Rant on House "Flipping"

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Nov 23, 2015
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So, a little back story-my wife bought the house we're living in in 2017, which was before I knew her. She fell in love with it at the time-she was in her mid-20s and even though it's on the small side, it was just the house she'd been looking and saving her money for.

It was built in 1953, and again in spite of its 1000 square feet, you can tell it was built with quality materials and generally just well built all around. There little things you really just don't see anymore, like plaster work(yes it is all plaster) "surrounding" the door frames so they are flush with the walls. Unlike my parents 30 year old house, the floors don't creak. I hadn't paid attention to it until my father-in-law pointed this out, but it's also a really quiet house. The neighbors mowing sounds like it's down the street. We are close to a moderately busy street(Main Street in town) and don't hear traffic noise at a bothersome level even when the 1970s Silverado with a rotted bed and no muffler comes roaring by.

The property records, as far back as they're available online, tell me that it was sold to a local property management company in the 90s. It was then sold to a local "rehab" company in 2016(we often get mail addressed to someone who died in 2016, so I'm guessing they sold it when a long time tenant passed away) and then was sold to a real estate company in 2017.

When my wife moved it, in looked clean, shiny, and new with new windows, vinyl floor, a new front door, garage door, counters, and the like.

Over the past 3 and a half years or so I've been spending time in here(and a little over a year living here), I've watched things wear or even just fall apart despite what I'd not consider any sort of abnormal wear and tear. The flooring in high traffic areas is starting to wear through to the vinyl or peel. They did leave us a couple of boxes of flooring out in the garage, and I've become quite adept at yanking up a plank and replacing it, but then that leaves us with an out of place nearly new plank. While we're at it too, I'm guessing most of the house was carpeted, and they didn't bother installing quarter round when they put the laminate in so there are ugly baseboard gaps(getting some quarter round fitted is on my to-do list) The whole thing should be redone, but we need more space and are basically riding things out here until the market hopefully cools some. The shower has an overlay that's seemingly impossible to keep clean. A piece of siding fell off the other day and wrecked two other pieces in the process-fortunately again a dozen or so pieces up in the garage rafters came to the rescue.

While I'm at it on the floor, one of the first projects I tackled, before I moved in, was replacing the 4-bolt, 5 gallon toilet that was original to the house. That turned into something of an achaelogical dig, as I found 5 colors of paint behind the old tank(which sat flush with the wall), each nicely representative of different decades, along with bare plaster. Under the laminate in the bathroom there was some very 1970s linoleum that the new floor had just been laid on top of(and of course I can't fault that one entirely as under the linoleum was straight out of the 50s black and white checker tile).

I'm frustrated now, though, over the crummy garage door that's cheap sheet metal. Yesterday, I went to close it and saw the top panel of it folding up after the bracing to which the opener attached broke loose. I cut the door opener loose, rolled it down manually and locked it, and have just spent two hours with a pop riveter, some steel bar stock, and JB weld building up and reinforcing the door to at least allow it to function(hopefully) until we can get a new one ordered(going this afternoon to look) and installed(who knows how long on that).

By the way too, we have a nice shed out back with a poured concrete floor and cinder block construction. It once had windows(as did the garage) but they blocked up with plywood on the inside and covered with siding on the outside. The shed is wired for electricity, albeit with a scary looking fuse box, but there's no power actually coming in to it. I don't know when that went away, but the light sockets all have CFLs in them so I'm guessing it wasn't too long ago. It's big and study enough that it would make a great workshop, but of course that's out now.

As a broader theme, though, it seems like when this was done, the "flippers"(I don't know of a better term) just tried to go as cheap and fast as they could to make it look good and sellable. I guess that's the name of the game. It's just a shame to see this mixed in with so much underlying quality....
 
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I try to do every job (either myself or with a contractor) the best way I know how. I/we usually get it right and that's the last time we see that problem. Occasionally it takes a second try.

Doing a job right costs a little more. But poor materials and poor workmanship just don't pay.
 
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Aug 10, 2018
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Virginia
I have a double sheet metal garage door, saw stress developing.
I got 8 or 10 sheet metal 'studs' made to hold sheet rock off concrete wall - u shape with feet.
I overlapped 2 lopsided (thin at ends, doubled in middle) for each panel.
Reinforced very well, and added nothing to weight - didn't have to adjust spring.
 
Joined
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Hedgesville, WV
As long as it looks good and sells fast thats all most flippers care about. When I went house shopping the last time I was very specific with my agent that I did not want to see any flips. I would rather buy a distressed house for a bit of a discount and do the repairs and use the materials I want. That said the house I was selling needed some upgrades after 25 years. I painted every room with neutral colors and made all the little repairs that had been put off but did not replace the stove or refrigerator or recarpet. My intention was to give the buyer a credit so they could get the style and colors they wanted. My agent told me that was a huge mistake because 90% of the buyers wanted the house move in ready. I tried it my way but after 4 weeks with no offers I put builder grade carpet in and the least expensive GE stove and refrigerator at Lowes, marked the price up 10k and it sold in 4 days. I made an extra 5k after expenses and the buyer will be replacing the carpet in 4 or 5 years and probably upgrading the appliances. But it taught me a lesson about human nature.
 
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As long as it looks good and sells fast thats all most flippers care about. When I went house shopping the last time I was very specific with my agent that I did not want to see any flips.
1) How do you tell if the house is a flip?
2) You don't think the owners, not just flippers, put lipstick on a pig just for a quick sale?
 
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Well you always get some unexpected wear after so many years. With siding, even if you don't have the same color, you can take a piece and color match it and then just paint regular replacement siding. You can move it around if the pattern is slightly off from a different section of the house.

As for the power to the shed, probably a wire running from the house directly overhead and it was either too low or looked ugly so they took it down. I suppose you could dig a trench and lay down wire so you won't see the wire overhead or run a new overhead wire. New electrical panels aren't that much money, more like the cost of an electrician to do it if you need it.
 
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The shed's power was probably illegal/ unpermitted/ not to code so they disconnected it for the sale.

My house has a circuit breaker labelled "pool." There's no pool. 😆
 
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No comfort to you, but it simply seems that this boils down to inexperience of your wife regarding home purchasing. I did the same thing with my very first car purchase - bought the shiny looking one that turned out to be a polished, repainted Bondo turd.

The others have already listed the pitfalls of cheap makeovers. You can make it better, one room at a time. One way or another, one pays for good quality. Time or money, and often both. Best wishes on your home ownership adventure.
 
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That’s the thing. First off it depends on your clients. I’ve flipped many houses, especially in blue collar areas. I don’t use the cheapest materials I use mid range and still get a good ROI on it. Example, I’ll throw in whirlpool appliance and a Goodman furnance system. If I threw in kitchen aid (sub of WP) and say a Lennox, I would want my costs covered plus a 10% markup on the total costs.

High end clients have a MUCH better ROI but low to mid range there’s more volume. I would never rip anyone off by putting in crappy things in general, I mean I’m selling houses to families who will stay there long term and I don’t want anything going wrong long after the house is sold. Most flippers are in it for a quick buck and no pride in their work. It’s sad but it’s the nature of the beast. I hope things work out.
 
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1) How do you tell if the house is a flip?
2) You don't think the owners, not just flippers, put lipstick on a pig just for a quick sale?
1) If the current owner has only had the house for 3 or 6 mos, and most agents in a given market know who the flippers are.
2) Making small repairs and paint is one thing but flippers are professionals at covering up big issues. If an owner has a roof put on to sell and its bad you can go back to the roofing company that did the job but if a flipper has his own people put one on you are SOL if there are problems.
 
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1) If the current owner has only had the house for 3 or 6 mos, and most agents in a given market know who the flippers are.
2) Making small repairs and paint is one thing but flippers are professionals at covering up big issues. If an owner has a roof put on to sell and its bad you can go back to the roofing company that did the job but if a flipper has his own people put one on you are SOL if there are problems.
If you read the warranty on roofs, usually it's transferrable once or twice but after a few owners, the warranty no longer applies. Probably never even gets transferred, I think the once is basically so you can throw a new roof on and the new owner can have the warranty. As most people move after 7-10 years, unlikely you'll be able to take advantage of a warranty after 15-20 years and at that rate, it's usually pro-rated on the shingles not labor so it's basically worthless after a few years. I think if you read the warranty if you DIY, the shingle warranty is only about two or three years.

The way you know it's a flipper is that you look at public records and you can see what the previous sale date and price was so if it was recent, then you know it was a flipper. As a real estate broker, you basically never encounter the same seller twice. Even if it's the same seller, maybe different agency or different agent.
 
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Don't put blame on someone who purchased a house, fixed it up, made it look presentable and made a profit for their effort. It is the responsibility of the buyer to do their due dilligence on the home they may want to buy. Its past history is easy to find out through the recorder's office.There are people who do inspections who's job is to point out any problem areas. It is a 68 year old home not a three year old one.
 
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2) Making small repairs and paint is one thing but flippers are professionals at covering up big issues.
Isn't that what a home inspection is for? And why do you think a homeowner wouldn't paint a ceiling to cover up roof leaks, sell in the winter to conceal a broken A/C system or sell in the dry season to mask a wet basement, anymore than a flipper would?
 

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Don't put blame on someone who purchased a house, fixed it up, made it look presentable and made a profit for their effort. It is the responsibility of the buyer to do their due dilligence on the home they may want to buy. Its past history is easy to find out through the recorder's office.There are people who do inspections who's job is to point out any problem areas. It is a 68 year old home not a three year old one.
I’ll put the blame on profit mongers who don’t do quality work, ruin the initial design and quality craftsmanship of old homes with their cheap junk Home Depot trim and lousy materials selections.

Fortunately code is there for a reason, but who knows if it is adhered to.

it’s easy to see what homes were flipped, they are usually ruined from original form on the interior, and the exterior work looks lousy after a couple of years.

The only good side of it is at least they aren’t tearing down the homes and putting up obnoxious, disgusting mcmansions with the same poor quality materials, but taking up a higher percentage of the lot area.
 
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Isn't that what a home inspection is for? And why do you think a homeowner wouldn't paint a ceiling to cover up roof leaks, sell in the winter to conceal a broken A/C system or sell in the dry season to mask a wet basement, anymore than a flipper would?
That's a big misconception, home inspections can only inspect what they can see. If you do a shody job and hide it so that they can't see it, they won't be able to tell it's badly done and they're not going to rip it apart to tell how badly it was done.
 
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I painted every room with neutral colors and made all the little repairs that had been put off but did not replace the stove or refrigerator or recarpet. My intention was to give the buyer a credit so they could get the style and colors they wanted. My agent told me that was a huge mistake because 90% of the buyers wanted the house move in ready. I tried it my way but after 4 weeks with no offers I put builder grade carpet in and the least expensive GE stove and refrigerator at Lowes, marked the price up 10k and it sold in 4 days. I made an extra 5k after expenses and the buyer will be replacing the carpet in 4 or 5 years and probably upgrading the appliances. But it taught me a lesson about human nature.
Most people do not have the time or skills to put work into making a house liveable after purchase, nor do they necessarily have the money to spare.

And stop and think about why, because it's understandable. For a daily driver for work, you wouldn't be likely to buy a car that needed a new engine or transmission or other major work to get it running. You need the car now and don't want to spend crazy money to fix it so you can use it. By the same reasoning, people want to move into and enjoy a house without having to spend big bucks for repairs and appliances. There's a difference for potentially collectible cars that are basket cases or classic houses that need renovation, but buyers for those are the exception.

Also, if a house needs work, trying to sell it could run into inspection, potential housing code enforcement, and occupancy permit problems.

The need to be able to use something that was a big purchase is also why flippers succeed.
 
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I feel your pain. My 1974 house was "flipped". Looked pretty, but it was all cosmetic. Still had an ancient roof that needed replacing, gutters that were falling down and hadn't been cleaned in years, electric box that was rusting, and I had to replace the rotting timber under the sliding door because the caulking around the door had failed and had been leaking water into the foundation. Meanwhile, the shiny, new, CHEAP appliances in the kitchen are already giving us problems, and I'm having to go re-do some of his half-baked amateur electrical wiring because he evidently didn't know squat about aluminum wire. Already burned up two outlets because he evidently wasn't aware that CU-ONLY means exactly that. :mad:
 
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Still had an ancient roof that needed replacing, gutters that were falling down and hadn't been cleaned in years, electric box that was rusting, and I had to replace the rotting timber under the sliding door because the caulking around the door had failed and had been leaking water into the foundation.
What did the inspection report say about those things? Oh wait, you wouldn't even need an inspection for things that were in plain sight, yet you bought anyway?
 
Joined
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Our house was a flipper.. yup about the same as everyone else experienced. A bunch of new drywall slapped on junk, electric wiring.. dangerous, plumbing.. I could go on and on. My wife was single and bought it before we met. How inspections didn't catch the wiring just goes to show how useless inspections are. If we were together at the time I wouldn't of bought it. So far though it was a cheap house and now it's paid for. I've corrected everything wrong and improved on it, turning out to be a good cheap house.
 
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