The Best Money I Ever Spent, According to Serial Home Flippers

updated Oct 23, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

When you have a project list that’s a mile long, it’s hard to narrow your focus. Is your money best spent on the things you want to invest in, like that new kitchen you’re coveting? Or, are you better off putting your budget toward something not quite as exciting, like, say, a new toilet? 

In general, pro house flippers say the kitchen is a great place to start. “Exactly where money goes is very specific to each project—sometimes it’s the exterior and sometimes it’s tearing down walls to create an open floor plan,” explains Tobie Earley, owner of Happy Hive Design, an interior designer who works with MIF Design and Construction on a wide range of flips in northern New Jersey. “But, what consistently helps sell a home, and where we consistently spend the majority of our budget, is the kitchen.” Why? Kitchens are the heart of the home, Earley says. These spaces should be welcoming, bright, and functional with a good appliance package, a clean backsplash, crisp counters, and plenty of lighting, she says.

Of course, you don’t have to splurge on a huge reno, like the kitchen, to see a return on your investment. Here, seasoned pros share other big wins that really pay off.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Light Fixtures

Replacing outdated or builder-grade light fixtures can make a huge difference and really make a room pop, says Paul Dashevsky, home flipper and co-founder of GreatBuildz. Use bold, unique light fixtures to create a high-end look throughout the home, from the bedrooms and bathrooms to the dining room and kitchen, he says.

If you’re unwilling or unable to replace the light fixtures, try adding plug-in sconces, which add a high-end look without any wiring.

Outlet Covers

“The best money we spend on our house flips, believe it or not, is for one of the least expensive upgrades you can make: Every single flip we do gets new outlets, switches, and cover plates,” says Dustin Singer, owner of real estate investment firm Dustin Buys Houses. As small and inexpensive these items are, they make a dramatic difference in overall look and make a home feel brand new, he explains.

New Floors

Home flipper Julia Morett-Vij says the best money she and her husband spent on their latest project was on fully waterproof luxury laminate floors. Since floors are such a big investment—and a difficult thing to change once you’re settled—they chose a neutral color that would “grow with the house,” Morett-Vij explains. “These fit within our budget, but provide the perfect canvas if we ever want to change the wall color or artwork.”

Credit: Lula Poggi

Curb Appeal

“The best money I have spent—and continue to spend—is on the exterior,” says Steven Clarke, a seasoned home flipper and real estate agent. “Pictures and online tours are the primary way customers and clients begin their home search,” he explains. “You have about two seconds to capture their attention and get a click.” You don’t have to spend a fortune to do so—most times some landscaping, newly painted shutters, and jazzed up front door is all a house needs, he says.