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Flipping Fixers: Using Transformation Psychology for Top Dollar

Satisfying and lucrative real estate investment depends upon your correct assessment of profit potential, of course, but your ultimate success depends on your ability to transform a fixer into a dollhouse. The renovation process involves physical work and choosing the best supplies, in order to create maximum positive emotional effect and profits.

By incorporating the psychology of residential design, you can make wise choices in transforming your fixer house by using colors, textures, building materials, and decorations that will assure a future speedy and cost-effective sale.

The psychology of residential design addresses the entire home, inside and out, but the techniques of Transformation Psychology are a bit different, because your ultimate goal is different. The use of Design Psychology in your personal home is much more individualized, while renovating a doghouse into a dollhouse integrates more generalized design ideas to create a home that will be appealing to a broader spectrum of people.

Using Transformation Psychology to increase your real estate profits means that you must learn how our human senses and emotions are affected by our decorating details and choices of materials. Buyers view a prospective home with their eyes, but their brains interpret what they see and feel according to subtle touches you have purposefully put into your house.

Process of Transformation Psychology

Your goal is to create a glorious home that buyers won't be able to live without, and that process begins with planning all the changes that will be necessary, from inception to realization, in order to accomplish a total makeover of the house.

Color Psychology

Determine your potential buyers' income level and your selling season. Use simple colors for less expensive houses and complex colors for upscale markets. Add in warm colors to attract buyers during cooler weather and cool colors to attract buyers during hot weather.

Texture Psychology

Many investors fix up houses to flip without considering how the vacant

house will 'feel' to prospective buyers. This isn't a problem in hot selling markets, but selling a vacant house in a buyer's market means you need to outshine the competition instead of pricing your home lower.

Vacant houses often feel cold with all hard surfaces. Avoid a boxy, hard feeling by adding soft textures. Window coverings, towels in the bathrooms, and a lightweight round table with a fabric tablecloth add texture to soothe the buyer's emotions.

Buy Materials with Drama in Mind

Instead of buying the cheapest lighting fixtures, cabinet hardware, and other building materials, look for additions which buyers fall in love with. This doesn't mean you need to spend more, just be selective. We found an awesome chandelier for only $25 at Restore (Habitat for Humanity's thrift store); I found matching wall scones at Lowe's (where the chandelier sold for $300). Paying $50 more for the wall scones than most investors would have meant little when the house sold for more than any other home previously sold for in the neighborhood.

We love taking a dirty doghouse and turning it into a marvelous dollhouse, and we're willing to invest more time and money than the average investor in order to achieve a truly dramatic transformation. We usually spend about $12,000 for each renovation, which includes the cost of materials and outside help. Many investors spend much less, but they make less profit when the property sells.

Real estate investing takes skill and planning, but using Transformation Psychology can give you a competitive edge, taking a doghouse and turning it into the kind of dollhouse that buyers will stand in line to bid on.

(c) Copyright 2004, Jeanette J. Fisher. All rights reserved.

Professor Jeanette Fisher, author of Doghouse to Dollhouse for Dollars, Joy to the Home, and other books teaches Real Estate Investing and Design Psychology. For more articles, tips, reports, and newsletters, see

Written by: Jeanette Joy Fisher

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