As the number of available foreclosure properties dwindle and home values improve, house flipping in the U.S. is on the decline.
Recent data from RealtyTrac shows only 31,000 single-family homes were flipped in the second quarter of 2014, making up just 4.6% of all home sales — down from 5.9% in the first quarter and 6.2% in the last quarter of 2013 (house flipping is defined as buying and then selling a home within 12 months).
Lower-end house flipping has seen the steepest decline. While sales of homes flipped for $750,000 or more increased by 21% this year, homes sold for less than $100,000 dropped by 5%, according to RealtyTrac.
Low-end house flippers played a crucial part of the housing recovery, says Ardell DellaLoggia, a Seattle real estate agent. In areas wracked with foreclosures , flippers swooped in to rehab homes that otherwise might have been left in disrepair. But with the inventory of distressed homes on the decline, there’s less opportunity for “mom and pop” flippers to invest. There’s also no guarantee they’ll net a solid return on their investment. Home flippers averaged a gross return of 21% this year, which is nothing to sniff at, but represents a 10% drop from one year ago, according to RealtyTrac.
“If you have enough flippers, you will not have those neighborhoods filled with [vacant homes],” DellaLoggia says. “For a [first-time home buyer] who would be thrilled to death to be able to afford a house that’s liveable, flippers are wonderful.”
For now at least, it will continue to be a high-end flipper’s market. But we tracked down some home flippers who are still sticking it out on the lower end of the market. They aren’t making massive profits and they don’t have tons of cash to throw around, but they’re still managing to make home flipping a worthwhile investment.