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June 12th, 2023 at 11:00 am

Spanish style home with text overlay: A Santa Barbara Real Estate Agent's Guide to Flipping Houses

An agent’s take on flipping homes in Santa Barbara

Ricardo Munoz doesn’t just buy and sell homes. He also renovates them as part of his mission to bring some of Santa Barbara’s finest residences back to life. And in doing so, the Santa Barbara native is ensuring the community he loves retains its rich architectural heritage.

Ricardo, an agent with our Santa Barbara office, made the switch to “home flipper by accident” in 2015.

“A client I had sold a few homes for gave me the opportunity to find him a fixer-upper or a complete teardown in the San Roque neighborhood,” Ricardo recalled. “He said, go ahead and if you think there’s value here, find an architect you want to work with, and I’ll give you carte blanche to come up with an architectural design and floorplan. If you think there’s potential for making money, then let’s go ahead and give it a go. And so that was my first project. It just took off from there.”

That first house – a 2,200-square-foot Spanish Colonial at 477 Paseo del Descanso with four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms – sold for $2,295,000, originally purchased for $675,000. Located about a mile from the Old Santa Barbara Mission, Ricardo wanted to keep within the architectural integrity of the neighborhood.

He has done the same for several other local homes, including 3872 Crescent Drive, a Spanish hacienda-style residence, and 133 Canyon Acres Drive, a contemporary ranch-style home. All were in various states of disrepair or ready for teardown when Ricardo came along and “rebuilt” them. Now he is committed to renovating two to three homes a year, serving as project manager, and often working with local architect Ted Meeder and licensed contractors. To date, Ricardo has renovated and sold 20 homes.

Because he grew up in Santa Barbara, Ricardo admits to an affinity toward the Spanish-style architecture so prevalent in the city. However, he always incorporates some contemporary design elements in each project he embarks on, whether it’s steel-black windows or an open-concept floor plan, endeavoring to keep in line with the neighborhood or the home’s architectural style.

Ricardo has advice

We asked Ricardo for his advice for any agent considering following in his footsteps:

“It’s very important to know your market, know the neighborhood that you’re flipping in, and consider the architectural integrity for that neighborhood. Establish a good relationship with an architect, reach out to a couple of contractors, and when the opportunity does come up, you’re well-prepared.”

What’s the best way to get started?

Ricardo’s advice when it comes to getting started with flipping homes:

“That’s exactly how I got my start, with a little townhouse.”

What about a new home from the ground up?

“I try to stay away from new construction and instead work with what’s either already on site or adding square footage to an existing property. The reason is, dealing with city bureaucracy is not always that easy. In Santa Barbara, for example, they’re very involved in the architectural aspects of what you’re building, which can delay you. So I try to be in and out of every single project within one year.

“It takes on average for new construction a year to get your plans and a permit in your hands. If your contractor moves quickly, and you can build something out in six months, you’re looking at about a year and a half to two years to bring something to market if it’s brand-new construction.”

Do you still have time to represent clients who are buying or selling homes?

“The design aspect of my career has definitely taken precedence over working with buyers and sellers, but I’m still I’m still doing that, just not as much. It’s definitely doable, though, for those who want to dabble in both worlds.”

Interested in learning more from Ricardo about flipping homes in Santa Barbara, whether you are buying, selling, or investing?

Get in touch with Ricardo Munoz today!

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