Sunday, February 25, 2024

This historic house ‘flipper’ chooses restoration over renovation

Delinda Harrelson turned down an offer to have her own show on a major television network and has flipped over 200 homes in Wilmington since 2002. She wants to fix developers' and flippers' bad habits.

WILMINGTON—Delinda Harrelson is a preservation restoration specialist. She’s also a “flipper.”

Flipping houses — the practice of purchasing a home for less, making some change to it, and selling it for more — can be misunderstood.

“Everybody and their brother thinks it’s easy because of [TV],” Harrelson said. 

She said she was actually offered a show on a major television network, which she turned down. The way flipping has been portrayed, the ease, the lack of respect paid to historic homes, has turned Harrelson off to the “reality” television portrayal of her profession.

“You don’t know anything until you’ve rehabbed a hundred homes,” she said. 

Flipping with respect

In a male-dominated industry, Harrelson has restored over 200 homes in Wilmington since 2002.

She’s the owner of Home Solutions Group Inc., is an Amazon best-selling author of “Real Estate Investing UNCENSORED,” has won several historic preservation awards from the Historic Wilmington Foundation, and guides new flippers through her website,

“I don’t have time anymore to try to convince people that I know what I’m doing,” Harrelson said.

In Harrelson’s view, developers and sloppy flippers ought to stop cutting corners.

“You’re going to devalue a house by robbing it of its character,” she said.

Through investing in condemned, foreclosed and neglected historic homes, Harrelson seizes an opportunity; she’d rather salvage the character of a neighborhood before letting someone else come in to tear it down.

“Go to Savannah, go to Charleston, go to downtown Raleigh,” she said. “You’re going to devalue a house by robbing it of its character.”

From repairing sealed windows to saving old doorknobs, Harrelson said restoration is more than a “putting lipstick on a pig.”

“To go in and restore a 100-year-old door takes 10 times longer, costs you more money than ripping it out, going to Lowe’s and buying the cheapest door out there,” Harrelson said. 

Seeing historic windows replaced with vinyl makes Harrelson cringe.

“The windows are the eyes of the house,” she said. “You don’t want to rip out the history.”

Harrelson sees a distinction between renovation and restoration.

“We don’t renovate, we restore,” she said. “Nowadays you’ll see stuff that says ‘rehabbed’ or ‘renovated.’ To that individual that’s paint. Or maybe that’s carpet.”

Harrelson’s endgame?

“To increase property value, to change neighborhoods, to give people what they want.”

Editor’s note: Due to a contractual agreement between Harrelson and the television program she appeared on, the name of the network has been removed from this article.

Johanna Ferebee can be reached at or @j__ferebee on Twitter

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