Rent or Flip?

10 Replies

First off, I'm sorry to sound so inexperienced, as I haven't any!

I currently live in Virginia Beach area and am looking to purchase my first home purely for investing purposes only though. I'm in the military but intend on getting out in about a year and I thought during my last year (give a few months or so) in Virginia I'd stop thinking about investing and just do it. I think giving myself a deadline will help me in the long run as well. 

My initial idea was geared towards renting a house out, I thought being in a military area would be a great place to start seeing as families normally stick around for a few years then have to leave to due obligations of new orders given to them. But then I started to think, 'well, what about flipping a house?' It sounds like something I'd enjoy doing...but renting seems like it'd be a good long term investment as you gain profit from monthly rent while you pay off the mortgage. I'm torn as to what to do and thought this was the best place to start looking for ideas. 

The thing about renting that appeals most to me, as I said above, is the monthly profit/long term. But I'm new to this and reading about property management scares the bajeebus out of me. I know for a fact I wouldn't be managing the property, I'd want to have someone else do it. Even with that said, I'm still unsure how to find a good property manager, how to manage my manager form a distance...questions upon question!

But then there is house flipping, which seems awesome. I'd love to do work with a house, my parents have experience in it, I've watched and helped them so I know a little about what could make a good flip. It seems to be more costly upfront, which isn't a bad thing do I know whether or not the market is in a good place? Reading all these articles confuse me with the jargon that I'm not used to. Also, how do I know what other houses in the area are like, it's not like I can just barge in and see what they've done. I've read not to make your house the "castle amongst the street". Don't make is so glamorous..but how do I know if what I want to do on the inside is too much?? 

Does anyone have any experience they can share for a first time investor? What they think is a good place to start, whether to rent or flip? It's very overwhelming but if I could get pointed in a good direction it would help tremendously.  I will continue my search through all these forums and websites and hope to hear back on this post! Thanks for any help you can pass to me!

To start off, there is nothing wrong with sounding inexperienced on here. I think most of the people on here are in the same shoes you are, myself included. If you check out the stuff in the learning section, they have published some great how to guides for getting started in flipping houses, finding property managers, and much more. I have read through several of them and everything I read was very helpful. If you still aren't sure run a search in the forums and you are sure to turn up more of the same info. They have some pretty good blogs on here ad well. If you don't think that stuff is enough you can check out the local REIAs too. TRIG is about the only one I have really heard anyone talk about on here for the area. I hope this helps you out, and if you have any more questions don't hesitate to ask. I know there are some other members in the area who are pretty active on here.

@Anthony Carlson

Thank you for the reply, I've already began reading through many of the forums and will definitely look through the "Learn" section. This site is amazing, I love it already!

@Amanda R.

I am military also and have rental houses and flip as well. It took me a few years before I was comfortable with all the numbers and REI to start flipping. I got my start by renting out my primary residences after I PCSed. I am conservative so that may be why it took me so long to jump into flipping houses, I also had to save up capital to buy cash. I started doing all the things myself to save money and learn before hiring them out. Now I just buy the houses cheaper and build the cost of the work into the job. My goal is to accumulate a group of nice rental properties to allow me to retire early and continue to flip houses for fun.

It is going to be very hard for someone to give you a recommendation of what you should do and what will fit your personality, risk level, ability, time available, etc... So, I would recommend reading up on the different strategies and weigh the pros and cons of how they fit YOU. Ask questions when you have them and let this community help you out when it can. Go to some local REIA meetings and start networking with other investors. I will be in VA beach for a week coming up so if you want to sit down and talk REI let me know. I don't know the area but I can help with the big picture.

Good luck!

Hey Amanda! Welcome! And definitely no worries on sounding new...most people on here are! My only advice regarding renting and flipping is to say that those are two completely different strategies. You're talking active vs. passive income, completely different levels of involvement and risk, you name it. Obviously you can combine the strategies if you were to do a fix-and-hold situation (rehab a house as if you were going to flip it but then just put renters in instead), but they are totally separate strategies. My caution would be mixing up the level of skill you need to have in those. Flipping houses is riskier because of rehab estimates, the actual rehab, unforeseen issues, etc. You also have to know how to calculate all the numbers on a flip, which is harder than numbers on a rental. But with a rental, you won't make as big of a chunk of net profit as you would with a flip, but you would enjoy passive income. So my advice is really to understand the details of the differences of each, and assess those against your interests, skill level, risk aversion, and time freedom. Also if you are in the military, whether you will be moving around a lot or not will make a difference. 

For a basic read on strategy differences, check out:

@William Allen

It seems a lot of people start out with renting and say it's a good place to begin and learn from while riding along on some other's investments, so I think I'm swaying more towards renting right now. I'm deployed for a few more weeks but when I get back I will definitely look up REIA meetings to meet people in the area that could help, thank you for the tip!

@Amanda R. - I like the idea of starting with a rental.  Be patient; find a place that will cash flow well and quickly without much reno.  What I've loved about building a rental portfolio slowly is the ability to learn on the job without having to learn all at once.  When something comes up, I learn how to fix it, one thing at a time.  Once you have some experience dealing with the issues that come up, and through your rental you have developed some relationships with contractors, electricians, plumbers, lenders, etc., then think about a flip.  

Good luck!

@Kevin Siedlecki

Thanks! This site is awesome, everyone has been informative and give me all sorts of resources to check out. After reading many in just this short amount of time I do agree that starting with a rental seems to be the best option. 

@Amanda R.

If you don't currently own the house you live in I would recommend a live-in flip to start and turn that house into your first flip or keep it as a rental home.  The numbers have to make sense but you can build a lot of equity by doing some work yourself as you live in the property.  That is what I did with my first few houses and it worked out well for me.  I learned a ton and made some good money along the way.  The other option would be to buy a duplex or multi family and live in one of the units.  Then you can see if being a landlord is what you want to do all the while having the other tenants pay for you to live there.  Tons of options and you will hear all about them on here via the forums or podcasts.  Come up with a strategy and tailor it as needed over the years when you find what you do and don't like.  Good luck and update us when you figure out what you want to do...

Hey @Amanda R. , welcome to BP, you are on the right path gathering info from some great minds on BP. I agree with @Ali Boone that rentals and flips are two very different investing strategies. They both take very different approaches and different analysis.  Alot has to do with budget and cash flow and the time frame in which you want your return on that cash flow. Also area is a big deal when it comes to getting a return on both.  I am local here in Virginia Beach/ Hampton Roads and work with tons of buy and hold investors and rehab investors. If you shoot me a message I might be able to help dial in exactly what your looking for and give you some insight on the areas you should be looking in. 

@Ryan Boyce

Hey! Thanks so much for commenting, I'll go ahead and shoot you a message with some questions geared more towards my situation and maybe that would help determine whether or not I am choosing the most beneficial path.

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