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 Honestly, if you end up with a seriously out-of-date floorplan, you could be better off completely rebuilding a house from scratch in some cases, so this is a definite sign you should walk away if you’re a new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 Market your Rentals Online: Screen Appeal and Listing on Digital Platform

From digital walk-throughs to Zoom tenant interviews, real estate marketing has officially transitioned to digital in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual showing techniques aren’t new, but COVID-19 has certainly pushed the industry to adapt as a necessity. Landlords that didn’t have videos of their properties pre-COVID are now rushing to create virtual tours and trying virtual staging methods.

At this pace, digital marketing will fast become an integral and permanent part of real estate marketing before we realize it!

What does this mean for landlords? 

Prospective renters are now viewing and shortlisting properties from their screens, making “screen appeal” a crucial factor to promote your rental property. You want your offer to stand out where the prospective tenants are: online.

In this article, we’ll go through the ways to increase your property’s screen appeal, write an effective ad online, and list your properties where tenants are most likely to find them.

Increase screen appeal with noticeable features

First, you need to make your rental look impressive in photos. To do this, invest in features that will stand out in photos—even if the prospect browses on their tiny phone screens. 

These are the things that will make a huge difference in digital listings:

  1. Sparkling kitchens with shiny appliances, glossy countertops, and newly-painted walls and cupboards
  2. Spotless bathrooms with new showerheads, clean mirrors, and re-grouted tiles
  3. Fresh blinds and curtains without any mold or grime that are updated to fit the aesthetic of the property
  4. Blemish-free walls freshly painted with a color that makes the room look bigger, brighter, and homier
  5. Brand-new fixtures everywhere—from light switches to faucets to doorknobs and fly screens
  6. Clean carpets that even look like they smell great
  7. Bright lights in every room to make the rental property feel new, and more importantly, show that you’re confident enough to put everything in the spotlight

Make sure that you use a camera that does your rental justice! None of the spectacular features you updated and cleaned will be seen if you use the front camera of your beat-up phone. If you need to hire a photographer for decent equipment, it’s worth the one-time payment to get a lifetime of great photos for your listing. 

Write an effective ad that highlights relevant details

Once you’ve updated your rentals with photogenic features, you need to post them on digital platforms. But what do you say? How do you write an effective ad that attracts your tenant pool? 

Here are the important factors to focus on:

  1. Write a great headline. Rentalutions’ formula suggests including the key information tenants look for (e.g., number of rooms or location) plus one feature that makes your rental unique.
  2. Use professional word choices that add value to your listing, as long as they’re an accurate description of your property. You want to avoid generic words such as “great” and “nice”, instead, choose words like: upgraded, spacious, tasteful, landscaped, modern, luxurious, and charming.
  3. Add more information on the key features. Knowing what tenants want (as you should), make sure to highlight these features in your ad. Are you expecting to attract tenants who put importance on parking spaces, walkability, nearby supermarkets, or proximity to a great school? Your copy should indicate that.
  4. Add detailed property descriptions. Similarly, also indicate what the tenants will want from the property itself. How many rooms, floors, and bathrooms? Will they be attracted to a lush backyard or extra storage areas? Flesh out all of the important details to attract tenants.

Lastly, prove what you said with great photos! When you use great photos to compliment everything that you verbally promoted on your listing, your screen appeal will skyrocket. This is where the prospective tenants should go “Wow! They weren’t kidding!”

List your rental on industry-popular websites

Armed with your impressive photos and well-written ad content, it’s time to post your listing where it matters. Most people are baffled by how many options there are to list online, especially since there isn’t a one-stop-shop solution that posts to all the rental listing sites. 

Zillow—the favorite of most landlords—allows you to create detailed listings that they’ll syndicate out to 26 partner sites (including Trulia, Hotpads, and MSN Real Estate), but it still doesn’t cover all of the sites available.

To get started, check these sites that are known to be effective and user-friendly:

  1. Zillow
  2. Trulia
  3. Hotpads
  4. Craigslist
  5. Facebook

Apart from those, you can also consider these lesser-known platforms:

  1. Apartments.com
  2. Apartment Finder
  3. Apartment Guide
  4. Apartment Home Living
  5. Apartment List
  6. Backpage
  7. Byowner.com
  8. Cozy
  9. Doorsteps
  10. Move
  11. My New Place
  12. Nextdoor.com
  13. Oodle
  14. Realrentals.com
  15. Realtor.com
  16. Rent.com
  17. Rentals.com
  18. Rentdigs.com
  19. Rentlinx
  20. Saletraderent.com
  21. Sublet.com
  22. Walk Score
  23. Zumper

All of these websites allow you to post for free. You just need to do some research and decide which platform enables you to attract the tenants that you want. For more details on the sites we mentioned above, check Smart Move and Landlordology.

Conclusion

Technological development waits for no one. In order to keep up and remain competitive in the rental property business, it’s time to level up with online marketing!

The steps are easy enough—simply increase your property’s screen appeal, write an effective ad describing the best parts of your property, and list them on websites where tenants are likely to browse for new homes.

Any other tips on how to market rentals online? Where are your rentals listed so far?

Image courtesy of Rene Asmussen

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

Tips for Selling Your Flip Fast

Do you want to sell your flip as fast as possible?

Flipping has always been a popular investment strategy for those looking to earn some quick-and-dirty profit. You see a property that has great potential to be sold at a much higher price–after some improvements and renovations–so you quickly buy it, flip it, and sell it! And of course, the more properties you flip, the steadier your income becomes.

But how can you ensure that your flip will sell quickly? Each day that passes costs you money–there’s mortgage payments, utilities, taxes, and other expenses that you’d need to pay while the property is in your possession. How can you sell as fast as possible, to minimize the amount of time your capital is at risk?

Here are some tips to help you sell your flips fast:

1. Know Who’ll Buy Your Flip

Before anything else, you should first consider who your potential customers will be. Always keep this ideal buyer in mind, because all your efforts–from renovation to marketing–should be focused on appealing to this buyer. All their demographic details should be considered to rehab and market your flip effectively. What life stage are they at? What do they expect from a property? How can you evoke an emotional response to encourage the sale?

2. Make Your Flip Their Dream Home

Now that you’ve identified your target buyer, rehab the property according to their expectations. When they see the property, they should be impressed and immediately think, “This is it! This is what we’ve been looking for.” For example, people usually like significant upgrades in the kitchen, but be careful not to make your fixes too niche or “trendy”–buyers might not share your taste or style. They want to see their home, and not somebody else’s. So think about what your target market would want in their dream home, and deliver that.

3. Partner with an Expert Agent

This might just be the most important tip on this list. You need an expert real estate agent to ensure you sell your flip fast. They should have proven experience, especially in the specific area you’re selling in. A good agent can help you determine how to tailor a property to the needs of local buyers, and should be great at evoking an emotional response during property viewings. Once you’ve built the dream house, it’s your RE agent who will make that dream come alive in the mind of the buyer, so they form a crucial component of sealing the deal. 

4. Price It Competitively

Just like in most industries–pricing is everything. So make sure you price your flipped home at a competitive level, if you’re looking for a quick sale. Your agent should help you figure out the perfect price, though you can already get a good idea from researching the neighborhood yourself. How much did other flips sell for? How long did the property stay on the market?

5. Stage it–Show it Off!

It’s important to stage your flip in the most impressive way you can to help buyers visualize themselves living in the property. Even now, with virtual showings becoming more popular in the era of the new normal, it’s still just as important to stage the property well. But this doesn’t mean you should over-decorate the whole house. Instead, focus on bringing out the best features of the main rooms: the living room, master bedroom, dining room, and kitchen. Set the scene so that your target buyer can imagine their family in the space, making sure that the dream you’re selling is consistent with your audience’s needs and wants.

If you follow these tips, you should be able to generate a lot of interest in your properties amongst local buyers, allowing you not only to sell your flip fast, but put yourself in the best position to receive multiple competing offers, as well. And that’s exactly what every flipper wants to maximize profits and quickly move on to their next project.

Any other tips you’d like to share with your fellow flippers?

Flipping has always been a popular investment strategy for those looking to earn some quick-and-dirty profit. You see a property that has great potential to be sold at a much higher price–after some improvements and renovations–so you quickly buy it, flip it, and sell it! And of course, the more properties you flip, the steadier your income becomes.

But how can you ensure that your flip will sell quickly? Each day that passes costs you money–there’s mortgage payments, utilities, taxes, and other expenses that you’d need to pay while the property is in your possession. How can you sell as fast as possible, to minimize the amount of time your capital is at risk?

Here are some tips to help you sell your flips fast:

1. Know Who’ll Buy Your Flip

Before anything else, you should first consider who your potential customers will be. Always keep this ideal buyer in mind, because all your efforts–from renovation to marketing–should be focused on appealing to this buyer. All their demographic details should be considered to rehab and market your flip effectively. What life stage are they at? What do they expect from a property? How can you evoke an emotional response to encourage the sale?

2. Make Your Flip Their Dream Home

Now that you’ve identified your target buyer, rehab the property according to their expectations. When they see the property, they should be impressed and immediately think, “This is it! This is what we’ve been looking for.” For example, people usually like significant upgrades in the kitchen, but be careful not to make your fixes too niche or “trendy”–buyers might not share your taste or style. They want to see their home, and not somebody else’s. So think about what your target market would want in their dream home, and deliver that.

3. Partner with an Expert Agent

This might just be the most important tip on this list. You need an expert real estate agent to ensure you sell your flip fast. They should have proven experience, especially in the specific area you’re selling in. A good agent can help you determine how to tailor a property to the needs of local buyers, and should be great at evoking an emotional response during property viewings. Once you’ve built the dream house, it’s your RE agent who will make that dream come alive in the mind of the buyer, so they form a crucial component of sealing the deal. 

4. Price It Competitively

Just like in most industries–pricing is everything. So make sure you price your flipped home at a competitive level, if you’re looking for a quick sale. Your agent should help you figure out the perfect price, though you can already get a good idea from researching the neighborhood yourself. How much did other flips sell for? How long did the property stay on the market?

5. Stage it–Show it Off!

It’s important to stage your flip in the most impressive way you can to help buyers visualize themselves living in the property. Even now, with virtual showings becoming more popular in the era of the new normal, it’s still just as important to stage the property well. But this doesn’t mean you should over-decorate the whole house. Instead, focus on bringing out the best features of the main rooms: the living room, master bedroom, dining room, and kitchen. Set the scene so that your target buyer can imagine their family in the space, making sure that the dream you’re selling is consistent with your audience’s needs and wants.

If you follow these tips, you should be able to generate a lot of interest in your properties amongst local buyers, allowing you not only to sell your flip fast, but put yourself in the best position to receive multiple competing offers, as well. And that’s exactly what every flipper wants to maximize profits and quickly move on to their next project.

Any other tips you’d like to share with your fellow flippers?

Categories
DIY

How Much Should You Pay Yourself vs. Reinvest in Your Next Flip?

A common question flippers have is: “How much should I reinvest in my next flip out of what I make in profit?”

The usual answer? “However much it takes!”

Instead, let’s try reframing this question in a different way: “How much should you pay yourself from each flip?” Answering this might be a better way to gauge if you need to take out just enough to cover living expenses, or if you need to be giving yourself some kind of salary.

Here are some things to consider, if your goal is to maximize your profits and flip more houses:

For New Flippers:

Flippers usually aim to make about 20-30% ROI for every house flipped, although this figure is dependent on costs and how long it takes for each sale to go through. But here are some guidelines to follow when deciding how much profit you want to reinvest in your business vs. keep for personal use:

What are Your Revenue Streams?

Do you have a full-time job that can cover your daily living expenses? If so, then consider reinvesting all the profits back into your next flip – this is the way to achieve the fastest growth in your portfolio.

If you’re flipping full-time, you could choose to keep 10-30% of the profits for yourself, which is how some flippers choose to operate. Alternatively, you could work out what your living expenses are, just keep that amount back, and reinvest the rest, but keep in mind that this will slow down your growth rate.Imagine you paid yourself 30% of the $60k in profit from the example above – that would leave you with just $42,000 to reinvest. Is this enough to help you move up the property ladder with your next flip?

Consider a Live-In Flip

Alternatively, you could consider live-in house flips as another way to “pay yourself,” by negating your own housing costs and writing off expenses, such as tax deductions and double  mortgages.

Experienced Flippers:

If you have a partnership structure, there are more complex issues to think about, like how to divide profits and disperse them in a way that makes sense, tax-wise .

Work Out a Profit-Sharing Agreement

Some calculate profit sharing depending on the number of hours they put in, while others go for an even split (like 50-50, for two partners), regardless of the division of labor. There’s no “one size fits all” formula to this, so you should set clear targets ahead of time for  how much you’d be willing to pay someone else for the skills and/or resources they bring to the partnership.

Know the Tax Implications

Find a knowledgeable CPA to work with and discuss your partnership agreement with them, before you decide how to disburse profits. If you pay yourself a salary, any earned income could be subject to self-employment tax at a rate of 15.3%. That being the case, it might make more financial sense if the profits come to you as dividends, instead.

Know Your Value

The terms of your partnership agreement will determine how much you yourself get paid vs. your co-investors or flipping partners. So, when working out this arrangement (whether you go for a limited partnership or an LLC), make sure you’re being valued appropriately, relative to what you bring to the partnership. Again, it’s always best to seek out an attorney and a tax specialist for guidance here.

Ultimately, the decision is yours. But one good model is to flip 4 properties, then keep the 5th as a rental for steady income. This approach lets you diversify between long- and short-term revenue streams, giving you small amounts of income in steady increments (in the form of rents), as well as larger amounts of income in more irregular intervals (from the sale of flipped homes). Having a balance like this can help you to achieve financial stability in the long run – and this is the same way many traditional businesses structure their revenue streams, too.

Image Courtesy of Rodolfo Quiros