When we talk about flipping mistakes, we usually talk about things like paying too much for a house or not upgrading the kitchen to buyers’ standards…not getting your car stolen. When you flip houses, you’re going to be working in a range of neighborhoods, and some of them might not be as safe as you’d imagine. Getting our car stolen from one of our properties in broad daylight actually brought up many points for me about where we flip, why we choose our properties, and the mistakes you can make investing in certain areas over others.
Keep Your Personal Security in Mind
You can’t imagine the feeling I got when I was standing outside one of our flip houses, talking to Tarek about what color to paint the garage and I heard my car start. It was the middle of the day, and I’d just pulled up to the worksite and parked in front of the house. I put my purse on the front porch and didn’t think about what a huge mistake I was making. While Tarek and I were talking, a guy literally grabbed my keys from my purse and drove off in our SUV.
I was lucky that he didn’t grab my whole purse and that we didn’t have a lot of valuables in the car when it was stolen. I was also lucky that my daughter Taylor wasn’t with me that day. Overall, while having our car stolen was a huge inconvenience, it wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. And it reminded us that we need to be aware of our safety and security when we’re working on flips.
Buying in Transitional Areas Can Be Risky
This also reminded me that buying houses in transitional areas can be more risky than you might think. Even though the neighborhood market values are on the rise and things are getting better, these areas do still have slightly higher crime rates than others.
Keep that in mind when you and your crew are working on a property and when you go to sell it. You’ll want to make sure that you emphasize the neighborhood’s qualities, its proximity to amenities and good schools, the great layout of the property, etc. You don’t want to lie to your potential buyers, but if they ask about the crime rate in the area, you can minimize it by discussing how much crime is on the decline.
Keeping Your Investment Safe
Finally, if you’re rehabbing a house in a transitional neighborhood or an area where it’s likely to be broken into at night, keep the security of your investment in mind. Even if you’re in a great neighborhood, if the house was vandalized before you bought it, you know you’re at risk for people coming in and either vandalizing it again or stealing materials.
You can minimize your risk by taking a few steps to make the house look lived-in. Buy curtains or drapes for the windows so that no one can see inside. Get the electricity turned on and leave the porch light and/or a couple of other lights in the house on at night. If you’re still worried about the house, you can also hire a security company to have someone guard the property at night once you’ve started rehab.
Leaving my purse on that porch that afternoon was one of the biggest flipping mistakes I’ve ever made. After all, when someone drives off with your car, your worries about the budget suddenly get a lot worse (because you have to add a new car to your costs!). Like many other mistakes, though, Tarek and I learned from it, and we’ve used what we’ve learned as we’ve continued to buy and flip houses. Hopefully you can learn from it, too!