“Where are we?” said Michelle Pais, former cast member on the “Real Housewives of New Jersey. “What is this and who designed this?”
She and her husband Jonathan Steingraber, partners in luxury real estate brokerage Signature Realty NJ, pulled up to a property in Franklin Township with a commercial storefront and attached single-family home. It was an “eyesore and had no curb appeal whatsoever,” Pais continued. “It was this bright mustard color with red. It looked like the rainbow, and not in a good way.”
But 24 hours later, it was completely renovated. Later this month, it will close with its new owner.
It was a massive project to do in just two 12-hour workdays — and you can see the power couple in action on the new A&E show “24 Hour Flip,” which airs at noon Saturdays through mid-May.
Throughout the 12-week series, Pais and Steingraber finish a renovation that would normally take months. In each episode, an entire home is renovated and transformed — exterior and interior — before being resold. The final profit is also revealed.
“24 Hour Flip” filmed in 11 New Jersey towns: South Bound Brook, South Amboy, Hasbrouck Heights, West Milford, Secaucus, Somerset, North Plainfield, Union, Hopatcong, Green Township and Harmony. But five years before there was a show, Pais and Steingraber were flipping houses in just 24 hours.
“We were trying to condense the traditional renovation time to a shorter period of time because we were losing so much money in holding costs, property taxes and insurance,” Steingraber said. “We kept condensing the time more and more all the way down to 24 hours.”
To do this, Pais and Steingraber first find a property that they feel has potential and profit. Pais chooses all materials and finishes — paint colors, tile work, flooring, cabinetry, etc. — as long as they’re all in stock and they’re all in-budget. They have a person in every trade onsite, so problems can be solved quickly.
“Do we have to make decisions very quickly? Yes. Do we pay a premium because the tradesman have to be paid overtime? Yes,” said Steingraber. “It’s that saying, ‘You can do things cheap, fast or good and you have to pick two of them.’ We pick fast and good.”
But over the years, Pais and Steingraber know they have saved countless dollars — and inefficiencies — with their business model. It’s something they’re proud of, despite the stress.
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“The drama is inherent,” Steingraber said. “In 24 hours, small problems become big problems. If we are missing a material or a material is not the right measurement, it turns into a big deal that we have to shift gears very quickly on because everything is a domino effect in the 24-hour renovation.”
That sometimes happens — all of which the audience gets to see.
How to save time, money on your home renovation
For those in the business of flipping properties, Steingraber suggests that they also work to cut their renovation time by adequately preparing, researching, and making and sticking to decisions.
“We have been programmed as a society to accept that renovations take three to six months, and that’s an archaic, inefficient way of doing things,” he said. “In real estate, it’s location, location, location, and in construction, it’s preparation, preparation, preparation.”
To do this, Steingraber suggests that flippers make renovation decisions on everything from door stops to vent covers before presenting plans to a contractor.
Steingraber also suggests that those doing home renovations never ask a contractor for a price. Instead, they should figure out what they want, do research on its cost and timeframe, and then ask a contractor, “I have this project, it’s this many yards. I need it done within this time frame and my budget is this. Can you do it?
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“This has saved me hundreds of thousands dollars in my career,” Steingraber said.
Watch: Noon Saturdays through mid-May on A&E
Contact: [email protected]
Jenna Intersimone has been a staff member at the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey since 2014, after becoming a blogger-turned-reporter following the creation of her award-winning travel blog. To get unlimited access to her stories about food, drink and fun, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.