Learning how to flip a house for the first time doesn’t have to be complicated!
If you’re looking for a simple step-by-step guide to follow on how to flip a house as a first timer, then you’ve come to the right place!
In this Ultimate Guide, I’m going to show you everything you need to know when it comes to learning how to flip a house for profit.
You’ll even learn how to flip a house without using your own money, with bad credit, and even with no credit.
I completed my first house flip at the young age of 20 years old, and I’m no genius. If I can do this, then so can you!
Ready to get started? Let’s dive right into this simple, step-by-step tutorial for how to flip a house.
Enjoy The Ultimate Guide On How To Flip A House For The First Time!
(Click below to jump to any section of your choosing)
Let's get right into it...
To flip a house means to buy a house, renovate it to current market trends, and resell it for a profit.
This house flipping business model is also known as “fixing and flipping,” “renovating fixer uppers,” and/or “rehabbing houses.”
Learning the process of how to fix and flip houses should be thoroughly understood in order to have the best chance of making money on a deal.
Let’s dive into one of the most common questions we get from beginners looking to flip a house for the first time:
No, you do not need a real estate license to flip houses!
You do not need a real estate license to flip houses because you are acting as “the buyer” when buying the property, and “the seller” when selling the property once the home has been flipped.
Since you're acting as the buyer and/or seller in the transaction, it is a licensed real estate agent’s duty to represent you in the transaction.
As a house flipper, you are a real estate investor who makes money from buying properties, renovating them, and reselling them for a profit. None of this requires a real estate license!
Now let’s get into how to flip a house step by step:
Here are the steps we are going to discuss cover in detail for how to flip a house:
Let's get into Step #1 - Fund It!
So, why is funding your house flip step number one in the process?
Because in order to even fix and flip a house you need access to the funds available to buy it!
Now there are 2 main ways to get the money in order to buy a house to flip. They are:
If you have your own capital to buy a fixer upper and to pay renovations, then you’re in an advantageous position and ahead of most beginner real estate investors!
However, most aspiring real estate investors do not have a lot of money, or have no credit or bad credit, so this is where the 2nd option comes in:
A common term I’d like to make you familiar with in the real estate investing space is “Other People’s Money (OPM).”
What this means is that you are leveraging someone’s money by borrowing their capital in order to complete the real estate deal.
It’s vital to understand the concept of OPM so that you can understand how the serious house flippers doing 10+ deals a month and 100+ deals a year are able to do this amount of volume.
And it’s not because these fix & flippers use their own money, but because they leverage Other People’s Money.”
Because an experienced fix & flipper does not want all of their capital tied up in the purchase and renovation of the properties they're flipping.
Depending on the prices of real estate in your market, flipping multiple properties at a time can easily tie up hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars.
So, by leveraging Other People’s Money to cover the costs of buying and renovating houses, you are now able to complete more fix and flip deals!
Let’s dive into how to get the money to finance a fix and flip by using the concept of Other People’s Money:
When I started learning how to flip houses at 19 years old, I didn’t have the funds to buy these properties. So what do you do if you don't have any credit or any money?
Here are the 4 types of lenders you can use for the money to flip a house (remember, this is Other People’s Money!):
These types of people and lenders are in the business of lending money on real estate deals. Meaning, they want to lend capital on your real estate deals.
Because when you borrow money from these types of lenders, they will typically want a return on investment (ROI), in the form of an interest rate on the borrowed capital.
This is a fair deal since you otherwise would not be able to buy and flip a house without using their money!
Now that you understand how to get the money and who lends it out. Let’s get into…
Here are 5 ways on how to find money to flip a house:
REIA Meetings stand for Real Estate Investors Association Meetings. These meetings are where those interested in real estate investing come to network.
A lot of the time, lenders who are in the business of financing house flips will be present at these meetings. This is a great place to find the money needed to flip a house!
Meetup.com is an online listing website displaying physical meet up events across the nation for various topics. You can use this website to find meetings on the topics of “real estate investing,” “house flipping,” and “creative financing” in order to find the lenders for the money to flip a house.
This is where you ask family & friends to invest in your real estate deals. This way of finding the money for real estate deals can sometimes be the easiest if you have great relationships. Be cautious with this strategy as one bad deal can hurt those relationships.
Finding money to flip houses doesn’t always have to happen from physically going to events. You can simply use the Google Search Engine to type in searches in your area to find money for flipping houses. Such has “hard money lender near me, “local hard money lenders,” “private money lenders near me,” etc., Be sure to use Google as a quick and easy resource.
Believe it or not, blogging is a great way to attract lenders to you.
For example, from consistently adding value through the Real Estate Skills Blog, we've had nationwide hard money and private money lenders reach out to us wanting to lend!
If you consistently add value through blogging on your website, then you can attract the money needed for real estate deals, too.
These are 5 great ways on how to find money to flip a house. Take action, utilize all 5 of these strategies, and you’ll be able to find money to flip a house fairly quickly.
Once again, “Fund It” is step number one so that you are aware of the lenders to leverage for when it comes time for step 3 of “Buy It.”
Most aspiring real estate investors are unaware of how to fund their real estate deals, or try to learn this process only once they find a property to flip.
However, I want you to work smarter, and not harder by being aware of how to get money for real estate deals first before you find a house to flip.
This way you are prepared and know how to fund the deal!
Now, that you understand “Step 1) Fund It!,” let’s go into “Step 2) Find It!” where we’ll cover how to find houses to flip!
Now it may be apparent already, but the type of property you’re looking to flip is a house. Not office buildings, not land, not apartment buildings, not storage spaces, etc.,
While you can “flip” any type of real estate, each type of real estate requires a different approach to understand.
By narrowing your focus to only houses, you’re able to learn and get results much quicker rather than focusing on multiples types of real estate!
Real Estate Skills Lingo Tip: Keep in mind that a house is also called “a single family residence,” “single family house,” “single family dwelling,” and “detached house.”
Now, let’s get into:
In order to be a successful house flipper, you want to find houses with these two important characteristics:
When you find a home in a distressed condition and situation, you are now finding houses that most likely be sold at a discount. Additionally, you are finding motivated sellers that have a motivation to sell. This means a higher likelihood of getting your offer accepted, and the likelihood of larger profits.
You do not want to find houses that are already completely renovated and that do not need any fixing. This is because these homes will most likely go to a first-time homebuyer and you will not be able to get the house at a low price.
So, let’s get into what Distressed Condition and Distressed Situation means so you can find the best houses to flip!
Distressed Condition means that a house needs repairs and updating to be brought up to current market trends. A house in a distressed condition can have value added to it through a renovation.
As a real estate investor and as a house flipper, you need to find properties needing value added to it so you can make as large of a profit as possible!
Here are some tips for finding houses in a distressed condition in need of fixing & flipping:
Look for properties that have not been renovated since the 1940s, 50s’, 60s, 70s, 80s, and so on - all of these properties are “outdated” from current market trends and can be updated by fixing them and adding value.
Look for houses that have deferred maintenance such as dead grass, weeds, overgrown shrubbery, pools not being maintained, fences not being fixed, a hoarder house, etc.,
Look for properties that need major repairs like: cracked slabs, roofs, faulty electrical wiring, mold, and fire damage. All of these types of properties most of the time cannot go to a typical homeowner buyer since a conventional lender will not lend on it with these types of issues.
Now, the 2nd part of the properties you want to find are motivated sellers in a distressed situation:
Now you also want to find sellers in a distressed situation:
Examples of properties in a distressed situation are:
When sellers are in a distressed situation, they have a motivation to sell their fixer upper house.
This is important to understand because if someone isn’t motivated to sell, then they won’t sell to you!
In both of these situations, most of the houses need to be purchased for all cash. Take note that a home needing to be purchased for all cash is typically a great sign for you as a fix & flip investor. This is because an average home buyer needs to get a mortgage to buy a property. And if a property needs to sell for all cash due to its distressed condition then, the average homebuyer who needs a mortgage cannot buy it.
As a reminder, the lenders you learned about in the section of “Fund It” provide the cash that you need to be able to purchase these properties.
Now, that you to look for distressed real estate, let’s get into strategies for how to find houses to fix and flip...
Here are 7 strategies for how to find houses to flip:
In my opinion, the most consistent & easiest way to find houses to flip is by utilizing the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is the database of all the houses for sale “on the market.”
We, and our students, use the MLS to consistently find house flip deals since there are new properties uploaded to the MLS every single day!
Now, not every house on the MLS is considered distressed real estate. In fact, a majority of the properties won’t be distressed on the MLS. So be aware that you’ll just have to search through the MLS and read the description of each property to see if it is considered distressed.
One of the biggest benefits of the MLS is that all of the contact information (phone number, email, & address) for person in charge of the deal is on the MLS. By utilizing this strategy, there’s no need use skip tracing or to use other methods to find the contact info since it’s already there for you!
The MLS is our #1 strategy we’ve been using for 8+ years without having to spend $1 in on real estate marketing! It’s highly recommended if you do not have the extra money available to spend money on marketing.
If you are going to spend marketing dollars, then Google PPC for real estate is one of the best ways to find fix and flip deals.
PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click. This is when you advertise on google to become a paid search result at the top of the search engine
Now, instead of you having to actively go find deals, the people looking to sell their house can actively find you to buy their home since you come up in the paid search results!
Each time someone clicks your Ad you are then charged, hence the title “pay per click.”
The best real estate PPC strategies are when you target specific keywords that motivated sellers type into Google, such as “sell my house fast,” “sell my home fast,” “stop foreclosure fast,” and “foreclosure help,” etc.,
Here’s an example of what a great ad looks like:
PPC is a great way to have leads come to you as a real estate investor. At Real Estate Skills, we actually provide these PPC services for real estate investors and professionals. Feel free to reach out if you need help with PPC management!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is when you optimize your website to rank well on the online search engines. This is more a long-term strategy for online marketing to find real estate leads and actually attracts the leads to you!
The best website we’ve seen to help you with SEO is definitely Carrot (also known as Investor Carrot).
An example of SEO would be if you wrote a blog article on “How To Sell Your House Fast In Greenville, South Carolina.” Now, if you write a blog article on this and someone searches this phrase into google, over time you can become one of the top search results!
Bandit Signs are inexpensive signs that you can put on busy intersections (or where people will see them every day). They typically have a short, direct message such as “We Buy Houses Cash” and then have your phone number on them to call.
This is a easy way to have leads come to you. This real estate marketing strategy has a low barrier to entry so a lot beginner investors use this strategy.
Direct mail is when you send marketing postcards, yellow letters, and other types of mail to distressed homeowners in order to have them reach out to you for their services.
This is when you drive around neighborhoods and write down the addresses, then either door knock, mail, or call the homeowner in order to see if they’d like to sell their property.
Up until recently, driving for dollars has been a slow & antiquated approach to finding fix & flip deals.
That was until David Lecko (the CEO of Deal Machine) created a driving for dollars app that exponentially speeds up the process.
DealMachine allows you to take a photo of a property, skip trace, and then send direct mail to the homeowner directly through their app! Ultimately, saving you hours of time and allowing you to find more houses to flip.
Want to try DealMachine out for free?
REIAs, Broker caravans, Telling friends and family members that you’re a real estate investor that will buy houses. These are all great ways to start getting deals and find houses to flip by word of mouth marketing.
REAL ESTATE SKILLS TIP: Focus on 1-2 Marketing Strategies to find houses to flip first. This will drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to find your first house flip. You will be able to truly master a couple strategies rather than be the jack of all trades.
Now you know how to find a house to flip, let’s go into the next step which is analyzing it making sure it’s a great deal.
Every successful house flipper needs to know how to find these three numbers in order to analyze a house flip appropriately:
Once you're able to find these three numbers, it becomes easy to determine if your house flip is a great, good, or bad deal!
Let's get into each number so you can analyze house flips...
ARV means After Repair Value. This is the future estimated price once the property has been repaired (fixed up) to current market trends.
In order to find the ARV, you need to use “Real Estate Comps.” Real Estate Comp are other sold comparable properties similar to the house you want to flip.
For example, if the house you want to flip is a 3 bed / 2 bath 1,300 square foot property, then you want to find other properties with the same bed & bath count and size to determine the future sales price of your property.
Check out our article here for how to find real estate comps to determine the house value (ARV).
“Rehab costs” is used interchangeably with “repair costs.” This number essentially means how much does it cost to repair the property?
The best and easiest way to do this is to get at least 3 estimates from general contractors on the repairs needed for the property. A general contractor is the licensed professional who can manage and complete the renovation for a house flip.
Check out our article here on how to find & choose the best general contractor for your next house flip.
Once you have the ARV and rehab/repair costs down, now you want to calculate any other estimated costs like: closing costs, real estate commissions, utilities, lien payoffs, interest on any money borrowed (also known as holding costs), insurance, and/or HOA (Homeowners Association) fees.
Now, we’re able to reverse engineer the deal in order to understand the necessary purchase price to receive a profit.
Here’s a house flipping example so you can see how the numbers work:
The property I wanted to flip had an ARV of $525,000. This ARV determined by looking at the real estate comps in the area and seeing what they sold at.
The repair costs needed on the property were $40,000. This was determined by getting qualified general contractors to see the property and from analyzing their work bids.
The estimated time this property would take to buy, renovate, & resell was 5 months.
All of the other costs (closing costs, commissions, taxes, utilities, etc.,) added up to about $51,000 thousand.
Here are the final estimated numbers:
As you can see that after all costs, this deal was going to be a solid one. We decided to buy it.
Here's a picture of the house flip we bought after doing our analysis:
Let’s get into the next step, which is How To Buy A House To Flip:
Now, that you’ve found the deal and the numbers make sense. It’s time to buy the deal.
Remember that I made Step #1 “Fund it” because you need money to be able to buy the house flip. Without any capital, you cannot buy a fixer upper to renovate and sell.
So, now that you have begun the process of networking and finding the money, it’s now time to have it come to fruition.
Whatever lender you use (Private, Hard, JV Partners, or Banks), they are going to want to see your numbers on the deal, which I just showed you how to get in previous section (“Analyze It.”)
As a first timer flipping a house, I recommend using a mix of Hard Money and Private Money in order to buy the house.
This is because a hard money lender will typically lend a percentage of the purchase price and/or repairs, but not the entire amount.
Let’s keep using the real life house flipping example so you can see how this works.
The property I wanted to buy had a purchase price of $390,000. The Hard Money Lender I met at a REIA was willing to give me a hard money loan of 80% of the purchase price of the house, which was $312,000.
So now there was an estimated $118,000 I need to borrow to have the additional fund to purchase the property and to have the additional funds to repair the property.
Funding the additional $118,000 came from Private Money Lenders. This private money consisted of friends and other real estate professionals that wanted to make a return on their capital.
So, we got the money part down thoroughly, now you have to close on the deal!
Some states use an escrow company, title company, real estate attorneys, and/or real estate agents to close deals. To reference a guide of state by state closings go here.
Lastly, you will need to:
1) Complete All Necessary Inspections, &
2) Get a Title Search Report
Before you buy the property you want to make sure you’ve completed all necessary inspections. If this is your first house flip, then I recommend getting a property inspection from a licensed property inspector.
It’s the property inspectors job to go through the house and tell you everything that needs to be improved on the property. This is not a general contractor’s estimate bid, but is extremely helpful and worth the $200 to $400 that an inspector can charge.
A title company performs a title search to make sure that the owners of the property are who they say they are.
Additionally, a title search will look at public records for liens, judgements, and other possible claims against the property in case there are any.
If a title search comes back with issues, then you can:
If the property has too many things wrong with it, or if too many unexpected things come up, then know walking away from the deal can be the best solution at times.
Sometimes the best deals you do are the deals you never buy! There are always better deals out there, so don’t get too caught up on one!
Now, let’s get into the FIXING!
Now, some first timers think that this is the time to roll up their sleeves and do the work themselves! This is definitely not recommend!
Why? Well, unless your a professional contractor at renovating, then don’t do it. It will take too long, and is not a great habit to get into.
You want to leverage a general contractor who can manage and complete the renovation.
During the analyzing process, you’re going to want to get at least 3 different general contractor bids what the house needs in order to be a successful flip. You should have gotten these bids already so that you can factor in the costs for the renovation.
Here’s an example of the Scope of Work and the repair costs for this particular house flip:
A good rule of thumb is that it will take a week of time for the general contract to complete $10,000 worth of repairs.
Even then, it’s wise to be conservative and to expect that the renovation will take longer than expected, this way if the general contractor finishes under the estimated time, you’ll be ahead of schedule!
I’m sure you’re wondering how should I renovate the house?
Does the house need the best appliances? Does the house need to hardwood, or laminate flooring?
Well, there is not one set answer to these questions, but the best way to determine how you should renovate the house is to look at what type of finishes the comparable properties have in the area.
You want to renovate your house flip to be in a similar updated condition to the other comparables in the area. The comparables set the benchmark. This way you can hit your ARV (After Repair Value) with confidence when it comes to selling the property.
Here are photos of this home being renovated during the "fix" (home renovation) process:
Now, that the house flip is done! Let’s get into how to sell the house flip!
The two main ways to sell a house flip are:
When selling the house yourself, you’re in charge of marketing the property, finding the potential buyers, negotiations, and everything else.
I do not recommend selling the house flip by yourself because hiring a real estate agent will make this process so much easier.
A great real estate agent should be able to handle the everything for the sale of the property from marketing the house, negotiating, and handling the closing. Be sure to hire a real estate agent that’s familiar with the area.
A real estate agent is typically paid a selling or listing commission once the house flip is sold. A normal commission for a real estate agent is 2.5% of the sales price, but can be a little more or less at times.
A great real estate agent will put the house on the market, put a sign in the front yard, and communicate to the community of the new home for sale.
From hiring a quality real estate agent to handle the sale & closing, you’re now able to focus on finding more houses to flip, and growing your house flipping business.
Make sure your agent completes this checklist when selling your house flip:
Home staging is when temporary furniture and decorations are put in the property in order to make the property more desirable.
Staging a house flip allows prospective home buyers to see and feel themselves living in a property. For example, a prospective home buyer will now see the possibilities of how to arrange the bedrooms, or the artwork they can put on the walls!
Here's a quick video demonstrating the importance of staging when selling a home:
Now, once the home has been completely renovated, and staged, the real estate agent will get to work on marketing the property and getting offers from prospective homeowners.
You’ll want a credible offer from a qualified buyer that has proof of funds or is approved for a mortgage to buy the property.
A standard closing time for a buyer who is using a mortgage is about 30 days. Some closings can be longer and some can be shorter, depending on the type of buyer and their situation.
Sometimes you may get a buyer whose offer is only valid if their original home sells. I do not recommend accepting these offers since they are contingency upon another property selling.
Now, when you get offers you can either Accept, Counter them, or Reject them.
Your real estate agent should advise you in this process.
As a house flipper, your goal is to get an offer at your estimated ARV (After Repair Value), or even above it!
Let’s show you some house flip before and after photos so you know what to expect. After this we'll get into the flipping profits for this particular house!
Here's a look at the exterior of the property. Simple changes improve the curb appeal dramatically!
New flooring, paint, and professional staging make the interior shine in a new light.. so welcoming!
Here's the updated bathroom with new flooring, light fixture, vanity, mirror, and towel racks.
We refreshed the kitchen with new stainless steel appliances, window, and recessed lighting.
In the master bedroom, we replaced the carpet, baseboard, ceiling fan, painted & staged.
Which swimming pool would you rather jump in? The fixed up one on the right takes our vote.
The flipping profits from the property shown above were: $59,748.81.
Here were the estimated numbers once again and what the actual numbers were:
A common question is “why isn’t there more profit or why were your numbers different?
Well, I like to be ultra conservative on what the property will sell for when fixing & flipping. This way if it sells more than I am in the clear, and if it sells less then we are still great.
Also, this flip only took 3 months to complete rather than the 5 months estimated to complete. This means we had 2 less months of paying interest on the capital that was borrowed! This increased our profits!
Now you may be wondering why some of my pre-determined numbers, and the end results were different?
Well, whenever I analyze a house to fix & flip I like to be conservative in my analysis. Meaning, I set the ARV at a price I feel it will sell at 100% of the time. This way, if the property sells at a higher price, then I get a larger profit.
Also, this particular flip only took about 3 total months from the time it was bought, renovated, and sold to the new buyer. This was a quick flip, but once again I was conservative in my initial estimates by putting into my deal analyzer that it make take 5 months to complete.
Since the property only took 3 months to completed, instead of 5 months. This reduced the amount of taxes, utilities, and the costs to borrow the capital from private & hard money lenders. This means more house flipping profits!
The repairs were pretty close, as well. My estimated repair costs were $40,000, but the pool needed additional work that was not anticipated, which led to the $3,000 increase from the initial estimated repair costs.
Learning how to flip a house for the first time doesn't have to be complicated. If you seek out the right education and follow a proven process, you'll be way ahead of the average beginner real estate investor.
You can save yourself months, and even years of trial and error by learning from those who have found success at flipping houses.
Consider yourself a student for life. Even the most experienced real estate investors continue to learn and grow with each deal. The best investment you can ever make is in yourself.
So, now that we covered the basics, as well as the exact six step process on how to flip a house, it's time for you to go out there and make your house flipping dreams come true!
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