House flippers on HGTV buy a house at auction and then flip it in a month or two for some marginal profit. I followed a slightly less conventional approach with my 17-year house-flip in Decatur GA. In 2002 I listed a house for sale for a friend’s mother. The bungalow in North Decatur was in decent shape but was not getting much attention in the market. And my friend’s mother wanted to move to assisted living ASAP.
This was in a time before iBuyers and even before the “I Buy Ugly Homes people”. My friend asked me if I knew any investors who might want to purchase her mother’s home.
I had been following John Adams, a local AJC real estate columnist and radio host, as he promoted buying rental properties as a means to build a retirement portfolio. Despite never having been a landlord I dived in and purchased the house from my friend’s mother.
At $160,000 it was not the riskiest purchase ever but it was the first home I purchased to hold in my investment portfolio. I got a loan on the property at maybe 75% loan to value and did some work to fix up the house.
My first tenant paid an above-market rent but it still was not enough to cover my monthly expenses. So I ended up subsidizing my investment on a monthly basis. There were some tax benefits so this may have washed out. But it was a surprise to have to make an additional monthly investment in the property.
Over time the rental market caught up with the expenses and I began to break even. Then there were the major capital improvements that always came at a bad time. A new roof, mold remediation, furnace replacement. All the standard stuff that can happen in your personal home. But this was an investment property and the capital improvement expenses always came out of my pocket.
As the years passed I added a number of homes to my rental portfolio. Most of them had negative cash flow.
Last week I put the little Decatur Bungalow on the market. I essentially renovated the entire house before I listed it for sale. You can see lots of photos
This is the last house in my rental portfolio. First rental house I bought and the last one I have sold. There should be substantial profit as there was with all the others- even after paying back the investment I made during the rental period and the renovations I just completed before putting the house on the market. List price $398,700
Thank you John Adams – this will be a nice boost to my future – way in the future – retirement nest egg. Your advice was spot on. My 17-year house-flip Decatur GA looks to be a winner.