Flipping Houses: 101 Awesome Quick Tips for Success


This morning I discovered something terrible while standing in the shower…

I had forgotten a towel. 

And worse, I was not at my house. I’m spending the week with my fellow host of the BiggerPockets Podcast, Josh Dorkin, and his wonderful family and I couldn’t simply streak through the home to get back to my room.

Soaking wet I looked around at my options. I had just one: a small 6″ towel. Let’s just say it took a while to dry off.

You see, I went in unprepared.  Had I spent a few seconds preparing for the morning, I would not have made this simple mistake.

And you know – real estate investing, and house flipping in general, is kind of the same way. (You were wondering how I was going to tie that in!)  If you go in unprepared, you are going to be scrambling for solutions.

Not a good thing.

Therefore, the following list is going to give you 101 “quick tips” to help you prepare for your next house flip so you don’t make the same mistakes I have!

At the end of the list, I want to encourage you to add your own tips in the comment section and, of course, if you would please do me the honor of sharing this post on your social media, I would be forever grateful!

Let’s get going!

Flipping Houses tips

How to Invest in Real Estate While Working a Full-Time Job

Many investors think that they need to quit their job to get started in real estate. Not true! Many investors successfully build large portfolios over the years while enjoying the stability of their full-time job. If that’s something you are interested in, then this investor’s story of how he built a real estate business while keeping his 9-5 might be helpful.

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Before You Start Flipping Houses

  1. Spend time educating yourself before jumping in. No, not with some $49,777 mentorship through the guru-of-the-week, but sink into BiggerPockets and read everything you can on house flipping. Don’t even consider flipping until you’ve read through The Book on Flipping Houses from J Scott – it’s required reading at this point.
  2. Meet with a local house flipper or two in your area. Don’t view them as competition, but as heroes. Help them out. Find them a deal. Build that relationship. Learn. Grow.
  3. Understand that flipping houses is a business that requires time, effort, and work. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme or long term investment strategy.
  4. Learn your city, inside and out. Yes, this means getting into your car and driving up and down every road you can. Talk to people. Find out what others think about different locations. Become an expert on your town.
  5. Get to know some real estate agents. They can help you find great deals, get you comps, help you connect with lenders or contractors, and a lot more. Don’t settle for an average agent though – find a great investor friendly agent.
  6. Before you start to flip a house, be sure to know how you are going to pay for it. Scrambling for money later is never fun.
  7. Don’t let fear keep you away from getting started, but use that fear to keep you careful.
  8. Listen to as many episodes of the BiggerPockets Podcast as you possibly can, especially the house flipping episodes.  That stuff is audio-gold.
  9. Consider partnering with someone more experienced on your first house flip. Remember, 50% of a great deal is better than 100% of no deal.
  10. Understand that big money can be made when house flipping, but big money can also be lost. Don’t go in unprepared.
  11. Is your spouse onboard with your house flipping plans? If not, don’t even think about starting.
  12. Flipping with a full time job? It’s going to be hard!
  13. If you plan to do the labor yourself, you’ve bought yourself a job. Nothing wrong with that – I’ve done it multiple times. However, it IS a job. If you want to run a scalable business, learn to budget for others to do the labor.
  14. Take inventory of your skills. Can you manage people? Can you do the numbers/math? Can you organize 50 different moving parts? These are essential skills for any house flipper to have. If you lack them, consider working with a partner.
  15. Flipping houses takes money, but that money doesn’t need to be 100% yours (or even 0% yours.) Spend time up front learning about the different financing options you have on your flip, including the no (and low) money down strategies discussed in our recent book “The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down” by… me!
  16. Watch the flipping TV shows, but understand that they are mostly fake. But that’s okay – they are great for inspiration and you might even pick up an idea or two.
  17. If you are not familiar with how basic home construction works, spend some time at Home Depot or pick up a basic book on home improvement. You don’t need to be a pro, but you do need to understand the basics.
  18. Understand what improvements are needed in your market and what improvements are not. Granite countertops? Hardwood floors? Just because you saw something on a flipping TV show, doesn’t mean it’s needed (or wanted) in your neighborhood.
  19. Start building your house flipping team before you buy your first flip, but don’t think that it needs to be formal. You aren’t forming the next Avengers group. Just start networking and finding who the best people are in your town to work with.
  20. Read my article from last year “How NOT to Flip a House: An Embarrassing Story of Wasted Time, Money, and Opportunity.”  Learn from my mistakes.

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House Flipping

Shopping for Great Real Estate Deals to Flip

  1. Focus on one particular area of your city when looking for a flip. If you have to sift through 100,000 homes for sale, it will overwhelm you. Develop what we call, your “farm area.”
  2. Know your criteria. What is it you are looking for? Five bedroom homes? Two bedroom homes?  Three thousand square feet? One thousand square feet? Write down what you are looking for so you don’t waste time sifting through deals you don’t want.
  3. If you are shopping on the MLS for deals, use a real estate agent. The seller pays their commission so it’s free for you!
  4. Flip houses in locations that people want to buy.
  5. Flip houses that look like houses people want to buy.
  6. Look for the worst house on a nice street.
  7. Don’t underestimate the importance of the condition of the neighbors’ homes. The house next door to your flip might look great in comparison to the wreck you are about to fix up, but after your flip is flipped, will your neighbor’s home look like a dump?
  8. Neighbors with dogs can kill the sale of your flip. Trust me. Been there, done that.
  9. Connect with local real estate wholesalers in your area who can find and bring you incredible deals, but understand that 99% of wholesalers have no idea what they are doing. Look for the 1% who do.
  10. Properties with a bad smell can often be the best flips. Bad smells are typically easy to remedy but drive away most of the competition. Just be sure to understand the source of the smell before closing on it!
  11. Consider direct mail marketing to find deals. For more info, see “The Ultimate Guide to Using Direct Mail Advertising to Grow Your Real Estate Business.
  12. Driving for dollars can be a great way to find deals. Yes, that means getting into your car and driving around, looking for potential house flip opportunities. Combining this with your direct mail can be incredibly effective.
  13. Talk to the neighbors of any potential flip when shopping. You can often learn interesting and helpful things about the home (“yeah, this place floods every year!”)
  14. Talk to your mailman about potential leads. They spend more time in the neighborhood than anyone else and are also most likely to know of vacant properties.
  15. Don’t forget to check Craigslist for deals – both by posting ads and looking for posted ads.
  16. Monitor public eviction records and reach out to the landlords who are doing the evictions.  With the stress that an eviction can cause for a landlord… talk about motivation!
  17. Tell everyone you know that you are looking to buy real estate. You never know who will know someone who knows someone with something to sell!
  18. Consider training your own wholesaler or birddog to find deals for you.
  19. Place ads on Facebook or Google that you are looking for real estate deals.
  20. Make a lot of offers. No, you don’t need to be the guy making 1000’s of offers and ticking off all the real estate agents – but finding a great deal is often a number’s game. The more offers you make, the more deals you’ll likely get.

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House Flipping math

Analyzing Your Next House Flip

  1. Make sure you actually do analyze your deal. DO NOT rely on your intuition. That’s a recipe for disaster.
  2. A flip analysis begins with knowing the ARV (after repair value.) You NEED to be confident in this number. I once flipped a house that I thought would sell for $170,000 when fixed up but after 12 months on the market, finally sold for $125,000.  I clearly did not know the ARV.
  3. Don’t assume future appreciation. If the ARV today is $150,000 – don’t convince yourself you can probably get $160,000 because prices are going up. Assume that $150,000 or even less.
  4. Keep emotions out of the analysis. Keep it strictly about the numbers – not about your excitement.
  5. Use the 70% rule for a quick and dirty way to estimate your maximum allowable offer.
  6. But don’t rely 100% on a rule of thumb to make decisions. Rules of thumb are great for quickly screening through properties, but always do a more thorough analysis that includes ALL potential expenses. We recommend the BiggerPockets House Flipping Calculator.
  7. Hire a professional home inspector ($350-$600) to comb through every square inch of the property. They will see things you don’t.
  8. Create a scope of work that breaks down everything needed to be repaired, broken into manageable categories.
  9. Use that scope of work to create a detailed budget.
  10. Ask a contractor to help you estimate the repair costs. Pay them if necessary.
  11. The two main causes of losing money when house flipping are a.) going over budget and b.) going over your timeline. Make sure your analysis gets this right.
  12. When doing the numbers, be conservative in your math (and liberal in your expense estimates.) Think flooring will cost between $2,000 and $3,000? Budget for at least $3,000.
  13. The information about the property that the selling broker supplied is worth about the same as the paper it was printed on. Do your own due diligence on the numbers and condition of the property.
  14. Include an “overage” budget in your math of at least 10%. So if you plan to spend $30,000 on repairs, set aside an additional $3,000 (at least) for overages.
  15. Remember: every day you hold the property costs you more and more money. This is called “holding costs.” Don’t forget to include them in your analysis.
  16. Take numerous photos of the property, inside and out. Trust me – you won’t remember everything. This will help with your analysis later.
  17. Drive around and look at the recently sold comps in the neighborhood. How similar are they to the property you want to flip?
  18. Run your numbers past an experienced investor and see what they think. I recommend just asking for help in the Forums here on BiggerPockets. It’s easy and free.
  19. In your analysis, don’t forget to include the closing costs you have to pay on both sides of the flip.
  20. The tax assessed value from your local Tax Assessor is NOT likely the actual value. This number can be off dramatically depending on where you live.

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House Flipping Financing

House Flipping Financing

  1. Get your financing in order long before you actually buy the property.
  2. Conventional loans can be a relatively inexpensive way to finance your flip, but getting a conventional mortgage on a distressed property is extremely difficult unless the home is really in good shape already.
  3. Hard money lenders can be a good source of financing but beware of the high fees, short terms, and high payment. This can kill a good deal.
  4. Don’t have the cash? Consider using a partner who can fund the flip. This is known as an “equity partner” or “equity investor.”
  5. Equity in your own personal home? Consider getting a Home Equity Loan on your primary residence to pay for the flip – or cover the down payment.
  6. If you are willing to move into the home and live for at least one year, consider getting an owner occupied loan like the FHA loan to help keep your down payment requirement down. If you use the 203k FHA loan, you can wrap the repair costs right into the loan!
  7. Lenders want to see organization in your paperwork – so get organized! I recommend giving your lender the PDF printout you get after running an analysis on the BiggerPockets Rental Property Calculator.
  8. Portfolio lenders are lenders who don’t sell their mortgages upward to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, so they have more flexibility in funding your deals. To find a portfolio lender, call around to small regional banks and ask if they do portfolio loans.
  9. Consider using private lenders, usually someone you know, to fund your deal.
  10. If the deal is good enough, the money will be the least of your concerns. So focus on finding the best deals possible and the money will find you!

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Managing a flip

Managing the Flip

  1. Don’t hire your brother, uncle, or best friend to be the contractor on the flip. I know it’s tempting, but understand that the risk of losing that relationship is great.
  2. You can hire a handyman, full general contractor, or subcontractors to do the work. There is no “one right way” to get it done, so feel out all three options and see what fits your budget and skills.
  3. If you are hiring others to do the work, still show up the property often – especially if you are working with contractors you have not used in the past.
  4. Contractors are notorious for not writing down your wishes and later forgetting what you wanted, messing up your ideas. Give them specific instructions – written down – and have them sign it.
  5. Hire only licensed, bonded contractors. If they get hurt on your property- you don’t want to cover their medical bills for life.
  6. Keep every receipt. Use a smartphone app to keep them organized.
  7. Do not save your bookkeeping for the end of the project. Update your records daily if possible. The more organized you are, the greater your opportunity for success.
  8. Contractors tend to not show up for appointments, so when getting bids – schedule group showings of the property.
  9. Consider hiring a “project manager” to run the contractors if you lack the time or skills to manage them. Just be sure to budget for it.
  10. When your contractors are finished and you’ve paid them, get them to sign a “Lien Waiver” so they can’t come back later and place a lien on the property.

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Flipping Ideas

House Flipping Rehab Ideas

  1. Curb appeal matters more than you think. Be sure to make it look INCREDIBLE from the street.
  2. Change the front door. It’s the first thing people see when they come up to the house so make it count.
  3. Use the same interior paint color on all your flips. It’s just easier. No need to get fancy!
  4. A large fancy-looking shower head can be an inexpensive way to make your bathroom look high-end.
  5. Put on an electronic keypad deadbolt on the front door so contractors can’t lose the key and when the home is sold, you can change the combination for the new owners.
  6. Bark mulch is an inexpensive way to make the outside look new and fresh.
  7. Cabinets can often be salvaged with just new paint (depending on the quality of the flip you are doing.) Paint and new hardware on the cabinets can totally transform them.
  8. Try to buy your appliances around US holidays when appliances go on sale. My favorite day to buy appliances is “Black Friday” – the busiest shopping day of the year. Appliances can often be purchased for 1/2 price or less.
  9. Install high-wattage light bulbs in all light fixtures. It will make the house appear brighter.
  10. Home buyers are exceptionally nervous about faults in the plumbing, electrical, roof, and foundation. Be sure that these four systems are up to snuff.

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Sell House Tips

Selling That Flip

  1. Staging your home with furniture and nice decor can help you sell your home faster and for more money.
  2. Some of the best staging stuff can be purchased cheaply at a Ross, Marshalls, WalMart, or Target.
  3. Cheap plants, placed in the corner of the room, can totally transform a room.
  4. Hire a professional real estate photographer to take photos of the flip. In a modern world where nearly all buyers are shopping online for homes, amazing photos will get more people to actually come check out the home in person. No – your iPhone is not good enough.
  5. Always include a bowl of delicious chocolates on the countertop. Why? Because real estate agents like chocolates and will naturally think of your home when they are out showing properties to clients because they want that chocolate. At least that’s my theory.
  6. When staging, air mattresses (raised up with buckets and covered with sheets and blankets) look just like real beds. But much easier to move in and out!
  7. Find ways to minimize “awkward spots” in your flip using wall accents, plants, paint, and other bits of staging.
  8. Consider pricing the home with different price points based on features. For example, “$199,000 as is or $212,000 with the furniture included.”  This way, people will naturally compare between the two or three options, rather than compare with the house down the street. It’s an old marketing trick that works!
  9. Send out postcards to all the neighbors inviting them to “pick their new neighbor” by referring their family and friends to come buy the property.
  10. Read through my other list, “100 Tips for Selling Your Home Faster and For More Money.”  There are a lot more good ideas there!

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Ask for Help

Final House Flipping Tip

Finally, my last tip is this:

101. When in trouble, reach out to BiggerPockets for help. This is why we exist: to equip investors, both new and experienced, to find greater success in their real estate investments.

The BiggerPockets Forums are there for you to ask questions and get answers from real life real estate investors who are going through, or have been through, the same struggles you will experience.  And if you are an experienced flipper, we would love to have your wisdom and insight in the Forums as well.  So make it your goal, no matter where you are in your house flipping life, to spend 10 minutes a day on the Forums engaging with others.

So what do you think? Does this list help you jump into your next flip a little more prepared?  Let me know below and add a quick tip of your own! Maybe we can get this list to 1000 quick tips!

Lastly, if you haven’t yet shared this on your Twitter or Facebook, now is the perfect time! 😉

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner (G+ | Twitter) spends a lot of time on BiggerPockets.com. Like... seriously... a lot. Oh, and he is also an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, traveler, third-person speaker, husband, and author of "The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down", and "The Book on Rental Property Investing" which you should probably read if you want to do more deals.


  1. This was very helpful. I have an offer pending on my second rental, and am ready to start ramping up getting my rental business going. However, just recently a house was posted for sale. Looks great on the outside, but not updated and dead on the inside. I am considering attempting to flip or at least pay cash for it and get it up to par with what homes are selling for, and keep it rented. That will tie up capital, but at least I’ll have a free and clear rental with little risk, and a ton of write-offs.

    This article was helpful as I have 3-4 months to really think about my plan of going after a flip-type of home. Thank you for taking the time.

  2. 75a – Do not accept a certificate of insurance directly from the contractor, instead request the name of his insurance agent and request the COI directly from the agent. If you ever doubt the validity of the information on the COI, call the insuring company directly to verify coverage. Never work with uninsured contractors.

  3. Always go unannounced to your properties and check on your hired workers. Hired workers such as contractors, carpenters, painters, electrician, plumbers, etc. Why?
    1. These people now work for you….if they are not working as scheduled they are stealing money from your pockets….i.e. when the boss is away the workers will play
    2. Everyone does a better job when someone is looking over their shoulder and checking their work
    3. It will save you money and time in the long run. Example: Finding out the painter is using the wrong color paint after he finishes the living is better than finding out once he finishes painting the whole house.

  4. I like the chocolate tip – but what will keep ME from eating them all? At least I’d be motivated to check on vacant properties more often.
    Here’s are my tips:
    #1 If you can’t stage the entire home, at least buy bright curtains for bare rooms (unless you have beautiful woodwork). When a room is bare, the eye is drawn to every flaw in the room – slight dings in the walls, trim, or floor, etc. With curtains, the eye is drawn to the color and you don’t notice the minor flaws.
    #2 Paint the walls AND ceiling antique white. It saves a ton of time with edging, or even more if you spray. Light hits the walls and ceiling at different angles, making them appear to be different colors. Yes, it’s boring, but unlikely to offend anybody and makes the room seem bigger. Combined with tip #1 above, you get enough color in the room.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hah Amy – the funny thing is, this is an honest concern for me (About the chocolate… I’m an addict.) So what I did is found the kind of chocolate I personally don’t like (with cherry filling) and got that. However, by the end of the sale, i learned to love that kind. Dang it! Well, at least it will motivate us to check the house out often just to make sure it’s looking good 🙂

      And curtains – YES! Sometimes, I will just do curtains and plants. Easy, quick, and effective.

      And yes- I also do that!

      Thanks for the tips!

  5. One of the best articles by you. Brenden. Thank you for educating us. My 2 cents will be ” always get a 2nd bid from a different contractor so you could compare your cost”. You will be amazed sometime to see the BIG difference in cost.

  6. Douglas Larson on

    Great stuff as always Brandon! . . . although a viral video of you streaking though Josh’s home would probably get more hits than you could handle. Next time, take one for the team!

  7. Tom Reynolds

    Thank you for the all time and effort that obviously went into putting this list together. You’ve come up with some really great thoughts, suggestions and information. I’m constantly making and finding lists and some I keep. This is definitely a keeper. It goes to the front.

  8. Great site! happy to find your tips. I am a re- newed Landlord…. I was successful yrs ago renting with no problems.. Presently 2012-14 I just finished my third eviction….. on same home. Going nuts…. plus had to paint exterior/interior do plumbing and upgrade 70 yr. old house.
    Now its time to rent again. Must do better background checks and had to raise rent. ( I have a mortgage on property..
    any advice?

    • Charles Stengel

      I am just getting started out, buy rehab and sell. I will be doing the biggest part of rehab myself, is this a good idea, i have been in remodeling for many years. I will be starting out slow, dont want to get in over my head, thanks for the great list.

  9. Ashley Wilson

    Great post! I think instead of chocolate, you have chocolate chip cookies, and a chocolate chip cookie candle burning, so it creates the illusion that there are fresh baked cookies in the house and who doesn’t want to live in a house that has freshly based cookies?!?!? (Plus it spares you from the mess of actually making them!)

  10. Great article, you covered every topic vital to a successful house flip! Building your team helps to reduce cost and time in real estate investing, building that rapport is always beneficial. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Dan Yellowsky

    A few tips on contractors/workers
    1. yes stop by everyday – have a mini fridge on site and stock it with drinks – bring in donuts – buy lunch once in a while. $100 well spent
    2. “hire slow fire fast” goes for employees and contractors. If things are not going well with the contractor or workers fire them and find someone else. It seems like it is a delay but the time and materials and money that can be wasted by incompetent or unskillful workers is significant
    3. agree on a date when the job will be done and pay the contractor a bonus – say $200, $500, $1000 or whatever – maybe 5% of the project to finish on that date or sooner. It is free money for them – you will be able to stick to your schedule and every day delay costs you money. The worker/contractor will just push out their other customers to get your project done on time

  12. Dan Yellowsky

    Buyers only care about 2 or 3 features of a home – after seeing many houses they only remember a few things. Buyers are different. It may be the bathroom, or the stove, or the entry or the back yard. make sure you have 5 or 7 features that are common for buyers to fall in love with – then you have a winner. The ones i focus on – ensure they are great are: kitchen/stove/sink, master bedroom, master bathroom (shower, tub, vanity), entry and front door, lots of closet space, great curb appeal, driveway

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