It is dirty, financially risky and potentially dangerous work, but depending on the current direction of the housing market, it can be highly profitable. But home "flipping," defined as buying and selling a home within a short period of time for the sole purpose of making money, is now on the slide.
Home prices rose dramatically last year and are now easing, leaving a very small margin for flippers.
"Home flipping is settling back into a more historically normal pattern after a flurry of flipping during the recent run-up in home prices in 2012 and 2013," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "Flippers no longer have the luxury of 20 to 30 percent annual price gains to pad their profits. As the market softens, successful flippers will need to focus on finding properties that they can buy at a discount and efficiently add value to."
So now many are looking to high-end neighborhoods to reap big profits.
Real estate agent Christal Goetz and her contractor husband, Eric, found a home in a sought-after northwest Washington, D.C., location in January. The four bedroom, three bath house was nothing short of a disaster inside, so they got a good deal, paying about $535,000 for it.
"We definitely look for location, it has to be a great location where we know it's going to be in high demand," said Christal. "We look for good bones to the structure, but also what can make it really unique and interesting."