House flipping is a misunderstood industry. Legitimate home flipping is valuable to the real estate industry and the community. Home flippers revitalize run-down homes, and market appealing homes to home buyers. In a low inventory housing market, home flips have become a significant percentage of home sales in a low inventory market.
ATTOM Data Solutions (attomdata.com), the data solutions behind Realtytrac, recently released its Home Flipping Report for Q1 2018. The report indicated that there were 48,457 U.S. homes that were flipped, which represented 6.9 percent of all home sales. Although the number of homes flipped decreased 3 percent from last year, the percentage of flipped homes in the home sale inventory increased! The number of flipped homes decreased to a two-year low, but the home flipping rate is the highest since 2012. The average gross profit of $69,500 is at the highest point since ATTOM started collecting the data in 2000.
Given the stats and profits, it was just a matter of time for the mom and pop home flipping business to become corporatized. Using the power of the internet and corporate financing, companies such as Opendoor, Offerpad, and recently Zillow have become players in house-flipping business. Whether corporate flippers are profitable or have a sustainable business model is for another column. But, there is no doubt that home sellers are seduced by one-click instant offers and promises of a quick closing.
House flippers are known to buy foreclosures and other financially distressed properties. However, these real estate investors also go after other properties too, as long as it’s financially feasible (it’s a business after all). Other types of targeted homes include estate sales, divorce sales, long-time rentals, and outdated or obsolete homes. So, if you haven’t already received a letter offering you a quick offer and fast closing, it’s just a matter of time.
For some home sellers, a quick sale to an investor is fitting. The seller is disposing of a home that would otherwise continue to be a financial burden and deteriorate further. However, many realize they can sell for more on the open market (MLS).
If you’re thinking of selling your home (or even currently selling), you might be fascinated by the idea of a quick sale. But for most, the dream of selling for a large sum and closing quickly is just a fantasy. You should realize that home flipping is risky business, and the investors build in their costs into their offer. So, be prepared for a really low offer. A typical investor offer is about 70 percent of the home’s value minus rehab, carrying, and marketing costs.
Before you sell to an investor, do your due diligence. Compare multiple investor offers. Verify that the investor is legitimate. Be wary of investors who include extended contingencies. Be aware that “wholesalers” will tie up your home while looking to sell their purchase contract to other investors. Although most investors promise “cash” deals, the reality is that most investors actually borrow money. It is not uncommon for investors to back out or default on a deal because their financing doesn’t come through. Most important, have your attorney review any contract before you sign.
Also, talk to a Realtor. You could possibly sell your home for more than the investor’s “instant” offer. Marketing your home on the MLS at a price appropriate for its condition could net you more.
Dan Krell is a Realtor® with RE/MAX Success in Potomac, MD. You can access more information at DanKrell.com