How to Flip a House
The real estate buy and flip model is one of many investment strategies used by real estate investors. This strategy involves analyzing markets, placing offers, buying property, and making any necessary repairs (called rehabbing), then marketing and selling the property for profit.
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Learn how to start your own House Flipping Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start a house flipping business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your House Flipping Business
- Form your House Flipping Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your House Flipping Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your House Flipping Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your House Flipping Business
- Get House Flipping Business Insurance
- Define your House Flipping Business Brand
- Create your House Flipping Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your house flipping business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
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STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a house flipping business?
A buy and flip investor needs a considerable amount of capital to get started. Costs include funding for buying a property, rehabbing the property, paying a broker, and any other costs associated with the buy and flip process. An investor will also need to pay marketing costs and fees associated with maintaining a business.
What are the ongoing expenses for a house flipping business?
Home flippers will typically need to pay closing costs, real estate fees, and title fees on top of ongoing renovation costs. Most financial benefits for home loans are for conventional buyers only. Home flippers will typically pay full interest rates as well as capital gains on the property they sell. Homes held for less than a year are taxed at the same rate as normal income. Homes held for longer than a year can range from 0% – 20%, based on the flipper’s total income.
The expenses of a buy and flip business typically include:
- Costs of buying properties
- Rehab costs
- Broker’s fees
- Marketing costs
- Costs of maintaining a business
Who is the target market?
A buy and flip investor works with property owners/sellers on one end, and on the other end, sells the property to a buyer who wants to buy it as their primary residence. A good property owner/seller is one who is urgent in his/her need to sell their property. This urgency can be the result of a number of factors, like:
- Desire to move quickly
- Desire to get out of a mortgage
- Other factors that may be causing stress, typically financial
A buy and flip investor can offer sellers a mutually beneficial arrangement, whereby the investor acquires the property and the seller's stress is alleviated.
After purchasing and rehabbing a property, it is typically sold A good buyer-investor is someone who is very interested in purchasing the particular type of property the buy and flip investor has for sale. Buyers are most preferred when they are well-funded, as they can make stronger offers to the buy and flip investor.
Personal buyers are interested in purchasing properties to use as their personal residence or place of business. These customers may be great customers for buy and flip investors, as their personal attachment to properties may make them more willing to spend big to secure the property.
How does a house flipping business make money?
Buy and flip investors make their money when they sell the property in order to profit on their investments. A savvy investor will look for investment properties that are profitable without any market appreciation (the increase in the value of property). A buy and flip investor’s profit is calculated as follows:
Profit = Sale Price of Property - (Purchase Price of Property + Rehab Costs + Auxiliary Costs)
For example, if an investor purchases a home for $50,000, and rehab costs add up to $30,000, the investor will have put $80,000 into the property. If the investor sells the property for $150,000, the investor will have made $70,000 profit.
Most investors operate under a general rule: when flipping property, you make your money when you buy. That is to say, it is best practice not to buy properties with the expectation that rehab and/or an increase in market value will justify your investment. It is best to buy a property well under current market value, which will leave plenty of room for a return on investment after rehab and auxiliary costs (like marketing, commission, etc.) are factored in.
How much can you charge customers?
The price that a buy and flip investor charges for a property is usually similar to the price other properties in the area are selling for. Of course, these prices are subject to change, and an investor can sell a property for more based on the buyer’s offer.
How much profit can a house flipping business make?
A buy and flip business’ profit is linked directly to the number of properties it can sell and the profit the returns it makes on investments. Home flippers can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year once they establish themselves in the business. Even a 20% profit on a $100,000 home is still $20,000. A flipper would only need to flip five homes a year at that rate to hit six figures.
How can you make your business more profitable?
A buy and flip investor makes more profit by buying properties at the lowest cost possible and flipping them for as much profit as they can. If the investor spends far less than he/she makes, he/she will see bigger profits.
Another smart way to increase profits is to consider holding properties for a little time before flipping them. If an investor holds a property and receives rent payments for a short to moderate period, he/she may then be able to flip the property and make even more money out of the investment.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our House Flipping Business Name Generator
If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your house flipping business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Learn how to get an EIN in our What is an EIN guide or find your existing EIN using our EIN lookup guide.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
- S Corp vs C Corp
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Open net 30 accounts
Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.
NetMany net 30 credit vendors report to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our best net 30 vendors, guide and start building business credit.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a house flipping business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
If you plan to sell your properties yourself, you may need a broker’s license. Requirements for obtaining a broker’s license vary by state. These requirements typically include the prior attainment of a real estate agent license, hours in the workforce, coursework, and the successful completion of a broker’s license exam.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Real estate investing businesses should require customers to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify customer expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and eventual property ownership. Here is an example of one such services agreement.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
Recommended: Learn what business insurance for your House Flipping Business will cost.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a house flipping business
A buy and flip investor may choose to use a wholesaler to find and negotiate deals on his/her behalf. If this is the case, the buy and flip investor will need to market their business to wholesalers who can help facilitate the purchasing process. This can be accomplished through traditional print marketing, digital marketing, he use of social media, and networking.
On the other hand, if a buy and flip investor is not a broker, he/she may want to enlist the services of a broker. A broker can advertise the investor’s properties on the multiple listing service (MLS), which is a great marketing tool for real estate properties (though it is not available to everyone).
How to keep customers coming back
Building up your reputation as a reliable flipper can make it easier to sell future homes. The more people know that they can depend on the longevity and quality of the work you do, the more likely it is your homes will sell for the asking price.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.
Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
The buy and flip investor needs to spend a good amount of time working on each investment. Therefore, a good investor will be a committed and well-organized one. A solid understanding of the real estate market in your area will be crucial, as you need to understand what makes a property a good investment based on your goals and objectives.
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What happens during a typical day at a house flipping business?
A buy and flip investor will need to learn the market value, buying process, rehab process, and marketing and selling process. Buy and flip investors spend a majority of their time in the rehab portion of projects, but there’s more to it. Here’s some of the activities that an investor might do:
- Search for properties that are available to purchase either on the multiple listing services or off-the-market properties
- Work with traditional lenders, private lenders, hard money lenders, etc. to secure financing for purchases
- Constantly build a list of real estate wholesalers and bird dogs
- Make offers on properties
- Close on offers
- Constantly establish a list of contractors
- Rehab properties, which includes, but is not limited to:
- Electrical repairs
- Structural repairs
- HVAC repairs
- Market the properties
- Establish a list of title companies to ensure title is valid and issue title insurance
- Find a real estate broker to help with the sale
- Sell the properties
Buy and flip investors will spend more time on different tasks depending on where they are in the investment process, but all of these tasks will be important.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful house flipping business?
A buy and flip investor needs to be a good planner and a patient businessperson. Buying and flipping comes with big costs and can take a long time. As such, an investor needs to be okay waiting on an investment to pan out. An investor also needs to have a good understanding of the market in their area. Many buyers make the mistake of overpaying for a property. A savvy investor knows how to pick out a good deal to ensure that the investment is a successful one.
A good buy and flip investor also has a good group of contacts with which they can network. Networking is essential as buy and flip investors rely on many different people in the investment process. From wholesalers to electricians, real estate brokers to lenders, a buy and flip investor needs a reliable team.
It is also not a bad idea for a buy and flip investor to learn about building repairs. Repairs can be very costly and scheduling in a way that accommodates both parties can prove difficult. Knowing how to do a few repairs on your own can help you save money and get projects done in a pinch.
What is the growth potential for a house flipping business?
A real estate buy and flip business is only limited by the number of properties an investor can flip. Buy and flip investors can reinvest all or some of their profits into the purchase of more (or more expensive) properties to flip.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a house flipping business?
A successful buy and flip investor will flip multiple properties. Doing so, however, may open you up to potential personal liability. An LLC may give you added protection from personal liability.
Many real estate investors have taken the approach of forming an LLC for each property they will buy and flip. Each buy and flip property in an LLC creates a legal barrier, a legal separation, from one property to the next. Any lawsuits, claims, or matters challenging a buy and flip property is a contained matter for that LLC alone.
How and when to build a team
A good buy and flip investor will build a team of contacts to use in the long process of buy and flip investing. This team will include lenders or investor-partners (if the investor is not using personal money), wholesalers to help find leads, brokers to help sell the properties, and contractors. An investor doesn’t need to use the same contractors, but finding a group of reliable contractors can help you ensure your projects are done well and quickly.
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