Though “flipping” real estate has become a popular practice, it is also pretty controversial. This is mainly because people have gotten into it without considering the ramifications of their actions and, consequently, engage in some very bad practices. The clumsy flipper can anger both the buyer and the seller–not to mention get themselves into some very awkward and costly situations–by flipping real estate. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Flipping is simply the quick selling of a property that one has just purchased. The sale may take place that very day, or even at that very closing. The idea behind this practice is, if a property appreciates and I’m just going to turn around and resell it at a profit anyway, why wait? Why not buy up a whole bunch of properties, sell them quickly and make a ton of money?
See the allure? It can be done, but it is a tricky business. You cannot be a successful flipper without using some finesse. For instance, many people think they are being hugely clever by working the seller and the buyer against each other. The flipper, who sets himself up as a middleman without the knowledge of either party, actually gets the seller to agree to sell to him, then runs to the buyer for the cash, from which he pays the seller. Using this method, he makes the purchase without even using any of his own cash. Afterward, he simply pockets the difference.
But if he has sold a property to the buyer that isn’t actually his, and the seller learns what is going on, there could be trouble. The seller, aware that the flipper is in dire straits, will probably up his price. The seller now knows the buyer is expecting that property. It is even possible that the flipper has sold the property to the buyer and is then turned down by the seller. This puts the flipper in the position of having just sold something he can’t deliver.
According to Ken McElroy, author of “The ABCs of Real Estate Investing,” there are, however, companies that flip very successfully. This is because they follow a few simple rules, such as never selling something they haven’t actually purchased. On the surface, that sounds like such a basic idea, it is not necessary to mention it. However, you would be surprised if you knew the number of people who try to get away with not following this simple rule.
The companies who flip will resell a property that very day if at all possible, but they don’t sell at the very closing where they purchased the property. Instead, thy use mailing lists they have built over time to send out bulletins that they have a property for sale. It can cost hundreds of dollars to get the word out and arrange meetings. It can also require an entire staff to do it quickly enough to make it pay off.
Because of those particular limitations, it is often not lucrative for an individual to attempt flipping properties, although, conceivably, a particularly savvy individual could indeed make it pay off. The question is, is it a good approach for you?