Investors doing poor rehabs for a quick sale

39 Replies

This is really bothersome but to be expected. I just cancelled a contract on a property I was planning to purchase because as time progressed we discovered so many defects on construction. Poor craftsmanship, lazy communication by the seller's agent, and the lack of negotiation to make it a win win tipped it for me.

Story: Great looking property close to an area of attraction, it fit perfectly in my portfolio plans. At first glance it appeared to be a good build, a safe location (we spoke to the neighbors, visited the place at day time and night), and was inundated with numerous offers immediately it was listed. We made an offer as did lots of others. That was before we noticed the vinyl flooring was peeling off the surface. The seller's agent was notified and he claimed he sent someone to fix it. The rest of the time was spent trying to get them to installed the gas meter before appraisal and inspection. This week I went to look at the property again and this time the peeling was all over the place. My contractor revealed they had simply slapped glue underneath the cheapest and thinnest vinyl on a surface that wasn't sanded and even. Basically, they had hoped whatever they did would hold enough for the house to be bought off. Only the delay by the city revealed the cracks.

We headed to the backyard to discuss what i wanted done to the property in the near future (yes, I still wanted to believe the property was worthwhile). What we saw stopped us in our tracks: the AC condenser was missing! Apparently it wasn't difficult to do so since the iron cage it was supposed to be "safe" in was so flimsy I could lift it off the ground. None of us were surprised it happened since the house screamed vacant with its tall unkept lawn and a large For Sale sign at the front.

We tried to negotiate a floor and AC repair and replacement to be credited at closing but they insisted on fixing it themselves. We wanted to handle it because this was the third time they had sent someone to "fix" the floor. 

Finally I have to stop and accept I had broken one of my cardinal mottos: Never be unable to walk away from a property. A lot earlier should have pulled me towards walking away: a seller who doesn't care enough for his property to keep it tidy, an agent who takes sometimes 24 hours to respond to a simple email, an agent who confessed he had not visited the property, and the constant excuse given on why the gas meter was taking soooo long to be installed (it was the cities fault they say). I pulled out.

The sad thing is someone is going to buy this property from the multiple offers received. The seller's agent hinted at that when we reported our findings.

So buyers beware. A lot of lipstick rehabs going on in this seller's market. Fear of missing out or a house in a desirable location can cause many to be stuck with a liability. Some rehabbers know their work is shoddy and that's why they push for cash buyers to close quickly. If you are a beginner investor like me get a good contractor on your team and don't talk them out of telling you the truth on a property you think is perfect. Don't fall for crap in this market full of people trying to cash in on this current frenzy. After all is said and done, everyone will leave the table and you will be the one paying the mortgage on a headache. Be willing to walk away. Another shinny object will present itself.

I'm glad I'm went through this. i'm learning what to look out for as i gain experience.



@Imeh Esen , welcome to BiggerPockets and thank you for speaking your truth about the current market!

It appears so many U.S markets are right at that point in the great and neverending Real Estate Cycle where the sheer number of incompetents, bad actors, and scammers begins to surge. So much reckless money being thrown around is bound to attract the hyenas.

Unfortunately, hardly anyone wants to acknowledge this, much less discuss it.

I spoke to a colleague yesterday who just got scammed out of $1,500 in earnest money from dealing with an unscrupulous "investor" who probably makes more money from broken contracts than he does from legitimate property sales!

So please do continue to share your experiences here and elsewhere so that others may benefit and learn from you!

@Imeh Esen Good post. I frequently get out bid by flippers and wonder how they can turn a profit. Then I watch what they do I see how they make money.  I'm incredulous at what they hide with drywall, vinyl, cheap flooring caulk and paint.  Flipping was generally done with good craftmanship 10 years ago.  Flipping is generally done on the cheap with poor quality at best and needed repairs hidden from sight now.  Personally, I would not consider buying a flip completed in the last 5 years. 

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Thank you for sharing. Unfortunately what you experienced is getting way too common. Too many people watching too many shows on flipping and thinking it's easy. The seller you ran into gives us all a bad name. And if anyone new is reading this thread and thinks it's just a little vinyl, think again. If they can't do that right you have to believe there is a lot wrong that you can't see. Very smart move walking away. 

Thanks for the great post. it is hard not to get emotionally involved in a decision and try to decide if the red flags you see are deal breakers or not. It would be great if you could do a background or reputation check on the sellers when they are flipping. Flippers with good reputations would get a premium for quality work behind the paint and under the tile...

The only thing I think we can do is take a solid reputable contractor with us to look over property. And even then…what’s behind the Sheetrock?

@Imeh Esen I am really not understanding the issue. This all is very very minor items, vinyl flooring and an AC condenser,, really !!,  Simply negotiate a little less to take care of these minor things....Also I assume this will be a rental ? If so you get the money back from the repairs, really not a big deal. 

Good Luck 

@Imeh Esen    

The only thing I think we can do is take a solid reputable contractor with us to look over property. And even then…what’s behind the Sheetrock?

I have done about 500 flips in the Cleveland markets, and own rentals . I have never had a contractor walk a property, It take me typically 15 min to walk through and make an offer. Please connect with someone doing deals, Learn and apply what you learn,,,remember its all about the price

good luck 

@Bob Stevens

It’s wasn’t not a big deal. Read my post again. Like other experienced flippers have said, their attitude towards the fixes could smell trouble for the quality of other things we can’t see on the surface. To me it’s all about attention to detail. 

Yes I’m renting but if it’s not fixed well it’s a later repair headache. If that’s something you don’t mind, well..to each his own.

Also I did try to negotiate. They offered less money than it would take to fix it plus “as is.” For me, it wasn’t a risk I’m willing to take over a long term property.


Great you flip. Hope you are one of the quality ones.

You're just kidding right? This is not a 1 off, this is commonplace. Certainly doesn't mean every player or company out there, but a whole hell of a lot them. Too many of them (flippers/rehabbers) know how to cut every damn corner plus play the local red tape to boot. I don't just mean watering down paint either.

As a rule of thumb, don't buy a flip or a rehab unless you've got the skillset or team to thoroughly vet the work, and if you do, don't be surprised when they tell you they don't care what you found, they've got other buyers lined up.
Originally posted by @Imeh Esen :

This is really bothersome but to be expected. I just cancelled a contract on a property I was planning to purchase because as time progressed we discovered so many defects on construction. Poor craftsmanship, lazy communication by the seller's agent, and the lack of negotiation to make it a win win tipped it for me.

Story: Great looking property close to an area of attraction, it fit perfectly in my portfolio plans. At first glance it appeared to be a good build, a safe location (we spoke to the neighbors, visited the place at day time and night), and was inundated with numerous offers immediately it was listed. We made an offer as did lots of others. That was before we noticed the vinyl flooring was peeling off the surface. The seller's agent was notified and he claimed he sent someone to fix it. The rest of the time was spent trying to get them to installed the gas meter before appraisal and inspection. This week I went to look at the property again and this time the peeling was all over the place. My contractor revealed they had simply slapped glue underneath the cheapest and thinnest vinyl on a surface that wasn't sanded and even. Basically, they had hoped whatever they did would hold enough for the house to be bought off. Only the delay by the city revealed the cracks.

We headed to the backyard to discuss what i wanted done to the property in the near future (yes, I still wanted to believe the property was worthwhile). What we saw stopped us in our tracks: the AC condenser was missing! Apparently it wasn't difficult to do so since the iron cage it was supposed to be "safe" in was so flimsy I could lift it off the ground. None of us were surprised it happened since the house screamed vacant with its tall unkept lawn and a large For Sale sign at the front.

We tried to negotiate a floor and AC repair and replacement to be credited at closing but they insisted on fixing it themselves. We wanted to handle it because this was the third time they had sent someone to "fix" the floor. 

Finally I have to stop and accept I had broken one of my cardinal mottos: Never be unable to walk away from a property. A lot earlier should have pulled me towards walking away: a seller who doesn't care enough for his property to keep it tidy, an agent who takes sometimes 24 hours to respond to a simple email, an agent who confessed he had not visited the property, and the constant excuse given on why the gas meter was taking soooo long to be installed (it was the cities fault they say). I pulled out.

The sad thing is someone is going to buy this property from the multiple offers received. The seller's agent hinted at that when we reported our findings.

So buyers beware. A lot of lipstick rehabs going on in this seller's market. Fear of missing out or a house in a desirable location can cause many to be stuck with a liability. Some rehabbers know their work is shoddy and that's why they push for cash buyers to close quickly. If you are a beginner investor like me get a good contractor on your team and don't talk them out of telling you the truth on a property you think is perfect. Don't fall for crap in this market full of people trying to cash in on this current frenzy. After all is said and done, everyone will leave the table and you will be the one paying the mortgage on a headache. Be willing to walk away. Another shinny object will present itself.

I'm glad I'm went through this. i'm learning what to look out for as i gain experience.



I would like to make a point concerning the floor. The glue down tile can come up unless a person uses More expensive glue. This is why many people are using the floating floor. It cost a  more, but problems like that are typically avoided with the floor coming up.

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Originally posted by @David Abbate :
You're just kidding right? This is not a 1 off, this is commonplace. Certainly doesn't mean every player or company out there, but a whole hell of a lot them. Too many of them (flippers/rehabbers) know how to cut every damn corner plus play the local red tape to boot. I don't just mean watering down paint either.

As a rule of thumb, don't buy a flip or a rehab unless you've got the skillset or team to thoroughly vet the work, and if you do, don't be surprised when they tell you they don't care what you found, they've got other buyers lined up.

thank you for being honest. They know what they are doing! They are making things look pretty, jumping on quick cash sales to close quickly, using this sellers market to their advantage while providing  inferior product that another hard working investor is shelling 100,000s of dollars for to get.


Buyers beware! 

@Joe S.

This was very inferior glue. We didn’t even have to pull. The floor was bubbling up. Sadly not the first case I’ve witnessed. For what these flippers are asking and people are willing to pay, use better material!

Anyway I’m just going to tell buyers, use your option period wisely. Give yourself time to vet the property. Don’t be pressured to close soon! After you hand over the check everyone will be happy they got paid while you are saddled with an investment that drains you financially. From what I’m reading most investors are making about $200 to $500 a door? With that sort of cash flow we better do due diligence in getting a decent property!

Why are you buying houses from flippers? Once they have already done the rehab if they done a reasonable job why would they leave any meat on the bone? 

Originally posted by @Imeh Esen :

@Joe S.

So only homeowners buy homes from flippers? I might be just starting but I’m not unusual. 

I’m not sure what you mean when you say you’re not unusual.

If you want to keep buying houses from flippers and posting about it here for people to comment feel free to do so. 😉

My son, just today, cancelled the contract on a flipped house that he was purchasing to be a rental. Inspection report showed a lot of concerning items. Sometimes the lipstick just isn't enough to get someone to accept the ugly underneath.

@Joe S.

What is your problem with what I’m writing? Others are acknowledging same. 

The prior post says his son went through the same experience. People buy from flippers all the time to hold and rent out. And yes some leave meat on the bone if you price and buy well. You have no idea of the area I focus on or the performance of my market. Again, stop sounding like my post is unusual.

Flippers are doing shoddy work! They are taking advantage of it being a sellers market! They should have pride in what they build! If the shoe fits someone should wear it. Other than that read the comment and hope it warms others.

I hate when so called experienced people talk down to newbies. Some people buy flipped property for long term strategy of hold and rent, some flip for quick turnover, some find distressed properties, fix it up and rent. A strategy makes sense based on lifestyle (passive or active), and or the numbers.

Good luck doing it your way. 

Originally posted by @Imeh Esen :

@Joe S.

What is your problem with what I’m writing? Others are acknowledging same. 

The prior post says his son went through the same experience. People buy from flippers all the time to hold and rent out. And yes some leave meat on the bone if you price and buy well. You have no idea of the area I focus on or the performance of my market. Again, stop sounding like my post is unusual.

Flippers are doing shoddy work! They are taking advantage of it being a sellers market! They should have pride in what they build! If the shoe fits someone should wear it. Other than that read the comment and hope it warms others.

I hate when so called experienced people talk down to newbies. Some people buy flipped property for long term strategy of hold and rent, some flip for quick turnover, some find distressed properties, fix it up and rent. A strategy makes sense based on lifestyle (passive or active), and or the numbers.

Good luck doing it your way. 

Best regards to you as well. Way to go taking action. I’m not sure why suggesting looking for houses that are not from flippers is considered talking down to you. A lot of people with good paying jobs are making money by and fixed up houses so if it is working for you keep up the good work. If you Noticed some of the post that are made on BP Some of the posters as well as Moderators share differences of opinion. The fact that you are taking action and buying houses will put you light years ahead of the many people that sit on the sideline.

Just for some perspective.  I have been flipping home for 3 decades.  Sometimes things just happen and are not the result of poor workmanship.  For example, I had a project in Louisiana this summer.  We installed laminate throughout as it is pier and beam.  We always leave the a/c on to regulate the temp and keep away humidity in the south.  Well, an agent turned it off when they left a showing thinking they did me a favor.  Guess what?  The floor started to come up due to the high temp and humidity.  Some things just go wrong no matter what steps are taken.  A condenser stolen in a "safe" neighborhood would be far more concerning to me