Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Peterson sisters, from left, Isabelle, 12, Brianna, 15, and Madelin, 14, stand outside the house they bought in Fort Wayne and will try to flip.

  • LEFT: There is a lot of work that needs to be done before the Peterson sisters will be able to sell the house.

  • The bathroom includes a new tub inside the house that the Peterson sisters bought and hope to flip in order to turn a profit.

Thursday, October 12, 2017 1:00 am

Kids do home work

Local sisters getting experience flipping house

Angela Sartiano | For The Journal Gazette

Flipping houses has become a nationwide real estate trend. It's something that usually adults do as it involves buying a home, lining up contractors and then putting the home on the market.

But the Peterson sisters, whose ages range from 12 to 15, are proving that kids can do it, too. 

Of course, they have gotten some advice from their father, who has a great deal of experience in flipping homes.

“Our dad kind of teaches people to do this, and I asked if anyone can do this, and he said yes,” explains Isabelle, 12.

The girls' father, Chris Peterson, has traveled around the country helping and teaching people the process of flipping homes. He has also appeared on HGTV shows. The sisters – Brianna, 15; Madelin, 14; and Isabelle – wanted to learn about the process.

The girls were able to find the house they wanted to flip through the website Zillow. They chose the house because it was close to many schools and Glenbrook Square.

“There was a lady who lived in it; we bought it. We found this house on Zillow. We all love Fort Wayne. It's a good area because there's a lot of stuff around here to do, and it's not very far from everything. It's very close to the mall and schools. It's a very good house if you want to start a family,” Madelin says.

“They also have a pretty big backyard,” Brianna says of the home. “We wanted to see what houses were presentable and within our budget.” 

The family just moved to Fort Wayne from Florida on July 4. So on top of managing a new school (Isabelle is a seventh-grader at Jefferson Middle School, and Madelin is a ninth-grader and Brianna a 10th-grader at Northrop High School), homework and other activities, the girls are also picking out cabinets and color schemes.

The house was bought by their investor, and the girls receive some help from Knapp Supply in Muncie to provide cabinets and supplies.

“They have an investor, Chris Crouch, and they'll pay him back with the profit made from selling the house,” says Jenny, the girls' mother.

The girls interviewed numerous people to see who would work best with them. They even hired a contractor and an interior designer, Derek and Katrina Nichols. The girls like Katrina's use of the color gray for her home designs. Surprisingly, the color actually lightens up a room.

“We really like the light grays because it makes the rooms look bigger,” Madelin says.

Brianna adds, “It's a very elegant color.”

When asked about what their favorite experiences were so far, they all agreed that it was when their friends came to the house to knock down a wall with sledgehammers.

“My favorite is when we took down the wall. It was fun seeing all these kids coming together, and they were so happy to help out,” Isabelle says.

Of course with great experiences comes tough ones as well. Since the girls are all minors, their parents have to sign contracts for them. Some people didn't want to reach out to the girls because they're kids, but they are getting help from their mentor, Alex Arriaga.

Arriaga travels but spends most of his time in San Diego. He met Chris and Jenny Peterson when they all worked at Rich Dad Co. Robert Kiyosaki is the owner of the company and wrote a book called “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” which is about real estate and how to make investments. Arriaga teaches people about real estate investments and doesn't believe in overloading his students with real estate facts and information.

“Real estate investments are very technical, but I'm interested in the dream aspect of it. I think a balanced education and an inspiration in entrepreneurship is the best thing we could leave this next generation,” he says.

Arriaga speaks with the girls through Zoom and Skype. He chats with them every week to see how their progress is going.

The house is expected to be put on the market this month.

When asked what steps someone should take when getting into the business of flipping houses, Arriaga had this advice:

“Start from a place of taking care of yourself, set aside some time for you. Find someone you admire, like a mentor. Then, take action, pay it forward, and work with something within you.”

For the girls, they plan to send some of the money they make from selling the house to Haiti to help children combat malaria and other diseases. Brianna, who is adopted from Haiti, had malaria as a baby. The Petersons sent money to Haiti to help Brianna get the medical attention she needed. The girls want to help others like Brianna.

The remaining money will be used for other projects. The girls are currently looking at other properties for the possibility of another project.

The girls have some advice for kids their age who want to flip houses: “Don't give up. Have a positive mindset, and don't say 'can't' or 'won't.'”