the scarlet letter of a flip

3 Replies

I posed as a buyer at an open house in my flip and came across an interesting problem I did not anticipate.   I thought having a house that showed brand new was good and preferable to the tired average paneling and blue carpet listings.  But the buyers are very wary of houses they think are flipped.  

So I have this catch 22.  Make the house too nice, too fresh, and people get cautious and wary.  They don't see any thing wrong, but worry that this is like some Armondo cat house flip with shoddy work.  Again, maybe this is a regional thing.  But if you are not a big enough player to have a reputation for quality, is there a risk in making a house feel too new such that buyers get scared.  

I have noticed that a high volume frequent flipper in my area does not do little things like change outlet covers, or replace appliances, or will leave some older fixtures in place.  At first I thought this was sloppy lazy work.  I'm now wondering if he is wiser by making his houses seem more normal.  

The first reaction people have when the walk in the door is not, "wow", or "fresh and new", or "great deal", but rather, universally, "this is a flip".  The TV shows have affected how people think.  I've mentioned similar things before.  I think this may be a regional issue since other people don't mention it.   Again, this is not about shoddy work.  Nobody sees any problems.  I just overhear them worrying about them.  It is as if going over board backfires.  

Interesting dilemma here. Perhaps you could upload some photos of the home your talking about and get some impressions from some of the members here. Without seeing anything I can only come to a couple conclusions.

1. Although you believe its not shoddy work people are coming in and seeing shoddy work. Perhaps you're focusing your rehab on the wrong part.

2. Are you over improving for the neighborhood? People will know whats going on in the area if they've been to open houses and an updated modern kitchen will stand out against the 60s kitchens they've grown accustomed to in the price range they are looking. Perhaps, the pricing is wrong as well. It is too high or too low?

3. Perhaps you're marketing to the wrong buyers. Are these people looking for a fixer upper that are possibly first time home buyers? Or are you rehabbing a home for people who are buying their second home or third home?

If you think people are interested in the TV aspect then play on that. Show up at your own open house and explain to them that you are a member of the company. Recap the 1/2hour long show for them in the home. Explain that you were planning this, but then you ran into foundation problems in the corner that needed to be addressed. Once you knocked out this wall you realized you had to rerun new plumbing and electrical... etc. Give them that story of what work you did and be proud of the home being a rehab. 

The fact is people with a few mouse clicks can look up the sales history of a property and know if it is being flipped just like they can know the wholesale price of a car.

I have always been curious to hear what goes on during a showing or open house.  I never have gone to the open house though, or spied on a showing with surveillance equipment.  I'd love to though... really get a feel for peoples reactions.  I applaud you for going to the open house, why not?

As far as people not wanting flips I can see both sides of it, but I can also say peoples flips vary from slapped together ready to sell to fully renovated houses that feel like new construction when you walk in.  I don't know that I could leave some old outlets and fixtures around the house thinking it would help me sell any faster.  If anything I would think it would take longer...  If I was walking through the house and it was a flip and a bunch of little things were missed I would think the house wasn't done thoroughly.

It's to each their own though.  Some people love the idea of a freshly renovated house.  It should keep the maintenance and repairs down for a couple years as they establish themselves in a new home.  It's all about the right buyer finding the house.  If you put out the best product at the best price it will sell.  The future homeowners just have to find the house.  

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