Wynn at Law LLC has noticed a recent resurgence of real estate ‘flipping.’ Late-night cable and radio stations are again saturated with ads touting the wild income potential of acquiring and liquidating the same piece of property within the shortest possible time frame. Flipping is legal – as long as it’s done on the up and up.

Before the housing collapse a decade ago, some curbs were put in place to deter flipping. The FHA sets the rules by which most lenders follow: Having 3.5 percent as a down payment for example. In 2005, the FHA required additional inspections and safeguards taken on mortgages applied for on properties that have been owned for less than 180 days, and outright forbidding the approval of mortgages on properties owned for less than 90 days. Those rules were relaxed in 2010 following the real estate market bust wiping out $7 trillion in property value.
More importantly, that lost value represented the largest investment loss for many families… and did not involve as many people flipping houses. With that in mind, most lenders still adhere to the 90-day guideline.
If you’re buying a flipped home, there are still numerous loopholes and unregulated areas that an unethical or inattentive flipper can exploit when flipping a house. It still remains up to the buyer and his or her attorney to perform all the necessary due diligence before buying. If the property is to be purchased with an FHA-backed loan, a flipped home may require more time to purchase because of the additional documentation required of the seller.
If you’re interested in flipping, avoid the late-night infomercials blaring about how you can flip a home without putting in a dime of your own. Banks have extremely tight restrictions to watch for fraud. It’s best to have cash on hand for this highly speculative form of investment: Cash you’re able to part with (and potentially not recoup) for at least 90 days. A quickly-flipped home requires documentation on renovations, as well as additional appraisals, to justify a much higher resale price if the deal involves an FHA-insured loan. The average flipping time from purchase to resale is just over 106 days, according to market monitor RealtyTrac. Know this as well: Some properties have to become rentals before the flipper is able to get from the market what he or she thinks is the ‘value’ of the property. Are you prepared, legally, to become a landlord?
In the case of flipping, it’s the old adage at play whether you’re buying a flipped home or flipping one yourself… If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Get a real estate attorney.
*The content and material in this original post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  
Photo by Victor Zastolskiy, used with permission.

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