How to Spot a Bad Flip

Needs and wants from home buyers vary, but for the most part the more popular requests over the past few years have come in the form of open floor plans and “updated” interiors.

Given the trends, demands, and urgency to move off the market quickly, flips tend to possess these very elements. Not only do the majority of flips appear straight out of HGTV: which is to say, gray scaled and “clean,” but contractors and investors know exactly what to do to make it sell.

But unfortunately, not every flip is done to perfection. So what can you do to ensure the home is updated through and through, and not just an example of someone slapping lipstick on a pig?

Like most items off a shelf, appearance is a huge factor behind one’s willingness to purchase. Does the home look polished and clean? Do the kitchen cabinets and drawers open properly? Did the contractors paint throughout the entire home (check above kitchen cabinets and in corners)?

Is the floor level? Time and precision makes all the difference in perfection, but rush jobs may sacrifice accuracy in some areas. The rush nature of the job is no more evident than when I see an un-level floor.

I’ve written about this before, but make sure in cases of finished basements, the walls were constructed before appliances were moved in. In brief, if the home owner says appliances come with the home, make sure the washer and dryer can leave the basement easily. Otherwise, there’s a good chance the room was built AROUND the appliances, and not the other way around. If that is the case, make sure the entryway is wide enough for appliance removal.

Wiring is a big factor in flipping, especially if the home was upgraded from knob and tube wiring, or even two-pronged outlets. You’ll definitely want to get an electrician or inspector to take a closer look at this.

Make sure things match throughout the home. I know that’s vague, but here’s an example. Is the metallic color of the faucet in the kitchen the same as the metallic color on the cabinet doors, or even other parts of the sink? In a effort to save money, some flippers will by returned items off the shelf or make due with mixed pieces they still have from previous jobs. Keep a sharp eye on this.

All in all, the job of your inspector is to find these items during a routine inspection. However, you’ll want to give them a heads up in particular to the fact that the home is a recent flip. It may change how they look at potential discrepancies in the home.