Maybe the home you’re interested in looked like this?
Flipped homes — properties purchased by investors that are renovated and sold for profit — are one of the most popular types of sales in the Washington area, especially for townhouses and single-family residences. In 2016, there were about 4,500 flipped houses sold in the District.
The supply of single-family residences, including rowhouses and detached dwellings, grows very little compared to the condominium market because of a lack of land available for constructing homes.
Thus, flipped properties may be attractive to some buyers seeking a like-new home. But although newly constructed homes in the District are under a two-year warranty after the first unit in the project is sold, flipped properties do not have the same protection.
Here are tips to help you avoid some of the pitfalls often associated with buying a flipped home:
What do you notice?
A properly done flip will include a quality aesthetic that extends beyond the walls. However, most purchasers can get a good idea of the quality of a flipped project just by looking around. For example, does the craftsmanship of simple projects such as caulking and mortaring look uniform? Do the appliances work properly? Does the home appear to be uniformly completed instead of just a few spaces?
One contingency purchasers should not neglect if uncomfortable with these questions would be a home inspection. While a home inspector won’t be able to look beyond the walls in most cases, the inspector can test the safety of the home and look at the major elements of a home: electrical, plumbing, structure and functionality of major components. For buyers in a multiple offer situation- NEVER forgo a home inspection and making sure you see building permits.
A home inspection is not enough
What can’t you see? Most of the real work done in improving a property may be behind the walls. While a home inspector can check the safety and code of an electrical panel, much of the electrical and plumbing work will not be noticeable in a home inspection. In this case, potential buyers should obtain as much information about the contractor, subcontractors and architects of work done beyond the walls of the home. Did the contractor take down support walls? Is there any mold in the home you can’t see? Have the ducts been cleaned? Is there a warranty on appliances or HVAC?
A home can look gorgeous, but be a complete disaster. Protect yourself.
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