Flipping a house is a lot of work, and can yield a big profit. But not every project is guaranteed to be lucrative. So what’s the key to successfully making over a fixer-upper and selling it for a gain? Our new series “What the Flip?” presents before and after photos to identify the smart construction and design decisions that ultimately helped make a house desirable to buyers.

Though the pandemic shutdowns in 2020 sent a hard blow to the economy of Sin City, they had the opposite effect on local real estate. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, office workers with the new-found ability to work remotely found themselves running for larger, more affordable houses in Southern Nevada. That turned out to be a lucky win for anyone with a home to sell in Las Vegas, as buyers snatched up turnkey homes just as fast as they were listed.

It was an especially lucky circumstance for the house flippers who purchased this four-bedroom, three-bathroom Las Vegas home with a vintage vibe in August 2019 for just $255,000. After a yearlong renovation, they sold it for $568,500.


We asked top experts in real estate and design what made this house such a good bet, and they say it was more than just a lucky draw. Below, our experts weigh in on the interior updates that put this home in the top spot for buyers.

Living room

A massive living space should be a selling point, but the original design of this living room was working against it.

“The living room is quite large, but between the tile and the carpeting and the wallpaper, it felt choppy,” says Lori Matzke, owner of Home Staging Expert. “Replacing the flooring with the same wood throughout and creating a feature wall in a similar tone makes it flow seamlessly. Because you’re no longer getting hung up on all the different patterns, it just looks so spacious.”

But the flippers didn’t stop there—they also focused on the closet with the dated louvered doors. Rather than update the doors, though, they took out the whole closet.

The closet was replaced with a long desk, creating an office area that’s partly separated from the main living area. And in this time of remote school and work, that change likely garnered favor from potential buyers.

Kitchen

It’s been suggested that in a post-COVID-19 world, the open floor plan will be a thing of past. All this remote activity now gives us a need for privacy, rather than the ability to see everyone in the home all at once. The new layout of this kitchen, though, is the best of both worlds.

“Buyers will clearly see how much serious cooking you could do in this kitchen without feeling isolated,” says Matzke.

But this kitchen has a lot more going for it than just the layout.

“Taking those new upper cabinets right up to the ceiling created so much more storage space, which is something potential buyers always look for,” Matzke says.

“There’s an ideal mix of cabinetry and open shelving to provide ample storage and also conveniently keep everyday cooking essentials and favorite cookbooks within reach,” says interior designer Natalie Meyer, who explains that the patterned accent wall keeps the room from feeling too sterile.

Dining area

Between the tile floor, the dated brick fireplace, and the wood paneling, the original dining area had zero things going for it. Thankfully, the flippers made a big (and much needed) impact on this space.

“This new design is much more modern, clean, and streamlined with the entire fireplace encased in marble,” says Meyer. “Plus, by removing the hearth, the dining area gains more space for a table and chairs and becomes more functional—no need to worry about bumping your chair into the fireplace!”

And once again, experts emphasize that the partly open layout is a bonus (and not a hindrance) for this home.

“Losing the wall between the kitchen and dining room expanded the entertaining area, which is definitely a positive selling point,” says Matzke. “I also think buyers will love the double-sided fireplace update, as it still helps distinguish the living room from the dining room, but it no longer feels like such a massive barrier between the two.”

“The open-concept dining and kitchen is highly desirable for young families,” adds Natasha Penzo, real estate agent and co-founder of Urban Blueprint, and founder of HomeKin.

Main bedroom

Not a lot has changed in the main bedroom, but the look of the space has drastically improved.

Matzke says the closet space provided by the built-ins was a bonus, but the dated look of them would have given buyers pause.

“Painting everything a crisp white gave it a distinctly modern appeal and turned that entire wall into a unique but positive feature,” she says. “I think most buyers might have left the closets but would have definitely considered ripping out the canopy altogether, so painting that entire built-in white really was a stroke of genius.”

Secret lounge

And now, for the pièce de résistance: the secret lounge that was added to this home. There’s no doubt that it adds to the cool factor, but does it increase its market value?

Our experts were split.

“This secret lounge is such a unique feature,” says Meyer. “It could potentially increase the home’s value by providing the homeowner with options to either keep the space open for continued flow between rooms, or section it off for privacy.”

Matzke wasn’t so sure: “I’m sure many potential buyers will love the idea of a secret room, but whether it turns out to be a positive feature or not might all depend on the mechanics of the revolving door.”

If the door breaks, it kind of defeats the purpose of a secret room. She agrees, though, that giving buyers a flexible space could be a plus—especially in today’s climate.

Whether you love the secret feature or not, Penzo says the flip was done well overall.

“It ties in midcentury modern finishes with fun pops of color that are attractive to a large pool of buyers,” she says.

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