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Home Flipping Not for Amateurs

Zillow • Aug 27, 2014 at 3:13 PM

By S.E. Slack Those home shows make it look so easy. Just buy a house at a rock bottom price, add a few cosmetic touches and voila! You have a home you can easily sell for a profit within weeks. But flipping homes is a serious business and amateurs can get badly burned if they don’t know what to watch out for.

First, create a timeline for the project. Whether you’re flipping homes in Sandusky or down the river in the land of the blues, know how long you can hold on to the home for renovations before the first loan payment is due and plan accordingly. Create backup plans for those days when the plumber doesn’t show up or the drywaller is running late.

Next, get a professional to check the foundation and roof. A home with a poor foundation can tear into thousands of your profit dollars: It must be fixed to code and it can cut heavily into your renovation timing plans. A leaky roof can be an indicator of deeper problems, like mold behind the walls. Know exactly what you’re dealing with before you put any pennies into cosmetic renovations.

It’s also important to leave your emotions at the door. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most critical items to spruce up, according to Home Smart International. Buyers view those with special concern because that’s where they will spend much of their time once the home is theirs.

But your personal style should go out the window when it comes to the cosmetic additions, said Carla Showalter, partner of Bulk Home Buyers.

“Know decorating trends and keep cosmetic items crisp and current,” she said. “But light, bright, traditional colors, flooring and counters are always going to attract buyers.”

Get too trendy, she said, or too cheap and you’ll turn off prospective buyers.

For example, if every house in the neighborhood has granite counters your flip had better be able to stack up. On the other hand, you might be able to get away with painting cabinets instead of replacing them.

Think strategically with your money, renovate with professionalism and you may have a buyer signing on the dotted line sooner than you think.

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