Fixing and Flipping Houses is Sexy

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Sex sells.  How else do you think the sitcom Married with Children, which ran from 1987-1998, managed to stay on the air for 11 seasons?  No, it wasn’t the ingenious comedic writing.  The show remained popular with the 25-36 year old male demographic for so long because the producers figured out that including scantily clad women in every episode would boost ratings.

Nowadays it’s difficult to find anything airing after 7p that doesn’t feature half naked women and sexual innuendo – and that’s just the commercials.  It would be nice to watch the Discovery Channel with my 8-year old daughter and not have to explain the meaning of erectile dysfunction.

Sexy sells too.

Television has the power to make the most mundane of activities seem attractive.  Think of all the reality shows out there today that make ho-hum businesses feel cool – Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, Billy the Exterminator.  Since when did killing a cockroach become must see TV?

To those on the outside of the real estate investing world, flipping houses is sexy.  What’s unsexy about buying a house below market, fixing it up and selling it for outrageous profits?  Who wouldn’t want to sit around the water cooler at work and brag about making $30,000 on a fix and flip?    It’s no wonder A&E’s Flip this House is so popular.

About the only thing sexier than buying a house below market, fixing it up and selling it for outrageous profits is buying a house at a foreclosure auction (trustee’s sale here in Arizona), fixing it up and selling it for outrageous profits.  That’s off the charts sexy to a television viewer.  Perhaps that’s why the Discovery Channel is in my hometown of Phoenix to begin shooting “Betting the House”, a reality show about buying houses at the courthouse steps.

Over the past two years my partner and I have flipped 60 houses, most of them purchased at trustee’s sales.  I can honestly say that there isn’t one part of the fix and flip process I find to be sexy.

When I win a bid at the auction I feel worried.  Even a little nauseous.  Did I pay too much?  After the rehab of the house begins I become impatient.  Why isn’t it finished yet?  Then I get frustrated.  Why is the fix up costing so much?  Once the house goes on the market anxiety kicks in.  How come I don’t have any offers yet?  After an offer is received, I accept it and escrow is opened, I feel uncertain.  Could I have got more money for the house if I waited longer?  Did I concede too much to the buyer?

Finally, the deal closes and the bank wires me the money, including the profit.  That’s sexy right?  Not really.  Relief is a better way to describe the feeling that overcomes me.  Relief I sold the house.  Relief I made a few bucks.  Relief I have enough cash to do it all over again.

Fixing and flipping houses is not sexy.  It’s actually a little frightening – kind of like that show Ghost Hunters on the Syfy channel.  But you know what?  Scary sells too.

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About Author

Marty (G+) is the Chief Financial Officer for Rising Sun Capital Group, LLC, a real estate investment firm based in Gilbert, AZ. His firm purchases homes at the courthouse steps and public REO auctions. They have two exit strategies, either fix and flip or seller financing.

10 Comments

  1. Hey Marty,

    So this feeling I have on my 2nd flip, that was there on the first doesn’t go away? I just started the demo/rehab on #2 and we made some changes from original so I know we will be over some, but the thought of, we paid to much, the repairs are going to be to much, I hope the sale price is what we think it should be is always on my mind. I keep thinking that the more I get into this, the more peaceful it will be. From a guy that has done 60 in the past 2 years, you have my mind racing again. Great article and thanks for the heads up.

    • Jack, I’ve found that consuming four Sierra Nevada Pale Ales, or a bottle of cab, can make these feelings go away. However, it’s only a temporary fix. 12 hours, 2 Gatorades and a bowl of Top Ramen later and the thoughts come right back. Still, it beats digging ditches for a living.

  2. Flipping houses is awesome. I have a facebook friend Kimberly who regularly posts on her facebook wall that she makes 30 – 50k per flip and she seems like she is doing like 10 flips a month. Thats like 300k PER MONTH !!! She seems pretty humble though since she seems to drive a beat up car and live in a small house….

  3. Marty – I love it when experienced investors just “put it all out there”. No matter what your level of experience is, you still have those some thoughts after you buy a property. The “What Ifs” settle right in.

    The truth of the matter is that we all feel the fear. But what separates the successful from the ones that never take that first step, is that we feel the fear and walk through the fire anyway. Love the post!

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