By Melissa Wrubel
This article was originally published May 26, 2017
At 65 years old, Lorrie Schwark has become a pro at house flipping. If you are not familiar with the term “flipping houses,” it is a casual term used to describe the purchase and remodel of a fixer-upper home with the purpose of selling immediately in order to make a profit. House flipping has become a main-stream term in the last few years, especially due to the popularity of HGTV’s hit series “Flip-or-Flop.” Forty years prior, Lorrie and Dave Schwark were just starting their humble beginning as they decided to take on something new: land-lordship. They both took this job very seriously for years, and were very successful doing their work. Then, after 30 years of being landlords, they decided to add on another project. House flipping. They began purchasing homes in Pontiac, Michigan, fixing them up, and selling them for a profit. This continued for another 10 years until Dave decided to retire from their successful run. Lorrie, on the other hand, had something else in mind – she decided to continue the business herself.
When I sat down and talked with Lorrie about her life and why she continues the house flipping process, she confidently said, “I do it for the satisfaction that I get from taking something ugly , run-down, and worn-out, and making it into something wonderful! Plus, it gives a young family an opportunity to own a home rather than rent for the rest of their lives.” This thinking has sustained her through the years. The Schwark’s decided to take on the task of renovating some of the most desolate homes in Pontiac, Michigan. Lorrie started out working alongside her husband, learning how to do ALL home renovation projects. When her husband retired, Lorrie was not ready to throw in the towel; she had learned too much over the years working together with her husband, and decided to continue putting her knowledge and skill to good use. Working together with Dave had taught Lorrie an incredible amount of resourceful information when it came to flipping homes. When I asked Lorrie why she didn’t retire alongside her husband, she said” Why not?! I am hoping to be doing this for another 10 years!”
Lorrie takes on cookie-cutter homes only. She says that the price is consistent when the floor plan, paint, roof, etc. all have a similar cost for each home. Lorrie also has a bit of help for a part of her work-week. On Saturdays, a kind woman from Puerto Rico named Eva works alongside Lorrie on her home remodels. Eva brings her daughter along to the renovation site, and both ladies work alongside Lorrie on whatever project needs to be done that day. When Lorrie brought up Eva’s name, I could see the emotion in her eyes and the tenderness in her voice. “The main point that stands out to me about Eva is that she is not afraid of hard work. She is eager to learn, but most importantly, she wants more out of life for herself and her children. When Eva works with me on Saturdays, she brings her 7 year old daughter with her. Eva has her daughter washing walls as far as she can reach, while Eva stands on a ladder and washes the upper walls. I love the fact that Eva is teaching her daughter great work ethics. My desire for Eva, or any woman, is to dream big and be open for new possibilities. And most importantly, stay positive with an ‘I can’ attitude instead of an ‘I can’t.'”
Lorrie has impeccable taste in decorating, and can make a house feel like a million dollar home by adding her personal touch and cost-saving techniques! She thinks that everyone should have the opportunity to own a home at one point in their life rather than being forever subjected to renting. Her heart is kind and generous, and she is resilient enough to take on the tough job of knocking down old construction and making it new. What a wonderful opportunity she gives to families, and what a priceless legacy she is creating for generations to come!
Melissa M. Wrubel is a life-long resident of the Blue Water Area. Melissa has a Bachelors Degree from the University of Michigan, and a Masters Degree from Saginaw Valley State University. Her father is local, long-time realtor Thomas L. Coleman, and mother is retired PHASD teacher Marsha V. Coleman. Melissa is a former elementary and middle school educator and administrator. She is happy to live with her family locally in the Blue Water Area, and wants to do as much as she can to support the people in our community.
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