Beyond the Backsplash: What to Look for When Buying a "Flipped" House

It’s a real estate fairytale: What looks like a teardown is coaxed back into beauty by gifted contractors and designers. In the space of 30 minutes of viewing, we witness a transformation and a happy ending for the renovators and the new homeowners.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen TV shows and real-life examples of houses that have been remade, sometimes with more speed than seems believable.

If you’re in the market for a new home but have no DIY talent or interest in renovating, a property that’s already been updated can be very appealing. That said, how can you make sure it’s not just a quick spackle-and-paint job but actually a real value?

Here are some critical things to consider:

Water, water. Kitchens and bathrooms are well-known to be the biggest costs when it comes to renovations. Turn on all the faucets and look at how they well they work in terms of water pressure and temperature. Smell the water and look at the color. (Note: Brown is not good.)

Find the hot water heater. Is it new, a couple of years old, or ready for the Smithsonian? A replacement can be an expensive fix if you don’t plan for it. Look at the pipes around the heater and others that are exposed elsewhere in the house. Ensure they are newly replaced.

Look under the sinks—are the hoses and hookups new? How well does the garbage disposal work? Ask when it was last replaced.

Ghosts in the attic. Well, maybe not ghosts, but there may be other uninvited visitors. Can you see tracks from rodents or other animals? Is the insulation new? Look at the house during daylight hours and see where sunbeams are shining through and where the critters have a place to enter.

Take particular note of any leaks from the roof, which can be a huge expense if they haven’t been addressed. Also critical are wiring issues, which are harder for the non-professional to spot.

Check for permits. Take the time to look for building permits on file with the local authorities. If they are required, and you cannot even pull them, that is a warning sign. If you can, ask for copies of the inspections and approvals.

Avoid getting distracted by shiny objects. It’s easy to fall in love with a front porch or those granite countertops, but those are just window dressings. Really dig into the issues that can become money sinks.

Hire an experienced inspector. A professional inspector can help you see past the sleek finishes and have an honest look at what a house could cost you down the road. The most expensive stuff usually involves what you can’t see, and an inspector can get those rose-colored glasses off so you can stop yourself before making a costly mistake. The cost of a good inspection is more than worth it.

Your real estate agent can also help you spot issues and provide guidance on how to deal with any concerns you may have. Once you’ve found the perfect home, give the Attorney’s Title Group team a call to schedule your closing! Click here to contact us today.