Smart Moves First-time Homebuyers Should Do When Buying a Flipped Home

Photo by Mark McCammon from Pexels

Many first-time homebuyers could be out in the market struggling to find the home that ticks all the boxes. But for those who are willing to shell out a few thousand bucks more for a property that they can call home, they need to know if they are about to buy a flipped home. As someone buying a home for the first time, you don’t want to pay for a property with serious defects like what actress Rachel Bloom and husband, Daniel Gregor found out from the flipped home they bought in 2015.

First-time homebuyers beware: flipped homes can be deceiving

There’s nothing wrong with buying a flipped home especially if it has all the good features that you ever dreamed of and you can take a mortgage to buy it. A flipped home is just a renovated and aesthetically-improved version of a seemingly distressed property. You can search home flip shows on YouTube to give you an exaggerated idea of home flipping. Fresh paint, stunning front yard landscape, and updated kitchen and baths can get the most inexperienced buyers blinded when touring a home that had undergone a total facelift. When touring inside a flipped home, it’s critical that you go the extra mile in digging its history and what lies underneath those beautiful walls. Just recently, an online celebrity site, The Hollywood Reporter, revealed that Bloom and Gregor have filed fraud-related charges in Los Angeles County Superior Court against several entities after they have discovered serious defects in their home.

The couple found out last winter that there’s a “severe rot” beneath the new drywall of their $1.3 million home. The lawsuit alleged that documents showed that “the seller was unaware of any significant issues and that the home had undergone a complete remodel”. The couple now has already spent $500,000 to repair the large cracks in most interior walls and other home problems that have started to reveal after a few years. As first-time homebuyers, Gregor and Bloom could have avoided the problematic property if they knew what to do when buying a flipped home.

Ensure that the flipped home you’ll buy is in good condition

Checking the transaction records through the county assessor’s office or listing sites is one of the many ways to tell if the property had been flipped. A property is probably a flip if the seller acquired it just within the previous year. If you think you can get the best bang for your buck with all the facelifts and feature updates, here are some smart moves you can do to ensure that the flipped home you’re eyeing is indeed in good shape inside and out:

  • Check the faucets – Turn on the faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms and allow it to run for a few minutes to give you an impression if the plumbing is in good condition. There could be plumbing issues if water pressure is not good or the sink drains unusually slow. This is also the best time to ask or check the condition of the water heater.
  • Check everything under the sink – Open the cabinets under the kitchen sink to check if drain lines, wiring and garbage disposal unit are still in good shape. Be cautious and try to get more details if under sink appliance and wiring have been spray painted.
  • Check the paint and baseboards – Take a close look at the wall paint and baseboards to give you an idea if the flipper or the contractor did a good remodeling job. Uneven paint and crooked baseboard lines are telltale signs that the property was hastily flipped.
  • If there’s an attic, check it as well – If the property you plan to buy has an attic or loft, you may want to check if it’s hiding problems. Because attics get the least attention from flippers, there could be poor insulation, roof leaks, and faulty wirings that are costly to repair.
  • Check for applicable permits – If the flipped home you’re buying is in a municipality where renovation permits are mandatory, you need to check it as well. Confirm if the permits were inspected and approved. If the property doesn’t have permits, you may want to ask the seller about the extent of the renovation.
  • Work with a certified home inspector – When touring a flipped home, you could be blinded with all the updates and aesthetics, which means the seller, or the contractor did a good job. However, a certified home inspector can help you uncover potential problems that you would not normally see or expect to happen. Many buyers of flipped homes tend to skip the inspection process because it adds to the cost and most mortgage lenders do not require one. The inspector will tell you if the flipped home you’re eyeing doesn’t have significant defects that could cost you thousands of dollars after a few years.

The business of home flipping

Real estate professionals and some seasoned investors purchase and renovate distressed properties for a very low price only to put it back on the market to make a profit – that’s how to flip a home. Home flippers are known for making very fast renovations because they need to immediately resell the property to recoup their funds and make a decent profit. Because of the quick turnaround, some home flippers may intentionally leave or hide other parts of the house that needs serious attention, most of which are the areas many inexperienced buyers may not care to check.

Final thoughts about flipped homes

Buying a flipped home is worth considering if the property has all the features and updates you are looking for as a homebuyer. However, when you’re looking at a flipped home, it’s critical that you do your due diligence to find out if the flippers did a good renovation job in a short time. The smart moves mentioned above could help you avoid ending up buying a flipped home that will require costly repairs after just a few years.