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Four Things to Examine When Considering a House to Flip

by Jeanette Fisher

Flipping houses can be a profitable enterprise. I know because we've done it many times over the last twenty years. (You'll be able to see, step by step, how my family and I go about flip houses in an upcoming episode of TLC's "Flip That House.")

However, in my classes and seminars, I'm often asked what I look for when I begin searching for my next house. It's a fair question, and can mean the difference between success and disaster if you don't seriously consider the costs of remodeling well before you make an offer.

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Although each house will be different, the four main things to consider are the roof, the structure of the house, the plumbing, and the electrical system. These can be costly to replace or repair, and all of them require permits to fix.

When you examine a roof, look specifically water damage, dry rot, and evidence of termites (or carpenter ants, depending upon where the home is located). Check ceilings for discoloration. That's a danger signal you can't ignore. If you see them, check the roof carefully, since that water had to have come from somewhere.

When you look at the structure of a house, closely examine the foundation. If you find a crack, call in someone to give you an estimate of how extensive the repairs will be. It can cost thousands of dollars if the damage is severe enough, and can be the difference between profit and catastrophe if you don't take a foundation crack seriously.

Plumbing is also a critical element in your considerations, because kitchens and bathrooms are the most important rooms in houses. Look for uneven places in the floors around toilets or near showers and tubs. That could indicate plumbing problems. Check under the kitchen sink for water damage and make sure that all drains drain smoothly.

Finally, if the home is on fuses, that will need to be upgraded, which can also be expensive. Also have the furnace and air conditioning systems checked. If you have any doubts, having a professional electrician give you an expert opinion could save you from pouring thousands of unexpected dollars into a house.

As I said, flipping homes can be quite lucrative, but your best chance for making expensive mistakes actually occurs BEFORE you buy a house. Cover all your bases by having these four elements checked out before you make any kind of offer.

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Doghouse to Dollhouse for Dollars: The Real Way to Make Money Flipping Houses!