A guide to property flipping for investors

For active investors, property flipping can be an attractive option.

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Flipping properties is a property investment strategy that involves purchasing a property then selling it quickly for more than you paid for it. This typically means renovation work, or moving quickly in a rising market (or both). It's a risky strategy, but could it be a good option for you? That depends on your strategy and overall goals.

Best suited to a hands-on or active investor, flipping can see investors reap rewards or face excessive costs and taxes, not to mention pressure on their time. Once taking into account what opportunities exist in the market, your abilities and the input required, you may decide on property flipping for your own strategic investment plan.

What is property flipping?

Property flipping is gaining popularity, especially with the influx of home renovation shows on our screens. Buying an old property, fixing it up and selling it on for a healthy profit seems like a no-brainer.

The reality is that property flipping is a pretty major undertaking that can involve a lot of work – from the physical labour put into the house or even just project managing tradies to complete the work on your behalf.

Generally speaking there are two types of properties to flip:

  • Properties purchased below market value due to financial distress. Could be an apartment or a house.
  • The "fixer-uppers" or renovator's delight which after a cosmetic or structural facelift can be sold for a profit.

Consistently finding fixer-uppers can be challenging, with most investors using this approach as a tactical strategy rather than a long-term plan.

How does property flipping work?

The first step in flipping is to find and purchase a property suitable for flipping. For strategy one, this might be a property whose owner is struggling to repay their mortgage or is forced to sell quickly for various reasons. For strategy two, it's buying the worst house on the best street at a great price.

Following on strategy two, you will need to renovate, aiming to double your profit on every dollar spent renovating. After a stunning facelift, new appliances, fresh paint and maybe a redesign with an open plan kitchen living area, you're ready to sell. A flip needs to happen relatively quickly to give you a cash injection to fund your next flip.

Assuming there are no hidden damages, no blow-out costs to your renovation budget and enough interest in the market to sell, you might be able to make a healthy profit. After all taxes and sales costs of course.

What are some of the pros and cons of property flipping?

Pros

  • Flipping gives you a quicker return on investment with a flip taking on average six months.
  • Flipping is potentially a safer investment than stock marketing investing.
  • You will become a better renovator and property investor from working on the tools.
  • Adding to your professional network is very likely in property flipping, which can pay off down the track for future investment collaborations.

Cons

  • Flipping can be a risky investment strategy, especially when properties can have hidden issues, needing strong and ongoing cash flow to fund flips.
  • Flipping can take up a large chunk of your time and without expert skills and knowledge of construction can be challenging to pull off a profit.
  • Costs associated with buying and selling the properties can eat into your profits
  • You may face a higher capital gains tax rate if you own a property for less than a year, and big boosts in your income from a successful flip can also jack up your tax bill.

What are some other property investment strategies?

Property flipping isn’t the only investment strategy employed by property investors. Depending on your unique investment situation, circumstances and goals there are different options that might appeal to you such as:

  • Rentvesting. As a strategy, rentvesting involves purchasing an investment property in one area while continuing to rent in another area. This lets you rent where you want to live while purchasing a more affordable property somewhere else.
  • Buy and hold. A more passive income approach of purchasing a property and renting it out long term for regular income while the property is likely to increase in value.

Check out more helpful guides for buying, selling and investing

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