Flipping for Success

GGRE Q&A with a serial flipper

Serial flipper Kymberly Dryden has been flipping houses for as long as she can remember—literally. Her family-run real estate business has been renovating properties in California since she was a little girl. While her schoolmates spent their afternoons selling Girl Scout cookies, some of Kymberly’s earliest memories involve going door-to-door with fliers for the family business, saying, “If ever you want to sell your house, here’s our phone number.” You could say that she was born with real estate in her blood. Today, Kymberly flips around 20 homes a year in San Diego alone, and her family business is more successful than ever. We sat down with her to unearth five top factors in her success.

Q: Name one thing that has been instrumental in your business success.

A: A lot of things have factored into my success. I mean it definitely helps that I grew up with real estate being the family business. But honestly, if I had to name one thing? Mental attitude. No matter what your background is, you always have to deal with self-doubt. You have to be able to turn off the negative voice inside of yourself and have faith that you have what it takes to succeed. If you set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. I totally and completely subscribe to that. That’s not to say that everything just comes to you by wishing for it alone. You have to act. My dad always says, “Make a plan and work your plan.” I constantly write down what I want to accomplish. Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly—it really doesn’t matter how long the list is. It starts with putting it down. Just put down whatever feels right. It doesn’t have to be etched in stone. The point is that it’s out of your head, and that lets you see picture more clearly. Personally, I’ve found that by writing things down, I inevitably exceed my initial goals.

If you set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything

Q: You know this industry like the back of your hand. What kinds of properties are you yourself investing in right now?

A: We’ve actually been moving away from the lower-priced properties lately, because the competition here in San Diego is fierce. There’s very, very low inventory to begin with, and there are just so may seasoned investors and people who are trying to flip for the first time snatching properties up. So what we’ve found is that by moving into the higher-priced homes, there’s less competition and there’s a greater upside: the profitability is much higher. The mid-entry homes are still our bread and butter, and we’ll always do them, but now we’re starting to step into that higher-end market, as well.

Q: You have a 360-degree perspective on real estate because you deal with both sides: you purchase and you sell. Where would you say the greatest challenge lies in flipping a house?
A: In terms of the nuts and bolts of the actual rehab, I would say finding consistent, reliable crews can be difficult. It’s extremely important, especially for women in this industry, to have strong footing where the actual construction is concerned. Your confidence really needs to shine through, because this industry is predominantly male. Inevitably, you’re going to run into situations where people try to take advantage of that. So you have to be as educated as possible on the cost of materials, how things are built, what the typical square footage is for flooring. You know, you have to do your due diligence. It’s easy to price the big-ticket items like the cabinetry or the appliances, but it’s the little hidden things that creep up on you if you’re not careful.
Never put all your eggs in one basket. Have backups, backups, backups. And don’t be beholden to one particular contractor. Negotiate. Don’t be afraid to create bidding wars between them. You just kind of have to flex yourself in this field, for sure.

Q: Is there one stand-out pitfall for women new to this business that you can advise them to avoid?

A: Separating business from pleasure. It’s really easy to mix them up, especially when you’re new to the game. I very much enjoy the actual process of transforming a home. I love creating something beautiful and getting it ready for someone to move into. That excites me. So I have to sort of shelve those emotions and really remind myself often that this is a business first and foremost, and that it all comes down to making the numbers work. All of those warm, fuzzy feelings that are associated with it are wonderful, no question about it. But they’re perks of the business. It is a business, and it has to be respected as such.

Q: What would you say are the biggest rewards of your success?

A: Where do I start? There are so many rewards for me, being in this business. I get to carry on the family torch, for starters. It’s something that I’ll be able to pass on to my children. Financially, it provides a lot of freedom. I work for myself. I can drag my kids along to work with me if need be, and I don’t know of many other scenarios where I could still be a mom first and run a successful business. But really, I just love the excitement of taking a dirty dog—a really ugly, crappy home—and transforming it for someone who might not have had the vision to see its potential. I love the effect that it has not just on the person who buys it, but on the whole neighborhood. I’ve had so many conversations with people who tell me, “Thank you so much, you’ve inspired me. I’ve changed my garage door or I’ve re-landscaped or we’re painting inside.” It happens every time; renovating is contagious. At the end of the day, it just feels really, really good to make a positive impact on people’s lives like that.

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