Making Money On A SLOW FLIP (Part 4 – Making Your Budget)

Property Manager with NEPTUNE REALTY 0225-075558

A few years ago, it was common in many markets for real estate investors to buy houses, update or repair them to bring them current to buyer's tastes, and sell at a profit a few months later.  For most markets, those days are gone.  The problem with flips (and flippers) is that they were primarily in the get-rich-quick game-which may work for a while, but doesn't last forever. You can still make money by applying some of the principles touted on HGTV, TLC, and the like, but it's a slower path to your payday. I call this strategy a "slow flip".Budgets - Dollar Sign

In my earlier posts, we looked at finding the property and ideas for changes.  Now, to talk about budgets.  The reason I suggest you have your budget before you start looking for a house is because most people don't have unlimited funds.  You're more likely to come up with a realistic plan if you define your dollars first, then pick the house that you can fix with that many dollars.

Your project budget will vary depending on whether you decide to go with a house that needs repairs or just updating. New roofs, energy efficient windows and entry doors, new HVAC system, plumbing overhaul, updated breaker box and electrical throughout are just some of the examples of what may be included in your budget.  Here's the basic guideline I like to use:

  • 30% kitchen
  • 15% master bed and bath
  • 10% exterior and yard
  • 15% whole house
  • 10% plumbing (make a list of all the plumbing changes and get a professional out to do the work - everything from changing out faucets to re-seating toilets with new wax seals, in addition to moving sinks or adding second sinks or shower heads coming out of the ceiling. The professional plumber will not only do it all faster, a self-made repair that goes wrong can cost you much more in water damage.) If you need electrical work, handle it the same as plumbing - set a budget amount and bring in an expert. 
  • 20% cost overruns (yes, that's high, but it's essential for your first time. Keep anticipated and actual results in a spreadsheet don't just keep updating your numbers - save what your assumptions were when you started, it will be more useful in examining your results after you're done and help you learn from your mistakes.)

Create your budget in a spreadsheet and break it down as you get prices for individual items.  You want to have a general idea on all your prices before you begin shopping.  I've seen countless homes on the foreclosure market that have nice new lighting fixtures but holes in the roof or shingles that are baked and well beyond their useful life.  Get the most important repairs done first, THEN start in on the nice-to-have items.  If you run short on funds and need to cut back, you'll be glad you got the critical things done first.

In my next post, I'll offer some final suggestions and cautions.

For answers to all your residential real estate questions in Hampton Roads,
Contact Drick Ward - Exit Realty Central

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Search the MLSDrick Ward, Realtor and Broker Associate    757-575-5156

Neptune Realty - Virginia Beach, Virginia


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Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Hi Drick, this is good information for anyone.  And I really like your term "slow flip"!  Thanks for sharing.

Sep 16, 2009 12:34 AM #1
Drick Ward
NEPTUNE REALTY - Virginia Beach, VA
"RealtorDrick" - Experienced Representation

Well, it does take a bit more time than the traditional flips, so that name made sense to me.  (Aside from the fact that once you start doing work on the house, you learn new appreciation for the word SLOW. ) Thanks for the comment.

Sep 16, 2009 12:39 AM #2
michelangelo vasco
mvp realty inc. - Manhattan, NY

Just 2 questions:

  1. is it not more important now that flippers can not enjoy the home gaining value as it sits during rehab to get in and out of a project ASAP
  2. How do you budget before finding a project and knowing what repairs are needed
Sep 16, 2009 01:35 AM #3
Drick Ward
NEPTUNE REALTY - Virginia Beach, VA
"RealtorDrick" - Experienced Representation

Because of the changes in the market, it's much less likely that a traditional flipper can get in and out as quickly.  That's why my strategy is more appropriate for the current market - it requires they live in the home or hold it as a rental, so they are less concerned with making a profit in a few months time.

You budget first, because most people don't have unlimited resources.  Once you know the budget, you work with a knowledgable agent to find the home that meets your budget.

Great questions Michelangelo, thanks for asking.

Sep 16, 2009 01:43 AM #4
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