Reuben's Home Inspection Blog


I'll Tell You What's Wrong With That Flipped House Without Even Looking At It

Home flippers buy dilapidated houses, fix them up, then sell them again as quickly as possible with the intention of making a tidy profit.  Flipped houses look shiny and new inside, but what's going on underneath all the new drywall, carpet, and paint?  Very few home buyers seem to trust flippers, and with the cheesy 'repairs' or 'cover-ups' I've seen over the years, it's easy to understand why.  Most of the quick and dirty home flippers take the same shortcuts when flipping houses; I've seen so many of them done the same way that I'm going to tell you all about the flipped house you just looked at without even knowing the address.


The interior of the home looks great.  The kitchen has all new or re-painted cabinets, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, and a tiled floor.  The first floor bathroom has been completely re-done, and a second floor bathroom was recently added, or possibly a basement bathroom.  They look great.  All new carpet, paint, light fixtures, outlets, and switches throughout the house.  Possibly all new windows as well.

Vanity combo on sale at LowesWhen looking at flipped houses, you might notice poorly designed kitchens (ie - cabinet doors / drawers that are blocked by other cabinets), nail holes that aren't filled, appliances installed without an outlet to plug them in to, and loose / unsecured countertops or base cabinets.  Bathrooms will often have vanity cabinets that are way too small for the space because the flipper bought the 'special buy' vanity, top, and faucet combo on sale at whatever home improvement store was close.

The handrails are new, but they might come right out of the wall if you pull on them.  I've found a few handrails at flipped houses that were only attached to drywall.

Loose handrail


There is a brand new circuit breaker panel installed in the basement, which replaced the old 60-amp fuse panel.  The new panel has a state electrical inspection sticker on it, and everything looks great.  I don't find many electrical problems on flipped houses.  Even the worst home flippers usually know better than to mess with the electrical; they don't want their houses to burn down.


The home has an old, unsafe heating system at the end of it's life expectancy.  The flipper has documentation from 'their guy', some heating contractor that you've never heard of, saying the heating system is safe.  You should be suspicious.  I've found heating safety check forms filled out that weren't worth the paper they were written on.  I've found furnaces and boilers creating high levels of carbon monoxide that the heating contractors said were fine.  In one particular case, the home flipper claimed my equipment was faulty; we argued for a while, and eventually the flipper had the gas company come out to do their own test.  The gas company promptly red-tagged the heating plant and shut it down.

Another possibility is that the heating system was completely replaced.  If so, great, but check the furnace's blower fan for drywall dust.  There's a good chance that the flipper had the blower fan running while they were doing their drywall sanding, and the interior of the furnace is completely caked in drywall dust.  The photo below shows a close-up view of a furnace's blower fan blades covered in a thick layer of drywall dust.

Blower fan caked with drywall dust

If the home was originally heated with a boiler, the home flipper most likely pulled out all of the pipes and radiators and converted the system to forced air; this is usually far less expensive than repairing or replacing the existing system.

Air Conditioning

If the house is being sold during the winter, the AC is very old and may not be functional.  If the house is being sold during the summer, the AC is brand new and keeps the house very comfortable.  I don't find much in-between those two extremes.


This is the item that home buyers are most concerned about, especially on flipped house, but I'm afraid I can't shed any light on this one.  Despite what home buyers expect, I don't find structural problems on flipped houses any more than I do with other houses.


The water distribution pipes will either be in acceptable condition or they'll all have recently been replaced; no issues there.  There will be major problems with the drains though; nobody has lived in the house yet, so nobody knows about the leaks and clogged drains.  The old steel drain lines are often clogged at the kitchen sink, and possibly at other locations.

Clogged drain at kitchen sink

New plumbing fixtures often leak when they're filled with water and then drained; it's not unusual to find several leaking drains at flipped houses.

Leaking drain at kitchen sink


Sometimes we'll find floor drains, basement showers, or even basement sinks that back up with water when the plumbing fixtures at the upper levels are filled and then drained.  That's exactly what was happening with this new basement bathroom sink at a flipped house in New Hope.

Tiled shower floors are also notorious leakers at flipped houses; I'd estimate that half of them leak.  I remember inspecting one house in Minneapolis about two years ago where both of the tiled shower floors leaked like crazy.  The buyers decided they didn't want the house before I was even finished with my inspection.

Ceiling stain from leaking shower


The shingles on the roof are in bad shape.  You'll find patched sections of shingles or shingles that are badly deteriorated and at the end of their life expectancy.   Replacing the roof covering is an expensive project, but it won't make the house sell for any more money, so flippers leave the roof alone if it's not leaking.  I can't say I blame them.

Bad Shingles


The insulation in the attic hasn't been touched for a long time - it might even be original, and it will need improvement.  Flippers don't get any return on their investment for new insulation, so don't expect anything to be done here.

Poorly insulated knee wall


Shoddy workmanship abounds at the exterior.  The original wood windows were replaced with vinyl inserts, but the old wood at the exterior is still rotting away and has been freshly painted, or someone did a quick and dirty job of wrapping the windows with aluminum and left a lot of rotted wood still exposed.

Rotted wood at windows

The basement windows have been replaced with whatever size window was close,  and the flipper used clear pine or plywood to make up the difference in size.  This is sloppy workmanship, at best.

Unpainted wood at basement window

Exposed plywood edges at basement window

Some of the siding repairs may even be comical; I actually found a hole in the siding repaired with a coffee can lid at a recent flipped home inspection.

Coffee can lid for siding

There is a thin layer of new wood chips surrounding the house, but nothing has been done to correct improperly pitched soils around the house that can lead to a wet basement.  You'll want to re-grade right away.

The chimney has a lot of missing mortar and cracks in the crown.  You'll need to hire someone to repair the chimney to help prevent the deterioration from getting worse.

Chimney with deteriorated mortar


Was I close?  If you just finished looking at a flipped house and you didn't find any of these issues, buy the house! take a closer look.  These are the defects that I often find at flipped houses, but keep in mind, these are broad generalizations.  Some flipped houses aren't in nearly this good of shape, while others are pristine.  I've worked with plenty of home flippers who do high quality construction work, including a friend, Andy Blessing.  His company occasionally flips houses, and I'd be perfectly happy to buy any house he flipped because he does honest, high quality work.  There are plenty of good contractors who do excellent work, but it's the rest of 'em that give home flippers a bad name.

If you're buying a flipped house, the items you should pay the most attention to should be the exterior, roof, insulation, and drains.  Individual results will vary.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections


Comment balloon 85 commentsReuben Saltzman • February 21 2012 03:11AM


Flipping is the American way - make a profit!  Flippers are OFTEN the problem.  There are some good ones (I inspect one flippers houses before he puts them on the market - sure I find stuff, but they aren't bad!). 

Your list is good!  I do find a lot of electrical though.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Reuben, i always take buyers through armed with a checklist and poke around while they are all just mesmerized by the granite & shiny new appliances...the inspection normally comes with a laundry list of things to be re-done...thanks

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Jay - funny, my dad said the exact same thing about electrical defects.  Electrical defects seem to be all or none on flipped houses; either they had an electrician upgrade everything and it's done right, or they did it themselves and it's all screwed up.

Ginny - you've seen the shiny stuff enough not to be mesmerized, I take it? ;)

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 7 years ago

Yep, I'd say you're right on the money with this post. Flipped houses give me heartburn. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 7 years ago

Leaves me wondering why anyone would buy such a house! Thank you for doing such a thorough job explaining this!

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Samsel & Associates) about 7 years ago

I've seen a lot of these types of examples.  Very informative post!

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 7 years ago

What a great summary.  This is logical and makes perfect sense.  We have been brought in occasionally to refinish some floors in homes like this and what you're saying sounds consistent w/ what we've seen and overheard.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 7 years ago

Quickie marriages are often born from necessity.

Posted by Erv Fleishman, Luxury Prop Specialist Realty Associates (Realty Associates) about 7 years ago

James - me too.  Just thinking about all the writing you're going to have to do, right?

Wayne & Jean - after the inspection, they often don't.

Brian - thanks.

Debbie - oh, that's one thing I forgot to mention.  If the house has hardwood floors, flippers will usually have the floors refinished.

Erv - yep.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 7 years ago

Reuben, I hope those pictures weren't all from the same house.  I've seen many of them here locally.  And you're right about the electrical side.  I've seen many panels changed, but the wiring elsewhere can be lacking.

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) about 7 years ago

Reuben, just saw one of these yesterday. I call them the "bright & shiny" renovations as the flippers do the granite, the new fixtures so the house looks bright & shiny and new. Sadly, the house we looked at yesterday was a HUD foreclosure purchased last April for $15K, listed for $109K now, as a full renovation....could not be further from the truth.

Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) about 7 years ago

Thank you for the post. i will bookmark this and share it with others. I was going to suggest and saw that it is already featured.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) about 7 years ago

In our area I can walk into a home and immediately know it is a flip and most of the time know who the company is that did it.  Many of the houses I call "lip stick on a pig" repairs.   Toured a house yesterday with "new" windows.  I saw one new window and the rest of the old metal windows had been painted white and didn't even open.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 7 years ago

Not all flipped homes look this one. I have done several flipped homes in my area that pass inspection with very minor buyer request repairs. We use all licensed people who do the work. However, some people just want to make the fast buck.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) about 7 years ago

Reuben: I'm with Jim, most flipped homes give me heartburn. That said, we have some flippers in our area who do quality work. In any event, home inspectors are invaluable in all of these transactions.

Posted by Anne M. Costello (Weidel Realtors) about 7 years ago

Reuben, you are so correct flipper are not concern about the details since they do not live in the home and their goal is to finish the project and get on the market to recoup their profits and move on.

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) about 7 years ago

Reuben, a lot of these homes are done so they just look good. It is more important than ever to have a flipped property looked at by a home inspector.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 7 years ago

I went to preview a home and I noticed where the wall under a window looked like it may have leaked at one time and they took drywall mud to texture over it and you can see where the wall is dark in that what came to my mind what else is hiding behind the walls and cabinets...if I can see that what can't I see??? Next Thanks for sharing

Posted by Kathy Dowd, Consider it SOLD (RE/MAX Realty Team, 239 220 4133) about 7 years ago

Good list, thanks for sharing.

Posted by Brad Gotham (Granite Peak Inspection, Inc. ) about 7 years ago

My house was a flip - there were some scary things - but at least I knew them before proceeding.  The only thing I didn't know cost me about $100 to fix - they had put grout down the kitchen sink. 

Posted by Jo Olson, HOMEFRONT Realty @ LAKE Roosevelt - Stevens County (HOMEFRONT Realty) about 7 years ago

That's a very useful and comprehensive checklist of items to go through if you represent a buyer looking at a house that was flipped or you are the buyer looking at flipped houses.

Posted by Morgan Evans, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 7 years ago

I know people who do decent work, good work and finally exceptional...I always listen to what professionals have to say about each others work...There are many ways to do something and correctly remains subjective

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 7 years ago

Thank you for sharing, a lot of good information there to learn from. 

Posted by Bud & Beth McKinney, Cary/Raleigh/Apex NC - The Team That Cares, RE/MAX United (RE/MAX UNITED) about 7 years ago

My husband watches those Flipping TV shows on Saturday morning, you always have to be careful when a renovation is done let alone from somebody that is renovating for a profit.

Posted by Eileen Hsu, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Thanks for the information, Reuben!  I have had some of these same issues with a "regular" house too!  Inspections can be very informative!

Posted by Pam Smits, Home Staging, Appleton, WI, Oshkosh, WI; Green Bay, WI (Staging Fox Valley, LLC) about 7 years ago


Nice post. Got to love some of these quick fixes. When you see a lot of recent cosmetic upgrades the radar goes up. I am seeings some this in REO homes also.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Great post. This could be an episode of Dateline - with all those great photos!

Unfortunately I have seen a lot of it myself. I do sense that buyers are becoming more savvy about recognizing that fresh paint and shiny surfaces can't hide everything.

Posted by Mary Borth, about 7 years ago

I know people do it all the time. Purchase a home without a home inspection. I would be scared to death to do that. It's good you have pictures to show and information to back it up. Buyers beware!

Posted by Cheryl Thomson REALTOR Army Ret, Associate Broker in Northern Virginia ( United Real Estate (703.216.5635) about 7 years ago

Reuben, we can pretty much tell a "flip house" a mile away. Everything looks new and shiny at first, but the closer you look, the more potential trouble you'll find. Just like you said.

Posted by Eric Michael, Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519 (Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI) about 7 years ago

Reuben - I've not seen all of these problems in flips, but I've seen some of them.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) about 7 years ago

This is an amazing post!  Thank you SO much!  I've worked with "flippers" who put lipstick on the pig.  Sooner or later the "pig" will squeal, whether it's that old HVAC or cracked shower pan or whatever!

Excellent post!

Posted by Valerie Keener, Real estate is my caffeine! (Nathan Grace Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Reuben, I don't like showing shined-up flipped houses for the reasons you mention and more.  I'd rather sell a home in original, but well-maintained, condition than a shiney flipped home.  Depends on the skill of the flipper, and many don't have any.  Excellent post by the way. 

Posted by Lloyd Binen, Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411 (Certified Realty Services) about 7 years ago

Reuben,  I think too many people watch t.v. shows about flipping a house and it makes it look like anyone can make a fast buck at it....NOT...  good post

Posted by Vince Chinell, CPI (VICO Home Inspection) about 7 years ago

Hi Reuben,   Amazing post.  I think the coffee can fix should be nominated for some kind of  " Most Creative " prize !!!   Still laughing !

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) about 7 years ago

Slam Bam thank you Ma'am.  I saw two of these homes today.  Not worth the time.

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) about 7 years ago

How do you really check the plumbing and electrical?   I showed a 1930s house prior to flipping and after flipping. The pictures of the flipped house were so different I didn't even realize it was the same house until we arrived.  The rot in the front was covered up so could not tell if it had been repaired or only covered up.

The flipper was there when we arrived.   Asked "Did you replace the plumbing or the wiring?"   Response was NO so my buyer decided that the house had lipstick on a pig & we did not even consider an offer.    They had paid $28k and were asking $117k.  I think all he did was pull up carpet, put in laminate, add a few cabinets & Paint.

He did sell so I felt sorry for the buyer.

Posted by Faye Y. Taylor, Homes for Sale Floresville, La Vernia & San Antoni (StepStone Realty, LLC ) about 7 years ago

Hi Reuben- You're SO right! My husband and I flipped houses for over 8 yrs & built a great following with local agents because my husband comes from the construction industry and is completely anal retentive ; ) The agents loved our properties because they knew they weren't like all the others and it would be a fast and easy sale. The feedback we got was similar to what you mentioned in your post- most flipped properties are great until you take a look under the hood.

Thanks for a very informative post for buyes and agents alike!

Gina Lemos

Posted by Momentum Realty, Orange County CA Real Estate Agent (North Orange County CA Real Estate Specialists) about 7 years ago

Yep :)

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 7 years ago

We bought a flipped house because of it's incredible value and "new" look and feel. The deck and railing paint literally chipped half way off within the first year. We're just lucky it was a cosmetic problem and not something more fundamental. Have a really good inspector if buying a flipped home.


Posted by Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate, Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs (Kelly Right Real Estate) about 7 years ago

I've walked through a number of flipped homes, which have gone through the renovation process you talk about.  While most look like a reasonable quality rehabilitation has taken place, there have been those I wonder about.  You illustrate perfectly, the importance of having a good home inspection performed on any home you decide to purchase.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) about 7 years ago

Mike - no, thankfully it was a conglomeration of a few flipped houses that I've looked at recently.

Carol - I suppose the HUD house you looked at was a "Bright & Shiny" renovation.

Gita - thanks!

Cindy - bad times.  There are too many flipper in my area to know who did the work just by looking at it, but I can sure get an idea of the quality of work very quickly.

Harry - you're right, some flipped houses are great, but they're certainly the exception.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 7 years ago

Ritu - that's exactly it.

Michael - you got it :)

Kathy - I would have been thinking the same thing.

Brad - thanks for reading.

Jo - only $100?  You got off pretty easy!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 7 years ago

Morgan - thanks, hopefully it'll help some people.

Richie - very true.

Bud & Beth - thanks.

Eileen - I love those shows, but they usually don't show the whole story.

Pam - definitely.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 7 years ago

Donald - I'm starting to see a lot of cleaned up REO houses as well.  At least with those houses, there is usually no pretense of 'remodeled'.  At least not in my area.

Mary - definitely.  Buyers seem to be much more suspicious of flipped houses than traditional sales, and usually for good reason.

Cheryl - I just couldn't imagine buying a house without an inspection.  

Eric - funny how that works, isn't it?

Christine - keep looking, you'll see the rest soon enough, I'm sure.


Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 7 years ago

Valerie - thanks!

Lloyd - I don't blame you.  The problem is that expectations are often set way too high.

Vince - if it was that easy to flip a house and make good money doing it, I'd probably be doing that instead of inspecting houses.

Bill - thanks, I got quite a kick out of that coffee can lid myself :)

Cheryl - I wish I could give you some good advice, but that's not my area of expertise.  You might do well to contact some people in different markets to find out what has worked for them.  I know that's what I would do...

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 7 years ago

William - there's no shortage of them, is there?

Faye - we check the electrical and plumbing by doing a lot of tests.  It's pretty tough to hide that stuff from a good home inspector.  $90k sounds like a ridiculous amount of money for new carpet, laminate, cabinets, and paint.  You were probably right to walk away.

Gretchen - if that's the worst thing that happened, I'd say you came out alright :)

Myrl - I can't tell you how many times I've been told that I probably won't find any problems at the flipped home inspection, because "Everything is new."  Yeah right!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 7 years ago

And that is why we have very tough inspectors look at any home a buyer purchases. Not every home is as bad as this one, but plenty of them are.



Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) about 7 years ago

Great Post.  I am much tougher on Flippers and request repairs more aggresively.  The price higher than REOs and present the home as "turn key".

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) about 7 years ago


I don't trust most flippers and try not to show these homes to my clients.  If they choose to buy one of these flipped homes I advice them to get a property inspection with a good inspector.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) about 7 years ago

Some lendars are catching on to this also. I've had them call me directly for the Inspection when the seller has owned the house less than 90 days.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) about 7 years ago

Hi Reuben--wow, this is beyond awful.  I don't know how these flippers actually expect to sell these properties.  Do they really believe that buyers won't get home inspections? 

Posted by Janet Jones, Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii (Just Your Style Interiors, LLC) about 7 years ago

Great info on what to look out for on flipped homes.  I'm going to recommend this as mandatory reading.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) about 7 years ago

Sharon - thanks.  Thankfully, these photos came from several different flipped houses.

Gene - I think you should be.  They ask a higher price because there is an expectation that the problems have all been taken care.

Evelyn - It's unfortunate that there are so many... hacks out there.

Robert - no kidding?  I have yet to get one of those calls... but that sounds good me.

Janet - maybe they're assuming the buyer will have their uncle walk through the property with them.

Gabe - thanks!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 7 years ago

Your list seems right on.  I used to do a lot of fix and flips but any more I just wholesale them as-is to end buyers or someone else that actually wants to fix them up.

Posted by Rob Arnold, Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F (Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc.) about 7 years ago

I have flipped a number of homes, and they were updated with licensed workers.  I like updated homes but I know what to look for, but you are right I have seen some "flips" that are real head scratchers.

Posted by Jim Miner, Loan Modfication & Short Sale Specialist (Miner Noh & Associates) about 7 years ago

Good post! It's true, a lot of flipped REO houses are polished over and look nice, but other problems loom.. only to be covered by the warranty, I'm sure.

As an addition, I do also find many of the upgrades on homes to have botique, special order type non-upc approved plumbing fixtures. Sinks that lack an overflow etc..

A bit of a mantra as well.. I don't go a new/old/flipped/resale home with any predispositions, which has served me well for the last 10+ years.


Again, informative post for anyone reading.

Posted by Tim Spargo, Certified Master Inspector, Inspected Rite (Spec Rite Inspections - Lancaster Palmdale CA Inspector) about 7 years ago

Fantastic information. Flipped homes can be a great deal but a good inspection is an absolute must!

Posted by Michael Collins, CDPE, SFR , Wisconsin Short Sale Specialist Realto (*ROCK REALTY|Broker|Realtor|Real Estate|WI Short Sale Agent*) about 7 years ago

I am always suspicious of flipped homes. The work is done by the cheapest labor and not only are they in a hurry but they often do not know how to do the job.

Posted by Sylvia Jonathan, Broker Associate, SFR (Coldwell Banker Platinum Properties) about 7 years ago

Interesting that different commentors read into your post (which I found a bit negative but overall valid) whatever they wanted to. All the way from: "flipper are not concern about the details since they do not live in the home and their goal is to finish the project and get on the market to recoup their profits and move on" to: "Not all flipped homes look this one. I have done several flipped homes in my area that pass inspection with very minor buyer request repairs."

I was concerned with one comment, #50: "I am much tougher on Flippers and request repairs more aggresively." I'd hope that an agent, in representing his client, would be equally vigilant regardless of who's selling the home.

How about another posting: This one on "Harry Homeowner" who does all the fix-up (sometimes including electrical and plumbing) himself?

Posted by Donald Tepper, DC area investor helping heirs of inherited homes (Long and Foster) about 7 years ago

Great blog / article! Thank you.

Posted by Michele Morrison about 7 years ago

That is what home inpsections are for.  Buy a house, get a home inspection.

Posted by Roger Newton (Roger Newton Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Great post Reuben. We see this a lot with flipped Atlanta real estate.

Posted by Dominique Britton, Experience the Difference in Real Estate Services ( Realty LLC - 678.250.5022) about 7 years ago

I agree with Donald #61, in that I have found more problems with homeowners who consider themselves "handy" that attempt projects, mess up, and slap-dash finish it and cover up the insulting repair.  Most investors (I don't use the term 'flippers', as most who the term 'flippers' refers to are amateurs, not investors) are fully cognizant of the real estate process and know that an inspection will likely take place.  Amateurs do not, and their tell-tale signs are usually obvious at first viewing by most seasoned Realtors.  I think those are the people being referred to here.  They are few and far between in our area now, because the jig is up.  Home inspections are now routine and important parts of the process.  However some homeowners are guilty of surface gussying up a home they are putting on the market, and leaving the expensive items for the buyer because 'they will probably want to do it their own way'.  I hear that and cringe.

Posted by Anonymous about 7 years ago

I agree with Donald #61, in that I have found more problems with homeowners who consider themselves "handy" that attempt projects, mess up, and slap-dash finish it and cover up the insulting repair.  Most investors (I don't use the term 'flippers', as most who the term 'flippers' refers to are amateurs, not investors) are fully cognizant of the real estate process and know that an inspection will likely take place.  Amateurs do not, and their tell-tale signs are usually obvious at first viewing by most seasoned Realtors.  I think those are the people being referred to here.  They are few and far between in our area now, because the jig is up.  Home inspections are now routine and important parts of the process.  However some homeowners are guilty of surface gussying up a home they are putting on the market, and leaving the expensive items for the buyer because 'they will probably want to do it their own way'.  I hear that and cringe.  (Sorry, 2 days in a row when not logged in...ooops!)

Posted by Ken Anderson, Broker in Burlington, Ontario (Apex Results Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 7 years ago

I have to say that I have seen some horrible flips.  But not all of them.  We have done various flips on the side and do not take short cuts, unfortunately we don't make as much as the horrible flips.  Example:  We did a flip in an older area.  We did $70K of work (the flipper down the street just painted over mold that we saw and that was about it), we increased the economic value of the home by completely rewiring it, raising the 7' ceilings in the hall and kitchen, opened up the galley kitchen by utilizing the extra hall closet and removing the heater & closet making the kitchen a u-shaped with all new cabinets and counters, sinks, appliances... then had new plumbing, new baths (completely gutted and even moved to make a larger master and a master walk in closet.... I could go on and on....  Everything was new. Roof - new, flooring - new, paint in-and out....So to the point - the appraiser gave us $10,000 for the work done.  That's all.  The home down the street sold just under what ours sold for.  So they don't put that kind of effort into the properties anymore.  But they do still do excellant work.  They tend to have pride which seems to be missing with some flippers.  The last flipper we helped a client but his home fixed a cracked cabinet door by puting glue on the crack.  It was sticking out and running down the door and that was fixed to him. 

Posted by Brenda, Ron, Lee Cunningham & Tara Keator, Realtors, Homes for Sale - Phoenix Metro (West USA Realty) about 7 years ago

Wow...very interesting! Seems like something people would definitely like to know when buyin these "shiny, new, flipped houses! Great post!

Posted by Lang Premier Properties, Metro Detroit Real Estate Group (Lang Premier Properties) about 7 years ago

What always amazes me are the flipped houses where the corners of trim or counters don't meet properly. If what they're showing us isn't good, I can only imagine what they're NOT showing us, what's behind the walls. I caution my clients about these every time.


Posted by Monica Hill, the REALTOR to help you discover Delaware (RE/Max Associates) about 7 years ago

Great post.  Especially liked the coffe can lid siding, thought it was very creative.  There are a lot of creative folks - artists - living in my area and there have been many jokes about what can be found in homes (like curtain rods put up with paperclips).  I did not realise drains had the problems you said, usually the flipped places state new this/that, new plumbing . . .  One more thing to be on the lookout for.

And, let's not forget the flippers who get in over their little ol' heads.  Have seen some seriously aweful reconfigurations begun in houses foreclosing yet again.  One guy even poured a partial concrete slab over a rotting wood floor so he could install a new boiler and water heater.  Sigh.  And a thin slab, to boot!  And the electric in the place was a mess and a hodge podge.

Thanks for the great photos and information.

Posted by Yvonne Wilder (Halter Associates Realty) about 7 years ago

Thank you Thank You Thank you, for posting stuff like this up.

Most of what you posted is common sense for anyone whom has restored or done work on their own home, but how many Realtor have done this, Not many, SO ITS GREAT that you posted this.

One silly trick I do when looking at a flippers house is to pull on the hand railings, you would be surprised how many times they come right out.

I am very glad that you are sharing this with everyone.



Posted by Michael Rasch, Michael Rasch 305-741-1819 (Florida Home Sales and Investments ) about 7 years ago

Great blog with great pictures!  If you have been in the business more than 6 months, you have seen at least 1 of these homes.  I do my best to steer 1st time buyers away from one of these!

Posted by Woody Edwards, A Realtor® Who Answers His Phone! (First Choice Realty, Inc) about 7 years ago

There's a bank owned home in my neighborhood that the bank decided to 'fix up'. It was in very bad shape, severe structural issues, septic and roofing issues. So they replaced some doors, put in a new kitchen, flooring and paint and marked up the price. Looks good...but they never addressed the major issues. Buyer beware! As is homes can be scary!

Posted by Kimberly Luna about 7 years ago

99% of the time I can detect a home that has been flipped. The profit margin is so low today that most are cutting every penny they can and it is reflected in the work. Very few home are done correctly.

Posted by Sean Williams, Your Louisville Realtor (AcklesWilliams of Semonin Realtors) about 7 years ago

Always great posts!  I usually find more concerns with home handy men than flipper but maybe that's because there are more of them.

Posted by Marshall Brown, BSEE, CHI (Mid America Inspection Services, LLC) about 7 years ago

You can usually see the quality of someones work as soon as you open the door.  

Posted by Michael Singh,Broker (Singh Real Estate) about 7 years ago

I have Sellers do a home inspection up front before I list their  homes so I avoid these issues as surprises later.

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge about 7 years ago

This is helpful information! There are a lot of fixed up flipped homes in Flagstaff, and I didn't know that so many had so many leaks and other issues. This was very informative!

Posted by Sylvie Stuart, Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta (Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765) about 7 years ago

Reuben - I have three words for a buyer... inspect, inspect, inspect!

Some people do a great job with flips and really have integrity but, it is the buyer's responsibility to do their homework!

Posted by Carla Freund, Raleigh - Cary Triangle Real Estate 919-602-8489 (Keller Williams Preferred Realty) about 7 years ago

Hi James, I can walk into a flipped house and almost "smell it"!  It is so obvious and then you wonder what they covered up!

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) about 7 years ago

I've been looking to purchase a flipped multi-family building for a few months now and found this to be a very helpful starting point for evaluating them!

Posted by Kate Akerly, Manhattan Beach Residential Sales (Kaminsky Group) about 7 years ago

While i am appauled that all rehab companies have been bunched/lumped into this article, this problem, thought and attitude towards those of us that flip houses is what made me form our business, it's business model and the principles that guide us through our day to day business and the goals we pursue.

The Dry Moon Group Inc., rehabs single and multi-family properties and would dare anyone to compare our properties to anyone or any other company anywhere. Our company leaves no stone unturned and leave nothing to chance when we rehab a property absolutely every detail regardless of importance or size has been given the attention it needs and deserves period. We treat every property the same whether it is a 50K or a million dollar property it doesn't matter it get's first class treatment! And we give a 100% guarantee on every home we sell and its not one that is sold it is our own if it breaks within 3 years of buying your home from us we fix it at our expense even the windows throw a rock through it not a problem our window company will fix it at their cost that's The Dry Moon Groups way!

I have been in the construction business for 34yrs (actually all of my life and not to tell my age but i am 50yrs old and one of the best carpenters in the business) and have met many people in my time that really does care when they remodel a house for resale. I encourage you to think of those of us that do put quality into every house to work on because we know and want our houses to become homes where people raise families have thanksgivings and christmas and everything in between for many years and can say i bought this house from The Dry Moon Group Inc, with pride.

My last thought i am tired of hearing its the American way. The American way to is to make a living and offer products second to none. And making a fair living isn't just American it's called being human and having needs, wants and dreams that is not American it's all people it is one thing we all have in common. I gave six years of my life and time to the USA it is called the Army so the American way can be pursued so if there is something wrong with that then each of us can look in our own mirror and see the American way!

Jeffrey Sampson


The Dry Moon Group Inc


Posted by Jeff Sampson about 7 years ago

Thanks for all responses!

Donald (#61) - I think the reason some people get a little pickier when it comes to flippers is that there is often the impression that the house was completely rehabbed, so defects that are found are often more surpising than those found in traditional owner-occupant homes.

There is no question that I found a lot more goofy DIY repairs / improvements than on flipped houses, but those are never as surpising to buyers.

Brenda & Ron (#67) - how frustrating. It's stories exactly like yours that make home flippers want to take shortcuts.

Michael (#71) - you're not kidding about the handrails.  

Jeff (#83) - I didn't lump all flippers (or 'rehab companies') in to this category; please read the conclusion. I applaud companies that do high quality work, and I make a point of letting my clients know about good workmanship when I see it.

It sounds like you take pride in your work, and I'm glad to hear it.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 7 years ago

Reuben. You write the best posts so I will leave it up to you to pen another one. Just insert "Freddie Mac" &  "Fannie Mae" in place of "flip", "flipped, & "flippers" 

Posted by Hank Spinnler, Atlanta Home Inspector (Harmony Home Inspection Services of GA) about 7 years ago

Hank - ha!  Great idea :)

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 7 years ago

Good post. Anyone that will not pay for a home inspection is crazy.

Posted by Wayne B. Pruner, Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI (Oregon First) over 6 years ago

I'm a rehabber, and unfortunately I have to combat these preconceived notions people have about "flipped" houses (as if it's a dirty word) thanks to many other flippers who do a poor job like you described.  The biggest problems inexperience flippers make is paying too much for the house.  It's hard to find good deals, and rather than go the extra effort in their marketing to find deals that really make financial sense, they just take the first foreclosure that comes along.  Because they didn't buy right, the deal starts out too skinny, so they have to cut corners in order to save their miniscule profit.  And then to make matters worse, after they renovate it poorly, they also price it based on how much they want to make, not what it's worth...which is unbelievably ignorant.  And so, the house often sits on the market for months while their tiny profit turns into a loss as they pay holding costs.  It's not a business for the flippant (pun intended), and can lead to huge losses if you don't know what you're doing.

Posted by Matt Robinson, (Professional Investors Guild) over 6 years ago