There was a time when the term ‘flip house’ didn’t exist. Like back in the day when I was in the business of buying and selling homes that for the most part had been foreclosed on. The goal was—and still is—to buy a property at a bargain, increase its value with the right repairs and updates and then sell it again quickly. Today it’s become the thing to do. Back then it wasn’t necessarily shrouded in coolness. As we focus on real estate in this issue I had occasion to revisit some of those memories.
One particular day I purchased several houses at the same real estate auction. The previous owner had the reputation of being a wheeler-dealer so I was prepared to secure the houses as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, on this day I wouldn’t be quite quick enough. Arriving at the one of the duplexes I’d just purchased, I found a man on the roof with a plumbing snake going down a vent pipe. Inquiring as to what he was doing, he told me that the property owner had agreed to rent in exchange for labor. A quick call to Stormin’ Norman Jackson, my attorney, confirmed that I indeed had inherited a squatter. It took over six months to coax that nice squatter out of my house; in fact, I had to pay him to leave. Cash for keys and the reality that we can have squatters in modern day times amazed me. Now with the possibility of federal government mandating no evictions, you could have a long haul to get control back of your own rental property.
On another occasion I was looking at a property to purchase and the former owner was still in residence and not excited about leaving. They invited me in to look around. Upon entering I asked what was living in the large terrarium. Our pet boa constrictor, replied the owner. How large is the snake (as if that mattered)? About 10 feet, he replied. And where is the snake? (The terrarium was vacant at the time of my visit.) Oh he’s around here somewhere….That was enough for me. Someone else could have this prize.
Or there was the time in Loudon County I purchased three little houses right in a row—two duplexes and a single family not even 150 feet from the railroad tracks. Upon requesting to have it added to my property insurance policy the agent congratulated me on purchasing the Loudon County Brothel—well, he used a much more colorful term. The girls were all long gone when I took title but it made for a great laugh anyway.
I learned a lot of lessons buying and selling those old houses. Sometimes it was dirty work but it really wasn’t all that hard. It taught me a lot about real estate and construction and home remodeling priorities.
Today with the ever-present house flipping shows on TV, many more people are thinking they’ll flip houses and make a mint. With the right combination of good credit, know-how and patience, it’s possible—though I’d question the mint part. If you’re willing to learn and get dirty and buy wisely, investing in real estate remains one of the surest investments of all time.
When it comes to real estate always remember location is key and never fall in love with the house, fall in love with the deal and you will always have successful real estate investments.