4 Things to Know Before You Flip a Property

HGTV finally got to you. Between Property Brothers reruns and nightly viewings of House Hunters, you’ve decided that you’re ready to take on the challenges of flipping a house. Giving an unloved property some much needed attention (and a fresh coat of paint) can take it from dull and lifeless and transform it into a true home. However, the property flipping business requires patience, careful planning, and dedication. Here are some important things to keep in mind if you’re ready to take the plunge and flip a property.

Plan for a Flexible Living Situation 

If you’re flipping a house you intend to inhabit, it adds a level of personal involvement to the flipping process. After all, the finished product is going to be the place you call home from here on out. It also comes with a few drawbacks.

With contractors banging away, the ever present chugging noise of a nail gun, and the constant hammering, chances are, you aren’t going to be living in the house mid-flip. Even if you can ignore the construction noise, having workers and contractors in and around your house for long hours can get a bit inconvenient.

It’s ultimately up to you to decide what you can tolerate. If the bulk of your renovations are taking place in the living spaces, it makes life difficult, and your home unlivable. One of the most common ways flippers navigate temporary inhabitability is via extended hotel stays. Hotels in North Bend, OR are usually very flexible with extended stay pricing, especially if you explain your situation to management. While this is a considerable solution, extended hotel stays certainly aren’t for everyone. In the event that both scenarios aren’t in the cards for you, reach out to family and friends in the area to set up a crash pad.

Look for Potential

There are typically two kinds of flippers. One is interested in a quick turnover and snatches properties that don’t need too much pampering to turn a profit. The other is looking to find a true fixer-upper and give it a makeover from roof all the way down to the foundation — the property industry’s version of head-to-toe! While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a quick flip (the fast turnover helps ensure speedy profits), the latter method is usually much more rewarding, albeit more demanding.

Many houses that are rife with potential are simultaneously the most taxing. Unexpected costs easily add up, which can be a great source of frustration. If you’re looking to buy a true fixer-upper, you need to have a strict budget and plenty of patience. An excellent way to keep your finances in check is to create a spreadsheet of needed fixes and their costs. Sort the fixes by priority level. This means the things that absolutely need to be done are up at the top and will need to be factored into your budget. The smaller considerations, such as painting the guest bedroom or changing out the handles on the kitchen cabinets, should be viewed as “down the road” activities. While it’s distressing to extend the length of a flip, overextending your wallet’s reach is a much bigger concern.

Modern Sensibilities

There are few houses that offer more bang for your buck than well-aged properties. They’re typically more affordable than newer construction and are the ideal targets for a flip. From modernizing some intriguing wallpaper choices to being able to admire classic woodwork that has gone out of style, there is a lot of fun to be had. However, older houses were almost always constructed with function prioritized over form. While this can be a boon in terms of storage space and livability, it can also mean that you’re going to miss out of some modern amenities that you’ve probably been taking for granted.

An older house comes with its fair share of charm—and of baggage. One of the things many older properties lack is central AC. Also, you’ll likely be saying goodbye to energy efficient windows and roofing that help regulate internal temperatures. You’re probably going to want to have the number of an HVAC contractor on hand before you finalize your purchase. This is a massive step in quickly adding value to the house. It’s also a great way to draw in prospective tenants if you’re flipping the property into a rental unit. An HVAC contractor will also assess the quality of your furnace and its capacity for heating in the winter.

As for the windows and roof, a full upgrade is usually your best bet. While the upfront cost can be a little daunting, especially when compared to the zero dollar price tag of leaving the two alone, you’re going to rack up higher costs down the road when it comes to heating and cooling. Energy efficient windows and professional roofing are almost always a worthwhile investment if they’re not already in place.

Know the Local Regulations

The house flipping process is such an exciting one that you’ll likely find yourself getting a little carried away. It can be easy to accidentally overstep legal boundaries and building codes in the middle of your flip. Being unsure of aspects like acceptable house heights or property lines can put you in a pinch with local housing authorities.

While there are free resources available to help you understand the ins and outs of your city’s housing code, these are often difficult to parse. Most of the time, it’s in your best interest to seek out some professional counsel. Contact a member of your local housing authority for some general advice, or seek legal aid to help you understand the law. Look for skilled attorneys in your area who can help you navigate the legal dos and don’ts of the flipping process.

If you ever find yourself unsure about the legality of a project or whether it violates any codes, it’s better to stop where you are. Flying blind on flip is a surefire way to cause animosity amongst the neighbors and put yourself in hot water with inspectors. By proceeding, you’re increasing the likelihood that you’ll be told to stop renovations or even undo some of the construction you’ve completed. Nobody wants to be told that they have to undo work, so by setting yourself up for success now, you’ll be saving yourself from a headache down the road.

Hard, Rewarding Work 

Flipping a property isn’t as simple as it’s portrayed on TV. It requires time, money, and patience. If you’re short of any of these three things, flipping a property might not be for you. On the other hand, if you’ve saved up the capital and are willing to see the process through, you’ll find that flipping a house is one of the most rewarding projects in the world. It’ll come with unique frustrations, unexpected setbacks, and the occasional heartbreak when something doesn’t pan out. It’ll also come with excitement, unbridled joy, and a deep sense of pride when you see the work you’ve put into the property. So when things go wrong or you face difficulties during the process, remember not to flip out. Just keep on flipping instead.

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