Have you found yourself contemplating flipping a house for the first time? Or you’ve flipped a house in the past, and something went terribly wrong. Now you want to know what other home renovators are and aren’t doing.

Whether you’re searching to flip a house in Ventura, CA, or a home in Las Vegas, NV, this Redfin article offers valuable tips to save time and money. From selecting the best location to choosing a reliable contractor and marketing your property, we’ve got you covered.

1. Do consider the location

Choosing a location is one of the most important factors when you flip a home. For starters, if you plan to actively participate in the renovation process, you’ll want to ensure the commute is close. However, to assemble the right team (contractors, painters, designers, etcetera), you’ll also want to be sure that anyone working on the home can access it readily and isn’t deterred by the distance.

Now, from the perspective of when you go to sell the property, location is equally important. Flipping a home in an area with active demand for your listing can make or break the deal. If you plan to keep the property as a rental, consider both short-term and long-term demand. Would it be best to be located near the city for visitors to access hot commodities quickly? Or is the home a retreat tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the world and instead amongst the quiet wilderness?

Rui Wang, is the VP of marketing for Ark7, an online platform for investing in fractional real estate. She recommends having a rental property near an urban center. This will boost occupancy rates and give easy access to travelers.

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2. Do budget accordingly

Numbers are critical when it comes to flipping a house. Spend too much, and you’ll find yourself at a financial loss. On the other hand, spending less may find yourself struggling for occupancy or buyers.

Real estate finance gurus, BiggerPockets, discuss the importance of calculating after-repair value (ARV). What is the property going to be worth after repairs? To determine a property ARV, you must know its current value, the value of the renovations, and perform a comparable market analysis (CMA). A good rule of thumb to help you along the way is the 70% Rule, which states that you shouldn’t pay more than 70% of the ARV minus the repairs needed.

Konstantin Podyachev, CEO of Expo Home Buyers, recommends “setting aside a buffer of around 10-15% for unexpected expenses.” These expenses can arise throughout the renovation process; the last thing you want is to be financially strung out. In the best-case scenario, everything goes according to plan, and the 10-15% stays in your pocket.

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3. Do consult with a real estate agent

Even before you purchase a home to renovate, you’ll want to consult a real estate agent. Agents are equipped with a vast knowledge of the area you desire to purchase and can guide you through the process. From learning about recently sold or leased homes comparable to your vision, it’s essential to understand what you’re up against.

Additionally, assembling a team of contractors, designers, appraisers, and inspectors can be challenging. Having a real estate agent as a guiding resource to connect with those individuals can be a step in the right direction.

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4. Don’t assume your plan can’t be derailed

Try to assemble a foolproof plan when beginning the process of renovating a home; however, don’t expect it to stay that way. If you plan to reconfigure the layout by demolishing walls or ripping beneath the surface of the floors, you never know what may be discovered.

Termites, asbestos, mold, and other jarring, plan-wrecking things may be found beyond what the eye first sees. Before purchasing a property, perform due diligence and have an inspector review the house. They should look at everything from sewage pipes and water lines to foundation and structural integrity.

Bobbie Wasserman, Founder and CEO of Single Lady Estates, shares to bring in a specialist if concerns arise. “Their insights can provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the current state of the home’s critical (and expensive to repair) systems.”

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5. Don’t cut corners, but don’t over rehab

The lowest contractor bid is constantly enticing. However, before deciding, be sure you’re asking to see a portfolio of anyone’s work (maybe even touring a current project). Another helpful tip is to read reviews or connect with someone they’ve worked with before to hear firsthand how well they executed their vision.

Will Rugeley, marketing manager for Good Vibes Homebuyers, shares that in 2020 their team bought a home for $15,000, sold it for $143,000, yet lost $8,500. This happened because they chose a contractor with the lowest bid before vetting them. Based on early estimates, Will and his team were significantly over budget as expenses continued to arise. He now advises “being wary of strangely high or low rehab estimates.”

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6. Do consider the design

You’ve considered the location; now it’s time for the fun part, crafting the home’s design. First and foremost, decide if you’re going to design it yourself or if you’re going to hire a professional interior designer. 

Designing a home as a short-term rental (such as an Airbnb or VRBO) can be much different than how you’d create one for a long-term rental or to sell. For short-term rentals, Wang suggests molding each room into a “functional oasis, where guests are treated to both essential amenities and supreme comfort.” This is reflected in Ark7’s Seattle-D1 property, where the blue exterior and tall trees seamlessly compliment the warm, quintessential interior.

When designing a long-term rental or selling property, the saying “less is more” may be helpful. Consider prospective buyers or renters touring your magnificently curated property; you’ll want them to picture their life in the home. That life may mean leaving room for accent walls or taking inspiration from what you’ve already designed and offering a higher price tag for added features.

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7. Don’t forget about marketing

After pouring your heart and soul into designing the perfect property, the last thing you want to forget about is marketing. Your real estate agent will be the greatest asset for introducing your home to potential buyers or renters. 

The experts at Old Pueblo Stucco share the reminder of creating stunning curb appeal so that there is a “wow” factor at first glance. Hire a photographer or videographer to capture the best angles of everything that makes your home unique. Additionally, be sure you (or your agent) have written an attractive copy that will be front and center within the property description, highlighting all the best features.

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Final thoughts on do’s and don’ts for flipping a house:

Flipping a home can seem extraordinarily overwhelming. Remembering integral parts can serve as your guiding light from start to finish. Learn from people along the way, consult experts, and continue diving into online resources available when you need clarification.

Beyond the challenges and the windy road that is “do this” or “don’t do that” lies an incredible experience of what is your piece of art coming to life.