Real estate mogul Sean Conlon went to the home improvement store with first-time flipper Kai Bandele because he invested $47,000 in a home renovation project she was leading. Conlon was nervous the home renovation was falling behind schedule and he wanted to do what he could to keep tabs on the project — and his money.
As they examined the tile they had selected, Bandele revealed that she didn't know the dimensions of the wall they were looking to cover. She fumbled with her phone, looking for the answers, and eventually Bandele called the person who had arranged to buy the house once it was renovated.
Conlon was not impressed.
"In all my years in real estate, I have never heard a developer call the buyer for dimensions on the reno," Conlon says on the season finale of CNBC's "The Deed: Chicago." "Not only is it unprofessional, how do you know they are accurate?
"It is unbelievable."
Bernette Braden, Kai Bandele and Sean Conlon (L to R) on the finale of The Deed: Chicago.
And Conlon has been in the business for a long time.
He came to the United States from Ireland in 1990 with $500 and bought his first home at 23 years old. In the nearly three decades since, he has become a self-made multi-millionaire by investing in the Chicago real estate market.
Staying on top of details is part of what he says makes a successful real estate developer. And Bandele not having the dimensions she needed at the hardware store was indicative of a larger trend of her letting details slide. She was also 45 minutes late for the meeting.
The show indicates that Bandele and her partner Bernette Braden over-extended themselves financially, buying homes faster than they could renovate and sell. The construction on the renovation featured in "The Deed: Chicago" season finale took fourteen weeks, seven more than they initially promised.
And at the end of the renovation, when Conlon came back to see the house, Bandele wasn't there. Braden took the final meeting alone.
The delays in the renovation meant the buyer lost his financing and had to pull out of the deal. By the end of the episode, the house, which Bandele and Braden bought for $27,000, was under contract with a new buyer for $127,500.
Conlon reports being glad he had only gone in on one project with the novices, though initially, they had hoped to get financing for two. He didn't see them having a future in the space unless they became more organized and focused.
Details, the mogul finds, are key. "Being on top of your measurements, your costs, your time, can make or break your profit on a flip," says Conlon.
Learning the importance of staying on top of details is good for first-timers, but it's more universal, too. In a professional environment, slipping up on the details can damage your reputation and limit your potential.