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How to flip a house: Las Vegas experts share their advice

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Like many of us, Las Vegan Jaymes Vaughan is inspired by TV shows about renovating houses. Unlike most of us, the host of Celebrity Page on ReelzChannel has direct access to home improvement celebrities.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that me hosting an entertainment news show and having people like Tarek El Moussa from HGTV on our show didn’t inspire me, because it 100% does,” Vaughan says.

When the pandemic hit and the celebrity host (and former Chippendale and Amazing Race alum) found extra time on his hands, he decided to try house flipping. “Since I had the background in real estate, I was like, ‘Why not?’” And Vaughan already happened to own a flippable property. “I’ve learned how to do enough things along the way that I thought I could pull this off.”

So Vaughan, also a licensed agent with Luxe Estates and Lifestyles, did his first flip and garnered multiple offers on the Las Vegas property within the first 12 hours. He expects to make “a pretty good profit on it.”

“I feel like I did a good job, because I am an HGTV fanatic, and I’m also an Instagram interior fanatic as far as just looking at stuff and knowing what people like. So I kind of knew what the house needed.”

He calls it a “light flip,” which might be considered the Holy Grail of house flipping. An inspection found no major structural, plumbing or electrical issues. So all he had to do was “give it all the stuff that makes somebody walk in and go, ‘Oh, this house looks really current and updated’ but isn’t going to break the bank.” Vaughan added new floors, light fixtures and molding as well as giving it fresh paint.

“I was fortunate that once I got in there and started doing the work, there weren’t any big problems,” Vaughan says. “I was able to get it done and get it up, and now I’m hooked.”

Buying and Selling

Very Vintage Vegas Realty’s Jack LeVine offers advice

Sellers

If you’re one of the lucky people who bought a home before prices skyrocketed, you’ve got options. Jack LeVine of Very Vintage Vegas Realty says that those lucky homeowners gained so much value, they’ll make a profit no matter how they sell.

The fastest and easiest way to free yourself of the burden of ownership is by selling to a flipper or real estate investor. “It’s cash, it’s quick. There’s no appraisals, no inspections, no showings, no strangers in your house,” LeVine says. “But there’s a price to be paid for it. … They’re going to leave approximately 30 percent on the table to sell to somebody like that.”

On the opposite end, LeVine says, sellers can make the highest return on their investment if they renovate a house themselves. Basically you’d be your own flipper and earn “top dollar.”

Granted, professional flippers will be working with resources the traditional homeowner lacks. “Flippers have their own crews and their economies of scale, and they’re buying in bulk from multiple houses,” LeVine says.

The middle ground, which will likely appeal to most homeowners, is to simply work with a real estate agent to sell your house the traditional way.

Buyers

Whether you’re looking to buy a flipped house or looking to flip a house, prospective properties need to be inspected especially well, LeVine says. Make sure to watch out for electrical, plumbing, sewer, mechanical and foundation problems.

LeVine warns buyers that some unscrupulous—or perhaps just unskilled—flippers improve the cosmetic aspects of the house without first fixing the basic infrastructure. LeVine found a nasty surprise in one flipped house that he recently inspected. “There was a $10,000 sewer job on the very nice-looking house that may even require cutting holes in the living room where all the new tile is down.”

Jaymes Vaughan’s Home Tips

• Try to find those homes that only need “light flips.”

• Don’t just research a house; also research the neighborhood. Try to find a place where demand is growing.

• When budgeting for a flip, consider the price of the house and the price of the upgrades. Then review prices for comparable homes in the area. The difference is your potential profit. But remember, you could encounter hidden problems and lose big. Budget for the worst-case scenario and never plan to spend more than the house is worth.

• Learn as much as you can about every step of the process. You can learn from hardware store workshops; by volunteering at Habitat for Humanity; observing (and even helping) your hired contractors; and through YouTube videos.

• The more you can do yourself, the more profit you’ll make.

• Don’t be afraid to try a new DIY project. Just keep a professional on standby in case you need help fixing what you broke.

• Keep in mind that time is money. So if something takes you a very long time to do, it might be better to outsource that task.

• Don’t personalize to your taste. Remember that this will be somebody else’s home. You want the house to appeal to as many people as possible.

• If you’re daring, you can create one place in the house that’s a stylish focal point or “Instagram moment.”

• Create relationships with folks in the business, from contractors to home inspectors to agents. “Make sure you vibe with them and enjoy their energy in this space that you’re creating that’s going to become someone’s home,” Vaughan says.

So you think you can flip?

Whatever you think about house flipping, one thing is certain: It looks easy on television. Even when things go wrong in TV land, it’s generally all solved by the next commercial break in an inspirational knock-down-a-wall montage.

Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but televised home renovations are not the same thing as real-life home renovations. We’re not saying “don’t try this at home,” but if you think you want to get into house flipping, ask yourself whether or not you have these resources:

• Money to lose

• Experience with remodeling or home improvement, like plumbing, painting, woodworking, HVAC, etc.

• Understanding of design

• Experience and/or connections in real estate

Warning: If you encounter a home-flipping school that promises big profits or secret information if you just pay them lots of money, it’s probably a scam or, at best, a rip-off. Save that cash and put it toward your investing funds instead.

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