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How To Decide Whether To Buy A 'Flipped' Property or Not?

Written by Posted On Sunday, 18 September 2016 15:19

How to buy a flip property and know that the home has had a "Bone Marrow Transplant" versus simply "put a lipstick on"?

 What do I mean by Bone Marrow Transplant: A home that has really been worked on, not just on the surface like changing counter tops and putting a new layer of paint (lipstick) but actual plumbing was replaced, and electrical wiring was redone.

So you walk into that open home and fall in love with the kitchen countertop, the cabinets, the tiles, the floors but when you look under the kitchen sink, you see this big hole in the wall.  Do you buy?  Do you skip? Do you risk spending money on inspections?  As an expert in buying and flipping properties, we can attest to the fact that it is very easy to spot a home with just aesthetics done or actually a home with a "bone marrow transplant."  After having done hundreds of these we have seen it all.


For example, some flipper will go in and replace the kitchen, the shower walls, replace the shower hardware and replace the vanity while doing the rehab.  But how do you know that they actually replaced the hardi backer board and the water proofing material right behind it?  How do you know they replaced any damaged wood in the shower wall structure?  In reality you cannot know for sure. But few things you can do.  You can have your property inspector look behind the shower wall from the attic or crawlspace and see if they can spot new water proofing membrane, see if they can shine their light on the water plumbing for the shower head, you can also have them look at the p-trap under the bathroom sink to see if it was replaced.  If some or all of these items were done you can at least sleep better knowing some things were changed behind the walls as well, instead of just aesthetics.

 Another example would be to having your inspector look at the electrical subpanel and verify if any new circuits were run.  Not only you should check for new circuits but verify if the kitchen electrical was upgraded to 6 or more circuits (which is the code for most states).  You should notice if the each bathroom has its own breaker or not.  These things will give you an idea whether the electrical was updated or not and if it was, whether it was done up to code or not.

Another spot to notice is your crawlspace, if you have one.  See if it is clean or not.  Usually that is the first indicator that tells you if the flipper actually cleaned out the crawlspace or left junk and garbage in there.  When you see garbage in there, it is a sign that farther damage such as fungus or termite could be there.  Have an inspector crawl the area and notice any water damage especially under the kitchen and bathrooms.  If you see damage, that means the flipper did not do a “bone marrow transplant” meaning the flipper did not actually fix the bones of the home but rather threw in some tile flooring and painted the walls so these damages are covered up.

These are just a few examples of how you can spot a well done rehabbed home versus a home with lipstick put on.  It is very important to know what you are getting into.

For more tips and advice, you can contact us at 510-493-3508.


Basil Yaqub
Vice President
Pacific Realty Partners / Sylvan Investments Inc

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