How to Start a House Flipping Business

A house flipping business can be personally and financially rewarding. When you buy a flip house, you typically start with a house that needs extensive repairs. Seeing the property transform can feel very rewarding.

There’s a shortage of available housing in the real estate market all over the United States. The majority of buyers want a house that is “move-in ready” and not one that needs work. When your flip house is ready for occupation, you’ll have no shortage of buyers.

how to start flipping houses

The Basics of House Flipping: What is a House Flip?

A house flip involves purchasing a property, often in a distressed condition, renovating it to increase its value, and then selling it for a profit. The process typically includes finding the right property, securing financing, managing renovations, and selling the property. House flipping has become more popular due to the shortage of available homes, making it an excellent avenue for those curious about how to make money in real estate.

House flipping has become more popular due to the shortage of available homes in the real estate market.

how to start flipping houses

Benefits of Starting Your Own House Flipping Business

The house flipper who’s made a savvy purchase should realize a good gain when the house is sold.

Some house flippers are skilled in many facets of home improvement, while others are not. Either way, the house flipper must be organized and able to plan the steps of a business plan for their renovation project. House flipping businesses are also a significant part of real estate business ideas.

House flipping businesses give people a great way to get started in the real estate investment business. Many times, the profit margin on a flip may be equivalent to a healthy salary in a “normal” job.

how to start flipping houses

Essential Steps: How to Start Flipping Houses

RequirementPurposeHow to ObtainAdditional Notes
Initial CapitalTo purchase property, renovation, and other initial costsSavings, Loans, or InvestorsMake sure to have enough for unexpected expenses
Business PlanTo outline your flipping strategyCreate one yourself or hire a consultantInclude costs, timelines, and profit estimates
Market ResearchTo identify profitable locations and property typesOnline sources, market studies, real estate agentsFocus on high-demand areas with growth potential
Legal StructureFor tax and liability purposesRegister as an LLC, Sole Proprietor, etc.Consult a legal advisor
Real Estate License (optional)To save on buying/selling commissionsState Real Estate CommissionNot mandatory but can be beneficial
ContractorsFor property renovationReferrals, online directoriesMake sure they are licensed and insured
Property InspectorTo evaluate the condition of a potential propertyLicensed professionalLook for someone experienced in the type of property you’re buying
Real Estate AgentTo help find and purchase propertiesReferrals, online reviewsChoose one familiar with house flipping or investment properties
Financing OptionsFor buying and renovating propertiesTraditional loans, hard money lenders, private investorsEach has its own pros and cons
Accounting SoftwareFor budgeting and financial trackingPurchase online or through a vendorUseful for tax purposes and financial analysis

Research the Real Estate Market

Researching the local real estate market is crucial for understanding real estate statistics and local trends, property values, and potential profit margins. This research can help you decide should you invest in real estate or not.

Analyze the neighborhood, recent sales data, and the demand for renovated homes as you get your start as a real estate investor/house flipper.

how to start flipping houses

Building a Network: Why Every House Flipper Needs a Real Estate Agent

While not always necessary, a real estate agent can provide valuable insights, access to MLS listings, and assistance with the buying and selling process. They can be especially helpful for beginners and essential in the list of business startup checklist.

A real estate agent may also have the inside track on properties that are soon to be listed for sale.

Securing Financing with Hard Money Lenders

There are various ways to secure financing, including traditional bank loans, hard money lenders, or private investors. The choice depends on your financial situation and risk tolerance. Hard money lenders and private investors may be more flexible but often come with higher interest rates.

how to start flipping houses

Real Estate Investors: Finding the Right Property

In a typical county in the US, there will be a school district, neighborhood, or town that is most desirable to future buyers. Properties in these areas have excellent potential for profitable flipping but may need extensive renovations. Understanding common business structures can help you navigate this terrain more efficiently.

However, a property that’s got a perfect location may need renovations that are extremely expensive. Repairs to the foundation, electrical system, and septic system (if private) can be very costly. Many houses may have a functioning on-lot septic system, but if the system is old, it may fail a modern septic test, which applies a hydraulic load of water to it. If there is no community sewage, repairs to on-lot private systems can cost a minimum of $30,000.

Other costly repairs involve the removal of mold and asbestos, replacement of lead pipes, and repair of fire damage or roofs.

A house flipper may want to employ a home inspector to check a potential property.

how to start flipping houses

Planning and Executing Renovations

Some properties can benefit hugely from a total cleanout, while others require more extensive work. A comprehensive website startup guide can assist you in project management, especially if you’re new to this type of business.

If a new roof is needed, of course, start there – it would not be wise to do any interior work on a property that has a leaky roof.

Stick to your budget. Some renovations done in today’s competitive housing market are termed “lipstick” repairs – which means that a coat of paint or thick carpet has disguised problems.

If you insist on high-quality work that will add value to your property when it comes time to sell. Providing high-quality homes will add to your reputation in the real estate market.

how to start flipping houses

Setting up Your House Flipping Business Infrastructure

Business Bank Account

You’ll need a business bank account to house purchases and sales and the costs of renovations. Keeping a separate business bank account will make things easier at tax time.

The sale of a flipped house is typically reported as a capital gain at tax time. If you’ve resided in a house for two years, you don’t pay capital gains (according to current federal tax guidelines), but if it’s a house you’ve purchased to renovate and sell, you’ll owe capital gains on the profit. The percentage of capital gains depends on your overall income tax bracket.

how to start flipping houses

Commercial Property Insurance: Protecting Your Investment

You’ll need homeowners insurance on your flip house. This insurance is typically more expensive because the house is not occupied.

During renovations, you’ll need a specialized insurance policy known as “builder’s risk insurance” to cover the property while it’s under construction. This policy typically protects against damage from theft, fire, vandalism, and other risks.

Growing Your House Flipping Business

Assembling a Reliable Team

Waiting for a contractor for a specific aspect of the renovation, such as electrical work or plumbing, can hold up the whole project. Work hard to assemble a team of reliable contractors. Working with reliable contractors is crucial for maintaining a schedule and ensuring quality work. Consulting with someone knowledgeable about the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) ensures that you’re adhering to building code requirements and are equipped with the essential building blocks for new businesses to succeed.

You may also want to consult with someone who is knowledgeable about the Uniform Construction Code (UCC). The consultant can make sure that within the scope of the work, you’re adhering to the building code requirements.

For example, a window in a bedroom must be large enough to be used as an exit. Electrical outlets must be located no more than 6 feet apart. Two separate types of heat can’t be vented out the same chimney (such as propane and wood). These are just some basics; the UCC has a bookful of guidelines. If you’re not familiar with the UCC, you should consider consulting with or hiring someone who is until you become familiar with it.

how to start flipping houses

Navigating Challenges and Risks

When you’re negotiating to buy a property and calculating estimated renovation costs, leave yourself a cushion. It’s likely that in every project, an unexpected repair may appear.

For example, you tear out the old kitchen cabinets to find that the wall behind them has rotted from a sink leak. You’re insulating the basement and spot termite or powder post beetle damage in the wooden beams.

Although the real estate market has been strong for many months, in any economy, things can change. You can mitigate market fluctuations by not over-extending on your house flipping projects. Keep six months of income in a savings account.

how to start flipping houses

Diversifying Your Investment Strategy

Expanding into renting or commercial properties is a strategic decision. Some house flippers diversify their business by becoming landlords or flipping commercial properties, but it requires a different skill set and resources.

Although it may be wise to diversify, don’t spread yourself too thin. Becoming a landlord can come with a whole new set of problems to tackle and require a lot of time.

how to start flipping houses

FAQs: How to Start Flipping Houses

How much money is needed to start a house flipping business?

The amount of money needed to start a house flipping business varies widely based on location and the scope of the projects. Generally, you’ll need enough capital for the purchase, renovations, carrying costs, and contingency funds. It can range from tens of thousands to millions of dollars.

How do you flip a house for the first time?

Our best advice is to start small, with a house that needs mostly cosmetic work such as cleaning, basic construction work and painting. If you feel confident at the starting gate that you’ve got a team of contractors plus your own experience to hit the ground running, you can take on a bigger project.

What is the 70% rule in house flipping?

The 70% rule is a guideline that suggests you should not pay more than 70% of the after-repair value (ARV) of a property, minus the renovation costs. This helps ensure a healthy profit margin.

Is it still profitable to flip houses?

Yes, there is a shortage of available housing in the U.S., making it an excellent time for those who are exploring how to start a business in real estate.

How long does it typically take to flip a house?

The average duration of a house flip varies depending on the extent of renovations. Typically, it takes anywhere from a few months to a year to complete a flip. Faster flips can be more profitable due to reduced carrying costs.

How is profit from the sale of flip houses reported at tax time?

When you sell a flip house, any profit you make is generally considered a capital gain. However, tax laws can be complex and may vary by location, so it’s advisable to consult with a tax professional for accurate guidance on reporting and taxes related to house flipping.

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Lisa Price Lisa Price is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 4 years. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in journalism from Shippensburg State College (Pennsylvania). She is also a freelance writer and previously worked as a newspaper circulation district manager and radio station commercial writer. In 2019, Lisa received the (Pennsylvania) Keystone Award.