Boston area homes for sale always include a certain number of properties that have been recently renovated. While there are often benefits in purchasing a home that’s been remodeled or substantially improved, there are important distinctions that need to be considered. First and foremost is, a newly renovated home isn’t the same product as a newly built home. This article will examine what to look for when you’re contemplating buying a flip – a property purchased by an investor for the sole purpose of performing a renovation or remodeling project in anticipation of selling it for a profit.
Boston Area Homes for Sale – The Flip Side
Another consideration regarding a newly-renovated home is the perception that the remodeled home is move-in ready, hassle-free and well worth the asking price. While a freshly improved home can often command top dollar, there are recommendations to consider before you fall in love with a flip house and sign the sales contract.
House-flipping “reality shows” on cable television usually portray the buying, renovating and re-selling process as a fast, easy and profitable investment venture – complete with “happily ever after” endings. Rarely are there follow-up features to see how the newly-renovated house withstands daily use and wear and tear. Even more rare is a story about the purchasers of the flipped houses to see what their experiences have been and if they are satisfied with their purchase.
As is the case with most buy and sell investment opportunities, in the home-flipping business time is money. As a result, some flippers and remodeling contractors are anxious to move on to the next project – sometimes before the first one is completely finished. Such a practice inevitably leads to shoddy workmanship caused by cutting corners or rushing to take on another job. In addition, there are often unexpected expenses that threaten to wreck the budget and diminish anticipated profits.
If you’re contemplating looking at Boston area homes for sale and have an interest in a flipped house, these tips may help you avoid disappointing surprises after you buy it and move in.
Have an Eye for Detail
Try to disassociate yourself from the newness the house features. The shiny new appliances, polished brass hardware, marble baths or ceramic tile all appear very nice. They can add beauty and value to the house, but they can also be used superficially to distract your attention or even cover up hidden problems in the house. By paying attention to the details you’ll be able to get a better picture of the quality of workmanship performed during the renovation.Look for obvious signs of shoddy or careless work. Consider the following:
- Outlet plates or light switch plates that aren’t flush with the wall or are crooked
- Crown molding or wainscoting that doesn’t meet properly at the mitered corners
- Noticeable gaps between the countertops and the wall
- Gaps or unfinished grout in the bathroom tile
- Doors, drawers and cabinets that don’t close properly or are crooked
A handful of cosmetic blemishes or noticeable mistakes could mean there are other issues that aren’t readily seen. While we’ve all heard not to judge the proverbial book by its cover, in this case if you see shoddy work on the surface, who knows what may lie behind the walls, under the floors or above the ceiling? The electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems could also be substandard.
Have the Home Inspected
Just because some Boston area homes for sale may have been newly-renovated, as mentioned earlier, that doesn’t mean they are in like-new condition. Don’t assume, therefore, the flipped house doesn’t need to be inspected. On the contrary, it’s more reason to make sure the home is inspected – by a qualified inspector.
A licensed, experienced home inspector will check the renovation contractor’s work, and he might see issues most buyers would probably miss. The inspector is infinitely more familiar with local building codes and can tell if the work was performed properly. He can also check the house for shoddy workmanship done to cut corners or save time. While it’s true the renovation was probably inspected and approved by the local building inspector, typically such a review is performed only for health and safety reasons. A home inspection will be much more thorough and can save a homeowner thousands of dollars in the long run.
Use Extra Due Diligence
If you’re contemplating purchasing a flipped home, exercise more due diligence than ever. Ensure the contractor had the proper permits for the renovation. Make sure they were all approved, signed and completed. If the permits aren’t readily available or you don’t receive copies, look them up online or visit the local building department. They will have a file on the construction improvement project, and the permits are a matter of public record. Don’t finalize the contract or close on the sale without ensuring all the required permits were officially approved and completed. Failure to do so could mean you, as the new homeowner, could find yourself responsible for shoddy workmanship that doesn’t meet the required standards.
Know the Flipper
Be an investigative reporter when it comes to finding out all you can about the flipper from whom you’re buying the house. If the owner is the contractor, does he know what he’s doing? What are his qualifications? Is he licensed builder? As real estate agent – specializing in Boston area homes for sale – we can assist in this effort.
Usually, the better and more successful investors have been flipping houses for years. A flipper with a strong track record, good references and a valued reputation will likely be more open and honest in answering questions, providing requested documentation and other paperwork like contracts and warranties. Remember, a successful investor/flipper is like any other good business person – he or she wants satisfied customers.
Just beware of the marked increase in the number of homes that have been bought in the past year or two with the sole purpose of being remodeled and added back to the inventory of Boston area homes for sale. As the volume of these flipped homes increases, so does the possibility of shoddy workmanship, inattention to detail and outright deception – all in an effort to maximize profit.
See more articles pertaining to Boston area homes for sale in the two sections of articles on Boston area Real Estate and Boston area Homes for Sale just below Boston area Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.