Remodel vs Flip – Details Count


Remodel vs. Flips — understanding the difference matters in a long-term home investment.

Reality: Most home buyers want a home that’s “move in ready.” Investors, listing agents and savvy sellers know homes that show well sell faster and for more money.

Opportunity: No home is perfect. Those in need of updating or sold “as is” may offer buyers the opportunity to save significant money, if they’re willing to invest their time and elbow grease.


Challenge: Some “flipped” homes consist of little more than “slapping lipstick on a pig” and jacking the price. Examples include cleaning, painting and re-carpeting. If that’s all a home needs, then great … it’s a win-win. Some homes need much more and cosmetic fixes merely put a veneer on a sub-par property.

In older neighborhoods, buyers may want to search for a home that’s been “renovated” which, for today’s article means, its had extensive work done to professional standards. Quality counts. Google home renovations to read expert advice and data regarding projects that payoff, and those that don’t.lwk_3554

Location matters. The seller of one of my listings in Reno decided to buy and renovate a 1970s-era five-bedroom property zoned for some of the city’s most established schools. She intended to live there for years, then sell. She did a huge renovation. Professionals replaced the roof, furnace, a/c, water heater and updated the electrical. Inside, professionals installed new hardwood floors, gutted and remodeled kitchen, remodeled all the bathrooms, painted, updated light fixtures and more. Overall, more than $200,000 in updates brought this old home into the 21st century. The home shines.


2985 Rustic Manor Circle, Reno, NV 89509: Five bedrooms, 3 baths, 3,070 total square feet. Price: $600,000

The cost: At $600,000, this home’s features and amenities now compare favorably to many newer homes in the same zip code — plus it has RV parking and the advantage of not being in an HOA.

Whomever buys this home will have the best of both worlds — a quality-renovation of a home with character set in an older neighborhood near popular schools. The list of upgrades completed by licensed professionals makes it it so much more than a flip. If this appeals to you, contact me for a private showing!

Interested in learning more about this home or about real estate in Reno? I can help. Contact me! Email: Office phone: 775-850-5900.

Holly O’Driscoll is a Realtor at Chase International Real Estate in Reno, NV.

A Buick? Really? What a Surprise …

Buick Lacrosse for blog

Alamo at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans was out of the mid-sized car we reserved, so the company bumped us up. The only cars available were “premium” models. They gave us a 2016 Buick LaCrosse.

I groaned to myself. My grandparents drove Buicks. They had two or three Buick Le Sabers that I remember. Each was nice – much nicer than my parents’ station wagons that hauled six kids around. Buicks of the 1970s and 1980s were not sleek or cool. My grandparents’ Buicks were always nice, even luxurious, with wide bench seats perfect for a kid under 10 to stretch out on to sleep during those seemingly endless drives from Maine to Mount Vernon, New York.

The 2016 Buick Le Crosse we just returned was different. Felt more like a Lexus inside: Heated leather seats, push-button start, back up camera, sun roof, hands free phone connection. It handled like a Lexus too: easy, tight radius turns, smooth ride, extremely quiet. Buick interior

The one Alamo assigned to us was pretty darn new – only 230 miles. We put more than 600 on over four days.  It accelerates nicely – 50 to 80 in a matter of seconds when passing a pokey car on a two-lane road in Mississippi. It brakes great too – as evidenced by the fact that I did NOT hit the nut case driver who pulled out in front of me in Alabama.

Things I didn’t like:

  • The low head clearance. I raised the seat up so I could over the dash, which put my head just a couple of inches from the roof. I got used to it, but it was a little tight. My 6-2 son lowered his seat.
  • The windows are small. The back-up camera helped, but since I don’t have one on my car at home, it took some getting used to.

Good points:

  • The car felt solid.
  • It cruised smoothly and quietly along the highway. Much quieter than my 2004 Toyota Sienna XLE Limited!
  • Trunk space was decent, though the wheel wells cut into this pace.

Biggest surprises:

  • It was fun to drive.
  • It had a great turn radius! We were shocked … the old Buicks were boats.
  • In the parking lot I had a hard time finding it … because it looked so much sleeker than “a Buick” … I actually said the line from the TV commercial: That’s a Buick? It doesn’t look like a Buick. (and yes we all laughed!!)

Bottom line: Would I buy one? Probably not. I live in snow country. My next car will have four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Would I rent one again on purpose: Yes!  Would I encourage others to test drive/consider buying one: yes.  The price is around $40,000.

Have you driven a  car you love?  Would you buy a Buick?

Selling (or Buying) a Home Just Got More Complex

WCityscape taken from TMCC. Photo by Sandy Goff.hat’s your home worth? That’s a math — and market — question.  In a market that’s changing as fast as it is in Reno, just pulling up sales from the last six months won’t provide an accurate answer.

The real answer to “What is my house worth” is: The price a buyer is willing to pay. BUT with an important caveat: If the buyer needs a loan to purchase your home, the lender has to agree.  Lenders require a professional appraisal of value before funding a loan.

That adds a complex layer to nearly every home sale.  Realtors® use lots of data to analyze nearby homes — ones that have closed escrow, those pending sales and active listings to provide information to sellers and buyers.  This gives a general idea of what buyers might pay for a certain home.

You can take a look at what homes are for sale in your neighborhood at my new Chase International website.  Then contact me if you have questions about buying a property — or finding out what your home might sell for in today’s market.

As always, call or text me at 775-762-7576 or email me at

A New Twist on Healthy Eating

Love to eat out? Hate the over-sized portions and the high calories? Me too … but in Reno, there’s a movement afoot to offer better choices without sacrificing flavor 

Twisted Fork Pear Salad

Honey roasted pears, crispy apples, blue cheese crumbles, mixed greens, honey white balsamic vinaigrette give great flavor to this salad. For a complete meal top with chicken, steak, prawns or fresh tuna.

or ambiance.  Here’s one I recently reviewed for an ebook commissioned by Renown Health’s Best Medicine Blog:

At The Twisted Fork in South Reno, Manager Joe Clements and Chef Sergio Romero deliberately developed a menu that’s hard to classify. Complex flavors add depth and interest to each menu choice at this modern American restaurant and wine bar.

“We didn’t want to be pigeon holed into one type of food. We wanted more creativity and to constantly evolve – and to really be a little ‘twisted’ with our food,” Clements said.

The restaurant generated buzz from the day they opened in January 2012 next to RC Willey off Steamboat Parkway. The menu includes elegantly plated entrees aimed at patrons with every dietary preference – vegan, vegetarian or carnivore.

Open for lunch and dinner, Chef Romero uses the freshest ingredients he can get – organic and local grown when possible. Produce is delivered daily and the fish is never frozen.

Clements describes the restaurant’s style as California with a heavy Latin influence. “While we have some Italian dishes, our goal is to entice people with our really creative menu,” he said. “We make healthy food that’s outside the box. It’s creative with a lot of big flavors.”

This is the third venture together for Cements and Romeo. The pair worked together at The Grille in southwest Reno for several years. They left to transform Woody’s Grille and Spirits in Sparks.

“Sparks didn’t have an upscale sports bar, with upscale food. We changed that,” Clements said.

Instead of traditional fried “bar food,” Romero created a unique menu filled with made-from-scratch fresh fare that rivals – or beats – many local restaurants.

“At Woody’s we knew our audience – there wasn’t an upscale sports bar like it in the area,” Clements said.

That success inspired investors to want to try something totally different.  Clements and Romero teamed again to create The Twisted Fork. Both are still involved in Woody’s, though they spend more time at the new restaurant.

The Twisted Fork is building a different clientele in South Reno – diners who seek unique, fresh flavors and appreciate out-of-the-box thinking about food.

“We’re building a new audience,” Clements said.

The Twisted Fork’s menu changes regularly – and even the most popular dishes may get tweaked, updated or replaced. The Pear Salad recipe below is a staple, yet the garnishes have evolved over time. The dish originally was topped with a variety of mixed nuts.

Out of deference to people with allergies to peanuts, it now comes with candied walnuts.

Their target audience cares about food – and The Twisted Fork caters to those seeking healthy, innovative food and excellent service. Most dishes can be customized to accommodate dietary or preferences.

Lunch items include small plates, sandwiches, salads, burgers and entrees priced from $7-$17 (most are in the $9-$10 range). Dinner entrees include chicken, fish and steak choices that range from $16-$34.

“Reno has evolved – it used to be known for steak and potatoes. Now we have cauliflower puree – we’re outside the box,” he said.


Have you eaten at Twisted Fork?  What did you think? It’s on the pricey side, did you think it was a good value?



NBC’s Redesign — The Ruin of a Trusted Online News Site

Does anyone else out there hate the redesigned NBC News website? It looks like a Pinterest page … all big photos, no information. I am a self-proclaimed news junkie, veteran journalist interested in national and world news — as well as what happens in my city and state.  The new format repels me — the NBC News site used to be one of my top spots for a quick headline check.  Now I avoid it — even CNN’s website is better.

My first journalism job was a summer internship with WGBH-TV in Boston. Back then, the station had a live 10 o’clock news program — I ran the teleprompter and worked in the control room. I only went out on a few stories … but it was fun and I learned so much! I found WGBH a great experience for a complete novice. The news staff was generous with their time and information. I graduated from college thinking I wanted to become a TV news producer — not necessarily the on-air person, but the editor making all the decisions behind the scenes.

Circumstances landed me in Washington, D.C. — a mecca of political news. My first newspaper was USA Today. It was a brand-new (and much-ridiculed) concept at the time. I worked on big stories, learned about the power of big money and of cut-throat politics  — both inside the company as well as on Capitol Hill!

Top execs and politicians play hardball — very few manage to succeed without making serious ethical compromises. It’s reality. Those in the line of fire must constantly out-maneuver the competition to get ahead, or even just to keep their jobs. Those who don’t end up on the curb. I contend life outside the bubble — in a “real” community — has much to recommend it. Politics, ambition and money play a role in every city …  but usually on a more manageable scale.

I still keep up on the old rat race — the Washington Post, Politico, The Daily Beast, Slate, ABC, CBS, CNN — but rarely NBC anymore. I miss the old “news” format. I’m not the target audience, obviously. I wonder who is? My guess: People who care about photos, not facts, not perspective, not NEWS.

I wonder what the user statistics will reveal. I used to check it at least twice a day — sometimes lots more. Now, maybe once a week — and I haven’t clicked on a single story.

I read one comment that said it was as if Pinterest swallowed Windows 8 then vomited — I agree!

What do you think?  Are you a fan? Tell me what appeals to you about the new format.

Hate it? What should they do instead?

Creating new jobs, better jobs, in Reno.

NCET – I’ve already benefited from becoming a member of NCET (the Nevada Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology)

Wednesday night NCET hosted a “get to know a local business” at LUX dynamics – a fascinating company that has pretty much reinvented florescent lighting.  The owner John McCarty, an engineer and gifted metal sculptor, said he and his former partner started looking at lights and asking “why” … as in “why is it made this way, why did they use this type of screw, this type of everything” …   What he discovered is that the lights, like most things, evolved over time – and often decisions to use a certain product were made for the wrong reasons – such as it was on hand or  it was cheaper. Decisions were not to make the product more efficient, more durable or better overall.  So McCarty and the LUXdynamics crew went back to the drawing board.  What happened: They built a better light.  There are lots of technical reasons as to just what LUX is doing that makes the light better – you can go to their website here:

What I loved were the stories – the City of Philadelphia called and asked if the fixtures could withstand bullets – and how many bullets the lights could withstand before having to be replaced … Hmmm… new questions to think about. Lux owner McCarty said he’d find out, so he called one of his sales reps who has lots of gun expertise and asked him to test it out. It turns, out the Lux dynamics light fixture Philadelphia wanted to buy can withstand 57 bullets of various types. Turns out that’s an important consideration for certain areas that the “City of Brotherly Love” needs to keep lit.

Here’s a link to a You Tube video of people trying to break a fixture with objects … and here’s the bullet-proof video:

LUXdynamics light are engineered from the get-go for specific uses – impacting the amount and direction of shadows and hot spots – that’s important for sports arenas, warehouses, industrial workspaces. These lights and fixtures aren’t cheap, but they are better.  In the process, this company, located in good old Reno, NV, has created jobs – eight full-time people, plus some subbed out work for handicapped people working in a shelter. The company also has sales reps around the country … more jobs elsewhere … that is what it’s all about: Job creation and bringing more money into the Reno economy.  Way to go! 

Have you seen these lights? Are they worth it?

Know of a unique business that I could blog about? Let me know!!!!

If you really want something, ….

I found this quote … which goes back to motivation:


“If you really want something, you can figure out how to make it happen”  — Cher

This is true for both positive and negative people …

A person in my life struggles with mild physical and psychological issues, yet this person usually figures out a way to be taken care of. If straightforward, conventional means don’t produce results, the next effort is manipulation.  This ranges from leaving out parts of a story to outright fabrication. I have learned to not take statements at face value — they rarely tell the whole story. Out of respect for a shared history, I stay in contact with this person, but I now limit contact and keep conversations light. That was a tough, but necessary choice. People have the right to live as they choose — and you (or I) cannot rescue them. 

Yet I still believe when honest effort, and honorable intentions, blend then good things happen. Motivation intertwines with innovation. Just move the self-imposed roadblocks — and amazing changes will happen. Good to remember … for business and life!