Keys to Buying A Flipped House

A lot of home buyers assume a flipped house is in perfect condition when they buy it, because well it is new. They are paying top dollar because everything in it is assumed to be new and ready to go. This doesn’t mean it won’t have its hassles.

DIY network makes flipping houses look like a piece of cake and that every one of them turns into a happy ending. What they don’t show you is several months, a year down the road about how the home is withstanding the daily wear and tear.

A good amount of the time property flippers try to minimize the time spent on homes so they can move on to the next one, and this often leads to cheap repairs. It’s totally common for them to find unexpected problems with one home that will put them over budget, and make their renovation subpar.

If you are buying a flipped home, or one that the seller purchased less than a year ago, taking into consideration these tips so you don’t find yourself in between a rock and a hard place.

Attention to detail

Don’t get enthralled in the new appliances, marble baths, and other bells and whistles. Look at the details closely to see what kind of work was actually completed. You will see shortly if it is quality or not. These little things will show you:

  • Light switch plates that aren’t flush with the walls.
  • Crown molding that isn’t perfectly matched at the corners.
  • Gaps between the countertops and walls.
  • Gaps in bathroom tile.
  • Doors and cabinets that don’t close completely.

These cosmetic faults are a strong indicator if there are larger issues that lay underneath. If the renovator was careless enough to not do the small things right, chances are they did the same work with the larger projects that would cost major bucks to repair.

Get an inspection

Because most buyers assume their new home is exactly that, new, they forego on an inspection and assume everything is up to code. Inspectors check the contractors work and find the little issues buyers most likely miss. They’ll let you know if the contractor went the extra mile, or cut corners to save time and money on his renovations.

Yes the city/town must sign off on renovations, but they only do this for health and safety reasons. To pay the inspector to check your home for any problems is always worth it.

Double due diligence

Now more so than ever, is it important to become very familiar with disclosures. Did the contractor receive permits for the work, and if so were they all signed off on?

Ask for copies of all the work approvals and permits, and if the seller doesn’t give them to you, look them up online at the local building department. These are public record once they become signed off on.

Never close on a home without making sure all the necessary permits were cleared. As the new owner, you could be liable for illegal or bad work.

Learn everything about the flipper

Did the owner flip them house themselves, or hire out the jobs? How is their reputation? Your real estate agent will probably have the answer to your questions.

Good investors have been doing what they do a long time and their reputation reflects it. A quality flipper shouldn’t have anything to hide, and should be open and free with disclosures and happily provide you with the documents. Good home flippers also want happy customers too, and aren’t trying to receive any calls a year or so later with liability issues about their work.

When buying a flipped home, it never hurts to double check their work to make sure you aren’t buying a lousy house. Less-than-quality work could end up costing you major dollars down the road if it wasn’t done right the first time. 

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