This month on Meet the Pros, we’re going behind the scenes with Austin Flipsters’ Co-Founder, Lauren Ahrens. I met Lauren when I moved back to Texas several years ago. In fact, she was one of my first clients in the state. I consulted her on her kitchen renovation, which was well underway at the time. Since then, I’ve loved watching Lauren and her business partner, Lincoln, take the Austin real estate market by storm!
The duo not only renovates and sells their own flips, but they also teach others how to do the same with their popular YouTube channel and “Flipster in a Box” partnership program. But before you run to check it out, let’s hear some of the biggest lessons and stories from Lauren herself…
Getting into the Home Flipping Market
SP: Hi, Lauren. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. First question… how did you initially get into flipping homes?
LA: I first got the renovation bug remodeling my personal home. In 2017, we bought a 1960s ranch house from the original owner, complete with wood paneling, a “drive thru” window in the kitchen, and teal carpets. Because I’m a bit of a cheapskate, I decided to play contractor and sub out the job rather than hiring someone. Shawna helped me with some of the material selections on the project, and I found that I really loved the whole process of renovation and wanted to give it another go.
Rather than uproot my family and move again, I partnered up with my college friend, Lincoln, who was already flipping houses in Austin. In 2018, we launched our YouTube channel “The Austin Flipsters” to document our journey and bring others along for the renovation ride.
SP: It certainly is a ride! What do most people not know about home flipping here in Texas? What was the biggest learning curve you experienced?
LA: That it’s not as easy as it looks on TV (or YouTube)! There are so many elements that go into a successful flip: buying the right property at the right price, getting favorable financing terms, finding the right contractor, coming up with a design plan that is buyer- and budget-friendly, and executing that plan.
I think the biggest learning curve has just been understanding that each project will have its own set of curveballs. No project runs 100% smoothly — inevitably there will be permitting issues, schedule delays, materials on back-order, contractors who walk off a job site (or are fired), the world shuts down for a few months during a global pandemic, the list goes on. Learning to embrace the chaos and have a flexible growth-mindset and seeing the setbacks as “learning opportunities” as much as possible helps me keep the stress in check.
Home Flipping with Expertise & Support
SP: What is flipping homes like now that you have done so many?
LA: Less intimidating, but more complicated. Now that we are flipping at scale (13 internal projects and 5 partner flips at the moment), the challenge is in making sure each project gets executed to plan. We’ve developed a variety of tools to help us do that.
Each of our projects (and partner projects) are now scanned using a Matterport. We then turn that scan into a 3D rendering of the project with a complete scope of work. That plan is then physically printed and kept on-site to cut down on miscommunication with the contractor, and so that everyone is on the same page (literally) with how the project should look.
SP: Smart. Tell me more about what you mean by “partner flips.” How are you helping other Texans get into the flipping market, and what inspired you to empower others in this way?
LA: So this, by far and away, has been my favorite part of starting our YouTube channel. Pretty much from the jump we had people reaching out to us asking how they could get started flipping houses, so in 2020 we developed an online course called “House Flipping for Beginners.”
One of our students, James, took the course last year in January. By March, he had flipped his first house, broke price per square foot records for the neighborhood, profited more on the one flip than he did all year working in IT, and was hooked. He now flips full-time and has 7 projects going. It is incredibly humbling to think we had any part in helping him live out his dream.
We also knew we wanted to take our education piece to the next level, so in late 2021 we developed our partnership model, where we take our house flipping playbook, so to speak, and leverage it to help first-time (or experienced) flippers find, fund, design, scope, and execute their project using our in-house acquisitions arm, and building teams.
I am super excited about the new partnership model. I like to say the course teaches you how to bowl, and the partnership model puts the bumpers up to make sure you hit the pins and don’t bowl a gutter ball.
Tips for Easier Home Flipping
SP: That seems highly valuable for anyone looking to break into this market. Could you see a Sourced Design Kit playing a helpful role in the process of flipping a home? Would you recommend it?
LA: With home flipping, time is money. The faster you can execute a project, the more quickly you can see a return. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to. That’s why I think it is always a good idea to lean on the experience of people who have been there and done that.
Shawna and her team have created some beautiful designs for their Sourced Kits and have thought through all the details, so you don’t have to! I also love that the Sourced products are guaranteed to be in-stock, which is crucial to keeping a flip on track.
SP: We work very hard to keep it that way! How would you advise someone to choose the right Design Kit for a flip?
LA: When deciding which kit to purchase for a flip, I would lean towards the designs that feature lighter, neutral finishes that will appeal to the largest pool of buyers.
SP: Yes, agreed. That’s exactly what I would suggest, too. So… any final advice for first-time flippers?
LA: Start small! We tell our students and partners all the time to start with a cosmetic flip (meaning you only need to swap out materials). Don’t get into major structural layouts, like moving walls, adding square footage, etc. on your first go.
When we hunt for a flip for one of our partners, we make sure the house is a newer build so that all the major systems should still be good, that way you’re not getting into major electrical or plumbing repairs like you might with an older home. Those can derail a project (and budget!) very quickly.
SP: I couldn’t agree more. Thanks so much for your wisdom, Lauren, and I hope everyone will go check out the incredible things you are doing on your YouTube channel.
LA: Thanks, Shawna!
Pre-Made Design Kits for Home Flipping
Pre-selected materials that are in-stock. A design that looks timeless-yet-current. A fail-safe plan for creating a space that looks high-quality and is kind to your budget. Our Bathroom Design Kits offer you all of this and more.
Take a look at our collections here, and start renovating with ease and success. Seriously. Until next time…
Styleberry Creative Interiors specializes in fresh, relaxed design crafted in a meaningful way. With a team, process, and done-for-you Design Kits you can trust, we’ll help you create soul-soothing spaces that inspire you to unwind, connect, and finally… exhale. Our studio is based in downtown San Antonio, Texas and serves clients in the Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, and greater San Antonio Metropolitan areas, as well as Nationwide.