"The surge in home flipping in the last three years is built on a more fundamentally sound foundation than the flipping frenzy that we witnessed a little more than a decade ago," said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at Attom Data Solutions. "While financing for flippers has become more readily available in recent years, 65 percent of flippers still used cash to buy homes flipped in 2017, nearly the reverse of 2004 to 2006, when 63 percent of flippers were leveraging financing to buy."
Today's flippers are seeing bigger gross flipping returns in dollar figures because they're dealing with much higher home prices and margins, but they are also putting more money into the projects, making the net return lower. The average gross flipping return on investment last year was 49.8 percent, down from 51.9 percent in 2016.
Taylor Denchfield has been flipping homes in Maryland since he was 17. At 25, he's a veteran with a strict strategy for profit. His net returns are about 30 percent per project.
"I'm a real estate agent so I'm able to both buy and sell the deals myself saving on the listing commission. I'm a builder, so I do have all the contractors and staff in-house to complete everything from start to finish. And I do have contacts to source off-market deals. Three of those things combined is really what permits me to be more profitable than some others," he said.
Denchfield purchased a small home in Silver Spring, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, last September. He put about $80,000 worth of work into it, and the bet paid off. He sold the property in two weeks and expects to make a net profit of about $100,000.
"You have to be able to get in for a low enough price, it has to be a hot enough neighborhood and you have to know exactly what the build is going to entail," he said.
Denchfield does use leverage for some of his deals, and private lending for house flipping is now a growing trade. While Fannie Mae will back as many as 10 investor loans per flipper, it is still very strict with underwriting, so flippers are increasingly going to private lenders.
"There is more capital available now," said Bobby Montagne, CEO of Walnut Street Finance, a Virginia-based private lender specializing in investor loans. "People are seeing others making profits in this space, so more people are going to join the party."