Investor urges caution when 'flipping' houses

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by CARLA WADE

Bio | Email | Follow: @CarlaNWade

WFAA

Posted on March 8, 2013 at 11:41 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 9 at 3:18 PM

DALLAS -- As the height of the housing boom, shows like A&E’s "Flip This House" showed just how popular and prosperous flipping was.

It followed investors and contractors across the country as they bought and renovated houses to turn around and sell for fun and for profit. But then the bubble burst.

“I thought, like a lot of people, that I was invincible," said investor Aaron Harris. "I couldn’t go wrong, because everyone was making money in real estate, and I thought I was a genius! But I was just riding the wave with everyone else.”

Harris has bought and sold 250 homes. He started flipping in 2004. He suffered after the market crash.

“I did take a huge hit," he said. "I was lucky to survive.”

But Harris did survive, and now thrives because flipping is on the way back. The number of flips rose 25 percent in 2012 according to realty experts, and continues to rise.

Harris just finished a rehabbing a residence in the Lake Highland Estates area of Dallas. It’s been appraised at just over $600,000.

Joshua Tew is a regional manager for NetWorth Realty in Fort Worth. He said things are definitely looking up in real estate.

“We’ve had a ton of great press in the last quarter with Warren Buffet coming out and saying he’d buy up all the single-family residential homes, if he had a way to manage them,” Tew said.

Tew’s company helps advise investors. He says any investment is risky and once you know you have the cash, you may need someone with experience to help you out.

“I would recommend building a team -- right off the bat,” he said.

He also had these suggestions:
 

  • Make sure you have enough money to close and carry a property while maintaining a sufficient cushion.
  • Stay on top of your property, visiting at least twice a week.
  • Keep detailed records and accounts.
  • Renovate the property to the neighborhood, not your personal taste.
  • Don’t over renovate —- this is not your dream house.
  • Don’t try and be the most expensive house in your area -— well-priced homes sell fastest.


Harris said people also need to realize that while reality TV shows encapsulate the process into one hour, flipping a home is a lot of work.

“Rehabbing is not an easy business,” he said, pointing out the Lake Highland Estates property took him three months to do. “It was a total gut. Total rebuild.”

E-mail cwade@wfaa.com

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