The Pros and Cons of Fix and Flip Real Estate Investment
Last week, we covered The Pros and Cons of Buy and Hold Real Estate Investment for rental property investors. This week, we want to talk about the other most common type of real estate investment: “fix and flip.”
The Appeal of House Flipping
We all love the house flipping shows on HGTV and other reality channels. They’re great and they make the prospect of buying, renovating and flipping homes for big profits seem super sexy and fun. However, any experienced real estate investor will tell you it’s not quite as easy as they make it look. There’s a lot of work that goes into a successful fix and flip investment.
The basic premise of a fix and flip investment is pretty simple. You buy a property, usually one that needs some work and is available at a great price. You renovate the property, making the necessary repairs and upgrades to maximize its resale value. Then, you sell the property on the open market for the highest possible price. You get in and out as quickly as possible. Full-time flippers will move from property to property or will have multiple properties being worked on at the same time. Rather than the “buy and hold” strategy where you keep the house while earning rental income and equity over time, you are looking for the quick sale to earn your profits.
If you are going to explore house flipping—whether as a full-time career or just a side hustle—you will want to know exactly what you are getting into. That is why we are going to cover the pros and cons of fix and flip real estate investment in this article.
The Pros of Fix and Flip
Here are some of the pros of fix and flip investing:
- Faster Return on Investment—The biggest appeal of fix and flip investing is that it gives you a quicker return on investment. Buy and hold will take you longer to see your ROI. House flipping allows you to see your full profit (hopefully) as soon as the house sells. The average house flip for an experienced investor is around six months. It may take longer for a first-timer who is just learning how to do certain things.
- Fairly Safe Investment—As long as you do all your projections and calculations carefully and avoid any major problems along the way, house flipping is a relatively safe investment strategy compared to something as turbulent as the stock market. Real estate markets are generally predictable and the short time frame of a flip helps you avoid losses if the property happens to depreciate over a longer period of time.
- Exciting—There is a reason why there are so many reality shows based around flipping and none based on buy and hold investing. It’s an exciting process to buy a home, gut it and completely renovate it. Then, you get the ultimate reward of selling it and collecting the profits—as long as you do things right.
The Cons of Fix and Flip
Here are some of the cons of fix and flip investing:
- Upfront Expenses—A house flip will require a lot of upfront expenses. We’re not only talking about financing the house itself, but all the renovation costs and other expenses involved in the flip. You are laying out all that money at the beginning and only seeing your returns when the property sells. This can create cash flow issues and stress if you fall being schedule or go above your initial budget.
- Taxes—House flips will usually create dramatic swings in income year over year, and that can increase your tax bill. You have to pace things correctly to take advantage of specific capital gains tax rules. Capital gains taxes are higher on any property owned less than a year, so you have to find that balance of how long you own any specific investment properties and how long it takes to complete the renovation and sale. Before you get too deep into fix and flip investing, you will want to talk with your tax advisor to make sure you have the right plan in place.
- Surprises—All real estate investment is susceptible to surprises. You don’t always know what lies behind the walls until you start the renovation process. You cannot plan for everything as a real estate investor, but you have to be prepared for anything. It is a good idea to add some wiggle room in your budget and overestimate your renovation expenses/timeline to cover any surprises that may come up.
These are some of the biggest pros and cons of fix and flip real estate investment. Of course, there are other things you need to know as an investor, so be sure and do your homework in order to get the most out of your investment portfolio. Both fix and flip and buy and hold strategies can be highly lucrative if you do things right. There are no wrong answers, but there are wrong ways of doing things if you truly want to be successful in this field.
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