There are countless adages about family but perhaps the most well known is the cautionary warning given to aspiring entrepreneurs: Don’t mix family with business.
While that saying has guided many throughout the years, sisters Megan Tuggle and Michelle Guzzi came to the conclusion that the sentiment didn’t apply to them. Instead of looking at their sisterhood as a negative, the two business-minded women turned it into a strength as they decided to tackle the real estate market and dive head-first into the world of house flipping.
“My grandpa presented us with an opportunity. He had been flipping houses for several years and he was willing to guide us and show us the ropes,” Tuggle said.
“People always say don’t do business with family because the potential is there for something to go wrong. I didn’t foresee that happening with Megan or my grandpa,” Guzzi said. “We wanted to do something together because we’re so much alike, but we also thought it was a good opportunity to spend more time with our grandpa.”
Seeking to enhance their interpersonal connections and turn a profit at the same time, Tuggle and Guzzi took a hands-on approach to learning from their grandpa and secured their first project just days after deciding to move forward with the business venture. Their proving ground presented itself in the form of a 2,500 square foot home in a highly desirable Modesto neighborhood.
“The first house happened pretty quickly,” Tuggle said. “It was a great location, but it needed a lot work.”
“We were literally thrown into it,” Guzzi added.
After surveying the house, the two devised a game plan to transform the outdated house into a modern home suited for a family. This is where the real fun began.
“We wanted to feature an open concept so we knocked down the kitchen wall. We put in new cabinets, new carpets, new paint, tile – a little bit of everything really,” Tuggle said. “We did most of the work on our own but also got help from more family, like my fiancé who took care of all the landscaping.”
“It’s fun to get a little dirty and be a part of the project,” Tuggle added.
After working on the Modesto property for three and a half months, the sisters managed to get the home off the market almost immediately, receiving an offer within a day of its listing and selling it for asking price.
“It all happened super fast,” Guzzi said. “It was a great experience because it got our foot in the door in terms of managing a budget and keeping and timeline.”
Their first venture was a success, so the next logical step for Tuggle and Guzzi was to up the ante with a larger, more involved and hopefully more profitable house flip. With location being the primary factor once again, the two settled on a 1,543 square foot property in Turlock for their second effort.
But instead of renovating what was already there, the sisters opted to build an addition to the existing structure, turning the three-bedroom house into a 2,005 square foot four-bedroom home complete with a master suite, walk-in closet and laundry room. They had found the challenge they were looking for.
“We had confidence going into the second house, but we knew the process was going to take longer because we wanted to add an addition,” Guzzi said. “We both saw how much potential the house had.”
While their first flip showcased their ability to transform and sell a home quickly, their second flip revealed their aptitude at bringing concepts together to create a cohesive and stylish living environment.
“My sister and I feed off each other and we complement each other’s style,” Tuggle said.
“We really enjoy an open concept house where the kitchen flows into the living room. Light patterns, colors and textures,” Guzzi said. “But we know we also have to be conscience of potential buyers, too. We have to appeal to everybody not just our own tastes.”
Unlike their first experience, however, the Turlock home has not sold quickly as it still on the market due to the time needed to build the addition as well as other unforeseen circumstances such as the coronavirus pandemic. Still, the delay hasn’t extinguished the sisters’ enthusiasm for what has become a shared passion.
“It’s challenging but it’s also really satisfying when you see the end product,” Tuggle said. “We go into the project hoping for a profit, but it’s also rewarding to see that we’re able to enhance the neighborhood. Taking a house that’s in rough shape and making it better for a new homeowner is worth all the hard work.”