Flipping Houses in Todays Market

Well for today’s post we have a very special guest. My business partner Dominic has put together a great article about what it takes to flip houses in today’s buyers market.

This is Dominic’s first post on our blog so please give him a warm welcome.



Hey everyone,

It is a very cold Sunday here in Western Mass.  I’m sitting here thinking about what would be interesting for everyone.  Of course I thought about flipping houses.  As you most of you know we own a house flipping company called Hampden Homebuyers.  We have been doing very well the last few years and a big reason why is because we have tailored what type of end product we are putting out.  5 to 7 years ago we could get away with doing laminate countertops, white paint everywhere & maybe white appliances.  Back then it didn’t matter.  Houses were selling before they hit the market.

Times have changed.  The past few years have brought a buyer’s market and with that you have to put out a better product.  The days of white everything are gone for now.  We have improved our finished product dramatically.  Now we use natural colors on walls, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and we really pay much more attention to finish details.  Today’s buyers have options and they are weighing all of them.

So my words of advice are…

1.  Pay attention to the finish details.  If you can see it then the potential buyer can and will see it too.

2.  Spend a little more to stand out.  The difference between new white and new stainless steel appliance is less than $1,000 and the end buyer definitely notices.

3.  Don’t be afraid to try something new.  Use different wall colors from room to room.  NOT every room but you can do one color for bedrooms and one color for the rest of the rooms.  Keep them neutral and it will work.

4.  Stage your properties.  We just started staging our finished properties and we love it.  Staging can distract the buyer’s eye from less attractive parts of the house.  We use staging as a vision of what the end buyer could have.

5.  Of course price is always important.  We have only had a few emotional purchases where price was not the deciding factor but a typical buyer will look at the surrounding properties and solds to make sure they are getting a good deal.

That’s what I have for you all.  I hope you enjoyed my info.  Please check out our other sites, www.FlippingSmart.com and www.HampdenHomebuyers.com  If you like them let us know.  If not, thank you for visiting.

Have a great Sunday and a prosperous 2012!

Dominic Kirchner II




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Merry Christmas and Happy House Flipping

Just wanted to wish all our blog readers, subscribers and followers a very merry Christmas.

Here’s my dog Teddy doing his best Santa impersonation:

Santa Claws


Best wishes to all and lets have an awesome 2012!!


P.S.  Remember, if you like our blog posts you can subscribe using the form right below:


or you can subscribe in the upper right hand corner under the heading “Subscribe to this Blog” , that way you get an email whenever we make a new exciting, awesome, informative and inspirational post!!!!

New Camera and Staging Homes to Sell

I’ve been operating with this really old clunky digital camera for the last 5-6 years. It’s a Kodak easyshare with an incredible 3.2 mega pixels. I used it a ton for my former profession as a commercial property inspector.  It actually took a pretty decent picture, and the file sizes were so small it made uploading pictures to the internet a breeze…..

but lately I’ve been looking at some MLS listings and noticed how nice and crisp the photos were looking of agents who were using newer cameras…. and I started to get a little picture envy. So I went out and picked up the latest and greatest Kodak Easyshare from Wal-Mart. This camera has 14 Mega Pixels and a 4x wide lens that really fits the whole room into each picture.

I am really picky about the photos we use for our finished rehabs…. I usually will take about 50-60 photos of each house and then pick the best 15-20 to use for all the online pictures.

I think your pictures are one of the most important parts of selling your house. With pretty much every buyer nowadays looking at properties online, you’ve got to have amazing pictures to really draw the buyers interest. Nothing baffles me more than when an agent uses dark, fuzzy off center photos in a property listing…. I just don’t know what they are thinking!!!!

OK…. back to my new camera…… I’ve got to say that I’m really impressed with the photos this camera is taking. It’s a really cheap camera from WalMart but the pictures look like a million bucks.

Here are some recent photos I took of some of our staged homes:

Staged Home For Sale Springfield MA

Staged House for Sale

Home Staging

Dining Room Staged


Wow…. those are some incredible looking photos!!!!


Now if you’re still holding onto your old camera, like I was, check out the difference between the two.

Living Room pic with Old Camera

Living Room Pic with New Camera

The new camera is really wide and it fits in so much more of each room. It also makes every photo really bright… even when there is not too much light, which is what you want!!!! Nobody likes looking at dark pictures!!


So that brings me to my next point; staging. I’m really digging the way our homes are looking fully staged. I think we’re gonna try to stage every house like this. They come out looking incredible and the staging just accentuates how awesome our rehabbed homes are!!!!

When you put together the new camera and the staged homes, our pictures are looking killer, and thats what sells houses!!

Staged Master Bedroom

Staged Home for Sale

Staged Living Room



Ok, time for one more comparison…. check out the staged pictures vs. the unstaged pictures:

Unstaged Living Room/Dining Area

Staged Living Room/Dining Area


So there you have it….. if that’s not enough incentive for you to upgrade from your old 2.0 Mega Pixel camera and maybe start fully staging your rehabbed homes, I don’t know what is!!


And now time for the most important lesson from this Blog post………. Your pictures are incredibly important!!!!!! so Don’t Screw them Up!!!!  🙂


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11 Kitchen and Bath Trends for 2011


As everybody knows, it’s the Kitchen and Bathrooms that can make or break your renovation.

Staying on top of the latest trends can help you give your buyers exactly what they’re looking for.

Here’s an interesting article I came across highlighting 11 Trends in Kitchen and Baths for 2011:




Which of these trends are you incorporating into your renovation projects?

If your seeing any trends in kitchens and baths share it with us in a post below.



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How to Find Buyers for your Houses

With the expiration of the first time home buyer tax credit last spring we saw a pretty good decline in buyer activity. The tax credit pulled a ton of demand forward, as everyone was trying to get in under the wire and grab their $8,000.

Knowing the market would slow quite a bit we had two options; 1. Stop buying and see how things shake out…. or 2. Keep on buying and put a renewed emphasis on finding buyers for our houses.

Now since I’m addicted to buying houses, and I can’t imagine ever stopping, or even slowing down for that matter, we chose the second option.

In the past, For Sale signs in the yard and placement on the MLS was working real good for us to sell houses….. but in this post tax credit era I knew we were going to need to do a little more. So what did I do? I took to the internet and began really pushing our properties there, with my weapon of choice being Craigslist.

Now, I’ve used Craigslist in the past with minimal success. It seemed to me that there was nothing but tire kickers and time wasters on there. However, since really making a commitment to putting up some great ads and being consistent in my postings, we’ve been able to find buyers for 6 of our properties from Craigslist ads since October. Thats pretty darn good!!

There are a few keys that I’ve discovered to make your ads work really well which I have listed below.

1. The most important thing is having a great headline. Your headline must grab peoples attention and make them open the ad. I’ve crafted up a few that have been working awesome, and I think this is the number one reason for our recent success on Craigslist. Once people open our ad and get a look at the pictures of our houses they fall in love…. but the key is getting them to open that ad, and thats done with a killer headline!!

2. The second key to success is being consistent with your ads. Make sure you post them 2-3 times per week so they stay fresh. I used to post an ad here or there, every other week or so, and wasn’t getting any results. There are always new people searching on Craigslist so you want to stay on that first page if you can. This is a great job for an assistant, intern ,or VA.  On the flip side, don’t become a spammer and post your property 6 times per day from multiple email accounts. That just gets annoying and is sure to turn off any potential buyers!!

3. The third key for me has been putting a link to our www.HampdenHomebuyers.com website within the ad where potential buyers can see a list of all our properties for sale. So, if for whatever reason the property ad they clicked on doesn’t suit them, they can browse our other gorgeous homes and find one they like. This worked with one of our recent buyers. She clicked on one of our rent-to-own craigslist ads and while on our website she fell in love with one of our rehabbed houses that was not rent-to-own. She called her mortgage broker right away and found out she was right on the cusp of being able to qualify. We worked with her a little and now she is going to be able to buy our rehabbed property in the next 30-60 days. Obviously you need to have multiple properties for sale at any one given time for this to work… and if you don’t have multiple properties for sale you need to get off your butt and get out there and buy some!!!! What are you waiting for!!!

4. The last thing I’ve found to work is to have multiple ways for potential buyers to contact you. Everybody likes to communicate in different ways, so through our Craigslist ads people can email us, call us, or go onto our website and fill out a buyer form requesting more information.

Not everyone who contacts you is gonna buy one of your houses, so this is a great way to start building your buyers list. Make sure you get peoples names, phone numbers and emails addresses so you can keep in touch with them about any other properties you may have going forward.



Well thats all I’ve got for tonight. I was going to post some updates on some of our deals, and maybe talk about some of the new properties we have in the works…. but this post got real long.

I hope you find the above information useful in your quest to sell some of your houses.

Remember, if you like our blog posts you can subscribe in the upper right hand corner under the heading “Subscribe to this Blog”, that way you get an email whenever we make a new exciting, awesome, informative and inspirational post!!!!


Tips for Selling a Home in the Winter

Buy Home Springfield MA

While the winter time is a bit slower when it comes to selling houses, there are still buyers out there looking.

The winter weather in the northern states presents a whole new set of challenges when it comes to house flipping, here are some tips I found when it comes to selling your homes during the winter months;



The winter weather hasn’t been too kind to us here lately in Massachusetts. We got a huge snowstorm last week and have had snow and ice all this week.

Heres my car after almost 2 feet of snow fell:


You folks in the warmer climates don’t really have to worry too much about the snow and ice, but I’m sure the heat brings about it’s own set of challenges.

Leave a comment below if you have any good tips for selling houses during these cold, dark winter months.

Reader Questions – Rehabbing a Fire Damaged House

We’ve rehabbed alot of houses that have fire damage, because of this I get quite a few questions from our readers on renovating fire damaged homes.

These types of properties can seem very intimidating to the new and experienced investor alike. You have multiple issues with fire damaged homes; not only are you dealing with the burn damage, but there is also smoke and water damage that come into play when renovating these houses.  Because of this trifecta of potential problems we usually just look at most fire damaged properties as full guts…. this way there is little question as to what we can save and what we need to replace….. we just replace it all!!!

Below are two recent questions I’ve recieved from visitors to the site along with my responses. 

I was curious if you could give some tips on rehabbing a fire damaged property. I am making an offer on one today and would like to hear from you about any ‘gotchas’ or unique requirements from buyers, lenders, fire departments, municipalities, etc.


My response:


Alot of it depends on the extent of the fire damage. Was it contained to one small room, or did the fire spread throughout the house?

We generally budget for a full gut rehab with all new mechanicals when doing a fire job. Once you have the house gutted out it becomes pretty easy.

Make sure you pay close attention to any burn damage to structural beams and joists. These usually will have to be sistered or replaced depending on the extent of the burn damage.

You can walk the building inspector through before you start the project and he will point out what he wants fixed and corrected.

Also be sure to work with a very good contractor that has experience with full gut rehabs and knows alot about framing and correcting any structural/support issues.

Good luck with your offer!!!

And now the second question:

Hey Matt

I live in Baltimore and am looking to do some similar things to what you and your partner are doing up in MAss. Can I get any tips on renovating a burned out place…Is there anything specific I need to do prior or during renovation? How do you deal with the smoke smell, do you guys like wash them down inside or once the drywall goes on it kind of encapsulates all that? Any kind of special testing group I need to bring on or anything?

And my response:
Most of our fire damaged renovations are full guts. So we rip out all the sheetrock, carpeting, electric, ductwork etc…..
The smoke smell is tough to get rid of. We encapsulate all the burn damage with an oil or shellac based primer/sealer like Killz. We are usually tearing all the sheetrock out so this is done to burn damage that remains on wood framing, ceiling/floor joists or the roof rafters. On one project we did the fire was contained to an upstairs bedroom and hallway. So we kept some of the sheetrock on the first floor. However I did notice that on really warm days I could still smell some of the smoke left in the walls.
Make sure you are working with a good contractor that really understands framing and building codes.

Hope this helps – Matt

Obviously theres alot more that could be said on this topic and each fire damaged property is going to be unique. The best ones are when you are dealing with a small fire that only burned a couple interior rooms. The more questionable ones are when the fire really spreads throughout most of the house and does damage to the exterior walls and burns up through the majority of the roof. I’ve found that some of these can’t be fixed or it doesn’t make sense economically to rehab them, as the potential rehab cost far exceeds what the house will be worth when finished (especially in areas with lower priced homes).  
You’ll notice that in both responses I made sure to recommend using a good contractor, as this will make or break your rehab, especially when your dealing with fire damage.

Box Trucks and Paint Colors

Well it’s been another productive week in Springfield. We got two BPO’s done for short sales that we are working on, looked at a ton of houses, got an offer accepted on a nice REO deal, and yesterday we had lunch with a group of investors that came up to Springfield from southern CT for a little mastermind session. I know they read my blog so I want to thank you guys for lunch!! 

On the marketing front, we picked up a big box truck a few weeks back that we’ve been having our contractor use to cruise around town with. The truck serves two purposes; it’s great for our contractor to store all his tools and transport materials to all the various job sites, but more importantly we are using it for a bit of shameless advertising. Heres a look at it:

Sweet Box Truck


Now isn’t that a sweet ride!!!! It’s too bad our contractor is married with kids because I know he could be getting a lot of chicks driving around in a truck like that 🙂 

On the deal front we are going to be closing on the Giant Historic house next week as the title issues are finally cleared up. We spent today in Boston visiting a friend of mine who develops six unit condominium complexes. These are new construction buildings that he develops in existing neighborhoods. He builds them to look like older historic homes to match the surrounding properties. His buildings come out awesome and he uses some real nice exterior paint schemes. We visited a couple of his properties to get some good ideas for our exterior paint colors on the historic house. Heres a look at a few of his buildings:

House #1

This property has a darker sage green for the main body… almost an olive-green. The trim is a pale yellow and the accents are a burnt orange. I really like this particular look.

Historic Color Scheme 1

House #2

This house has a very deep red for the main body with a pale yellow trim and black accents. I think this may be a little too dark for what we are looking for.

House #3

This property has a lighter sage green for the main body with cream trim and a very rich/deep purple on the trim. I like this color scheme as well but I think I prefer the burnt orange over the deep purple.

Historic House Paint Color #3

House #4

This property has a lighter blue for the main body with pale yellow trim and burnt orange accent.

I’m leaning towards a sage green for the main body and I really like the contrasting look of the burnt orange accents. Tomorrow I’m going to go to Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore to look at their books and get some more ideas. We are suppose to be meeting with the local Historical Society on Monday so I’d like to have the exterior paint colors nailed down so I can show them what we are going to be using.

Let me know which of the houses you like or which colors you think look good. Leave a comment as any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!!