How to Make Money Flipping Houses [13 Expert Tips]

Published on August 1, 2023

How to Make Money Flipping Houses

What is House Flipping?

House flipping is a great real estate investment strategy that involves purchasing properties below market value, renovating them, and then selling them for a profit. This is one of the best ways to enter real estate investing.

But before diving in, it's essential to arm yourself with expert knowledge and practical tips. In this article, we're going to share expert tips on how to make money flipping houses, guiding you from the initial purchase through the renovation process to finally making that profitable sale!

What is House Flipping?

What is House Flipping

House flipping refers to a strategy in the real estate market where an investor purchases a property not for the purpose of long-term occupancy or rental but with the intention of selling it quickly for a profit. 

This term is particularly used when referring to properties that are bought and sold in a relatively short time frame.

A great deal of the profit potential in this strategy lies in the investor's ability to find undervalued properties or homes in neighborhoods where prices are expected to rise. These properties are often in need of repairs or significant upgrades. 

The key concept here is "value-add," meaning that the investors who flip a home add value through renovations or improvements to the property before selling it for a profit. 

However, house flipping is not as simple as it might seem. It is not just doing minimal upgrades like a fresh coat of paint, etc. It requires a deep understanding of the real estate market, good timing when finding a house to flip, substantial capital for investment and renovation, and a tolerance for risk when you buy the property. 

Despite the challenges, if done successfully, house flipping can be a lucrative strategy in the real estate investment field.

Is House Flipping Profitable?

Is House Flipping Profitable

House flipping can indeed be profitable, but the level of profitability depends on various factors and circumstances, and it's not without risk.

One of the primary factors influencing profitability is the purchase price of the property. If a real estate investor can find a significantly undervalued property, perhaps one in distress or foreclosure or properties that need extreme repairs, they can often purchase the property below market value. This provides a larger margin for potential profit once the home is renovated and sold.

Another factor is the cost and scope of renovations. Successful house flippers encourage newbie investors to look for high profit repairs. They balance the repair costs with the potential increase in the home's selling price. 

They are also often skilled at managing every house renovation project to avoid cost overruns and delays, which can quickly eat into profit margins.

The state of the real estate market also plays a significant role. In a rising market, house flippers can make a profit simply from increasing home prices, independent of any improvements made to the property. 

However, if the market cools or declines, the flipper may be left with a property they can't sell without taking a loss.

Lastly, carrying costs such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, and utilities can also impact profitability. The longer a house flipper holds onto a property, the more these costs accumulate, which can reduce overall gross profit.

What Are the Best Properties to Flip?

A key principle that successful real estate investors understand is that in house flipping, you should buy at a price below market value, so distressed properties or foreclosures are often considered good candidates for flipping. These properties might be undervalued because they require significant repairs or the owner needs to sell quickly, so they are considering fix and flip. 

Properties in desirable neighborhoods or areas with rising property values are also great targets for flipping. If the area has good schools, low crime rates, and is close to amenities like shopping centers, parks, and restaurants, it's likely to attract a large pool of potential buyers. 

Moreover, smaller homes are also the go-to of fix-and-flip investors and other experienced real estate investors, especially the newbies in the field. Small homes can often be renovated more in a short amount of time and inexpensively than larger ones, potentially yielding a faster return on investment. 

How to Start Flipping Houses

How to Start Flipping Houses

Before reading the tips on how to get top dollar on house flipping we’ve compiled in this blog, you must understand how to flip homes. It's not as easy as it looks, so you need to spend time studying each step.

Here are six general steps to get started in real estate flipping.

Do Market Research and Find the Right Property

Before buying a property to flip, you need to understand the real estate market in your chosen location. Market research involves evaluating factors such as local property values, recent sale prices, the average time properties stay on the market, and what types of properties are in demand. 

Knowing the market helps you to identify promising properties and to estimate how much you could sell them for after renovation.

Calculate ARV Considering Fees and Interest Rates

ARV stands for After Repair Value. After-repair value is an estimate of how much a property will be worth after you've made all the necessary repairs and upgrades. It's a crucial step in determining whether a house flipping project will be profitable because it helps you to estimate your potential selling price.

Find a Financing Company

Unless you have enough cash to purchase and renovate a property outright, you'll likely need some form of financing. This could be a conventional mortgage, a home equity line of credit, or a specialized loan product from a hard money lender for house flippers. 

Identify Contractors

It is also important to note that if you’re not skilled at making repairs DIY and you don’t have a lot of spare time, you'll need to hire contractors to carry out renovations. You should identify reliable, experienced contractors who can do the work on time and within budget.

Make Smart Renovations

Not all renovations are created equal when increasing the price for a home. Your aim should be to maximize the property's appeal to potential buyers while keeping costs under control. 

This might mean focusing on key areas like kitchens and bathrooms, adding curb appeal, or fixing any structural issues. Of course, this is easier said than done because identifying the best repairs can be the most confusing decision flippers make.     

List back on the Market

Once your renovations are complete, it's time to sell the house. This involves listing it on property websites. You can also use a real estate agent who knows how to find buyers. You should consider professional staging and high-quality photos to show the property in its best light.

Expert Tips on How to Make Money Flipping Houses

Expert Tips on How to Make Money Flipping Houses

You cannot enter house flipping by only knowing the basics. Here are some tips to help you continually learn and adapt to the ever-changing house-flipping landscape.

1. Make a Business Plan

A business plan provides a blueprint for your house-flipping business, outlining your goals, strategies, and financial projections. It should detail your target market, how you plan to finance and renovate properties (are you going to use conventional lenders or private money lenders who provide capital to real estate investors), your estimated costs and profits, and your plans for marketing and selling the properties. 

A well-thought-out business plan will guide your decisions and help you stay focused and organized.

2. Create a Great Team

A successful house flipping requires multiple people. You'll need a reliable team that can include a real estate agent, contractors, a home inspector, an appraiser, a lawyer, and a tax advisor.  You may also need a consultant that can guide you on flipping houses with no money.

Each team member plays a crucial role, from finding and assessing properties to ensuring that renovations are completed on time and within budget.

3. Identify Your Target Market and Neighborhood

Knowing your target market is key to making smart investment decisions. This involves understanding the types of properties in high demand in your chosen area and the preferences of potential buyers. 

A targeted approach enables you to buy the right properties and make renovations that appeal to your target market.

4. Use Different Lead Generation Strategies to Identify Properties

Finding promising properties can be one of the most challenging parts of house flipping. Consider different approaches that includes online real estate listings, real estate auctions, foreclosure sales, direct mail campaigns, and networking with local real estate agents or other investors.

5. Prepare for Potential Risks and Extra Costs

House flipping involves significant financial risk even before you can cut your profit. It's important to factor in potential additional costs, such as unexpected renovation expenses, financing costs, real estate commissions, and holding costs like property tax and insurance. 

You should also be prepared for the risk that a property may not sell quickly, and have a contingency plan in case of market downturns.

6. Don't Forget to Calculate ARV

ARV, or After Repair Value, as discussed earlier, is the projected value of a property after all renovations have been completed. This figure is crucial for determining your potential profit and the maximum amount you should spend on acquiring and renovating a property. In this case, you must use the 70 percent rule where the investor should pay no more than 70 percent of the after repair value of the property.

7. Focus on Properties That Mostly Need Cosmetic Improvements

Properties that require only cosmetic improvements typically offer the best return on investment. Major structural repairs can be costly and time-consuming and may not significantly increase the property's value. 

Cosmetic improvements, such as painting, flooring updates, and minor kitchen or bathroom remodels, can often dramatically increase a property's appeal at a relatively low cost.

8. Do Not Under- or Over-Improve the Property

It's important to align the level of renovation with the standards of the neighborhood and the expectations of potential buyers. 

Over-improving a property can lead to inflated costs that you may not recoup in the sale price. Conversely, under-improving may result in uncompetitive property in its market. For example, if the property needs major repairs and all you did is give the house a fresh coat of paint.

9. Seek the Advice of Experts

Even experienced house flippers can benefit from the knowledge of others on how to buy low and sell high. Consider seeking advice from real estate professionals, other investors, and local experts who understand the real estate market in your area.

10. Choose a Reliable Financing

Investors need money to buy a fixer upper and finance its repair. That said, having a reliable financing source is critical to your house-flipping business and in setting a higher price when you sell.

This could include personal savings, a bank loan, a home equity line of credit, or financing from private investors. The right option depends on your financial situation, credit history, and risk tolerance.

11. Use a Reliable CRM System

One of the biggest mistakes to avoid when house flipping multiple properties is not having a CRM. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can help manage your contacts, track leads, organize tasks, and manage your property portfolio. A good CRM system can increase your efficiency and help ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

12. Price the Home Correctly When You List

Setting the right sale price is crucial. If you price the property too high, it may sit on the market, increasing your holding costs. 

If you price it too low, you'll cut into your profits. The price should reflect the property's value, considering factors like its size, condition, location, and the sale prices of similar properties in the area so you can easily find buyers willing to pay for it in full. You can also work with a real estate agent since they are knowledgeable in setting a good price that buyers cannot resist making an offer of.

13. Leverage Different Marketing Tools in Boosting Your Listing

Effective marketing is the best way to find more potential buyers that can lead to a quicker sale. This could include online listings, social media advertising, open houses, professional staging, and high-quality photos or virtual tours of the property. 

A multi-channel marketing approach can help reach a wider audience and generate more interest in your property. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does it Take to Flip a House?

The timeline for flipping your first house can vary greatly, but on average, it can take anywhere from three to six months to flip a house. This includes the time it takes to purchase the property, make renovations, and sell the home to a new buyer. 

However, several factors can influence this timeline, including the extent of the renovations needed, the efficiency of your contractors, the local real estate market, and how quickly you can find a buyer.

Which are the Best Cities or States for House Flipping?

Determining the best states for house flipping can depend on various factors such as the state's housing market conditions, average property prices, renovation costs, and the average time it takes to flip a house. 

Some of the states that were often cited as being favorable for house flipping in 2022 and 2023 included Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Massachusetts, due to their lower property prices and robust real estate markets. 

Can You Flip a House with No Money?

Yes, it's possible to flip a house with little to no money by using other people's money (OPM), but it's challenging and involves significant risks. This method typically involves securing a loan or finding investors willing to fund the purchase and renovation costs.

Key Takeaways: How to Make Money Flipping Houses

House flipping, as explained in this blog, requires careful planning, thorough market research, the creation of a competent team, a good understanding of property valuation, and effective strategies for renovation and marketing. 

While it's not without its risks and potential challenges, with the right skills and dedication, flipping houses can be a highly profitable real estate investment strategy.

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