Are Flips Really That Hard to Find? Top Agents Say it Depends on Where You Look

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Jenni Stolarski has flipped some amazing properties in North Oak Cliff.
Jenni Stolarski has flipped some amazing properties in North Oak Cliff, including this one at 806 N. Windomere.

We were intrigued by a story from Bloomberg News citing RealtyTrac figures reportedly showing a nationwide decrease in flipping:

Home flipping, in which a buyer resells a property quickly for a profit, is on the decline as U.S. residential price gains slow and foreclosures dwindle.
Almost 31,000 single-family houses were flipped in the second quarter, representing 4.6 percent of U.S. home sales, RealtyTrac said in a report today. That’s down from 6.2 percent a year earlier and the smallest share since the first three months of 2012, when prices bottomed after the crash, according to the Irvine, California-based data company, which defines a flip as a property sold within 12 months of purchase.

Of course, I had to consult the two best “flippers” I know to see what the local perspective is on flipping. First I got in touch with Jenni Stolarski of Briggs-Freeman Sotheby’s. Stolarski does high-end flips in Oak Cliff, producing some of the most gorgeous homes I’ve ever seen. One of the most recent ones was an amazing Tudor transformation that was awash in marble and chrome. Total jaw-dropper.

Most investors that I help buy homes directly from sellers rather than on MLS. And that market still seems to be active,” Stolarski said. “Lots of purchases and sales, often off market, too.”

In fact, said Stolarski, Landon Tucker Construction president Toby Tucker bought at least five properties off market since the beginning of 2014. Stolarski contacted Tucker when a client was looking for a home to buy. Not only were all of Tucker’s homes under contract, but they were bought up before they were even finished. “None of the reached MLS,” Stolarski added.

Now, as for buying homes for flipping off of MLS, Stolarski says that opportunities on the retail side are few and far between. However, some of these “problems” may be symptoms of an improving market, she added. More people wanting to invest in properties as a second source of income, fewer foreclosures, and fewer short-term flips is good news, Stolarski said.

Cameron Holland of Howell + Holland has a slightly different perspective, and that has a lot to do with his brokerage’s target market, which includes much of East Dallas and the M Streets.

Cameron-Holland
Cameron Holland says his clients are moving on from the tight M Streets market to new opportunities in East and West Dallas.

“The flipping trend is definitely on a decline in the traditional areas that people are so used to seeing in Dallas,” Holland said. “Areas like Devonshire, Greenway Crest, M Streets, and Lakewood have hit a list price plateau. My personal perspective on the trend is that it is a good thing for the city for the sheer fact that it is bringing a revival to other parts of Dallas, making them the new ‘up and coming areas.'”

Because good flips are getting harder to find, many of Howell + Holland’s are looking at the long game, like income-producing rental properties.

“Last year we saw almost six-figure gains (25 percent to 30 percent ROI) on homes we flipped in the M Streets and Park Cities,” Holland said. “Ideally we try to find properties that our clients will make at minimum 15 percent or better return on their entire investment.”

Of course, not every property purchased for flipping is going to make serious gains, so diversification comes in handy. Holland advises his clients to have a solid game plan and a good exit strategy in case problems crop up.

“Instead of our client making their year on one or two flips they are looking at three or four,” Holland said. “With the plateau effect we are seeing in the traditional flip markets, we have now branched out to other parts of the city like Far East Dallas (East Side of White Rock Lake) and West Dallas (Around Marsh and Inwood).”

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Joanna England

If Executive Editor Joanna England could house hunt forever, she absolutely would. Instead she covers the North Texas housing market and the economy for CandysDirt.com. While she started out with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Joanna's work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News as well as several local media outlets. When she's not knitting or hooping, or enjoying White Rock Lake, she's behind the lens of her camera. She lives in East Dallas with her husband, son, and their furry and feathered menagerie.

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