Deal possibility thrown my way, not sure what to do

15 Replies

Hello All, I've been reading on this site for a few months now trying to absorb as much info as I can and I've talked to a few people about wanting to get into real estate. I'd like to eventually get into buying, holding and renting, but not opposed to start by fix and flipping.

Onto the house that came my way, the other day my girlfriend mentioned that her dad has a house that he might be looking to get rid of. It's currently being rented out to other family and he offered it to them for $45K, they declined it. My girlfriend mentioned it to me and suggested we look into if that would be a good house for us to pick up. It apparently needs a new kitchen and some sprucing up outside. I've not yet had a chance to view the house in person to determine how much work would be required. It's a small house 760 sqft, 2 bed, 1 bath in St. Petersburg, FL. I know they aren't the most reliable but zillow and some other similar sites give a price estimate of $54K-$80K with a rental estimate of ~$870. I have no expectation that it will fall close to the high end but if I could get 65K-70K it would probably be worth it. I haven't had a chance to confirm those estimates yet by independent means. If anyone is familiar with the market in the area and could help with coming up with an accurate valuation it would be very much appreciated. I don't get the impression he is particularly motivated to sell but has had it awhile and is willing to unload it.

As for financing it I could probably borrow the cost from my parents to purchase and fix it up if I were to flip it, and could probably get a favorable interest rate, or offer them some of the profits, not sure the best way to structure that.

If I were to pursue the purchase, fix, rent plan I'd probably pursue a conventional mortgage. I have a good credit score 760+, but do currently have a mortgage on my current home. Working from the estimates zillow gives (again I know I should run my own numbers but not sure where to get all my own info yet) the monthly cost would be about $450 including loan, taxes and insurance, which with the estimated ~$870/mo rent would leave ~$420/mo in income. I don't know if with a few more renovations could potentially push the rent much higher in that area or not, again anyone who happens to be familiar with that market are would be especially helpful, but any advice is better than what I have now.

I'm sure there is much information I'm missing, but any guidance anyone could give on what questions to ask, what information to look for/at, or costs I may have overlooked would help me figure out whether to try to pursue it or not. Other information which may or may not be relevant: I live about an hour away from the home and don't have a ton of time to run down there to check on tenants if I were to go the rental route.

St Pete is a big city. Without knowing the exact location anyone giving you advice would be guessing.

With that said, shoebox houses in North St Pete close to main thoroughfare will sell for around $70k and rental rates should be around $850.

@Jared Roso Zillow numbers are often way off in St Pete, especially the south side. If you give me a general area or the cross streets I can tell you if it's going to be a deal or not, I know just about every block in St Pete.

Take a look on here about the "50% rule" which says your expenses will generally be about 50% of your gross rents (vacancy, management, taxes, insurance, repairs, reserves). That way you won't be shocked when your cash flow isn't equal to gross rent - PITI. Some areas are higher, some are lower. Lower priced properties tend to be a bit higher.


Welcome aboard! It seems like you have a good possibility. I'd look to answer the following questions:

1. Rent estimate $870--is that based on current rent, or what you think you can get by renting to new people?

2. Would you be able to pick it up for $45K. That's an assumption I picked up from reading your post, but I'd look to solidify that. If so, would he be willing to finance it for you?

3. Tenants. Are they good tenants? How long will they stay in the house? Have they been trashing the place or helping to keep it up? When does the lease expire? You might not need to touch the kitchen for a while if they intend to stay, or you might find out that you have a whole slew of stuff to fix.

4. Vacancy. One of the highest cost factors. Say you increase rents by $50 per month, because it's under rented. If your current rent is $820 (vice the $870 you think you can get), then one month's vacancy will wipe out over a year's worth of the rent increase. If you can keep them longer, you may very well find that it's worth keeping them in the house & avoiding vacancy.

Depending on the answers, this may be a great deal, or it may be a LOT of work, for limited upside. For example, if they're great tenants who don't need any improvements, and you can get seller financing, you might pull the trigger, rent for cash flow & equity buildup & hold. If he wants more, & they don't plan to stay longer, then you may need to figure out some more variables (improvement costs, rental & sales comps, etc.).

Hope this helps!


Wow, that was a far quicker response than I ever imagined. Thank you everyone for your thoughts thus far.

Wayne, thanks for the referral to Patrick.

Doug, I wasn't sure how much to post and didn't think I should post the exact address on the public forum. The general guidance was helpful so I know my guesstimates are at least in the right ballpark.

Patrick, I do remember reading about the 50% rule a little while back on here but in my excitement of possibly having something to work with I guess it slipped my mind, that will get better with time I'm sure. I replied to your PM.

Forrest, you are correct that most of the numbers are estimates/assumptions as I mentioned. I believe the sale price would be accurate. The current rent, tenant history, and vacancy rates are something I'll have to look into but based on knowledge of him the latter two variables may not be perfectly accurate. Not because he is untrustworthy but because he doesn't view the rental as a business and likely does not have the records.

I think I'm leaning more towards a fix and flip if the numbers work out because there are fewer variables on my first potential deal and I want to get started. But I still want to try running both sets of numbers to get familiar with both processes.

Again thank you all for your contributions thus far and I'll update with any new information or developments.

Why would you want to fix and flip a 760 square foot house that has two bedrooms and 1 bathroom? Think about who would be buying that house. Investors. No family/couple would want to purchase a 760 square foot house as their house of the future. It is a long-term rental. Fix it up for as cheap as possible (delicate balance use good taste) and rent it out. No point in trying to fix and flip it...Just me $0.02

Daniel, this being my first potential transaction in an investment capacity, flipping seemed like it had less obstacles and variables for getting my feet wet. From everyone's comments it appears that route doesn't make sense so I am looking to see if perhaps it makes sense as a rental. I wanted to eventually get into rentals anyway, so I guess if the numbers work I might be jumping into that sooner than anticipated. I appreciate the input though.

Hi Jared,

I agree with Daniel that a 2/1 is not a great fix-n-flip typically. Find a good realtor or consult with Patrick L to advise regarding your purchase price. I have not looked for several months, but last time I did there were many active listings in the $40k's in South St. Pete.

@Daniel Miller While I agree with your overall reply I have to disagree with one point you make. Many families, mine included, choose a 2/1 because that is what they can afford. 2/1s are like a gateway drug to home ownership.

@Ted Akers @Jared Roso has not given us a general location yet. This house could be a Snell Isle gem for all we know.

2/1's do sell to owner occupants but for a flip you're obviously going to do a lot better with a 3/2 or 4/2. You can flip just about any size house but some will attract a larger number of buyers and get you a better return. I end up buying a lot of 2/1's as rentals because they get so cheap due to less demand and they still rent just fine (although 3 and 4 bedrooms are still a lot more popular)

Jared gave me the address and it's on the north side. It's a neighborhood that would be great for a rental. It should rent for $800-850. I think the biggest hurdle is going to be financing so if the seller is willing to finance it then that's going to be your best option. Your options get pretty limited for banks that want to write a loan under $50k, so that means buying a property over $62.5k with 20% down.

If for example the seller was willing to finance the entire $45k purchase price at 6% for 30 years (or at least 30 year amortization) then your payment would be $270. If you rented it for $850 and took out 50% for expenses you'd end up with $155/month cash flow, which would be pretty good for this example where you're putting no money down. If you self managed that number would be higher but you said that you live an hour away and don't have experience with rentals so I wouldn't suggest self managing to start.

At $45k this one is probably around a 10 CAP on a cash deal, depending on how much deferred maintenance there is.

To take it a step further you could get the house under seller financing and then cash out refi after repairs to get his money if he needs it.

For financing I think there is a decent chance he'd be willing to seller finance but if not, I think I could probably pull together a loan from family to get it financed, I'd rather pay them interest than a bank when possible.

I hope this isn't putting the cart before the horse so to speak but how much does a good property management company typically cost in this area? I'd like to have as much info as possible so I know exactly what the numbers look like or at least as close as I can get.

I'm going to try to get some additional info on what work he thinks needs to be done and to what extent, as well as try to get a walkthrough.

I think there is a very important question missing in this equation.

Can your relationship handle the crisis that will arrive when you buy your girlfriends, dad's house? You know what they say don't sell a car to your friend. A house is way more expensive (well in my area at least), and the things that can go wrong are going to cost you a lot more money... and a lot more personal to people.

Also there's already family living there. If they are on a lease the rehab question is out of the park. If you have tenant problems you could have relationship problems.

Couple stress points that come to mind in a rehab situation:

1 - After a long day of rehab you say something derogatory about the previous owner/maintenance upkeep

2 - You go to make a change that will disturb a precious childhood memory

3 - You try to rent and she gets defensive about who lives in her house.

I should note; I'm not very diplomatic about the things I say to people in my social circle about my tenants. I'm blunt. I would not buy anything that was from a S.O.'s family, or rent to my or my S.O.'s family. I'd say something stupid and now it would become a bigger personal problem than a business problem.

Troy, I appreciate the concern and understand what you're getting at. If it were her childhood home I'd agree with your points but she's never lived there and I don't think her dad has either, he bought it as a project (informed guess) and is renting to other family. So very little if any chance of points 2&3 having an impact. To point 1, if anything I tend to be overly diplomatic in my conversations and it is exceedingly rare that I bad-mouth anyone. I'll express frustration yes but usually at what I'm working on not typically any predecessors. I think my well-developed filter between brain and mouth will keep me safe here.

The family living there is the biggest potential problem I see and why I am being extra cautious while still trying to feel everything out. That said, she agrees that current rent is too low and needs to be brought much closer to market level and indicated that her thought would be to step it up to normal levels over a couple months if they decided to stay. That sounds like a fair plan if it were to come to that as long as they can pay.

If this works out with the numbers and the relationships great, if not I can still walk away and I am viewing it as a great learning experience. Hopefully the next potential transaction comes with fewer outside entanglements, but it's still a good learning tool.

Not sure if anyone is reading this topic anymore but if someone stumbles on it, I know I want to know how things turned out instead of a topic just being abandoned, so I'll satisfy that curiosity. It doesn't look like the deal is going to pan out, at least not at this time. I'm still going to keep my eye open for new opportunities and hopefully I can locate one in the near future.

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