Flipping Houses 201: Houses Not to Buy

Seven Houses Not to Buy

Can you flip this house?

Fire-Damaged? Great! Structural Issue? No problem.  Mold?  Mmmm….Smells like money!  Most of the time, distressed properties and your run of the mill “ugly” or “dated” houses are hot pickings when flipping houses.  But there are properties out there that you should avoid at all costs.  Here are 8 properties that make our list of houses not to buy.

Size Matters

Hobbit Houses – Unless you are flipping houses in Middle-earth, small homes and homes with a small master bedroom are hard to sell.  Target 3 bedrooms or more to appeal to the highest number of buyers.

how big or small is the house?Can you add a half bath? Can you easily add square footage to make the house more appealing? Is there enough area to build up into the attic? Or how about finishing the basement instead? Oftentimes building up or finishing out an area will be more cost effective than changing the entire footprint.

Castles – While there is nothing wrong with flipping houses that are big, doing it in a subdivision where everything else is small is a problem.   Buyers are well-trained to avoid the biggest or most expensive house in the neighborhood.  Follow their lead and avoid these deals.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Mass Transit – While the clack-clack of a cargo train passing a bedroom window is less disturbing than the roar of a 747 taking off, neither are particularly conducive to the image of peace and serenity you are trying to create for a buyer.

Overly convenient- If the driveway is connected to a road with “expressway” in the name, you need to avoid the property.  For that matter, any busy road should be a deal killer.  You don’t want potential buyers thinking about Pet Semetary while they survey your remodel.

 The Joneses

Messy neighbors – No one wants to move beside the person who stores car parts in the yard and appliances on the porch.  When you visit the home to complete your property repair estimate sheet, make sure you check out the neighbor’s homes as well.   No matter what’s growing in them, toilet planters in the front yard will not help your property value.


bad neighborhood

messy neighbors

Yapping Dogs – Even hard-core PETA members would contemplate slipping a little something to the dog next door that barks from 2-6 am.  If the dog barks at you the whole time you are at the house, you can be sure he will do the same thing to your buyers.

Too Custom- A very custom house takes a very particular buyer. A home that is too different will mean less interest and make it harder to sell. You want to make the house you plan to flip and general and consistent as possible with a couple wow factors like stainless steel appliances in the kitchen or upgraded bathrooms.

Location, Location, Location

War Zones  – This should be obvious, but many a real estate investor has been tempted by ultra-cheap properties in questionable areas.  The ones who have answered the siren song often learn too late that the person who borrowed the air-conditioned and copper plumbing from the last owner is probably going to borrow theirs as well.  Quite simply, if you wouldn’t take a loved one to the house after dark, don’t buy it.



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Erik Hitzelberger has been Real Estate Investor since 2007. While learning the ropes in the market down-cycle, he now teaches others how to use his systems and leverage other people’s expertise to achieve their own goals.

Erik Hitzelberger – who has written posts on Part Time REI.

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About Erik Hitzelberger

Erik Hitzelberger has been Real Estate Investor since 2007. While learning the ropes in the market down-cycle, he now teaches others how to use his systems and leverage other people's expertise to achieve their own goals.


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