The vast majority of flipping projects focus on the single-family home. Whether you're starting with a cute little ranch house, an abandoned gem in the suburbs or an old barn you're renovating into a spacious home, these are all stand-alone buildings meant to house one family or group of people living together. However, with the housing market this tight, finding a good single family home to flip may be more trouble than it's worth, especially if you've already looked at or flipped most of the prospects in your region. But what about condos and apartments?
Single-family flats that exist in larger multi-unit buildings may be predominantly rented, but they are also bought and sold individually on the housing market all the time, especially in high-demand areas like downtown anywhere. Renovating these often aging units can be an incredibly rewarding venture, but like any new type of project, flipping a flat requires a few special considerations to remember.
1) How Deep is the Deed?
This is the first and most important thing to find out about any apartment or condo that you're considering buying to flip. Because owning a flat only directly relates to the interior of the unit and possibly the patio/balcony, there are varying 'depths' at which you're able to make changes, and you'll want a property that can accommodate your renovation plans. The most restrictive deeds allow you to make no structural changes, even to emplacements like the kitchen island or interior walls. The least restrictive deeds let you do whatever you want as long as you don't punch through into another property. Just make sure you know what the rules are before you start.
2) Age and Health of the Property
When it comes to flats, the most tempting flips may also be too risky. If the building is ancient and crumbling, if the pipes are weak, or the deed too restrictive to safely replace decaying materials, the location may not be worth your trouble. There's also the risk in delicate properties that your work will damage someone else's flat, massively increasing the costs of your project. Just as you would for a single-family home, make sure to get a full inspection of the health of the building as well as the unit you're looking into and determine if it's safe to do your thing.
3) Temporarily Joining the Owner's Association
Condo owner's associations are a lot like the HOA's you're familiar with, except that rather than simply having to be aware of redecoration rules, you're now (at least temporarily) a part-owner of the entire building. Be very careful. There are often dues and if the owner's association happens to levy money to pay for shared area (spa, gym, grounds, building exterior) maintenance and improvements, you'll be on the hook just like all the other owners. You may also be called on to vote on issues you know and care nothing about. It may be in your best interest to get on their good side during the buying process and stay aware of current goings-on rather than just minding your own business as usual.
4) Keeping the Noise Down
In a normal home, you usually have at least a little bit of buffer space between your renovation efforts and the neighbors trying to handle a normal school and job lifestyle. Throughout the project, you'll be subject to apartment courtesy rules because the walls, floors, and ceiling may or may not be shared with other tenants and even non-thumping sounds carry better through shared surfaces. Keep your loud activities to acceptable daylight hours and, if you like working at night, find quieter things to do like repainting, organizing, or laying things out for the morning when everyone else goes to work.
5) Parking and Material Delivery
Finally, not all flats have convenient parking and delivery options. In fact, many are notorious for limited parking, narrow staircases, and other limitations to getting your renovation materials into the unit in the first place, much less clearing out when you're done. While most flippers live by the code of 'Where there's a Will, there's a Way", it's worth considering exactly how much will it'll take to get your materials into and out of the flat.
There are a lot of aging condo and apartment buildings out there with individual units for sale that could use a little professional TLC. If you're looking for a new profitable flipping opportunity, don't forget to check out the flats for sale in your region. For more helpful flip tips, contact us today!