Don't Quit Your Day Job: 10 Tips for Wannabe House Flippers

You’ve heard the story: Someone purchases a run-down house below market value, fixes its flaws, and sells the remodeled property for a hefty profit. But while this rags to riches tale is alluring, house flipping is a risky business full of potential roadblocks. Before you commit to a fixer-upper, remember these 10 tips that will help keep your budget—and your stress—under control.

Pay for a Professional Inspection

Professional House Inspection

If you’re not in the construction business, it’s easy to miss some major defects of a property, from a faulty foundation to antiquated electrical wiring. Avoid an expensive headache by getting a professional inspection before you buy a property. The cost of an inspection is nothing compared with the price of hiring a crew to redo the roof or correct structural issues.

Related: 11 Common Problems Home Sellers Try to Hide

Get a Building Permit

Do I Need a Building Permit?

While savvy, capable flippers can renovate a home themselves, failing to go through the proper channels may lead to steep fines, lawsuits, and other complications that can kill a sale. For example, banks and mortgage companies often hesitate to make loans on remodeled homes that don’t abide by local codes. Obtaining a building permit ensures peace of mind throughout the house flipping process.

Related: 10 Signs That Fixer-Upper Might Be a Money Pit

Know the Neighborhood

Know the Neighborhood

Not all fixer-uppers are bound for success, and location is a major determining factor. Always think about the intended buyers when choosing a neighborhood. For example, if you want to market the finished home to families with young children, you’ll have better luck if it’s located in a safe neighborhood with schools nearby.

Related: America's 50 Most Exclusive Neighborhoods

Hire a Real Estate Agent

Should I Hire a Real Estate Agent?

Whether you’re buying or selling, hiring a professional real estate agent often helps you get a better deal, according to Zillow. That’s because agents know how to negotiate, and they have extensive knowledge of market conditions and comparable sales.

Related: 12 Things Realtors Look For in Homes of Their Own

Don’t Expect Profit

Expected Profit for Flipping Houses

Despite what you see on reality TV, house flippers aren’t guaranteed a profit. In fact, according to Time magazine, 12 percent of investors took a loss or barely broke even. If you go into house flipping as a business, expect to have a few less-than-stellar sales alongside your profitable ones.

Related: 10 Reasons Why I Should Have Never Bought That Fixer-Upper!

Don’t Over Improve the House

How to Improve a Fixer Upper

When renovating a home, you may be tempted to add trendy details and high-end touches. Resist the urge! According to, successful house flippers don’t over improve their properties. The more you spend on elaborate renovations, the higher you’ll have to price the house in order to make a profit, so it pays to stick with essential repairs and basic features in your fixer-upper.

Related: 13 Improvements Most Homeowners Get Wrong

Know When to Call a Professional

When to Call a Professional for Renovations

Enthusiastic flippers can get in over their heads during the renovation process. While replacing carpeting and painting walls are DIY-friendly projects, other repairs require professional help. Call a contractor for full kitchen and bath renovations, electrical wiring problems, plumbing and HVAC repairs, and room layout changes.

Related: Don't Try This at Home: The 7 Most Dangerous DIYs

Have a Plan B

Can't Sell a Fixer Upper

It’s a fixer-upper’s nightmare: The real estate market in your area takes a turn for the worse, preventing you from selling the house. This troubling situation becomes less scary when you have a backup plan. For example, you could consider renting the house until the market makes a comeback or you could offer owner financing.

Related: 12 Reasons Why Your House Isn't Selling

Don’t Overlook Landscaping

Fixer Upper Curb Appeal

Don’t underestimate the importance of curb appeal. No matter how much love you've lavished on a home's interior, an unattractive street view can drive away potential buyers. Although you don’t need to dump tons of money into retaining walls and raised flower beds, you should take steps to present an attractive exterior. At the very least, regularly mow the grass, trim overgrown hedges, and remove debris from the yard.

Related: 14 Insanely Easy Curb Appeal Projects You Can Do in a Day

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Flipping Houses as a Career

The real estate market is incredibly volatile. You certainly don’t want to quit your job only to lose money on your fixer-upper. Play it safe: Until you’ve successfully flipped a few houses, maintain another reliable source of income. 

Related: 10 Reasons to Buy an “Ugly” Home

Heed the Warnings

Heed the Warnings

Flipping houses can look like a fun and exciting side-business or hobby, but often TV shows don’t capture the tedious parts of this endeavor. If you still think this is the right project for you, just make sure to be prepared.

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