What Are Your Flip Tips?

We’ve learned that a number of the publications out there offering advice and assistance to would-be investors are either scams or are simply re-hashes of classic advice offered by old pros at this business. 

A number of my readers are skilled in the property rehabilitation game, and I’d appreciate you sharing your “lessons learned.”  What’s worked for you?  What hasn’t?  Have you made money?  Is real estate “flipping” viable in the currently real estate market?

30 Comments on “What Are Your Flip Tips?”

  1. Mike Voss says:

    I think the first thing that everyone should understand is that there is *no* current “market” in real estate in this country. There are, and have always been, thousands of individual markets, and to try to paint them all with one broad stroke, as the media does on a daily basis, is just foolhardy.

    On numerous days, I have seen CNBC or the Wall Street Journal run *totally* conflicting stories about the housing “market” in the same issue/program. Why? Because news is about selling papers or getting ratings, not findng out the truth. Any person who is an expert in any field and has seen the news cover it is usually appalled, and for goood cause. The truth of what goes on in housing is not a priority, scaring people into watching or reading by screaming that the sky is falling or we’re off into the stratosphere is. Like most things, you have to learn the truth by ingesting a lot of data and then sorting it out yourself. And that is the way to learn the business of homebuilding/remodeling – find good sources of info and take in all you can. Over time, you will learn and sort it all out.

    The fact of the matter is that housing is driven by simple supply and demand. Period. And until such time as we start making more land or less people in the US, that 45 degree upward line on the chart of housing values that goes back as far as records were kept isn’t changing slope anytime soon.
    Additionally, according to the 2000 census data, single people living alone now outnumber family households in the US for the first time, further increasing the demand for housing. This is a product with a lot of demand for a very long time to come.

    My point? The only market that matters is the local one you are working in. Learn everything about it you can and you have the advantage. One thing you don’t see on any of these tv shows is a “national flipper”. There’s good reason for that – it’s very impractical. Supply, demand, codes, materials, everything can be completely different in different markets and that would make for a logistical nightmare.

    So, the best piece of advice I can give everyone to start is that defining and becoming expert in your own target market is job #1. You may then find that a move to another market is in order, or that you’re in a goldmine. But you won’t learn either from news about “the housing market”.

    -Mike Voss

  2. Big Al says:

    Buy low. Sell high.

  3. Shannon says:

    A great tip usually is to stay away from late night informercials. If you want to learn about all types of real estate investring, (i.e. rehabbing, wholesale, pre-foreclosures, short-sales, etc.) and don’t have the money you can find some great books to read at your local Barnes & Noble. You make your money when you “BUY”, and realize your profit when you “SELL”. Don’t forget to due your due diligence (research on property) before you go all in. Like Mike V. said, real estate is local in nature. Also, many people will try to discourage you, telling you you will lose your a$$ if you jump in now. Don’t listen to these people, they are just scared to see others take a chance when they choose to sit on the lawn barking. Don’t take advantage of those in pre-foreclosure, has to be win-win and you will generate more referrals, as well as a great reputation around your community. Lastly, have fun with it.

    My 2 cents.

  4. My wife and I have been investing in real estate in California for about 10 years now. We just completed a flip and we profited over 100k. These deals are out there but do not listen to these gurus that say 3hour a week in your slippers and you get rich. It does not work that way. It is a lot of work no matter who you are. Just watch how busy Richard is. We do not and will not take advantage of anyone. I’d it is not a win win we won’t do the deal. You are all these guys putting up bandit signs and I have called them to are I’d they are willing to work together and they run. These are the ones buying the late night infomercials and give investors a bad name.they never pull the trigger.

  5. Sean says:

    1. Make it a part time job. Invest 1 hour a day at least reading the ads, looking for property.
    2. Make an offer at least once a week.
    3. Find good subs
    4. Pay them fair, split some of your profits with them.
    5. There are always five waves in investing. We are in the down wave of the wave 1, there are 3 corrections waves to go along with the 5 down waves.
    6. Seek advice from mentors that have done what you are trying to do. Pay them with your profits. Or find someone to pay for advice. Like someone here. Mike Voss is on the money with his comments.
    7. I once paid a man $1000 for an hour of his time. My return is 100 fold that.
    8. Find a mortgage broker that will work with you and calls you back. They can access all the products that are out there, the key is financing.
    9. Sometime the best money is to wait until your local market corrects. The bottom is when people panic at the sales point. ie a house worth 100k goes for 50k. We are no where near the bottom yet national, but we dont invest nationally.
    10. The next trend will look a lot like the 1970’s slow appreciation with inflation.

  6. Richard says:

    Does anyone know whether it is lucrative in replacing a small house with a big modular home? My friend from college wants me to be a financial partner in his new business (which he hasn’t offically started until he gets financing). He wants to turn old, 1-story 1200 sq ft homes (selling for $700,000 in the Bay Area of California) into 2-story 2500 sq ft homes (selling for $1.2 million in the Bay Area of California. Although it will cost more to do than a flip, he thinks the profit will be much greater. He thinks tear down and replacing is more profitable, and modular homes saves months in construction. The only thing I can think of that is problematic is the governmental/city approvals and acceptance of a modular home in an upscale area. I am interested because he is not a scam artist and willing to put most of his savings behind this, but I am skeptical because he has absolutely no experience (he would be changing careers) and I have not heard of this before. Any good or bad information would be appreciated. Thank you.

  7. Mike says:

    I have watched the show tonight about Trademark’s grand opening in south carolina. i seen this guy, this company before but didnt realize they had their own show.
    they are very INSPIRING to me. I came here on my own not expecting to find these comments from all of you. i read them all and i like what you all had to say. I NEED& wold like a MENTOR. Im in tapa florida but open to purchase in any state . i have no ties kids nvr maried etc. im all business and i wold like to or would feel much safer working with someone whom is experienced and knowledable and genuine ofcourse in which we cold share the profits etc so its a win win for boith of us. i do all my own handyman work and do it prety good for an unlicensed guy. To make a long story short if someone wold contact me and have some time for me to ask questions and tell them about me as welll it would be faster than typing. i am an electrician by trade and can do most handyman work in residential interiors. just an FYI for starters. i can do it al ile textured walls flooring sheetrock plumbing etc..all of it. i would like to change my life around from the brickwalls i have been running myself into. thanks for time in reading this.
    mike aka bronzoy40 at yahoo.com

  8. Fools Gold says:

    I would echo the concept of there never being any generalized “real estate market”. Just as ‘The Stock Market’ is composed of several separate industry groups, real estate is also very fragmented. Several years ago the worst area nationwide for declining home prices was Phoenix, Arizona but the best area nationwide that year was Sedona, Arizona so geography plays too great a role and local market conditions predominate.

  9. Sean says:


    About 15 years ago I went into the modular home building business, I had only done flips, fixer uppers”, up until that point. Email me and I tell you all the benefits of your plan or your friends plan and some of the short cuts. Bottom line building modulars you create your own problems, flips you have to deal with other peoples problems. ccmortgages@aol.com

  10. Todd says:

    Someone asked about modulars and tear downs – that is a great money saver in some ways, and a very good way to do business – albeit with a few things to consider. 1) Neighbors and neighborhoods tend to HATE tear downs, and you get a reputation as a developer who doesn’t care about the context they are building in — So consider carefully where you are proposing to do this, many towns these days are adjusting zoning and created rules to stop rampant ‘McMansion’ building 2) Modulars cost more up front for the house itself, but you save $$ on site costs, and time – modulars are ready for delivery and occupancy in weeks vs. months for standard stick-built. Modulars are very strong, and well built – they are built inside factories and not out in the weather. Modulars also tend to be less nice looking, and often dont have that ‘custom home’ look. Pay a little more for some extra detail put in there – its worth it, or have a carpenter add detail on site. 3) Location, location, location – you can always make $$ in real-estate if you have the right location along with 4)Price, price, price – dont overpay, and dont undersell – DO YOUR HOMEWORK, and then make sure you can still make money with a ‘worst case scenario’ — our business model includes a ‘must sell it today’ price when running our numbers for a project and if we/our investors dont at least make 5% profit, we dont do the job. Period.

  11. Todd says:

    Speaking of business models – we have been doing flipping/investing since 2000, and have been very successful. Our business model is different from most we have seen, however that is a good thing – no Book or Infomercial, or Lecture is a catch-all. You have to have your own plan (but by all means learn from others before you) that works where you live/work. We are in coastal RI/MA, and we flip multifamilies and usually turn apartment buildings into condos. This works very well here given the type of housing stock (predominantly triple deckers and huge old victorians long since turned into multiple apartments). The condo theory works on simple axiom – the individual parts are ALWAYS worth more than the sum. We do upscale condos and we do entry-level buyer types of condos – each seem to sell equally well, even in a down market like we are currently in. The most important thing to always remember is do your homework, run your projections 8 ways from sunday, include a ‘worst case scenario’, and never fall in love with a potential property. Its a business no matter what, run it like it is, and you can do well. Treat it like a hobby or buy houses because you ‘love that one’ and that is a danger zone in a tight real estate market.

  12. Sean says:

    Todd,Cool. We are in CT. Family is from newport area. Lots of fun at Salve! Years ago….

  13. Annette says:

    I’ve watched a lot of fixer upper shows and flipper shows at this point (my favorite being Flip That House, followed by Property Ladder) as well as read an abundance of books available to me at my local library for free. My favorite book so far was Kirsten Kemp’s “Flipping Confidential.” Search for it at Amazon or your local library’s catalog. She didn’t put any kind of shine on it and admitted to her outrageous mistakes as well as giving solid, hard, real advice and leaving any illusions about this being an “easy” job at the door.

    I heard great things about “FLIP: How to Find, Fix, and Sell Houses for Profit” but I found the writing a bit strange (particularly the illustration of points using stilted dialogue between imaginary characters) and it didn’t work for me. I sent it back to the library without getting past chapter 2.

  14. […] And finally, if you’ve flipped your own properties, please take a moment to share your advice with our readers in What Are Your Flip Tips?  Thanks for visiting! […]

  15. Bill says:

    I like the realistic format of Richard’s show…they show the “grind” as it is when you undertake the type of high risk business they are in…what drives me nuts is the show (don’t know the name) on cable where a real estate agent tours someone’s house that they are thinking of listing, gives them some tips on decorating, etc. then tells them what they’d list the house for…and guess what, the listing price is always more than the homeowner was hoping for…then everyone jumps up and down, says “yahoo” and the show’s over…which always leaves me wondering if they sold it ? for how much ?? it’s really quite silly…

  16. Bill,

    Re: “the listing price is always more than the homeowner was hoping for…then everyone jumps up and down, says “yahoo” and the show’s over…which always leaves me wondering if they sold it ? for how much ?? it’s really quite silly…”

    “Flip TAHT House” on TLC does that and I don’t like it either. A realator is going to tell you what they think you want to hear appraisal wise to ‘get the
    listing’. And they base their ‘projected profit’ on that??? lol

  17. Paul W says:

    The real deal – not easy, not quick, but everything you ever need to know. I have read and learned a ton from this guy.


  18. nictole says:

    What would you do if you wanted to invest in real estate and did not have a job ,credit or car or house to put up. what would your frist step be,
    after you get the fulltime job?
    would you buy a foreclosed home if you had a contractor who wants to help you?
    What woould you do?

  19. mike says:

    Join you local REI…

  20. BikerJim says:

    […] And finally, if you’ve flipped your own properties, please take a moment to share your advice with our readers in What Are Your Flip Tips? Thanks for visiting! […]

    To follow the spirit of this request, here’s something to follow……..not a real specific ‘tip’, but THE ‘Golden Rule’, and an explanation.

    The ‘Golden Rule’, is this…….
    Make your money when you buy!
    In simple terms, it means, buy ANY property, using any method, well under TODAYS value.
    The benefit of this strategy, which should be common sense, but sadly, is not these days, is that when you buy for pennies on the dollar, you allow yourself MULTIPLE exit strategies.
    Transalation, if you buy cheap, you can GET PAID, in several ways.

    My local market is currently one of the ‘worst’ in the country, according to ‘those in the know’.
    The thing is, they all advise NOT to buy now.
    I’m ingoring them, and in fact, bought two houses so far this month already.
    at 50% or less of TODAYS value.
    My exit, to keep them, as rentals, or, sell, and hold paper.
    or, sell for cash, and be done.
    My options for a profitable exit are endless, because I follow the golden rule.

    And YES, I am a full time investor, and do not play one on T.V.


  21. Justin says:


    As an appraiser, the fact that they say the realtor comes to appraise the house, really bothers me because it’s being disingenuine to the process, it’s a flat out lie.

    Appraisers write actual reports and use various approaches to arrive at valuations, and we’re bound to the guidelines set by USPAP, we are objective and impartial with our assessments.

    Realtors are giving a broker’s price opinion (BPO), that is NOT an appraisal, furthermore realtors are advocates, they aren’t impartial, because they represent the interest of a party, whereas an appraiser is not an advocate, we don’t care that you need a certain value for your property for whatever reasons.

    The fact that you never see appraisers on these shows, just goes to show the disparity in the level of reality and entertainment that they offer, plus you couldn’t get an appraiser to go on a show and give some bullshit value or make any sort of false claim just so they end up with their license revoked for violating USPAP, realtors don’t have to worry about those repercussions.

  22. kathleen says:

    What a terrific blog this is! My husband and I are investors, and I’m also a realtor. We’ve done a few flips, and also own some rentals. Here’s my tips on doing flips:

    1) Understand the comps for the area BEFORE purchasing the property. You HAVE to know how quickly homes are selling in that area, and for how much, so you know how much money you’ll have to spend on the rehab and the subsequent sale of the property.

    2) Make a budget, and stick to it. Our lender requires that we have a budget for the repairs on the property ahead of time. We have gone over that amount once because of unforseen problems, but we did not go over the budget more than 10%. And the overages were on our own dime, not our lender’s.

    3) Have an inspection done BEFORE you purchase the property. In several cases, I decided we should NOT buy a property because we could not get into it beforehand for a proper inspection. This simple step can help tremendously in weeding out serious problems with a property that will eat up all your potential profits.

    4) Do everything you can to find out if the property has been used as a meth lab before purchasing it. Ask the neighbors about activity at the property. Contact the local law enforcement office, to see if there’s been any arrests for drug use at that property. If there’s any concern that it’s been used as a meth lab, PASS on purchasing it. It’s not worth your health and the money for mitigation that’s required to get that property back in good working order.

    5) Make sure your subs are licensed, and are committed to you and your project. Hiring good subcontractors is a huge issue, and can literally make or break your rehab project.

    6) Have your inspector, or a licensed plumber put a camera down the sewer line to scope it before purchasing the property. I have to say, in one instance, that would’ve saved me about $7000 if I’d spent the couple of hundred dollars to have the line scoped. Now, I do it all the time, and as a realtor, I recommend to my buyers that they spend the extra money and have it done as part of the inspection of a property. (For foreclosures, NEVER underestimate a previous homeowner that’s PO’d at losing their home. Pouring concrete down the sewer line is common, and it’s not easy to fix.)

    7) Don’t cut corners. That’s not a good way to build respect in the business community, or with the buyers of your rehabbed property. As a realtor, I WANT that buyer to use my services when they sell that home, so I want the buyer to be happy with the home, and tell all their friends about the wonderful experience they had.

    8) Make sure to pull the proper permits, and have the proper inspections done on the completed repairs. You’re asking for trouble if you neglect this important step.

    9) When establishing a budget, don’t forget to add in all your additional costs. Those include; holding costs (if that house doesn’t sell right away, you need to make the mortgage, tax and insurance payments until it does.) Selling costs (as a seller, you’ll need to pay the buyer’s realtor the appropriate fees for bringing in a buyer.) Marketing costs (don’t underestimate how much money it will take to market the home for sale once it’s completed.)

    10) Don’t expect to sell the rehabbed property for higher than the comps. Trust me…it’s a much easier sell if you’re within the comps.

    11) Get an appraisal on the property once it’s done. (Post #22 – Justin is correct. A realtor gives a broker’s opinion. It is NOT the same as an appraisal.) Especially because I’m the selling realtor on the properties my husband does, we get an appraisal done by a third-party appraiser. That way there’s no questions about what the property is worth when potential buyers come to look at it.

    12) Be flexible with your investment strategy. In my area, even a year ago, it was an easier sell for rehabbed properties. It’s taking longer for properties to sell these days, and sellers are giving lots of concessions along with huge price discounts. We’ve changed our strategy for the time being, and are holding, and renting properties. The time will come to rehab and sell again.

    13) Understand that sometimes you’ll make money and sometimes you’ll lose money on rehabs. That’s just the nature of the business. If you buy right to start with, you’ll have a better chance of making a profit. But there can always be unforseen problems that crop up during a rehab.

    14) Above all, have a GREAT time! Rehabbing is a lot of work, but it is a lot of fun seeing your vision come to fruition, and even more fun when it sells for a profit!

  23. “Don’t look at single family residences as an investment property. Remember Gus?”

    – Richard Davis 7/27/2007, Charleston

  24. Tubby says:

    Have you ever looked at a house that needs some work, and say to youself,” If this house had this, and maybe a little of that, with a good cleaning, someone would again like to live there!”
    Hi, I’m a lic.plumber in Nash. Tn, and been so since 1980.My wife and I, started watching the house flipping shows in 2006, and done one.As a plumber, you learn a lot of all the trades, down to closing, ( to keep your loan a live @ interest %)so my wife and I watched and studied. She done the phone calls and problem steps, as I done the work, and or hiring, and moved the project on, and ran a trim-out crew for my full time job.
    I could’nt believe the things people were doing, but didn’t forget, that I was watching TV. My best advise, as you watch TV, is to listen to the quick things told. Like; “Get in, get out, and go home.”How dose Richard price his flips? Don’t price it above comps baby, or you will be cutting grass more than you wanted.”This is all we need to do to this house, to claim a return in this neighborhood.”And last but not least, try to read between the lines.
    Trademark, The real deal is as close as it gets to real thing.Just remember, TV has to make it look easier than it is.
    Hmmmmmm, what is codes, what is this inspection for, and it cost this much!I have to wait how long for a survay? Dirt doctor? Permit to do what? Re-inspection fee! Man, it looked eaiser from the couch! lol.
    We cleared, our team, me and my wife, well…….. yes baby, FLIP THAT HOUSE! Oh!

  25. Big Money says:

    HELLO where is Armondo’s flip tips ??
    oh ya ,, he want to SELL his flip tips !!

    Tubby great pointers !!!

  26. MtShadow says:

    I wouldn’t buy into Richards or Armondo’s flip tips if my life depended on them. As far as what the owner and agents expectations, in this area of oregon, the owners generaly have a better picture. A friend of mine wanted to list his cabin, the agent suggested 190,000, he wanted 210,000, he got 225,000. so there…

  27. D-Money says:

    I’m absolutely loving this site! And wish I would have found it earlier because it might have saved me a good bit of grief. The plethora of flipping shows out there over the past few years have led many people to believe that it’s an easy way to make quick money. Unfortunately, it’s not, and I know this from personal experience.

    Here’s what happened to me. In May of 2006, I bought a foreclosure house in Houston and planned to “flip” it with 2 friends. One friend was providing half of the money for the remodeling (I was providing the other half) and the other friend was a plumber and all-around handyman so he would do many of the repairs and would deal with the contractors. This whole flip was a disaster from the get-go for a multitude of reasons.

    I purchased the house for $90,500 and our budget for repairs was $15,000. The schedule was 1-2 months. One month into the flip, the plumber partner was diagnosed with colon cancer and with the resulting surgeries and chemo, he was no longer able to help with the house. Because we had to hire out so much of the work, our repair costs skyrocketed to more than twice our original budget. My other partner ran out of money so instead of investing 50% in the repairs, she has invested about 30%. Instead of it taking 1-2 months, it took 6 months. We then ended up with an unmotivated realtor so the house sat on the market for a couple of months. During all of this time, I’m of course paying the mortgage, taxes, etc. We finally decided to rent the house to a young couple who ended up being deadbeats that we had to evict (and they still owe me 4 months rent). And they trashed the place on top of it! More repairs, more time. Now it’s back on the market and we’re hoping for a sale soon. Our total investment at this point is about $135,000 and it’s listed for $124,500. We’ll still have to pay realtor fees once the house sells so obviously we’ll have a significant loss on this house.

    So, what have I learned?

    1. Expect things to take twice as long and cost twice as much as you originally think. If that doesn’t happen, great…but at least you’ll be prepared.

    2. Don’t go into business with a friend unless you’re OK with losing that friend. One of my partners and I didn’t speak for months because of this flip.

    3. Know your market inside and out. I don’t live in Houston but one of my partners did. She didn’t do the research so we ended up with a house for sale in an area with a bunch of foreclosure, which means that there are tons of houses on the market.

    4. Always expect the unexpected!

    So, would I ever “flip” again? Surprisingly, yes. But from now on, I’ll stick to my own market and do my homework first instead of jumping headlong into something thinking that it will be “easy.” I’m still proud of the work we did on the house but can’t wait until it’s sold. For anyone that’s interested in seeing the before and after pictures of the house, they are at http://www.cdjdolphinflippers.com.


  28. Lee says:

    1.Don’t take partners on, no friends, family members, etc. Do it yourself and call all the shots.
    2. Never pay over 60% of what the house will sell for. For example on a $100k house, at 60% you’ll break dead even due to repair costs, carrying costs, realtor fees, etc. Look for 50% or below.
    3. Buy in the area where you live where you know prices of everything.
    4. Get in and out as quick as possible, don’t fall in love with the property, don’t make it a masterpiece or a labor of love.
    Spend every waking moment getting the flip done, don’t give up or slow down, time is money.

    Kathleens points are good except #13.
    Never, ever ‘LOSE’ money on a rehab.
    You make your profit when you buy the property. Fix it to make it livable then paint and carpet then sell, nothing fancy. Worst case scenerio, rent it out, never sell it for less than you have in it.

  29. W says:

    Here’s more realistic tips than almost anyone is saying here.
    1. Never buy a house you wouldn’t live in yourself, and that means right now in its current condition. (cleaning it first is ok)
    2. Home Inspectors often miss some things, some times several things. Always be there with him(or her) and drag them over to this or that and point and say “What about this?” You are the best inspector the property will get, unfortunately.
    3. Never buy a home where you can’t afford the property tax. This is a BIG deal.
    4. Always pre-inspect a home BEFORE you sell it. No one does this. Spend the money, I found an improperly supported addition once that cost me $4000. In court, my buyer would have got 10 times that.
    5. Always live in the house as much as possible. Sleep there when you can. You tend to see more of what’s wrong at night and during day to day use. If you think your buyer won’t find something you see, you are kidding yourself.
    6. Be kind and generous to the seller and your buyers whenever you can, especially in matters of time. Give people as much as is reasonable. Didn’t your mothers teach you this? You should be doing this anyway!!!!
    7. Tell NO ONE you are flipping. This is not their business and it creates a lot of tension. How would you feel about a carpet bagger with a bag of money and a slimy personality trying to grab your home?
    8. Also limit what you share with others, especially friends and family. Money changes people. No one should know what you make, do they tell you what they make? I would never partner with anyone either. Too many potential problems.
    And in the spirit of my last comment, even though I have much, much more, that’s all you get!
    Good luck!

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