Buying a Flipped Home? Buyer Beware

by Gary and Lisa Schoeffler on June 16, 2014

in Latest News

Flipped homes are not typically owned by someone who has invested years in care and maintenance. They are sold by speculators who buy them, fix them up, and sell them for a profit. That doesn’t mean that all flipped homes are completed with poor quality. However, it does mean you have to thoroughly inspect and examine before signing on the dotted line.

Investigate the Investor
It’s easy for any investor to put lipstick on a pig. That’s why it’s important to obtain information on who is flipping the house, and what kind of reputation they have. In addition, find out how much experience and number of homes they’ve flipped. It may require detective work like going to the county assessor’s office to find out who owned the prior deed.

New windows, appliances, counter tops, paint, flooring, and even added bathrooms can be very appealing. However, it’s important to look more closely for any design flaws. For example, cabinet doors / drawers that are blocked by other cabinets), nail holes that aren’t filled, appliances installed without an outlet to plug them in to, and loose / unsecured countertops or base cabinets to name a few. Bathrooms can also have vanity cabinets that are way too small for the space because the flipper bought the ‘special buy’ vanity. The handrails are new, but they might come right out of the wall if you pull on them. Handrails can be attached to drywall and come off with a small tug. Be sure to look at all the new designs to ensure they are properly installed and have adequate function.

For a flipped house, this is especially important. If possible, ask the flipper for a list of changes that were made to the home. This will assist the inspector as well give you areas to focus on to conduct a visual inspection.

Structural Problems
The home inspection should uncover any major issues, but it is also important that you conduct your own visual inspection for cracks, uneven floors, or finish work that appears to be subpar. They can all be signs of major deficiencies.

Ensure the Home was Properly Permitted
If you even suspect major structural work was done on the home, go to the local building permit office and find out if any permits were issued. Be sure inspections were completed and permits signed off.

Air Conditioning and Heating
Find out the age and condition of heating and air conditioning units as they can be a major expense to replace. Be sure to check them no matter what season you’re in. Make sure both units are functional.

Check the Plumbing
Turn on the faucets and flush toilets to check for good flow and drainage. Look under cabinets and toilets for leaks.

Replaced roofs can often neglect decking or sheets of plywood under the shingles. If the roof was repaired or replaced, make sure bad decking was replaced as well.

Flippers seldom add insulation to homes. Determine how much insulation exists and whether more will be needed. If so, it will be an expense you will have to incur and should be accounted for when making an offer on the home.

If windows were replaced, be sure the wood trim and surrounding casings are in good repair and fitted well. Often when windows are replaced, the structure surrounding the windows was not.

Buying a home can be the biggest financial commitment a person can make. Buying a home that has been flipped by an experienced professional who does quality work, can be a great investment. However, if that investor cuts corners, and the buyer is not aware until after the purchase, it can be the worst financial commitment a person makes.

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Post by Gary and Lisa Schoeffler

Gary and Lisa Schoeffler are Ventura Real Estate Professionals specializing in residential real estate. Their expertise in helping both buyers and sellers is widely recognized in Ventura County. How can they assist you today? Wondering what the market is like? Call them, they will be happy to talk with you about it. 805-320-4472

Gary and Lisa has written 371 articles.

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