In good markets or bad, real estate broker Ralph R. Roberts reveals in “Flipping Houses for Dummies” how he acquires run-down houses, fixes them up, and then either “flips” (sells) them for a profit or holds for long-term investment. Roberts, a highly respected real estate author, trainer and broker, shares his techniques along with advice on how to minimize the tax bite on profits.

Every serious real estate investor who wants to earn large profits needs to understand the methods Roberts uses because he has perfected flipping houses almost to a science. He thoroughly understands and explains all the critical aspects, including locating the properties to determining if they are suitable, negotiating a successful purchase, supervising the fix-up work, and making a profitable resale.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

As a longtime real estate broker, Roberts knows all aspects of the home brokerage business and he doesn’t hesitate to share his insider secrets. For example, he says, “Nothing on the MLS (multiple listing service) is the gospel truth. Sellers and real estate agents alike often estimate room sizes or make mistakes when entering details. Approach all prospects with a discerning eye.”

Even if you are not interested in “quick flip” real estate profits, this is a great book to study because the author shares so much of his real estate knowledge which he gained, starting at age 19, over more than 30 years in the real estate business.

Maybe Roberts is getting a little “salty” in his old age, but he exposes secrets most Realtors would never share with their clients. Examples include how to obtain a “listing history” of a property, how to determine what the seller paid, how long the property has been on the market even with more than one listing, and if the property is difficult to “unload.”

This is a “fun read” book in the usual dummies style, which includes features such as tips, warnings and even several sanity checks. Along the way, Roberts shares many personal examples to illustrate the topics, making the book extremely valuable so the readers don’t make the same mistakes he made.

Throughout the book there is heavy emphasis on what to look for in a potential flipper house, how to locate them, how to acquire them, and how to finance them. Roberts provides valuable insights about the importance of borrowing funds. “As a real estate investor, good debt gives you leverage,” he advises, meaning you control the property with little of your own cash.

Along the way, there are several excellent checklists such as the “profit projector” and the “home inspection checklist” so no important aspect is overlooked when evaluating a possible flipper candidate.

Especially valuable is the chapter on “The Art of Haggling: Negotiating a Price and Terms.” Having sold thousands of homes at his real estate brokerage, Roberts is a “pro” when it comes to negotiation and putting sales together. His negotiation strategies are priceless. I especially enjoyed the part about “digging up pertinent information about the seller.” If you are a serious real estate investor, this chapter is a “must read.”

Foreclosures receive extra attention because they offer special flipper profit opportunities. Acquiring these properties can be tricky, but Roberts simplifies the process as much as possible without getting bogged down in details. Of course, it helps that he has a full-time associate who specializes in acquiring these distress properties.

Chapter topics include “Wrapping Your Brain Around the Idea of House Flipping”; “Building Your Dream Team”; “Guesstimating Your Potential Profit”; “Security in the Funds to Fuel Your Flip”; “Trudging Through Some Taxing Issues”; “Hunting for Houses in Your Target Area”; “Inspecting the Property with an Eye for Rehab”; “Prioritizing and Planning Your Renovations”; “Perking Up the Curb Appeal”; “Dazzling the Crowds with Updated Kitchens and Baths”; “Marketing Your Home”; and “Staging a Successful Showing.”

This book is designed for realty investors who want to profit from buying below market, making cosmetic improvements to add value, and then quickly reselling. But real estate agents and home buyers should also study it because of the valuable insights offered by a longtime, very successful real estate broker. On my scale of one to 10, this superb book rates an off-the-chart 12.

“Flipping Houses for Dummies,” by Ralph R. Roberts (Wiley Publishing Co., Hoboken, NJ), 2007, $21.99, 348 pages; available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

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