George Panoutsos And Dimitri Poulakis have spent the last several years flipping properties across the Chicagoland area. We wanted to know what they’ve learned and what advice they have for first-time flippers.
How did you get into flipping houses?
George: Growing up I always worked on houses — small projects — with my family. My dad taught me a lot. Construction and real estate go hand in hand.
What are some immediate deal breakers with any potential property?
Dimitri: Structural issues. For example, if it’s a brick house or brick building and you see that the outside brick is crooked that’s a big no. You have to pass.
George: It depends. If it’s a really good deal (laughs)…. Everything can be fixed. But structural issues, flooding issues, sewer mains, if they’re broken.
There are blind spots. Going in as an investor, and being the person inspecting the property, you have to be very thorough.
What are some of the more costly renovations?
George: Additions, finishing a basement, adding a second kitchen, things like that.
Dimitri: Roofs, windows, plumbing, electrical.
How about some inexpensive fixes?
Dimitri: Flooring makes a big difference. Investing a couple grand in the floors can make them look brand new. It makes a big difference.
George: Painting goes a long way — as long as you don’t go crazy with the colors. You want something light; light grays are in style now. Simple fixtures, too.
Speaking of painting, how do you keep up with trends?
Dimitri: All these paint companies have their 2017 Colors of the Year, and they have their bestsellers. It kind of gives you an idea of what’s popular.
What are some of the most common roadblocks you’ve faced?
Dimitri: Shortage of labor. If it’s summer time, for example. If you call in your worker and he’s working for somebody else finishing their flips, it kind of puts a strain on your project.
What are some of the jobs you often do yourself?
Dimitri: The small and easy jobs, where you’re in and out. The jobs where you have to be there everyday, sometimes it makes sense to contract those out.
George: Definitely painting; maybe trim, door handles; and installing flooring, backsplashes.
What advice do you wish you would have gotten?
George: Don’t skip steps. Doing a whole gut rehab needs a lot of planning. You can’t jump around. The electrical work needs to be done before the drywall guys come in.