Buyer be smart - 8 flipped house red flags
When you’re in the market for a home, flipped houses hold a certain allure. The sparkling new countertops. The shiny new hardwood or laminate flooring. The pristine carpets. The twinkling porcelain in the bathrooms. The trendy recessed lighting.
But don’t forget: all that glitters isn’t gold. You’re spending a substantial amount of money to buy a home, so you want to be sure the renovations were done using high-quality materials and thorough, professional workmanship.
The point of this article isn’t to discourage you from buying a flipped house. Lots of flips are high-quality homes you can move into with minimal effort because the hard work of renovation has been done for you. But you need to look at them very critically.
If you’re not sure how to identify a flipped house, the simplest way is to look at the sales history on a site like Zillow. A flip is usually bought at way below market price and resold for a significant markup within a few months of that purchase.
Here are 8 red flags to be on the lookout for when you explore a flipped house:
Unfinished cosmetic details
When it comes to renovations, the big things matter most. But the first indication that renovations may have been rushed, or steps skipped, is minor cosmetic details. If you notice unfilled nail holes, uncaulked corners, uneven paint jobs, dents and scratches on new appliances, drawers that don’t close flush, etc., those could be signs that the renovations were rushed, and that beneath the veneer of newness, you may find some major issues.
Unresponsive switches and knobs
Act like a curious child when you’re walking through a prospective home: flip every switch, turn every knob, and lift every latch. Make sure the lights come on quickly and don’t flicker. Turn on all the faucets, flush all the toilets, turn on the range burners, turn on the dryer. If anything falters, or doesn’t work at all, raise a discerning eyebrow.
Exposed wires — inside or outside the house—are another sign of a rushed renovation. Even your home inspector won’t look behind the walls at the wiring, so pay close attention to these indicators that corners may have been cut. Outlets that have two prongs instead of three, as well as junction boxes with fuses instead of circuit breakers, are signs of outdated electrical systems that will be difficult to maintain.
New hardwood and laminate flooring are the hallmark of a flip, but can easily be laid over flooring in varying levels of disrepair. Walk around on the floor looking for signs of sloping, buckling, gapping, and, worst of all, separation from the ground (meaning when you step on the plank, you feel it bounce because it’s not laid properly or fully bonded to the floor).
Signs of moisture
Water damage can lead to very costly repairs. Many flips go to great lengths to cover up leaks, puddles and other signs of water infiltration. Look for warping, bubbling, and mold around door jambs, ceilings, and windows. Condensation on windows may be a sign the windows aren’t sealed properly. If the home has a basement, walk around looking for signs of dried puddles and the smell of mold or mildew.
Windows are expensive to replace, and crucial to energy efficiency and safety. Open and close every window to make sure the locks function, the windows slide up and down smoothly, and they seal tightly when you close and lock them.
Old HVAC system
Replacing the furnace, A/C, and water heater are some of the most costly repairs to a home, so make sure you examine these units closely. Look at the stickers to find the installation date. If the units are more than 10 years old, you may have to replace them within the first five years of living in the home.
Replacing a roof is an extremely costly repair. If you can see any sections of the roof from the ground, look for cracking, peeling, broken shingles, etc.
These are just possible warning signs that a flipped house may not be worth your time or hard-earnedmoney. When push comes to shove, rely on your home inspection to find the real problems, if there are any.
We hope you find exactly what you’re looking for. Happy house hunting!
A note from your lending specialist
If you find a great home, I can help you explore your mortgage options.
MAP5352287 | 12/2022