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 Honestly, if you end up with a seriously out-of-date floorplan, you could be better off completely rebuilding a house from scratch in some cases, so this is a definite sign you should walk away if you’re a new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

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

Categories
Flipping Landlords

How to Target Metro Detroit Landlords with your Flip (Part 2)

Last week, we looked at how to plan your flip to target an owner-occupier buyer in Metro Detroit. This week, we’ll take it a step further and consider how to market flipped properties to another kind of buyer, and one which most flippers wouldn’t necessarily consider right off the bat: landlords.

Landlords are probably not going to pay as much as an owner-occupier would, but they could be a consistent buyer for your properties, so building relationships with local buy and hold investors could be a great back-up strategy for marketing your flips.

Especially in the current economic environment, having a consistent buyer for multiple properties could be a serious boon for flippers. More people are choosing to rent long-term rather than buy, and this trend is likely going to continue as we slowly recover from the financial strain caused by coronavirus. But, while first-time buyers could be shying away from buying now, investors are always on the look out for a good deal.

So, here are some points to consider when targeting Metro Detroit landlords as buyers:

  • Landlords are Investors, Just Like You: This means they won’t be sold purely on light, airy spaces and nice kitchen counters – they want to see the hard numbers when making their decision. Highlight the financial benefits of the property when marketing to them, like whether the area has low vacancy rates, the rent-to-price ratio, and CapEx projections for any maintenance that will be required in the coming years.
  • Lower Margins: Buy and hold investors will be looking for a deal, and in Metro Detroit they’re unlikely to be looking for a single family home that costs several hundred thousand dollars, meaning your margins on each sale will be lower. However, you may be able to compensate for this in the volume of sales you do, since a landlord could become a guaranteed buyer for multiple flips. If you build relationships with local landlords, you can also do off-market deals with them, saving both of you time and money spent on marketing and agents’ commissions.
  • Out-of-State Buyers: When you consider the fact that the rental market in Metro Detroit attracts tons of investors from out of state – and even overseas – to the area in search of high rent-to-price ratios, you can see how marketing to this group can significantly widen your pool of buyers. Most of these out-of-area investors look for properties that are fullyrehabbed and ready to rent out, meaning a fresh flip could be the perfect choice for them.

Many of them also look for ‘turnkey’ rental opportunities, meaning properties which have a tenant and property management company in place, so you can find a tenant and then sell your flip as an active rental investment. You can also partner with a local PMC to show landlords that your property comes with the whole package, turning it into a mostly hands-off investment for them.

  • Invest in Different Markets: Selling to landlords can also widen the pool of areas you can invest in, since a strong rental neighborhood and a strong seller’s market are two different things. This gives you the chance to flip properties in lower-price areas, with less upfront capital. You also won’t need to shell out as much for high-end fixtures and fittings, since these won’t matter to a landlord like they would to an owner-occupier.

Landlords may not be your primary market, but they can account for a healthy secondary market when it comes to finding buyers for your flips. Keep these points in mind when targeting local buy and hold investors with your flip, and you could end up with a lifetime customer for your business.

Image Courtesy of Lisa Fotios

Categories
Landlords

How to Target Metro Detroit Owner-Occupiers with your Flip (Part 1)

Home values in Metro Detroit were on the rise at the beginning of 2020, and are expected to continue to increase in the aftermath of coronavirus, making it an attractive market for flippers looking to add value to distressed properties. In this 2-part series, we’re looking at how flippers in the Metro Detroit area can tailor their properties to appeal to different types of local buyers in today’s economy.

The ideal buyer for a flipper is an owner-occupier, since they buy emotionally and thus will usually pay the most for your property. In a perfect world, you’ll even have multiple owner-occupiers vying for your house, leading to a bidding war that drives up the price. The key to generating this kind of demand for your property is to make sure your flip is targeted to appeal to buyers in your area.

So what do owner-occupiers in Metro Detroit look for when purchasing a house?

  1. Location, Location, Location: If you’re just getting started in flipping properties in this area, the most important thing to do is pinpoint the neighborhoods with the strongest demand from buyers. Completing an attractive flip will mean nothing, if it’s not in an area that owner-occupiers actually want to purchase in. In Metro Detroit, the areas with the strongest appeal are cities with vibrant downtown areas, like Ferndale, Royal Oak, Rochester, Plymouth, etc. The cities near these areas are also good places to focus your search. Do as much due-diligence as possible to familiarize yourself with an area before deciding to invest there, since even a few streets over in one direction can make a big difference in terms of desirability.
  2. Floorplans We’ve seen several flippers lose their shirt on a flip they did a great job of renovating, but the property had floorplan issues they didn’t or couldn’t address. Low ceilings in a basement or the upstairs of a bungalow, pass-thru bedrooms, nowhere to dine, inaccessible garages and more. Stay away from these types of projects unless you are really good at calculating an ARV that takes them into account, or your budget includes addressing them.
  3. Amenities: More than ever, homebuyers expect everything to not only be done and done well, but they want all the amenities included. Study what the market wants and include as many as you can in your budget.
  4. Security: People want to feel safe in their homes, but bars on the windows aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing design feature. Consider adding smart security features, like digital keypads and mobile-controlled alarm systems, to give your property a leg up over the competition.
  5. Social Distancing: In the era of the new normal, homeowners are starting to look at properties in a different light. Houses which have large outside spaces, home entertainment features, or are located in less population-dense areas might have a higher appeal than ever before. The same goes for layouts which are conducive to a whole family living and working from home, so think about including a dedicated office space and segmented living areas.

Plan your flip to include these features, and you’ll be in the best position possible to produce a quick sale, so you can get started on your next investment property ASAP!

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this series, where we’ll be looking at how you can target a different kind of buyer with your Metro Detroit flip: buy and hold investors.

Image Courtesy of Lisa Fotios