Categories
Flipping

Top 5 Mistakes Novice Flippers Overlook (And How to Overcome Them!)

Reality TV shows may paint a picture of how easy it is to flip a property, but the actual reality is much more complicated than that. Unfortunately, beginner real estate investors often jump into the business without knowing anything about real estate and how it works!

In a nutshell, house flipping is buying a distressed property that you repair and sell for a profit. It’s one of the best ways to earn money from real estate, whether you do it full-time or only as a side hustle. In fact, flippers can make up to $25,000 profit on a typical house in the City of Detroit (provided, of course, that you follow the right advice). 

But like any business, house flipping takes knowledge, planning, and hard work to be successful. Without the proper guidance, you’ll only lose your hard-earned cash. 

So, here are five common mistakes that novices overlook and how you can avoid them altogether.

#1 No Market Knowledge

There’s more to house flipping than what you may know. One of the biggest mistakes new flippers make is buying a property that falls within their budget but is unfortunately located in an undesirable market. As a result, they end up stuck with a home they don’t need, with all their savings tied to an undesirable property.

Solution: Work with an experienced, local real estate agent who knows the real estate market well and can show you the ropes. Experienced agents will know things such as current market prices, what buyers are looking for, and the latest trends in the neighborhood. Then, continue learning by talking to other investors and following real estate investment blogs (like this one!).

#2 Investing Too Much Time and Money

The whole point of house flipping is to earn a good return on investment. But that is impossible if you spend too much money upfront. Moreover, time is also of great essence in the flipping business. On average, it shouldn’t take you longer than 1-2 months to sell it. The longer a property stays on the market, the more you have to pay taxes and maintenance. This increases your capital expenditure and squashes your potential flipping profit.

Solution: Follow the industry’s 70% Rule, which says you should only pay a maximum of 70% property value minus the repairs. This rule is significant for new investors who don’t have extra money to cover a project that goes sour.

For example, let’s say the property value is $200,000 after $10,000 of repairs. In this situation, you should spend no more than $133,000 to purchase the home ($200,000 – $10,000 x .70 = $133,000). If you spend too much money, you won’t be able to sell it for a significant profit.

On top of this, ensure that you work with a professional contractor before you purchase the property. They can inspect the home for you and provide an accurate repair cost for your budget.

#3 Overestimating Your Skill and Knowledge

Are you tempted to save money and repair the distressed property yourself? Keep in mind that so many things can go wrong if you don’t have the necessary knowledge and experience. It only takes one bad swing of the hammer to do irreversible damages to the home!

Solution: Start slow and look for homes that require minimal repairs (remember the 70% rule). You can gradually take up more complicated projects as you increase your knowledge and experience. Alternatively, work with a licensed contractor to flip the home for you so you won’t have to update the wiring and plumbing on a 60-year-old house.

#4 Miscalculating Cost of Repair

This is the most common mistake! 

One thing that most of the flipping & improvement shows get right is the “unexpected repair”. The demo crew opens a wall that exposes dry rot, termites, a major plumbing issue, etc. 

Miscalculating the cost of repairs can make your expected profits disappear. 

Solution: Look for projects that don’t require much work and talk to a trusted contractor to help you bring the home up to suitable standards. Also, build in 10-20% Cost Overrun in your repair budget. Don’t go overboard!

#5 Overvaluing the House

Finally, one of the classic rookie mistakes is estimating your sales price at the highest price possible. While this does happen, and it’s great when it does, you’re better off being a bit more conservative on your estimated sales price. 

Solution: Consult your real estate agent to land on a realistic price based on market analysis and careful consideration of the competition.  

Conclusion 

Home flipping is still a lucrative gig, provided that you are willing to invest the time and effort. While the concept is as simple as selling for a profit as fast as you can, there are so many pitfalls that can derail your efforts and put you in a financially difficult spot. 

Instead, learn from the mistakes of others! Avoid the top five mistakes novice flippers make to become successful flippers without burning cash.

Need more help in flipping houses? Feel free to get in touch. I’m more than willing to help you in your journey to become a successful house flipper.

Image courtesy of Sebastian Herrmann

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Flipping

Top 5 Insights for Successfully Wholesaling Real Estate After a Year of COVID-19

Wholesaling real estate

Now that the global pandemic has been with us for a year, which trends started in 2020 that will continue to affect the real estate market in 2021? Particularly for wholesalers, what insights should you take away from the situation? How can you adjust and take advantage of new opportunities brought about by the lockdown? 

Being in a dynamic industry, where the only thing constant is change, the key to wholesaling success is to spot market trends early, extract relevant insights, and adjust the way you conduct your business.

In this article, you’ll find five important real estate trends for you to keep an eye on if you want to pivot with the landscape and remain successful in wholesaling real estate in 2021 and beyond.

5 Real Estate Trends and How it Affects Wholesalers

While the list below is by no means comprehensive, we see five important changes that happened in response to the global pandemic. Let’s discuss what they mean for wholesalers and the real estate industry as a whole.

1. Work-from-home is now mainstream.

With stay-at-home orders and social distancing rules, many office workers have been working remotely for nearly a year now, and most have settled into this new normal. What does this mean for wholesalers?

  • Many office leases are not being renewed.
  • People living in expensive homes close to offices are excited to relocate to the more affordable suburbs.
  • Vacation towns are now becoming an option for permanent residency. People are tired of big, populated cities and are seeking new places with more freedom and space on offer. 

Wholesaler Action: you may want to pay more attention to rural areas, where there is an increased demand from buyers—these are the areas that most office workers couldn’t consider prior to the pandemic, but now can. 

Don’t wait until the competition becomes fierce! Take the lead and meet the high demand before other investors swoop in.

2. People want an upgrade from their current home.

Working from home and having less social interaction with the outside world also means that people are investing more in their homes now. They want larger houses and backyards, more rooms and privacy, and bigger patios and storage spaces—especially if they have children. 

Families (and people of all ages) are now willing to invest serious money into creating a comfortable home, more than they ever were prior to COVID.

Wholesaler Action: This means that wholesalers need to pay heightened attention to the features of a home and think about whether or not they will be attractive to remote workers, homeschooled children, and folks who want plenty of leisure space when stuck on the property.

Think of the homeowner’s needs and preferences, many of which have evolved with the times. 

3. More people want to purchase homes.

After the record-breaking low-interest rates in 2020, the forecast for this year is still a relatively stable and low-interest rate. It doesn’t take a genius to see that we still have a long way to go before the economy improves, which means that interest rates are unlikely to move much higher within the year. Additionally, the Federal Reserve has declared that rates won’t be raised through 2023 to support economic recovery efforts.

For the real estate industry, lower rates mean lower payments, which means buyers can afford higher purchase prices. So, it’s an attractive time for people to buy a house (or two). Think about it this way: a $300k loan at 3% is almost the same mortgage payment as a $200k loan at 6%.

Wholesaler Action: For wholesalers, this means it’ll be harder to find and secure properties that are below market value. However, this also means that the properties you do acquire will sell quickly and for a higher price.

4. Housing inventory is low.

Due to COVID being easily transmitted, many people have put off selling their houses simply because they don’t want to have strangers in their homes. This increased competition within the housing market, with people snatching up the few available houses at lightning speed—even if they’re priced at top dollar.

Wholesaler Action: This makes it harder for wholesalers to secure deals at a discount, but it makes it easier to exit deals with a much higher profit due to larger spreads. In other words, it’s a good time to put in the extra time and energy in securing good deals and making up for it multiple times more at the exit.

5. The housing market likely won’t crash.

Contrary to what others might predict, due to the housing shortage and skyrocketing home prices, the possibility of a market crash is quite low for the moment. 

Unlike the infamous 2008 crash, this time around lenders did not allow homeowners to extract their equity via home equity loans or other methods. At the same time, appreciation and lenders doing smart loans have created incredible equity for homeowners. This means that, even with a struggling economy and high unemployment, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see a wave of foreclosures.

For example, let’s say someone loses their job and can’t afford to pay their current mortgage payment anymore. However, they do have $200k in equity in their home. Will they walk away from their property and let it go to foreclosure? Or will they sell it and try to get as much of the equity out as they can? The obvious answer is to sell, of course!

Conclusion

When a door closes, a window opens—and early adopters will reap the most rewards.

As long as there are people who want to buy their own homes, there will always be wholesaling opportunities to assist the buying and selling process.

Choosing to not capitalize on the current situation out of fear is a losing strategy. As the famous saying by hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky goes, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!”

So, keep searching for the right opportunities, and you’ll continue to be successful in any circumstances. Besides, real estate constantly fluctuates, even without a pandemic – so think of this as just another one of the industry’s lovely challenges. 

Any important wholesaling opportunities we missed?

Image courtesy of Alena

Categories
Flipping

How an S Corp Election Can Help Flippers

While house-flipping is potentially very profitable, there’s an expensive catch.

You might have to pay a self-employment tax, which is a whopping 15.3% of your profit. That’s a significant amount of money that can go to your next vacation or property you want to flip!

Nevertheless, there is a way to set up your business in such a way that you’re not required to pay the tax. Let’s take a look at how an S Corp election can help you pocket more of your flipping profits.

Why House Flipping is Subject to Self-Employment Tax

While the usual real estate investments such as buy-and-hold are considered a passive activity, flipping homes conducted in a limited liability company (LLC) are active transactions—required to pay self-employment tax on top of the income tax.

Let’s define these two things that come with flip-and-fix projects.

Active Income. Active income applies to anybody who runs a business where one earns ordinary income from performing a service or selling a product. Business owners must pay the 15.3% self-employment tax up to a net profit of $128,400. (Beyond this threshold, you’ll only pay 2.9% as the Social Security portion of the self-employment tax is removed.)

Self-employment Tax. In essence, self-employment tax is similar to payroll taxes withheld from an employee’s wages. For self-employed individuals like house flippers, however, they must cover both the employer and employee portion of the tax. In addition, members of an LLC taxed as a partnership are considered self-employed individuals—which means their earnings will be subject to self-employment tax if they participate in the partnership’s trade.

The 15.3% self-employment tax of your gross salary does chip away at every dollar you earn. Moreover, 15.3% comes in before including the marginal tax rate from the federal and state perspectives. For example:

So, naturally, we want to find a way to save on taxes. One way is to run your flip-and-fix business out of an S Corp instead of an LLC or C Corp. Let’s talk about how you can do this.

How an S Corp Election Can Save on Taxes

First, set up an LLC or C Corp, then elect to have it taxed as an S Corp. Said structure is a tax entity or federal tax election—not a legal one. It’s not for asset protection but for reducing your exposure to tax.

By conducting your business this way, self-employment taxes only apply to a “reasonable salary,” and you’ll pay the remainder of your income as a dividend—not subjected to self-employment taxes. 

Here’s how it’ll go: Set up the S Corp, set up payroll, and begin paying yourself a W2 wage. The self-employment tax will only apply to the W2 wage, and the rest of the income will be considered a cash distribution or cash dividend. Of course, you can only do this with an S Corp route.

Take a look at how the situation now changes and how much you can save:

If you earn $100k with no S Corp (either as a Sole Proprietorship or an LLC), you’ll report your income as Schedule C. You’re going to pay $15,300 on self-employment taxes even before the marginal tax rate or state taxes come into play.

However, if you’re taxed as an S Corp, you can pay $50k to yourself as a W2 wage and have the other half as a cash dividend. With the $100k split up, half of it won’t be subject to the 15.3% tax—and you can pocket $7,650 just like that.

Just remember to never pay yourself the entire profit in W2 Wages. The whole point of setting up an S Corp is to help you reduce taxable income!

Conclusion

There are so many other factors that will come into play, so make sure that you talk to your accountant before considering this tax election for your flipping business. You may be able to amend your LLC to take advantage of this technique or establish a new LLC to start conducting your business as S Corp from the get-go.

Either way, it’s a good strategy to save on taxes legally!

Image courtesy of Jopwell

What do you think of this technique? Any additional tips on how to save on taxes?

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Flipping

How to Find the Ideal General Contractor to Flip Houses

Finding a general contractor (GC) for your house flip can be challenging.

You want someone who knows what they’re doing, is trustworthy, has affordable prices, and has good reviews. This means you need to do proper research before hiring a general contractor—don’t hire the first one you find!

As a flipper, your main goal is to earn a high flipping profit in return for your investment. To do that, you need to renovate the house within a specific budget and timeframe, which means using contractors who stick to deadlines and understand the importance of flippers’ margins.

While simple repairs are easy to budget for and can be done within a month, more complex renovations can easily incur budget overruns and take more than a couple of months to complete. In these cases, it’s best that you hire a general contractor to handle the project for you, or assemble a team of go-to contractors that you work with regularly on your flipping projects. Which you go for will depend on your needs, but this article focuses only on general contractors.

Let’s go through some best practices for finding the ideal general contractor for your flip projects.

Independent Contractor vs. General Contractor

Before we go any further, it’s important to make a distinction between independent and general contractors:

  • Independent Contractors: These are contractors that you directly contract to perform tasks on a contractual basis. They complete the project themselves, without the help of subcontractors.
  • General Contractors: These are also directly contracted; however, tasks are subsequently contracted to subcontractors to complete. They complete the project along with their subcontractors instead of completing the project by themselves. They also handle all the administrative tasks needed (e.g., paying subcontractors, securing building permits, getting insurance for all workers, etc.).

General contractors will coordinate with necessary subcontractors on your behalf and oversee the project for timely and on-budget completion. They are ideal for major renovations and flips, because you can get all aspects of the renovation handled by a single entity.

What to Look for in a General Contractor

Here are the key things to look for in a general contractor:

  • A Good Reputation: The best way to find a general contractor is by asking for recommendations. Contractors work largely based on referrals. Ask your friends and the real estate community if they can vouch for somebody reliable, communicative, and punctual.

Once you have a list of options, go the extra mile to read online review websites and visit the Better Business Bureau to check their reputation and ask about the projects they’ve worked on before. 

  • A Good Contract: Hiring a GC on a handshake is not a good idea. You’ll want a contract that spells out what they will do and what you will do, with deadlines. The more thorough the better! Otherwise, there’ll be no accountability and your project can go sideways quickly.
  • Appropriate Payment Practices: A good general contractor will accept payments in the form of checks and wire transfers. They would also agree to sign a lien release before payment and negotiate with you on the payment schedule.

Stay away from contractors who want you to pay in cash or a lot upfront. Cash payments are not illegal; however, contractors who ask for them might be avoiding paying income taxes. This is a practice done by less-than-reputable contractors. Moreover, a down payment of 30% of estimated costs is typical to cover an initial retainer and materials, but an established contractor won’t need your full payment to start the job.

  • Local Coverage: Hiring a general contractor who lives and operates within the area of your flip is your best option. They will know the local building codes, city inspectors, have a network of subcontractors ready to help them, and you can easily contact them in the event of an emergency.
  • Proper Licensing: General contractors need to be licensed to pull the necessary permits for your property. Without these, your property won’t abide by the local building codes or pass inspection. You’ll end up financially responsible for bringing up the property to the required standards.

Instead, verify their license by asking for the license number. Check it with your state’s licensing board. For licensure information in Michigan, visit the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website for details on the Bureau of Professional Licensing’s requirements.

  • Proper Insurance: General contractors should be insured for General Liability Insurance and Workers’ Compensation. You can ask to see a copy of their policy and call up the insurance company to verify the information. The insurance should be current and have clear policy limits for you to check. You should also be added as an “additionally insured” on their policy, until your project is complete.
  • Warranty in Writing: General contractors should provide warranties that cover the work they’ve done in your property. A warranty assures them that they won’t be coming back for multiple repairs over an extended period of time (warranties typically last one year only) while guaranteeing you a good renovation result.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’ll put you on the right track in finding your ideal general contractor.

Questions to Ask During the Interview

As part of the process, you should also have an interview with the general contractor. Here is a list of questions you can ask to help you identify those who’ll fit your criteria:

  • How many people work for you? How long has your crew been working together?

You want to work with an established company that has a large team of managers and assistants.

  • Where are you operating, and what is your service coverage?

You want to work with a local company that knows its way around renovations in the area.

  • What similar past projects have you completed?

You want to see their experience concerning the project you’re giving them. If they’ve never done what you need them to do, ask them how they will approach the project.

  • How do you communicate with your clients?

They should give you daily or weekly progress reports with photos and send itemized, detailed quotes and invoices.

  • For this project, will you be using subcontractors or just your own team?

If they are using subcontractors, make sure that all workers are trained, licensed (if applicable), and insured.

  • Are you licensed and insured?

Licenses should be updated and registered in the state where your property is situated. Insurance should include General Liability Insurance and Workers’ Compensation.

  • What would our contract look like?

Not all general contractors will have contracts. If they don’t, you can draft one up. Regardless, have your lawyer review it before everybody signs.

  • Will you provide warranties?

Make sure the warranty is written down and will conform to the requirements of the contract.

  • How will the payment schedule and plan work? Will you agree to sign lien releases?

Agree and sign the payment schedule before the job begins. They should agree to sign lien releases before payment.

  • Have you ever had to deal with lawsuits?

If they’ve been sued, ask what happened and how they handled it. If they’ve sued a client, ask for further information and check public records. If they’ve had serious accidents before, ask how they dealt with the situation and what they’ve improved to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Conclusion

We hope this article is enlightening and helpful in your search for a general contractor. It might take a lot of effort, but having a reliable and skilled general contractor will protect your budget and timeline for a successful and profitable house flipping project.

The better your general contractor, the more houses you can flip fast, at the highest quality, and for the most competitive price.

Any additional tips for finding the ideal general contractor as a flipper?

Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio

Categories
Flipping

5 Signs You Better Walk Away from a Flip

Finding houses that are suitable for flipping is difficult – but that doesn’t mean you should jump on every opportunity that comes around.

Every good flipper knows how to choose properties—and when to walk away from an inevitable flop.

You don’t want to be a rookie who overlooks the basics and ends up with a smaller margin than your time and effort is worth.

So here are five signs to know when a distressed house is better left alone:

1. The location isn’t good.

The most important factor that decides the value of your flip is the location of the house.

  • What kind of city and neighborhood is it in?
  • What kind of residents are in the area? What do they want in a home?
  • How much do similar houses sell for in the immediate area? What features do they have?
  • What are its positive factors (e.g., good schools, shopping centers, etc.)?
  • What are its negative factors (e.g., highways, airports, factories, etc.)?

You need to understand the property in the context of where it’s located to estimate its value, and how fast it’s likely to sell (based on the level of buyer demand in the area). 

Do the same research that your buyers would do, and you’ll see if the location is going to appeal to them.

2. The house is too unique.

While every property will be somewhat different from another, you want to flip a house that’s fundamentally conforming to or better than the standard of the local competition. In other words, they have to be similar to the houses around them, but better somehow.

For example, if the neighborhood is full of single-family homes with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, you might have a hard time selling a house with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. You will, however, easily sell a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home with an attic that can convert to an office area.

Generally, people like lots that are higher than the average size in the neighborhood, so a large lawn is always a good distinguishing feature. Likewise, you might have to be prepared for price adjustments if your lot is smaller than the average locally.

The biggest thing to look out for is a strange floorplan. Awkward layouts will seriously turn off buyers, even if you finish a home to a high standard throughout, and some layouts can’t be changed easily (if at all). Honestly, if you end up with a seriously out-of-date floorplan, you could be better off completely rebuilding a house from scratch in some cases, so this is a definite sign you should walk away if you’re a new flipper.

3. You don’t have enough skills or knowledge.

Unlike professional builders and professionals who’ve been honing their skills for years, you might not have the necessary knowledge to DIY fixes for a higher profit.

  • Do you know your way around basic construction tools?
  • Can you lay carpet, hang drywall, roof a house, and other common but important fixes?

There is money in sweat equity. If you lack knowledge and have to constantly outsource professionals to do the renovations, you’ll deplete the profit you could’ve gotten from your investment. If you lack the skills and still try to fix everything yourself, you might end up making rookie mistakes that’ll be expensive to salvage.

Furthermore, if you don’t have enough knowledge, you could run the risk of hiring a contractor and getting ripped off.

Instead, be realistic and account for your lack of skills when budgeting your flip. If the costs are properly accounted for, you’ll increase your chances of exiting with a good flipping profit.

4. You don’t have enough money.

All real estate investments are expensive.

You need to research your financing options to find which mortgage type will work best for you, and if there’s a lender that can offer you lower interest rates. Cash is possible, however there’s still property holding costs and opportunity costs that you need to consider.

More importantly, there’s the renovation costs. How much will you get after acquiring, holding, and fixing up the house? Novice flippers often underestimate the costs, resulting in net loss instead of gross profit.

To see if your budget is enough to flip-and-sell a house, you need to:

  • Identify how much you need to acquire the property
  • Scan the competition and see how much you can realistically sell and still make a profit
  • Determine how long the renovations will take and budget accordingly
  • Remember to take into account the loan you’ve taken out, taxes, utilities, insurance, and more
  • Be aware of the seasonality that can sometimes affect home prices and the number of days on market (e.g., higher sale prices in late spring compared to winter)

5. You don’t have enough time.

Flipping and selling a house takes a lot of time and dedication—often requiring you to give up a large chunk of your time for a couple of months. 

Not sure if the hours dedicated to flipping will be worth it? Answer these questions:

  • Are you maintaining a separate full-time job? Are you willing to give up weekends and evenings?
  • Do you have the budget to pay someone else to do the work?
  • Will you be available to oversee demolitions, constructions, inspections, and other procedures?
  • How much time will you spend marketing your property? Can you show it to prospective buyers yourself, or do you have the budget to pay for a real estate agent’s commission?

For most people, the time all of this takes isn’t worth it. They’d rather stick to their day job to have a guaranteed income, without the headache of flipping houses, so think carefully about whether or not this commitment is right for you before buying your own investment property. 

Summary

To be a successful flipper, you need to understand the risks involved and how to mitigate them.

Evaluate your house flipping opportunities by doing the following:

  • Check the location of the house in relation to the neighborhood.
  • Determine if the house is competitive enough versus other properties in the area.
  • Budget property and never underestimate the possibility of expensive, underlying problems.
  • Calculate the time it’ll take for you to enter and exit the flip profitably.
  • Be realistic with what you can repair and what you’ll need to outsource.

Making profit from flipping houses isn’t as easy as some other real estate investment methods, but it’s definitely possible with the right knowledge, planning, and courage to walk away from bad opportunities. Keep looking and doing your due diligence, and the right one will eventually come along. 

Trust us, it’s worth the wait.

Categories
Flipping

How to Get a Loan for Flipping Houses

Flipping houses can be a lucrative business. However, it takes a large amount of money to acquire, fix up, and sell properties quickly!

In fact, flipping houses takes more money than you’d think. On top of the acquisition cost, you still have to pay for the renovations, taxes, utilities, and homeowner’s insurance from the time you acquire it until the time you sell.

If you’ve realized that, and are looking for a way to finance a flip—you’ve come to the right place.

Off the bat, you should know that the process for securing loans for flipping is different versus getting a loan for a home to live in or rent out. You can’t go to traditional mortgage lenders, because many don’t loan money for fix-and-flip projects.

Instead, you’ll go typically through a hard money lender (HML) or private real estate lender. These money lenders loan money with the intent of getting repaid quickly (and charge much higher interest rates), so they are often used for flipping houses.

Up for the challenge? Read on to know how to secure the loan you need to finance your flip.

How loans for flipping houses work

Most loans for flipping houses come in 6-18-month terms, with 12-month fix-and-flip loans being the most common.

Some loans have an initial term with an option to extend. These are generally interest-only balloon payment loans with a fixed interest rate. So, if you get a 12-month loan, you’ll make monthly interest payments for a year before paying the entire principal balance at the end.

In some cases, lenders offer investors the option of not making any payments initially, then just repaying the principal with accumulated interest at the end of the term.

Loans for house flipping cover the entire project—property acquisition and renovation included. The maximum loan amount is calculated in two ways:

  • Loan-to-Cost (LTC): A percentage of the project’s anticipated cost, where the estimated loan amount is divided by the total acquisition, construction, and renovation costs
  • Loan-to-Value (LTV): A percentage of the property’s expected market value after project completion

The decision isn’t up to you, as lenders will default to whatever the smaller loan amount between the two.

How you can qualify for a house-flipping loan

While applying for a traditional mortgage mainly relies on your own ability to repay the loan, applying for fix-and-flip loans is more focused on the property itself and your business plan for it.

You need to justify the loan with a satisfying after-repair value (ARV) and show a realistic renovation budget and timeline. In other words, for house-flipping loans, the lender puts more importance to the LTC and LTV than your income and personal assets.

Where to look for lenders

Ready to take the plunge? Here are some of the places you can find funding for your house flip.

Websites

There are plenty of places to find HMLs online, like Lima One Capital and LendingHome (NOTE: we are not endorsing any of these lenders!).

Lima One Capital works with flippers and will lend up to 90% of LTC or up to 75% of LTV, with the fees and interest rates decreasing with a borrower’s flipping experience.

On the other hand, LendingHome offers house flipping loans for up to 90% of the purchase price and 100% of renovation costs, with just a couple of fees and requirements. Their interest rates range from 7.5% to 12%, and the company holds back repayments until after the renovations are complete.

Private lenders

Compared to HMLs, private lenders may be more open to negotiating payment terms or even become a partner on the deal—taking a share of the profits instead of charging interest. They often charge 8-12%, plus 0-2 points, compared to a HML’s 12-15% with 2-5 points.

You can seek out private lenders in real estate networking events— just be confident in approaching and negotiating. You can also find them online, just like HMLs. You can try direct mailing those you find in data broker websites or posting about your project in websites such as BiggerPockets, LendingClub, or LendPost.

Crowdfunding

You can crowdfund, but there are many legal conditions. Just be aware of state and federal rules. For example, you can’t advertise. They are also strict with reporting—you have to report the right information and structure your dealings properly.

Despite these roadblocks, it’s completely possible to crowdfund a flip. Plus, crowdfunding has been a strategy for decades, although in a different form. Before online crowdfunding websites became popular, people simply combined investor money into an entity (such as an LLC).

Conclusion

If you want to flip houses but don’t have enough money—or if you want to protect your savings—there are plenty of ways for you to get a fix-and-flip loan. These funding options can give you the financial boost you need to achieve your house-flipping dreams!

Remember that fix-and-flip loans are often more expensive than traditional mortgage financing, as there are higher risks involved for the lender. However, outsourcing your funding allows you to get started in the flipping business with little capital and gives you the ability to flip more properties simultaneously to increase your overall profits.

Imagew courtesy of Anastasia Shuraeva

Categories
Flipping

Flippers: The Best and Worst Renovations

Never over-renovate your flip!

You’ll shoot yourself in the foot if you end up spending too much on repairs or upgrades to the property. 

Your goal is to make money from buying a distressed house under market value, fixing it up to a marketable condition, and selling it at a price higher than the acquisition and renovation cost. So, it’s crucial that you hit the sweet spot of renovating the house just enough to achieve maximum ROI. 

But how will you know what to fix, and what to leave for the future buyer? Which renovations will add value, and which will only hurt your chances of making a higher flip profit? 

Here’s our guide to help you decide:

Know the Best Renovations

  • Competitive Scan

First and foremost, scan the other houses in the area where your flip is located. Research what else has sold and what factors they have in common. Figure out what the market gravitates towards and prioritize the same things in your renovations. 

  • First Impressions

First impressions are important for potential buyers. Anything that will add to your flip’s curb appeal will help attract attention, making buyers curious to see what’s inside. To achieve this: 

  • Have the front door stand out with a contrasting color
  • Maintain the landscaping (if there is any) with fresh flowers and plants
  • Power wash anything that looks dirty or faded
  • Repaint all trim work for a polished look 
  • Replace any old exterior hardware (e.g., doorknobs, mailbox, outdoor lighting, window frames)
  • Add shutters or blinds to avoid the house looking empty/unlived in
  • Kitchens and bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms are two of the most important features when it comes to buyers deciding on a house. They’re also much more expensive to overhaul, so many buyers don’t want to have to renovate kitchens or bathrooms themselves. 

But kitchen improvements can help recoup your investment by as much as 66%, so this is one area where you definitely want to spend. 

On the other hand, anything you spend on bathroom improvements can yield an ROI of up to 67.2%, so they’re also a good investment when planning the budget for your flip. 

  • Attics and basements

Attics have come a long way from being a horror movie location to, now, a great expansion and additional space in the house. It’s possible to get back as much as 73% of your investment when the property’s attic is converted into a bedroom or some kind of usable room for potential buyers. 

This is an expensive renovation though, so make sure you do the math properly to make sure it’s worth it for your flip.

Know the Worst Renovations

  • Competitive scan

When you check out other houses in the area, also pay attention to what won’t sell. Each area will have their own preference. Make sure you avoid having similar features as houses that have sat in the market the longest.

  • Extreme tastes

Focusing on renovating the property with elements that will appeal to the largest buying audience. Instead of decorating and renovating based on your own taste, fix it up with the general public in mind. Don’t put any design or functional feature that’s too specific and only caters to niche markets, like crazy, bold colors or wooden countertops. 

  • Home Offices

Even though work-from-home set ups are increasingly becoming popular since the pandemic, most people still don’t need a full-blown office at home. At the maximum, you can recoup around 43% of your investment by adding one to your flip.

If you see that home offices are actually popular in the property’s area, in particular, you can just have a home office that can easily be converted into a bedroom, should the future owner chooses to. An extra bedroom adds more value, too.

Profit is what you want out of your flip at the end of the day. 

To do this, you have to renovate objectively, with your ROI in mind, and not think about trying to turn your flip into a house you’d want to live in yourself. 

Begin with a solid renovation plan, and a carefully calculated budget, and make sure you don’t spend too much money in the pursuit of the “wow” factor.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Categories
Flipping

Do Flipper TV Shows Help or Hurt the Industry?

Ah, the world of reality TV shows. Most of us have a love-hate relationship with these, as they supposedly mimic real life, yet need to be entertaining enough to make us forget about actual reality. But is that irony helping or hurting the flipping industry?

Over the years, reality shows centered around house flipping have remained amongst the most popular on TV. Just a quick search and you’ll see The Vanilla Ice Project, Fixer Upper, Genevieve’s Renovation, Flip or Flop, and My First Place – all exciting demonstrations that expose newbies to the real estate business.

So, are these shows a force for good – helping to encourage flippers and grow the industry as a whole – or are they making flippers’ lives more difficult?

The Good
These shows might be helpful to the market, as they introduce the real estate business to a wide audience, showing them the appeal and benefits of flipping houses.
They often reflect real-life house-flipping experiences, informally preparing people for what to expect – like how properties often have hidden repair costs. Fortunately, this also makes for an exciting narrative.
They may, therefore, help scare off people who realize that the trials and tribulations of flipping houses aren’t their cup of tea (or maybe not).
They’ve made flipping so widely-known that it’s not hard to explain to buyers and sellers the value of what you do (compared to other REIs, like wholesalers).

The Bad
The flipside of flipping’s TV popularity is that buyers and sellers alike may assume you’re in it to make a load of money, making negotiations more difficult.
These shows might very well be responsible for encouraging people to get into flipping before they’re fully prepared, i.e. committing to a huge investment, equipped only with information that was intended more for entertainment than education.

These newbie flippers will make mistakes on their pricing, leading them to overpay for properties. This makes it more difficult for experienced flippers to make money and stay in business.

In a worst-case scenario, these flippers end up negatively affecting the properties they work on – turning homes into worse shape than how they started, and with too much debt to be restored by anybody else.

The Conclusion
Real estate investing – especially flipping – can be quite lucrative, but that’s because it’s also quite risky. That’s something which reality flipping shows actually capture pretty well.

What they don’t communicate as strongly is the fact that, when you’re flipping houses, you really have to know what you’re doing, because it requires a huge financial and mental commitment from your end.

That said, it’s vital to know where and when entertainment deviates from reality. Oftentimes, these shows play down the risks (the cost and process of renovating and selling a house) and play up the benefits (the “insane” profits you’ll get in a short amount of time). So make sure you do your research if you’ve been inspired by one of these shows, so you don’t end up stuck with a half-flipped house that nobody wants.

Remember that the ones being featured on these series are experienced professionals – so make yourself as knowledgeable as possible before trying to follow in their footsteps.

Any stories about flipping TV shows impacting your real-life flipping business? Share them below!

Image Courtesy of Monica Silvestre

Categories
Flipping

Can You Make Money Flipping Blighted Houses?

Are blighted properties diamonds in the rough for property flippers?

Many investors were attracted to Metro Detroit when they heard about $500 houses for sale on eBay. Now, it’s more like $10k a home, but can you still realistically make money by flipping these?

What are blighted properties?

Blighted houses are abandoned properties in derelict or dangerous condition. They might have overgrown lawns, dilapidated roofs, broken doors and windows, or other signs of neglect. These houses have been deemed uninhabitable, and need either complete renovations or a tear-down to become livable once more.

Where are the blight areas in Metro Detroit?

There’s a big difference between a blighted property and a blighted area. You should be able to make money flipping a blighted house in a neighborhood with solid buyer demand, but flipping for profit in a blighted area is another story – so it’s important to know where you’re buying.

You can see plenty of blighted areas in the City of Detroit, due to the area’s history, which saw the population plummet by nearly two-thirds in the 70s and 80s. Residents left, causing a corresponding loss of tax revenues, resulting in significant cuts to city services. 

This led to neighborhoods full of neglected, vacant properties. You’ll see this in Brightmoor, Burbank, Ravendale, State Fair, Grixdale Farms, Petosky-Otsego, NW Goldberg, and Westwood Park, where roughly 30-40% of buildings are unoccupied.

However, this isn’t the case across the entire Metro Detroit area. You still have the “Ring Cities” surrounding Detroit, which don’t have these blighted areas. Overall, the Metro Detroit real estate market is generally healthy.

Are blighted property flips profitable?

So, many people are curious about the potential “flippability” of these houses in blighted areas. Can you make money from flipping them? We’ll have to go back to the basics of how a flip can be profitable in the first place.

What’s important when flipping a house? 

  1. You Need to Get It at a Good Price

Like any real estate investment, you need to acquire your blighted house at an excellent price to achieve a decent ROI. 

This applies to tear-downs as well–which is a common situation for blighted homes–where you actually just want the land that a house is currently sitting on. You’ll need to buy the property cheaper than a bare plot of land, because of the additional cost to demolish and remove rubble. 

  1. You Need to Renovate Fast and Efficiently

At the heart of every good flip is a fast and cost-efficient renovation, which requires accurate prediction of the overhaul costs. If you’re a beginner, correctly budgeting for a blighted property flip can be quite tricky. There can be a lot of hidden, expensive problems within their walls! 

This is exactly what buyers of $500 houses didn’t realize–a deal on a blighted house is often too good to be true. Did you consider that it’ll be a knockdown? Is the layout of the house costly to change) even good?

If you’re buying a blighted house in a blighted neighborhood, renovations will probably be a nightmare. It’s not uncommon to experience break-ins, theft of materials, and vandalism (all of which equal additional costs and headaches) – and after all that, you still likely won’t be able to find a buyer at a profitable price. Which brings us to our next point about flipping blighted properties…

  1. You Need to Sell It at a Profitable Price

You need to sell it at a price that makes financial sense. Look for a price that’s 70% of its market value, minus repairs. It actually takes a special skill to find distressed properties and negotiating it down to a profitable price! So keep this example in mind: If the house will sell for 100k fully fixed up, and it will cost you 30k for renovations, then you should pay no more than 40k.

70% x $100,000 (market value) = $70,000

$70,000 – $30,000 (repairs) = $40,000 

If the math doesn’t add up–steer clear. You can end up spending more money fixing than acquiring, but don’t overspend and end up with a house too expensive for the area. Which leads us to our next point…

  1. You Need People to Want to Buy

You don’t want to be stuck with a fully-renovated house that nobody wants. Your flip needs to be sellable at the price you need, within the time you have, to a willing market, in the right area. 

Maintaining and holding a vacant property while you wait two years for a buyer doesn’t make financial sense. So make sure you’re confident that there is a market for what you’re fixing up, – which, if it’s in a blighted area, there almost certainly isn’t. (In the City of Detroit, some abandoned areas have steadily improved, but it’s still a slow process.)

It may be hard to believe, but you can still lose money, even if you’ve only paid a couple of dollars for the house. You may buy it for next to nothing, but end up spending so much money and time renovating it, that it costs you more than what you’ll sell it for. And what happens if people don’t buy it at all? This is why it’s important to know the difference between flipping a blighted house in an up-and-coming area, versus flipping in blighted neighborhoods.

If you have great experience in restoring and selling neglected properties, and you’re in an area that does have buyers, and you have enough contingencies in case it doesn’t fall through, then you’ll probably make a lot of money flipping blighted houses. Experts will benefit from its high-risk-high-return factor. 

However, it’s never a safe bet. If you’re a newbie, you might want to avoid this type of real estate investing for now (and stick to Ring City properties instead, where the risk is significantly lower). Flipping blighted houses is definitely not for the faint of heart!

Have you thought of flipping blighted houses? Or maybe you’ve done it already? It’d be great to hear from you below.

Image Courtesy of: Webdexter Apeldoorn

Categories
Flipping

Time vs. Cost: What Jobs are Worth Doing Yourself?

Don’t you love it when people watch house flipping and renovation TV shows and say, “wow, it looks so easy to flip houses for great returns”? But the reality is that flipping is a risky business that requires a lot of hard work, excellent project management skills, and savvy budgeting in order to succeed. 

One of the most important parts of flipping houses is the way you restore it for reselling. Some flippers like to do nearly all the renovations themselves to save on costs, but others would rather pay contractors to do it to save on time. Many also opt for a mix of DIY and professional contractors, but in this case, which jobs should you handle yourself, and which are best left to the pros? 

While it’s generally cheaper to DIY, those savings could be nullified if you do it wrong and end up with expensive corrections. And while some tasks might look easy, you need to give up significant hours of your own time to learn and accomplish them. So if we look at the time/cost benefit analysis, which jobs are worth doing yourself?

PLAN OUT THE RENOVATION

Before you start swinging a hammer in good faith, go over the whole property and list down all the repairs that it needs, taking into account the cost and lead times for each. If you’re going to DIY, you have to be able to accurately calculate their costs and realistically estimate the time it will take to complete, as well as the order in which projects should be carried out.

DO WHAT YOU KNOW, HIRE WHAT YOU DON’T

SKILL REQUIREMENTS

Fixing high-ticket areas like the roof, floors, and kitchen areas yourself can save a lot of money, because professionals usually charge a premium for these services. However, the reason for that is these tasks require a high level of expertise to do them well. When done poorly, constantly repairing them will outweigh the money you supposedly saved by doing it yourself. 

You might be charged anywhere from $300 – $10,000 for a professionally installed drywall, while you can do it yourself for significantly less. Similarly, painting will cost you $2-3 per square foot if you get it done professionally, whereas you can do it yourself for just the cost of the paint – it also has a low skill requirement, so not much can go wrong if you DIY. 

So if you have experience in doing these, by all means, DIY. But being inexperienced will only leave you with wasted time, accidents, more repairs to fix, and a lower flipping profit.  

PAPERWORK REQUIREMENTS

Some repairs require specific building codes, permits, and inspections, like removing walls or installing new bathrooms. Better steer clear from DIY-ing these, unless you plan to leave your full-time job to be a contractor yourself. A professional will help you with the paperwork required and provide knowledge if the wall is load-bearing, or if you’d need more space for a bathroom. Their work is also insured, so if anything does go wrong, you’ll know that it’s covered.

A GENERAL GUIDE

Which jobs you do yourself should be based on your skillset and condition of the house, as well as permit requirements. Some jobs will require a licensed professional, like installing complete new plumbing, which you need a permit for, unless you want to get a citation from the city. A homeowner can pull their own permit in most states, without a license, because the homeowner is the one taking the risk. But if you do it wrong, you could have an electrical fire, etc., or end up failing your building inspection and being told to redo it.

However, this list should give you a general guide on when to DIY and when to hire a professional:

DO IT YOURSELF

  • Fix an outlet, doorknob, lights
  • Painting
  • Install baseboards
  • Install laminate flooring or luxury vinyl
  • Insulate open walls
  • Install a toilet (bowl)
  • Install minor PEX plumbing

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL

  • Additions
  • Replacing sidewalks and driveways
  • Replumbing the whole house
  • New electrical service panel and circuits
  • Replacing windows
  • Install solid hardwood flooring
  • Installing a furnace or central AC

Timing is everything with a flip, so work within your set of skills. Consider splitting the workload between you and a contractor who can compensate in places where you struggle. That way, you can focus on the things you know how to do, and still save yourself some money. At the same time, you’re not being slowed down by more complicated projects which will take you as a DIY-er much longer than a professional team to carry out.

What are the fixes you DIY when you flip a house, and which do you always leave to the pros?

Image Courtesy of Laurie Shaw