Tips for Avoiding a Badly Flipped House

When you're buying a house, the real estate listings may tout certain types of improvements to the home. You might notice listings that discuss fresh paint, updated flooring, move-in ready or beautiful updates. However, it's important to be able to tell when a home has been the victim of a bad flipper. Here are some telltale signs of homes to avoid.

Look at the Kitchen Layout and Appliances

If the layout of the kitchen seems strange, it could be due to a bad flip. An older home's kitchen was likely designed when appliances were smaller. Some older homes may have had appliances that aren't easily found today, such as a wall oven or a cooktop built into the countertop. If the refrigerator is situated such that its open door blocks an entrance to the kitchen or opening the oven causes it to hit a cabinet, the kitchen was likely cheaply flipped in order to save money. A true redesign or remodel would create a better layout.

Check the Circuit Breaker and Wiring

Pay attention to how the home's wiring works. If you open the garage door and the kitchen lights go off, this suggests some haphazard electrical wizardry. If the air conditioner turning on causes the oven to go out, the home was probably flipped. Amateur electricians may have hooked up modern appliances without going through the proper techniques of rewiring and upgrading the home's electrical capacity at the circuit breaker. This can be dangerous as well as inconvenient.

Be Wary of Doors and Windows

Quality doors and windows are expensive. Look at the doors and their frames. If the interior doors are warped or lightweight, the sellers bought the cheapest ones they could find. If the windows have peeling layers of paint, warping, rot or damaged seals, they could be the home's original pieces. Be sure to open and close each window when doing a walk-through of a home for sale. 

Take a Look at the Fixtures

When flipping a house, the goal is to save money. The cheaper and faster a home can be flipped, the more money the flipper makes. Take a look at the fixtures, including the faucets, lights, shower heads, toilet paper holders and sprayers. If one room has brushed nickel and another room has chrome fixtures, chances are good the flipper bought the cheapest items they could find as they moved from room to room of the house. 

Examine the Work Permit History

Certain home updates and upgrades require a work permit and inspection by a city code inspector. For example, Columbus, Ohio, requires a work permit for exterior masonry work as well as the installation of water heaters, gutters, replacement roofs, water lines, sewer lines and heating and air conditioning units. Pull the permit history for the home. If there aren't any permits listed for the work the seller claims they did, it might not have been done to code.


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