Flipping Houses: It’ll Put Hair On Your Chest

by | BiggerPockets.com

I like to tell my kids that certain foods will put hair on their chest.

It’s especially funny because my kids are all girls with the exception of the baby. He will surely hear it a lot.

There was a particular house that put A LOT of hair on my chest. It also turned much of the hair on my head gray. I’ll be sharing the details of why this happened shortly.

You will encounter things that are not pleasant but will be worth it

When you flip houses, you inevitably come across situations that you’d rather not have to deal with. This is when flipping houses is not all fun and games.

These are times when things just don’t go very smoothly.

Times such as when:

  • closings don’t happen because buyers end up not being able to qualify for their loan
  • contractors disappear with your money, never to be heard from again
  • huge problems are uncovered during the rehab
  • vacant houses get vandalized

This last item is the one that caused the insane growth on my chest that the hair club for men wanted to make me a star because of.

Kids With Nothing To Do Love Vacant Houses

Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.

We had bought a bank-owned house that backed up to a road that separated two neighborhoods. This house had a pool. This house had a problem with keeping kids from destroying the fence so that they could move more quickly between the two hoods. You see, they would have had to walk a quarter mile out of their way to enter this neighborhood the proper way. Can you blame them…

That was just the beginning. I had our contractor fix the fence and ‘beef it up’ a little with some extra wood.

It appeared the youths had fun destroying these new boards. They chose those to destroy rather than breaking the remaining old and dilapidated boards that I was too cheap to have replaced. Guess it didn’t matter.

We tried a variety of things, including putting up ‘No Trespassing’, ‘Beware of Dog’, and ‘Smile, You’re on Camera’ signs. I even ended up stringing barbed wired through the trees behind the fence. It’s kinda funny thinking back about it now. Just keep imagining that it looked like the Nazi beach defenses in Normandy.

That still didn’t work.

Then the neighbors started calling. Apparently the kids were now going for night swims. It wasn’t enough to just take some leisurely swims, they wanted to jump from the roof into the pool.

WOAH! Time to pump the brakes. Now we are really talking about dealing with some liability issues if something were to happen to one of these upstanding citizens.

The pool was empty when we bought it. It also had graffiti in it. We cleaned it all up and filled the pool. I do have to admit that it was beautiful and very inviting.

Not only were they going for swims, they started get bored with that too. They then began to graffiti the house. They also began to break windows.

This was not some television show, so I didn’t find it necessary to hide out at the house. An alarm wouldn’t have been of much help because they weren’t entering it. We needed something that would keep them out without requiring me to go and do anything constantly. My time is valuable and that house was on the opposite side of town from where we lived at the time.

What Finally Worked To Keep The Vandals Away

What finally worked were booby traps inspired by the movie, ‘The Goonies’.

Just kidding. Bear traps did cross my mind.

What I did was went to a pawn shop and bought the cheapest television I could find. I then covered the windows in a bedroom and turned the tv on. I turned the volume way up and left the house.

Instead of having someone stay there, we made it look as though someone was staying there.

It worked! They decided to start walking around to get to the neighborhood. Well, either that or they found another vacant house.

Your Turn

Come on. Don’t be shy. I’d love to hear your stories of problems and how you handled them. Please share stories of what put hair on your chest while flipping houses in the comments below.
Photo: Kalexanderson

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.


      • I recently put 2 container cap full of chlorine in my spa instead of just 1. It worked like pepper spray hurting/tearing up my eyes. Even after closing the leather top it lingered in the air for almost a week.

        Nobody wanted to be outside, I cant imagine a pool with too much and no way to close the “lid.”

        • That sounds pretty harsh. Probably would have created problems in the selling of the place. I guess we would just have to weigh which would affect selling it more: graffiti or chlorine burn…

  1. How long till the statues of limitations ?
    I have actually transplanted poison ivy into trees and shrubs I couldn’t keep the little angels out of. Three hundred units and at least 1500 occupants will make you think that way.

  2. I too just went through that, it cost me over $15,000 for repairs:( Tall lock fences, busy street, in town right next to businesses didn’t mean nothing. Funny, that’s what the insurance company said, they wouldn’t cover it. Forget bear traps, I’m thinking 220 volts (not allowed to shoot fire arms inside city limits).

  3. So the first house I flipped had the ac units stolen, and the second got broken into and had all the appliances jacked. The first one was a house I shouldn’t have bought anyhow, and I would have lost money regardless. The second I ended up doing okay on in the end. Moral of the story; bad stuff is gonna happen, don’t let it make you quick flipping.

  4. I knew a guy who said nothing worked, kept getting copper stolen, vagrants breaking in and living there, until he got and started keeping a big dog in the garage. Not sure I agree with a dog being alone for that amount of time, but he figured he’d saved a dog from being killed at the pound as well as saved his property, and it wasn’t forever… so be it.

  5. I haven’t done the TV before, but on our vacant rentals we use an alarm clock radio and keep it cranked up and then we bring in a few lamps and put them on timers. The timer I like is GE 15153, you can set it very easily and it’s nice because you can have lights turn on and off several times during the night.
    We’ve also used those paper blinds before, the type that are like giant post-it notes if you want to cover the windows.

  6. Glenn Schworm

    Danny, if what you say is true, that would explain all of the unwanted extra hair on my 44 year old body! :-)))

    Good article. I could overload the system with tales of hardships on houses. We certainly have had our share of copper pipe thieves. What a pain that is! We talk to the neighbors and ask them to keep a heads up or even run a sprinkler or turn the outside lights on from time to time. Outdoor motion lights do work if you are willing to make the investment. At the end of the day, if they want in and you don’t live there, there’s not much we are going to do.

    In one house, It was a 120 year old Victorian. 6000sf 9 bed 2.5 Bath. All done and sold. Morning of the home inspection it was discovered that someone broke in and stole all the copper. What could have been a tragedy was averted because the thieves were courteous thieves and turned off the water main first. They did a neat job of cutting the copper out too! I do try to look at the bright side. πŸ™‚

    Thans again for letting me know about the new hair growth. LOL

    • LOL about all of the hair growth. I was thinking about tucking a black wig into the top of my shirt for the picture for this article…

      Had to smile when you mentioned how much you appreciated how courteous the thieves were. πŸ™‚

  7. An easy way to keep folks from breaking down the fence would be to create a little public walk between the two neighborhoods- which is what the idiot civil engineer who laid out the subdivision should have done in the first place. Stupid idiot civil engineers…

    Of course, it may not have been possible, depending on how large the property was and if you had enough excess land.

    Having a full pool at a vacant home is probably not a great idea, though it makes it show nice πŸ™‚

    Good idea with the TV!

    • Not sure that the public walk would have been ‘easy’. It also would have probably been seen as a negative for the people looking at buying the house.

      Yes, the pool looked awesome and I think helped sell the house. If left vacant, I’m afraid the kids would have been back to continuously tag it.

      Thanks for commenting.

  8. Lots of great ideas here! Amazon sells a fake TV burglar deterrent for about $40 that I’ve thought of buying for when we go on vacation (already have the light timers). It is a small box that “simulates the light of a 40 inch LCD HDTV” and runs off the juice of a nightlight. It looks like a pretty cool gadget.

  9. Justin Stamper on

    That is awesome! I need to check that out. I have had a few homes lose AC units due to no ones being home, and that sounds like the perfect solution!

  10. Lived through a lot of those Danny. I use to put alarms on my properties thinking it added value to the home buyers and then started to eliminate it to see if it made a difference but it didn’t so I stopped spending the extra money. Of course a short time later I had a squatter or maybe just some kids move in for a while. It was a property that sat a while because I changed my mind on renting to selling and back to renting again. Not the greatest of neighborhoods so I think they took notice and helped themselves. I resecured everything and they got in again. I started putting the lights on and had a friend who lived close by go by every night with his car and he would stay sometimes and that was enough to keep them out.
    Great idea on the tv!

  11. Kids with time on their hands are the worst for vacant properties. We were in the middle of putting new windows in ours and missed just one off to the side, which was not very visible at all on the streets. Some how that night the kids decided to go through the house and graffiti everything. Luckily we were still in the demo stages, so everything they did was painted over anyways. We had to hire someone to stay there for a couple months while selling that house. Once we were finished, we were afraid of the real damage that could come if we don’t secure the house.

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