How to Pick a Property to Flip

You’ve seen the cable shows and infomercials about people getting rich flipping homes. Here’s how to get a piece of the action.

You will need

  • Real estate listings
  • A keen eye
  • A home inspector

Step 1 Look for buzzwords When searching the newspaper or a multiple listing service for a property, look for buzzwords like ‘handyman special,’ ‘as is,’ ‘fixer-upper,’ or ‘diamond in the rough.’

Step 2 Consider location Look for houses in up-and-coming neighborhoods with low crime rates.

Step 3 Walk neighborhoods Walk target neighborhoods looking for homes that appear vacant and in great disrepair. Look for poor or nonexistent landscaping, broken fences, peeling paint, old fixtures, outdated appliances—even an ugly front door.

Step 4 Dig deep Look for hidden gems in the home, like beautiful hardwood floors under musty old carpeting; a gorgeous stone exterior buried under decades of grime and soot.

Step 5 Check for time bombs Have the house inspected for hidden time bombs like termites, underground oil tank leaks, mold or asbestos, and other large-ticket problems like heating, cooling, or infrastructure defects. If everything checks out, it might be time to consider buying—and then the real work will begin.