43 Times When Flipping Houses Is Not All Fun and Games

by | BiggerPockets.com

Flipping houses isn’t always as glamorous as it is usually made out to be. Yeah, there’s good money to be made, but things don’t always work out smoothly. There is work involved. There can also be a lot of frustration.

Over the years, we’ve experienced our fair share of frustrating and even scary times. Here’s the tip of the iceburg.

1. When you get covered in fleas looking at a vacant house

2. When you go to meet a seller and they don’t show up

3. When you go to meet a buyer and they don’t show up

4. When you forget to show up and your competition gets the deal

5. When you need something simple fixed and can’t get anyone to do it

6. When you get ‘multiple offer situation‘ replies to all 20 properties you made offers on

7. When you have to send a contractor back 5 times to fix the same thing

8. When you find out the house was painted the wrong color

9. When you realize your contractor slapped lipstick on a pig

10. When you realize that the contractor you paid a little in advance to ‘help out’ is not coming back

11. When you have to go around late at night to all of your vacant houses to winterize before a freeze

12. When kids won’t stop vandalizing one of your vacant houses

13. When you get a call from a neighbor of one of your houses that water is flowing from under the front door…and has been all weekend

14. When you find out the city just took down all of the signs you just put up (within minutes as they followed behind you and eventually caught up with you)

15. When you realize that the phone number that got printed on all 10,000 doorhangers was wrong

16. When you get a call from someone that got one of your letters threatening to kick your @$$ (OK, so maybe this one can be considered fun and games)

17. When you are driving through a war zone and a crackhead jumps out in front of your truck

18. When you realize that your budget has been busted by 100%

19. When the dust settles and you realize that you’ve lost money on a flip

20. When one contractor doesn’t show up and all subs scheduled next are super pissed…at you

21. When you find out all of the expensive, new grass you just put in has died

22. When you find out that you could have made twice as much as you did on a fix and flip had you just wholesaled it

23. When an inspector decides that scaring the heck out of your buyers by something not based in fact would make his day

24. When an appraiser decides that multiple full price offers within one day should have no bearing on whether the house is worth that much

25. When you get hassled because the lender for your buyer finds out what you paid for the house

26. When your buyers barely qualify and then go and put a bunch of new stuff for their house on their credit before final underwriting

27. When your buyers find it necessary to demand every little thing including sweeping out the garage

28. When you get quoted the price for a job and then find out you are expected to pay twice as much after the work is done

29. When you realize that you’ve wasted all day making several trips to Home Depot

30. When you are promised a job shouldn’t take more than a week (yeah right) and it takes several months

31. When you have to track down a contractor at his house because he never shows up to the job (only to find out he just got out of jail)

32. When you are about put a house up for sale and find that an animal has just decided to die somewhere in the walls

33. When you find out that a house that seemed perfectly level was actually off by more than 3 inches…after you finish the entire rehab

34. When you find out that the seller of a house has contracted to sell it to two other people after signing with you

35. When a bird flies out of a chimney, into the house, during and open house

36. When a neighbor calls code compliance about a shed being one foot too close to the property line even though you are fixing up the eyesore on the street

37. When you get sued by a neighbor because your contractor cut a tree branch 2 feet over the property line

38. When you find a homeless person has moved into your house that is for sale

39. When your contractor lays an entire room of tile crooked and then says that the walls are what are out of square

40. When contractor puts a window that slides sideways vertical so that it slams down after you open it

41. When you realize that the house you just bought is across the street from a house that appears to be a drive-thru for illegal drugs

42. When you sell a house and then see on the news a week later that someone was shot execution style in the middle of the street and have to go online to make sure it wasn’t who you sold the house to

43. When you spend 3 hours standing in a kitchen in awe at the number of roaches crawling around the floors, walls and ceilings and are trying to kill them all individually because nothing else seems to have worked

Ok, so the one about the doorhangers with the wrong phone number didn’t really happen to me. I’m sure it’s happened to someone though.

Please share your frustrating and annoying moments in the comments below. I’ll throw a pity party for you. Now is your time to shine.

Photo: left-hand

About Author

Danny Johnson (G+) is a real estate investor in San Antonio, TX. Visit his blog: Flipping Junkie - A House Flipping Blog to follow along with him as he shows, in detail, the marketing he is doing, the leads being generated, the lead and deal analysis, the rehabs and really, just about everything. He also provides real estate investor websites at LeadPropeller.com.


    • That call ended up being funny because, after his rant, I had to ask him what is address was so that I could remove him from my mailing list. He promptly hung up. The next time I mailed, I got a super polite call asking to be removed from the list.

  1. Danny’s article made me smile. I experienced some of these thing when I was doing rehabs back in the day. I’m getting back into it now and your article brought back pleasant and not so pleasant memories. It actually inspired me a little bit.

  2. When you close on a house in early December, get it all rehabbed, and have a tenant signed up and ready to move in January 1st, and get burglarized over Christmas weekend — the only weekend you were not there — and they steal all the copper in the house plus all the faucets. (Not a flip story, but still something that happened to me.)

    • Thanks, Glenn. I really enjoyed writing it. Thought it would be good to focus on what’s not mentioned much. When these things are happening we for sure don’t like to talk about them, but after the fact they can be fun to recount.

    • Lol. Sorry. It kind of made my skin crawl writing that one and thinking about it again.

      Have you ever noticed that weird smell when a house has a lot of roaches. There is this particular smell. Oh, there goes my skin crawling again.

      • Sharon Vornholt

        I didn’t know that. But I learned from the inspectors that worked for me in my home inspection company that if they smelled “cucumbers” in the attic, they started looking for snakes.

        We once found a snake skin up there that was longer than the width of the tailgate on a truck. I guess it was about 6 feet long. The Realtor insisted that we take it to the zoo and have it identified so her client would buy the house. (Exceptional Customer Service (us) and a bossy Realtor). The zoo keeper said that it was from a non-poisonous king snake, and that they would shed their skins several times a year. He also said when the food source was gone (mice), the snake would leave and look for another food source.

        That’s just one more reason you don’t want mice. You want to be sure nothing can crawl up the side of your house and get in through the vents. Trees just make it so easy for them.


        • That’s interesting about the smell of cucumbers. I’ll have to remember that. I guess the snakes like to do that treatment thing with their eyes…I’ll be here all week. LOL

  3. Rita Phillips on

    While I have to admit in 20 + years to experiencing far too many on your list, I appreciated the laughs. Well…mostly, except about those darn fleas. Like you guys, I still itch when I think of it or go in a house that feels suspicious. It’s always head for home and a shower quickly. I’ll take roaches anytime.
    Oh, wait…that reminds me when a big one dropped on my head last year. Nope…roaches still better. πŸ™‚

  4. As Mr. Rodgers used to sing. “It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood, a wonderful day in the neighborhood.

    I have experienced all of the above in my 12 years of low income rentals, flips, wholesaling.
    How about when you open the front door and the cockroaches fall down your neck from a top the door frame. How about when a tenant disappears for a week and you find him hanging in his closet dead.
    My most memorably was finding a dead body rolled up in a carpet dumped just down the street, from a house I was looking at. The poor gal overdosed about a mile away and her boyfriend thought depositing her near my office was the best thing to do. Unfortunately one of my office cameras caught him backing up the one way street, and then quickly going out.

    The seller of the house told me this never happened there before (no kidding) either way she gave me 100% financing for 7 years, with no money down, just wanted me to cover her settlement costs which came off the price.

    Cameras are the low income landlords best friend, I have one that can look all the way up to the next block at three triplex units I own. Before I had the camera on the same block and some (drug dealing) SOB shot a paint ball at it.

    Now for the good part of low income, massive cash flow on a minuscule purchase price, no need for granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances.

    Bad part of low income: the price you pay for the property is usually the same you sell it for 15 years later, except in rare instances where the area becomes gentrified.

    I have decided never to sell my low income properties as I have now realized their cash flow could be considered perpetual income. Our government is never going to take away the benefits of their pocket voters, and with so many folks entering universities and later graduating without the ability to think rationally, well I figure this niche is a slam dunk.

    Why teach a man to fish when he can just use food stamps to buy a fish?

  5. Thank you for the making me laugh! I haven’t worked much with the fix and flips but I have been in commercial and residential property management for more than 18 years. I remember showing one of my vacant homes and walking into a room of torn up pillows, a hot stove, and food slopped around the kitchen. Needless to say the prospects were not interested in renting after that showing and I was left with a mess to clean up and a house to re-secure. πŸ™‚

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