Americans love their home improvement and design shows. With entire channels dedicated to DIY, home decor and design, and everything related to U.S. real estate, we love the possibilities that lie within the real estate market in America. One popular aspect of many shows and publications is home or house flipping. We hear a lot about flipping homes, but what does that really mean? Is it feasible for everyone? Are there risks? Should you buy a flipped home, and what questions should you ask if your property search lands on a potentially flipped property?
What is Flipping?
Flipping is a predominately U.S. term used to describe purchasing a property with the intent of quickly reselling it for profit. Most of the time, properties that are purchased with the intent to flip are those that are distressed, abandoned, or otherwise in need of repairs that make the property less desirable to other potential buyers. Flipping has become increasingly popular throughout the U.S. in the last decade, and many people have become successful real estate flippers with the vast and varied real estate markets throughout the United States.
Can Anyone Flip a Property?
Many programs on television make house flipping look easily attainable to anyone and everyone. The fact remains that flipping a property is risky business that requires a large amount of work, experience, funding (preferably cash), excellent credit and a good understanding and almost intuitive knowledge of the real estate market. If you're interested in flipping properties, the best way to get started is by talking to someone who has experience and has had success in flipping real estate. There are many things to know about flipping real estate that should be addressed before the idea is even entertained.
What are the Risks of Flipping a Home?
There are risks with any kind of real estate investment, but inexperienced flippers can make a number of mistakes. There are a number of costs that come with flipping a property, and new flippers can make the mistake of not having enough money to cover the entire project – from the acquisition of the property, to the renovations, taxes, utilities and more. Another risk of flipping properties is time, or lack of time. Finding the right property can take months, and once you own the property there is a time commitment to renovations, commuting, inspections, and ultimately the marketing and selling of the property.
Other risks that new flippers run into are not having enough knowledge about the real estate market and failing to purchase the right property for a flip; a lack of skills when it comes to working on the property and putting in the sweat equity (hard work) required to get it up to market standards; and ultimately lacking patience when it comes to the entire project as a whole.
Should I Buy a Flipped Home?
Often, flipped homes have mostly cosmetic changes done in order to attract buyers and ultimately get the property sold. You might fall in love with fresh paint and brand new appliances, and generally speaking, most flipped homes attract many buyers because they have a smaller initial to-do list than other properties on the market. If you're looking at a property that could be a flip, be sure to ask these questions: What is the home's sale history? If the home recently sold for much less than its current asking price, it's possible it is a flip. Does the outside of the home match what's inside? If the exterior of the home is older, and the interior looks brand new, it's very possible someone is trying to flip the property. Information is your best friend when it comes to a flipped home, so getting the most information up front will help guide you toward pursuing the property or not.
If you believe you're looking at a flipped home, consider asking the seller what changes have been made to the property, and check to see if any permits were issued for the work. Also, some buyers might be blinded by all the new interior cosmetic updates that they forget about the bones and foundation of the home. Regardless of whether a home is old or new, always hire an experienced and licensed inspector to check over the home to make sure you're getting the most for your money when it comes to buying a property.
With my background in new construction, I can be a value resource when it comes to advising the benefits and value of purchasing a home with the intent to flip the property. Consider my expertise!!
Common Household Hazardous Waste and What to do With Them
We want to believe our homes are as safe as they can be, and for the most part they are. But there are items we use every day that are in fact hazardous. Knowing what products are hazardous, and the proper ways of disposing household hazardous waste, is not only good for the environment, but it will help you feel even safer in your home.
We all use batteries in our homes, and most of those will be the regular alkaline batteries purchased at the grocery or hardware store. These batteries can be thrown away in the garbage once used, but it is suggested that if you have the ability to recycle them you do so. But should you have different batteries in your home, like rechargeable batteries, automotive batteries, or lithium, lithium ion or zinc air, these should definitely be recycled through a proper facility as the contents inside the batteries are toxic and harmful to humans, animals and the environment.
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Touted as a great way to save energy, compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) became popular in the mid-2000s and they continue to be a top choice for American households. But while these bulbs provide energy and money saving opportunities for homeowners, they do contain mercury, which is known to be a potent developmental neurotoxin. Because of the mercury in the bulbs, it's best to not put them in the garbage, as they can end up in landfills (or end up outside landfills) and contaminate the environment. Recycle CFLs at your local hardware store (the larger retailers have places to put used bulbs) or contact your local jurisdiction to find out the best way of recycling your used CFLs. Should a CFL break in your home, wear gloves to pick it up, and contact your local hazardous waste disposal company to ask for information on disposing of the broken bulb.
Many household cleaners are considered corrosives, which means they can cause skin damage or corrode metal. Because of this, there should be caution when using them and when they are discarded. Yes, some corrosives are used in drains, but that doesn't mean you should pour corrosives down the drain to get rid of them. If you need to dispose of corrosives, it's best to bring them to a place that will dispose of household hazardous waste for you, and be sure to wear gloves and protective eye wear whenever handling corrosives.
Pesticides and Herbicides
If you have a yard, it's likely you've used a pesticide or herbicide before. While these chemicals can come in handy when battling weeds or common yard pests (bugs and other insects), they are generally very toxic to humans and animals (especially pets!). When handling pesticides and herbicides, make sure you protect your eyes, face, arms and hands with gloves and a mask or goggles, and should you need to dispose of these chemicals it is best to bring them to a hazardous waste drop-off site. Whatever you do, don't put these items in the garbage or dump them into a drain or onto the street.
We don't often think of old electronics as waste, but that old computer or outdated television that's been sitting in your garage for a few years is definitely waste. Electronic waste (also known as e-waste) can come in many forms: cell phones, computers, televisions, VHS and DVD players, and anything else that is an electronic. While we may be inclined to just throw these items into the garbage can, many of these items contain hazardous materials within them, like lead or mercury, and they require special recycling. Should the materials in them get into the ground or find their way into a water system, it would be detrimental to the local environment. You can do a general Internet search to find companies that are more than willing to take any old electronics you might have in your home.
Aerosol cans come in many shapes and sizes, and whether they contain oil for greasing baking pans or WD-40, cans that are full or partially full have the ability to explode if punctured or exposed to heat. Empty aerosol cans can be put in the garbage, as long as they are indeed empty of contents, but if they are not, it's best to take cans to a household hazardous waste drop-off point, especially if they contain chemicals or anything flammable in them.
If you have a garage and a car, it's likely you might have some automotive products; you might even have some if you have yard equipment like a lawn mower or a blower. Automotive products (fuel, oil and other fluids) can be highly flammable, and all of them are not safe to dispose of in a garbage can or in an outdoor drain. Because of their designations as hazardous materials, these fluids should be taken to a hazardous waste facility when being disposed of to ensure that they're being properly taken care of.
The Best Times of Year for Real Estate
For many in the United States it seems as though real estate season starts in the spring and ends just as the kids head back to school in the early fall. While many home and property sales take place in the spring and summer, the reality of the real estate market in the United States is that it's all about timing. Whether you're a buyer or a seller of a home or property, there are optimal times throughout the year, but for the most part, the real estate market and when it's 'hot' depends on where you're located and the time of year or season.
Spring and Summer
Real estate inventory fluctuates with each season. For many of us that peruse the market throughout the year, the spring and summer months (for the majority of the country) seem to be when the most properties are available. Spring and summer and even early fall are considered the best times for real estate for buyers as the market will see a wide variety of properties, but it also likely means more competition from other buyers. The reality of this, though, is that if you live in a competitive real estate market, no matter the time of year people will search for real estate and sellers will be able to sell their properties.
One of the main things that drives an influx of real estate in the spring and summer are households with children - parents want and like to move when kids are out of school. If you live in an area where there are a number of families, or where schools are relatively close, spring and summer are great seasons for properties.
Location plays a huge part in the best time to list a property. Areas that are known for their seasonal visitors (think snowbirds) will see more traffic during those seasonal times when people are in town. For example, if you live in a mountain area that sees more visitors in the winter because of snow or winter sports, listing in the winter might be a better way to attract potential buyers than listing in the summer when visitors are limited.
A handy tip for sellers: if you're going to have an open house, the first Sunday of every month is considered the best day to host it. Many listings will hit the market on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning and have a rushed open house the Sunday after. To create intrigue and build momentum for your property, talk with your agent or Realtor to have your listing appear on Monday or Tuesday and follow with an open house the following weekend.
Fall and Winter
Early fall is also a very popular time to list property. Buyers will find a good number of listings hitting the market by those sellers who were not quite ready to list over the summer. If you're a buyer, the winter is also a great time of year for buyers as sellers who are motivated and eager to sell will have no issue listing in the winter and making a deal. Listing in the winter allows sellers to get what they want for their property rather than feel pressured to make quick decisions in the spring or summer when competition is hot.
Real Estate in General
The real estate market in the U.S. will always see motivated sellers and buyers throughout the year. There are times in each season when listings and properties will be more plentiful. But it's important to remember that while there might be more properties in the summer, that doesn't mean the market will be any less competitive. Competition is the name of the game in many U.S. markets; if you're interested in a new home or property, start your search as soon as possible.
Spring and summer will see more properties and greater competition while the late fall and winter will attract more serious sellers and buyers will find less competition overall. If you're looking to buy or sell remember to enjoy yourself, and work with your agent or Realtor so you have the best real estate experience you can have.
Not sure when the best time is for you and your family?? Get in touch with me and put my expertise to work for you!! With over 14 years in the business I know a thing or two about real estate.
724.612.7241 Dawn Steinbrink
Tips for the First Time Home Buyer
Tip #1: Do Your Homework The perfect home won't find you by itself. The key step in buying a home is doing the proper research. Educate yourself on local schools, neighborhoods, and the kinds of homes available. By reading available materials and talking with experts, you can start to put together your idea of the perfect home.
Tip #2: Start Planning Most decisions benefit greatly from proper planning, and home buying is certainly no exception. Start a filing system with sections such as home buying, home financing, and service providers. By forming a home buying plan you can more easily focus on the most important factors and help give structure to the entire process. My website is a great resource for property information.
Tip #3: Get PreQualified Getting prequalified for a loan normally only requires a short phone conversation with a lender, and can greatly help your home search. Prequalification does not guarantee you a loan, but it does provide you with an estimated monthly payment and a price range to use as a guide when shopping for homes. Being prequalified can also often indicate to sellers that you are a serious, prepared buyer.
Tip #4: Look for Value When shopping for homes, it's important to consider potential value. Even if you're not planning to sell the home some time down the line, it's a good idea to consider the future value of the home. Protect yourself against things like falling prices and gradual shifts in the nature of the neighborhood. You may not think of a new home as a means to make money, but it's an important investment that requires caution.
Tip #5: Decide What You're Looking For Settle on the home features that are important to you (covered parking, hardwood floors, architectural style, etc.) and make an ordered list. Having well established guidelines will help narrow down your search and will prevent you from being shown properties that lack your key amenities. It can help you make the decision not to buy an attractive property that doesn't really fit your needs. My website has a search feature that allows you to filter thousands of listings based on attributes that you select. If you know you want a brick house with gas heat and a garage, you can get the results you're looking for.
Tip #6: Relax You don't have to make an offer on the first home you see. Make sure to look at other listings in the area to get a feel for the marketplace. When you decide to make an offer on a house, consult with your real estate professional so that all of your questions are answered.
Tip #7: Shop Around for Your Mortgage Deciding on the financing for your home can be as important as choosing a home itself. The first step is deciding what kind of loan best fits you: a fixed rate mortgage, or an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM). There are benefits to each form of loan, and your real estate professional can provide you with more information. Next you'll want to begin to shop around for different lenders.
Tip #8: Protect Yourself Be careful when signing a contract on a home that allows you to find financing, have the home inspected, and work through any problem areas that may arise. Paying for a quality home inspection is absolutely crucial! You can save yourself thousands in repair costs by being sure of what you're getting into.
The best part about the home buying process is that you don't have to go it alone. I'm confident that I can provide the kind of exceptional service that will make this process an exciting one. Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have, I would love to be of assistance to you.
Getting Your House Ready to Sell
Often the first step in selling your home is making sure it's ready for the market in the first place. Some sellers rush a home onto the market without properly preparing it for the public. By considering early on improvements that you may need to make, you can save yourself future headaches.
The amount and kind of work that you should do depends largely on the price you intend to ask, the time you have to sell, and the current condition of the house. If your house is in good condition and you're pressed for time, do the small things that can make a big cosmetic difference. New paint, re-grouted tile in the bathroom and kitchen, new carpet in the major traffic areas-these are the kinds of things that can be relatively inexpensive for you yet important to potential buyers.
As far as major projects are concerned, avoid making improvements that may come down to a matter of taste. For instance, most buyers will appreciate newly tiled bathroom floors or brand new professional roofing, but not all buyers will be swayed by an expensive swimming pool in the back yard. Make sure that the investment in time and money you make for any project will be recouped in the sale of your house.
I'd be more than happy to help you with any questions you have as you move towards the sale of your home. When you are ready to put your property on the market, I can see to it that it is marketed effectively. Please don't hesitate to call me with any of your real estate needs.