Cherokee father, son flip houses
Cherokee Nation citizen Harold Hicks paints a wall on the inside of a house he and his son Nathan are flipping in Wagoner. COURTESY
BROKEN ARROW – For the past 12 years, Cherokee Nation citizen Harold Hicks and his son Nathan have taken on flipping houses part-time, which means buying property at a low cost, renovating it and making it move-in ready for buyers for profit.
Despite what’s seen on television shows about house flipping, Hicks said there is more to flipping homes.
“You’re buying a house in order to maybe do some repairs a little bit then sell it and make a profit. Be prepared to do the work. It’s not a regular job. It’s not something you can go and do when you feel like it. Time is money. I think understanding the market, understanding the neighborhood and what the houses will bring, choosing colors that will appeal to people. You can’t just go in and paint up to your own taste,” Hicks said.
He said he started helping his son, who initially started flipping homes. He helped with the business side while Nathan handled construction and repairs. But after retiring three years ago, he was able to help out more. Now, he said, they flip two to three homes a year.
“The house flipping, it takes a lot more capital investment money to really do it full time. In our situation it's more of a part-time business, I guess,” he said.
Hicks said to flip a house, he and Nathan look for homes that are available in sheriff auctions, which are foreclosed homes sold at cheaper prices. They inspect the homes to see what types of repairs are needed.
“Usually there’s a lot of cleaning. They’re almost always very dirty, a lot of cleaning, trash and just old stuff laying around. We get to the cleaning, there’s painting because the houses were dirty and they haven’t been kept up very well, and fresh paint really does a lot to make a house look good,” he said.
Aside from cleaning and painting, other repairs might include new carpet, trim, tiling and appliances.
Hicks said they also look for newer homes that don’t need as much cleaning and repairing because as costs add up they could lose more money than they can make.
“You spend on things that give you the best return. The whole point is you want to make some money. We do a lot of the work ourselves as far the cleaning and painting. We try to get the little bit newer homes those maybe 10 to 15 years old or newer. Sometimes we get some that are only five or six years old. So we try to get the newer ones just because they’re less trouble with plumbing or electrical issues. Normally ours are just in regular neighborhoods – three bedroom, two bath – because those sell better,” Hicks said.
He said they mostly look at standard floor plans – no custom builds or add-ons – outside brick walls and ensure the neighboring homes look in good shape with well-kept yards because a buyer will likely consider those factors.
“We want something that has a broader appeal. We look at houses that are going to sell $100,000 to $150,00 somewhere in that range. If you go too high it takes longer for them to sell,” he said.
First- or second-time homebuyers are their usual customers, he added.
“We’ll generally start on our own with finding the buyers, maybe run a few ads of a house for sale to see if we get anything that way. If we don’t get a good response pretty quick then we’ll go ahead and contact a realtor and get a house listed just so you have a lot more exposure. You want it to sell quick. You can check the market for a particular area, how long is the average time for houses to sell,” Hicks said.
He said they’ve bought and sold homes in the Broken Arrow, Coweta, Tulsa, Claremore and Wagoner.
“It can be a lot of fun. There is a reward in getting the house that’s run down and bad looking and fixing it up, turning it into a really nice-looking place and selling it to someone who’s excited about buying a house,” Hicks said.