyers, we were not. We also needed to ensure Ben was working full time to support our family, so his incomes was put into the cost.

We don't do things by halves. Where some people may have left some things to save some money, we simply couldn't. It needed to all be done and done properly. Even then, it was not perfect! When you're working with old doors, walls with wallpaper and textured plaster, tiles etc, it's not easy to get a "new build" finish. This was frustrating but it was what it was.

All in all, we went way over budget, but we made a profit and loved the end result!

When it came to selling, it was not easy! It was an old renovated house with no warranties and previous asbestos, plus I had a personal connection to it. We had worked hard and I felt protective of it. However, I put that aside and did the best job possible, with 3 open days a week (one weeknight) and endless marketing, phone calls and letterbox drops, we went to auction. I had strict instructions on where our bottom line was and we did not get there on Auction night, so we passed it in. This quite literally crushed my soul.

I felt like I had failed and let my Mum and husband down. But little did I know it was the best thing for us and for my learning experience. I had stuck to my guns and not accepted a price that was simply to low for all the hard work we had done. So I re-marketed the property, used different images, changed a few things around, put a fixed price on and went back to it.

Straight away we had a couple interested simply as it was not an Auction and 2 weeks later we went unconditional for $40,000 more than the price at Auction. So, yes, I was pleased I had stuck to my guns and not just taken the money and run. Auctions are really amazing and a superb place to start, but if you don't get the price you want on the day, then don't feel disheartened and simple take it to the next option.

My best advise for you if you are looking at doing a renovation or flip, is to hire the professionals where you need them. When someone is buying a renovated house, they want "codes" and "certificates"wherever possible. Plumbing, electrical, construction etc are all areas people want to know are done properly. Sure, do the stuff you can where you can but don't skimp on the big items!

You can replace "like for like" without needing consents, however I would still recommend getting a plumber or electrician in to check it all over. Where you might save a few thousand in labour/costs, you might loose tens of thousands in the sale.

A big selling point of this property was in fact the new hot water cylinder, switch board and double glazing. These were essentially the main items that sold the house. We left the landscaping and that actually became a draw card for buyers as it gave them something to work on themselves!

Also, make sure you have an agent who actually cares! If this wasn't me, I have no doubt another agent might have pushed us to take the cash sale at Auction, and we may have! But I knew if I kept working I could get more and it was important to me to do so.

Staging is AMAZING! Literally every person who walked through the door was blown away by how lovely the house looked! I can't guarantee that this made the property sell for more, it did however make it memorable. Remember, most people are looking at 10's of houses a week or month. You want to make yours stand out!

I absolutely love staging a house and I offer it for all my listings, plus as a service to others. You can follow us at @modeleinteriors on Facebook and Instagram or visit

Ensuring your home or investment property is welcoming and stands out is so important! It's a small investment that can really make all the difference in your marketing and selling. Sure, you can make the photos look good then leave the house, but how are the buyers going to feel when they expect one thing and walk in, to find it bare and uninviting! A lot of people can't envision a space when it's blank, they also notice things like scratches or holes in the walls as their eyes are drawn to any imperfections, not to the room or space as a whole. I'm not saying to hide things, but simply present your home in the best way possible!

I guess my main advise is like most things in life, if you're going to do it, do it properly and put your all into it. Ride with the punches, save money where you can, but put money in where it matters! Oh, and take big, deep, breathes!

Casey xxx

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