Whenever I tell people at parties that I flip houses, they inevitably ask if I watch “Flipping Out” on Bravo and what I think about it. And the job supervisor at one of my houses kept telling me I reminded him of the guy on the show (I’m equally obsessed with details). So I finally had to watch it. And like a train wreck, I can’t take my eyes off of it.
“Flipping Out” is about as close to depicting the life of a real estate investor as “Green Acres” was to portraying the life of a farmer. Jeff Lewis’ life is nothing like mine. He wears designer clothing which never get dirty, drives around in one of two $100,000 cars (which also never get dirty), employs a huge staff to do non-essential work such as fetching coffee (140o!), getting someone on the phone, or cleaning-up after one of his dogs. He drives from Los Feliz to Encino and back in record time, and enjoys leisurely lunches at home with his staff every day.
My days, on the other hand, are spent running around with my hair on fire – going to Home Depot sometimes twice a day, any of a half-dozen specialty lighting stores, electrical wholesalers, plumbing supply stores, hardware stores, furniture stores or meetings with contractors, sub-contractors and other suppliers and vendors. In between all that, I’m making the rounds looking at houses on caravan days (when realtors hold open houses for other realtors) looking at comps (similar homes) for my projects and keeping an eye out for my next project. I drive a beat-up SUV I can’t keep clean because it’s always loaded with building materials or my dog.
I wear shorts, tee-shirts and construction boots and am lucky if I can bathe once a day and shave once a week. If I get around to having lunch, it’s usually at 4PM and might be a 3-day old sandwich from a gas station mini-mart – or it’s off the “roach coach” at a job site. I can’t afford to employ a personal staff since every penny I have goes into each project and I don’t have the margins for such luxuries. And my evening hours are spent at my desk crunching numbers, reviewing budgets, reviewing and paying invoices, creating punch lists and schedules and emailing photos and teasers to realtors, journalists, TV producers and other people important to my business. When other people might kick-back and watch TV, play video games or surf the web, I spend my idle moments scanning the MLS for sales trends and comps, or mining the furniture websites for prices on vintage pieces and furnishing ideas.
I only wish I had the time Jeff Lewis has to wreak havoc with other people’s lives!