“Find it, Fix it, Flip it,” by Michael Corbett (Plume Books-Penguin Group, New York), 2006, $15, 323 pages; available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.Amazon.com.
Many real estate books recommend buying run-down houses, fixing them up, and selling for “fast-flip” profits. But “Find It, Fix It, Flip It!” by Michael Corbett uses a different strategy by adding profitable improvements, which change the lifestyle atmosphere of the home while also upgrading the residence.
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“Flipping is an art,” says Corbett, host of the television “Extra” program, “Mansions and Millionaires.” Perhaps that is how the author created his technique of changing a home’s lifestyle from dull routine to upscale but without high renovation costs.
The book starts with a basic “profit calculator chart,” so a beginning investor can easily see how the profit will be earned by purchasing a house “with the right things wrong,” and correcting those problems by adding lifestyle value.
Then, the author suggests either immediately “flipping” for fast resale profit or living in the home for at least 24 months to claim up to $250,000 tax-free principal residence sale profits (up to $500,000 for a qualified married couple).
What sets this book apart from the other quick-flip books is the author’s approach to fixing up a run-down house by not only adding market value, but also improving the lifestyle of the buyer. He says, “The downright ugly house is beautiful to you.” Of course, he insists it be located in a decent safe neighborhood, which shows signs of improving.
The book includes many before and after photos of Corbett’s fix-up houses. The changes are often dramatic. Not only are the ordinary houses improved, but they also appeal to an upscale buyer who will pay top dollar after renovation.
Corbett says there are six levels of home improvements. The “fix-it level” includes serious but fixable problems, system upgrades, and fix-it essentials. But the “profit level” includes lifestyle upgrades, designed-to-flip techniques, and dressed-to-sell essentials.
Many of the author’s profitable improvements are inexpensive. For example, he suggests landscaping with more mature plants rather than the cheapest plants available. Also, he recommends installing inexpensive low-voltage outdoor lighting, which dramatically improves the after-dark appeal of a house.
Even if you don’t plan to quick-flip a house for fast profits, Corbett provides superb advice that any home buyer should look for when buying a house with profit potential.
For example, among his list of 10 questions home sellers don’t want to hear, he includes, “Why are you selling?” “What did you pay and how long have you owned the house?” “What is your deadline to sell?” and, “What’s the one thing you won’t miss about this house?”
In the chapter about negotiating, Corbett is at his best.
“Never stop negotiating,” he advises. He explains how smart home buyers use their professional home inspection report to negotiate repair credits to reopen the sales price negotiations. I would hate to be a home seller negotiating with the author.
Chapter topics include: “Flipping Success”; “Flipping Economics 101”; “Your Flipping Dream Team”; “Find the House with the Right Things Wrong”; “The Financial Model for Success”: “The Profit Calculator; Become a Flipping Sleuth”; “Write a Winning Offer”; “How to Survive Escrow and Come Out a Winner”; “The Fix-It Improvement Levels”; “The Profit Improvement Levels”; “Your Fix-It Hit List: Costs and Budgets”; “Starting the Work and Getting It Done”; “Flipping the House You Live In”; and “Dressed to Sell.”
As today’s home buyers change their attitude from buying a place to live to purchasing a residence with future profit potential, this new book shows what to look for in a profitable home purchase, whether for personal use or quick profits. Corbett’s approach of changing a house’s lifestyle to improve its market value is unique. On my scale of one to 10, this superb new book, which cannot be recommended too highly, rates an off-the-chart 12.
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