Rehab Flips Making a Comeback During the Housing Bust?

Way back in the days before everyone thought it would be a great idea to get rich selling progressively more ridiculously expensive homes to each other, “flipping” had a different meaning than most people associate with the word today.

Flipping a home wasn’t just buying it with a no-doc zero-down loan, sitting on it a few months, maybe slapping some paint and a few granite countertops down, then selling for a quick profit to the next sucker who came along. Flipping usually meant buying a home in serious need of repair, putting hours of labor and tens of thousands of dollars into repairing/rehabbing the shack into a nice, livable home, then selling it for a decent profit.

In short, flipping homes was hard work.

While the days of the zero-doc, zero-down, zero-effort flip are thankfully over, it looks like the days of the hardcore sweat equity flip may be returning, even in the midst of the housing bust and the continuing economic malaise.

Consider the home at 4706 S Orcas St in Seattle’s Seward Park / Columbia City neighborhood. Featured a year ago as the cheapest Seattle home per square foot, it eventually sold in March for $200,000 (even less than the December 2009 asking price, and just $76/sqft).

I admit, I was rather shocked when I saw an alert that the home had come back on the market just three months later, with a new asking price of $389,000. That is, I was shocked until I saw what they had done to the home during those three months:

4706 S Orcas St: Before & After

Judging from the listing photos and descriptions, this is no quick cosmetic flip. The flipper built an entirely new porch, replaced the doors and windows, completely landscaped the yard, added an entire bathroom, redid the other bathroom, replaced the roof, resurfaced many of the walls, gutted and re-finished the kitchen, added nice trim throughout, and replaced much of the carpet with nice hardwood floors.

Not surprisingly, the home went pending in less than a month, and sold in July for the full asking price.

This is the kind of flipping I can get behind. The flipper of 4706 S Orcas St clearly put a lot of time and serious effort into taking a house that most people would consider to be a piece of garbage and turning it into a house that just about anyone would be happy to call home. That is a flip that deserves to earn some profit.

Have you seen any particularly good flips in the last year?

  

About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

60 comments:

  1. 1

    I’m not really sure this type of flipping ever went away for those that really knew what they were doing. If anything the REOs and short sales have made it easier.

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  2. 2
    Pegasus says:

    It appears the flipper did a very nice job in fixing it up. While I know prices are what they are, that anyone would pay $389,000 for that remodeled 83 year old house on a less than 4000 square foot lot with no garage just reminds me that real estate is still way overpriced in our marketplace.

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  3. 3
    Flotown says:

    My concern with this type of flip is that all the money goes where you can see it, while underlying structural/mechanical issues go wanting.

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  4. 4
    David Losh says:

    This is great. Thank you for the article.

    The problem right now is that you don’t know what’s going to happen with the economy. The margins have shrunk because you have to sell quick. People in the business today have a lot of guts.

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  5. 5

    RE: Pegasus @ 2 – The fact that it’s an 83 year old house increases its value. The people who buy that type of house probably have no interest in buying anything made after 1990, if not 1940.

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  6. 6
    chad says:

    I completely agree, Tim and Kary. This sort of flip is good for everyone — gives builders and contractors more sustainable work; takes homes that need rehab and gives them a second (or 10th) chance rather than being wastefully torn down. Most folks I know and work with would prefer a well-maintained old home over shiny, cheesy newer construction.

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  7. 7
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 5 – It takes all kinds to make the world go round or as PT Barnum used to say “Every crowd has a silver lining”. I wonder how “updated” the heating, insulation, water pipes, wiring are? I also wonder how much of that square footage is underground ala the basement? My guess is that if the new buyer put less than 20 percent down it ends up being some bank’s REO in three or four years.

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  8. 8
    The Tim says:

    By Pegasus @ 7:

    My guess is that if the new buyer put less than 20 percent down…

    According to public records, you guessed wrong.

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  9. 9
    Pegasus says:

    RE: The Tim @ 8 – The key word was “if” not “did” for my proposed possible future REO. What were the terms?

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  10. 10

    My favorites are the homes which were major fixers, rehabbed nicely, and then sold for below market rates, so it’s a ” win win”.
    I saw a major fixer with ” good bones” in Renton a few months back which was bank owned, oddly located ( on a quiet street a couple of blocks behind Fred Meyer) a 1924 Craftsman that sold for 99,000 dollars. It got fixed up nicely and sold quickly for 249,000.
    On the other hand, I saw another major fixer which was rehabbed very expensively and very tastelessly and never sold. They gutted several rooms to create a 600 sq ft kitchen with white marble floors..Way out of proportion to every other room in the house. Sometimes you just shake your head and mutter ” WTF”.

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  11. 11

    RE: Pegasus @ 7 – What they updated is something you would look at. Updating the plumbing and electrical is fairly common, as is heating if necessary. Wall insulation not so much, but they can do the ceiling.

    About 1000 square feet of that house was in the basement.

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  12. 12

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 10 – I saw one where a house badly in need of rehab sold first and for more money than one that had been poorly rehabed (e.g. laminate flooring). They were within about a block of each other.

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  13. 13
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 11 – I see they put in new stainless appliances and granite countertops but I am still not feeling the love for this house at $389,000 or the neighborhood that you real estate guys think I should. Maybe if they turn the 40 percent underground part into a deluxe mancave with a leg lamp? Was the buyer a US citizen?

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  14. 14

    RE: Pegasus @ 13 – I don’t know what they did or didn’t do on this particular house.

    When we did the remodel on our modest Skyway house, we replaced all the supply plumbing in the main house out to the street with new copper, replaced all the electrical in the main house and insulated all but about 14′ of exterior walls and the ceiling in the main house (not the detached MIL). We didn’t do that to flip it, although resale at some point was a concern.

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  15. 15
    Dirty_Renter says:

    By Flotown @ 3:

    My concern with this type of flip is that all the money goes where you can see it, while underlying structural/mechanical issues go wanting.

    Watching Armando, from one of the Flipping shows, use ‘special paint’ to cover black mold & urine problems, should scare the living hell out of anyone buying a rehabbed flip. One can only hope there are more Mike Holmes out there than said sh*tbird(s).

    That said, my parents bought and rehabbed(as we lived in them) 5 houses while we were growing up. They started with a real junker and ended up with a beautiful brick ranch.

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  16. 16

    RE: Dirty_Renter @ 15

    Yes, Even a Good Building Inspection Report

    Doesn’t use x-rays or was present when the remodeling exposed weak spots they patched over. I’d rather see the house as is and put my own $189K into it, at least you know what you’ve got.

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  17. 17
    QA guy says:

    A couple of good flips I’ve seen recently:
    * http://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/302-NW-67th-St-98117/home/495575 (active)
    * http://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/2008-E-Aloha-St-98112/home/136653 (just went to pending)

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  18. 18
    HappyRenter says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 14

    Kary, on a side note. I asked my dad, who is a mason, about copper versus plastic plumbing. He told me that these days you can get plastic plumbing that is much better and lasts longer than copper. I don’t know if it’s true, but I guess before I buy a home myself I need to research about this.

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  19. 19
    The Tim says:

    RE: QA guy @ 17 – Hah, I love the listing history on that second one:

    06/28/2010 | Listed | $1,995,000
    06/28/2010 | Price Changed | $1,195,000
    08/04/2010 | Price Changed | $1,145,000
    08/16/2010 | Price Changed | $1,045,000
    09/07/2010 | Price Changed | $995,000
    09/20/2010 | Price Changed | $945,000
    10/06/2010 | Price Changed | $895,000
    11/03/2010 | Price Changed | $875,000
    11/09/2010 | Pending | $875,000
    11/23/2010 | Relisted | $875,000
    12/06/2010 | Pending | $875,000

    Granted, the original price was obviously a typo. Still, I love the “let’s just see if I can get a really crazy price for this place” look of that high list price followed by the aggressive price drops.

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  20. 20

    RE: HappyRenter @ 18 – One advantage plastic has is it doesn’t transfer or absorb much heat, so you waste less energy getting hot water to a fixture. Cast iron is really bad in this area, copper somewhat bad.

    But they won’t know if the plastic lasts longer than copper until it has been around longer than plastic. The first generation didn’t pass the test and failed quickly, but the stuff after that has probably shown at least a 20 year life. At some point its proven life expectancy will exceed my own life expectancy, so I won’t care. ;-)

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  21. 21
    deejayoh says:

    By The Tim @ 19:

    RE: QA guy @ 17 – Hah, I love the listing history on that second one:

    06/28/2010 | Listed | $1,995,000
    06/28/2010 | Price Changed | $1,195,000
    08/04/2010 | Price Changed | $1,145,000
    08/16/2010 | Price Changed | $1,045,000
    09/07/2010 | Price Changed | $995,000
    09/20/2010 | Price Changed | $945,000
    10/06/2010 | Price Changed | $895,000
    11/03/2010 | Price Changed | $875,000
    11/09/2010 | Pending | $875,000
    11/23/2010 | Relisted | $875,000
    12/06/2010 | Pending | $875,000

    Granted, the original price was obviously a typo. Still, I love the “let’s just see if I can get a really crazy price for this place” look of that high list price followed by the aggressive price drops.

    I know that house. I have posted about it here before. It was purchased from the bank as a gutted shell and they spent what seemed like about a year fixing it up.

    check out the google street view for the same house – so you can see what it used to look like…

    Talk about a rehab

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  22. 22
    ray pepper says:

    Caution!!

    Takes time, cash, research, and did I mention cash? Or you can gamble up with Eastside Funding at 12% and 4 points and use their 75% cash. But, with no exit strategy you R toast.

    It’s VERY good for everyone involved and just yesterday I spent 3k at the Gig Harbor Home Depot that I would never have prior to my recent purchase. The clerk said I would be the largest purchase of the day. Kind of sad but as I watched my contractors loading up their trucks with my materials I thought I did a small part in helping the recovery.

    Can’t wait for the next one. This Fridays Trustee Sales will be HUGE and I’m seeing some early Gems and its only Monday. Should be a circus this Friday with the 400+ Active I see coming outta the gates.

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  23. 23
    David Losh says:

    RE: deejayoh @ 21

    Yeah, I don’t know if that was worth the risk. I’ve talked with some of the people working there and it is one of those where you needed to have deep pockets. I’d like to hear the story.

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  24. 24

    Pegasus said” I am still not feeling the love for this house at $389,000 or the neighborhood that you real estate guys think I should. ”

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but who besides The Tim was speaking positively about the house? I’m not feeling the love for the house. Don’t see inside pictures, but I’m just visualizing “more of the same” granite and stainless, open floor plan, looks like every other house.
    Yes, it sure seems like a lot of money, and they sure could have picked a color besides baby vomit brown. But…that same house would cost how much more on Queen Anne? Another couple hundred thousand?
    It’s actually one of the nicer south end of Seattle neighborhoods, close to the park ( 2.5 mile trail along the lake), PCC store, Cafe Vitta, Pizzuto’s Italian Cafe, and not too far from Flying Squirrel pizza, arguably the best in the city, or from the ever so hip Columbia City neighborhood.

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  25. 25
    David Losh says:

    RE: QA guy @ 17RE: Pegasus @ 2

    It seems like a lot of money for these houses. The one on Capitol Hill I get, maybe because I’m more familiar with the project, but $400K and $550K just seems like more of the same high prices.

    There again no one likes talking with me about how much I think prices will fall.

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  26. 26
    The Tim says:

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 24:

    Pegasus said” I am still not feeling the love for this house at $389,000 or the neighborhood that you real estate guys think I should. ”

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but who besides The Tim was speaking positively about the house?

    Let’s not put words in my mouth. I complimented the rehab job and the look of the final product, but I didn’t make any judgments as to whether the sale represented a good value or not. Since I haven’t seen the home in person, and I haven’t spent any time researching prices in that neighborhood, I can’t say whether $389k is a reasonable price or not.

    I will say that it is slightly above the $339,450 July 2010 median price of SFHs sold in that NWMLS area (380). With 4 bedrooms, 2,620 square feet, and all the new work that was done, it seems like a better than average home, so the price at least doesn’t seem too far out of line with other recent sales in that area.

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  27. 27

    RE: The Tim @ 26
    I didn’t put words in your mouth, Tim. All I said was that you spoke positively about the house. You did. I hope I wasn’t inferring that you thought it was a good value.
    There are some crummy parts of NWMLS area 380, so that the house that’s seemingly nicer than many, in a neighborhood nicer than many, but on a busy street, doesn’t seem way out of line selling for 389. But it’s still baby vomit brown.

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  28. 28

    RE: HappyRenter @ 18

    I Prefer Braided Hose Plumbing

    If if freezes it doesn’t burst. Plastic and metals can, especially if the plastic is exposed to ultra violet [sunlight] over the years and gets brittle. I had to climb up on my roof yesterday and seal up a leaking plastic sewer vent pipe seal attached to the bathroom fan metal plate assy which just started dripping through the vent the night before….looks like the plastic cracked apart from the elements and the plastic tube seal was broke on the metal attachment plate. I used lots of goop to rebuild the seal/pipe and covered it with a big stainless steel pan to dry…the leak is fixed, but now I need to enamal paint seal over the goop layers to prevent ultra violet brittling. I’m painting all my still good roof plastic tube sewer vents now…LOL

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  29. 29
    The Tim says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 27 – I just wanted to be clear, since Pegasus’ original comment was about whether that home was really worth $389k, and you brought up my remarks in your response.

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  30. 30
    JoeBlow says:

    By QA guy @ 17:

    A couple of good flips I’ve seen recently:
    * http://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/302-NW-67th-St-98117/home/495575 (active)

    The first one was done by someone I’ve seen flipping houses for a while. We put an offer in on one of them, but lost by a small amount by an “all cash” offer.

    While he does a decent job on the renovation, he often puts the house on the market, has a couple of open houses to listen to issues and then goes and does some basic touch ups to keep his value high. I don’t think the quality of his finishing is that good as there were gaps between a few things in the kitchen. He also seems to leave some very obvious things that need to be fixed for the inspector that seem to easy.

    Here is another one of his flips…

    http://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/220-27th-Ave-E-98112/home/147376

    And his website…

    http://www.isolarealestate.com/

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  31. 31
    Daniel says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 20:

    RE: HappyRenter @ 18 – One advantage plastic has is it doesn’t transfer or absorb much heat, so you waste less energy getting hot water to a fixture. Cast iron is really bad in this area, copper somewhat bad.

    But they won’t know if the plastic lasts longer than copper until it has been around longer than plastic. The first generation didn’t pass the test and failed quickly, but the stuff after that has probably shown at least a 20 year life. At some point its proven life expectancy will exceed my own life expectancy, so I won’t care. ;-)

    OK this is probably a stupid but sincere question:

    Copper has a slightly smaller specific heat capacity than cast iron but conducts heat much much better than cast iron. Is it maybe the fact that the old cast iron pipes were really thick and bulky that contributes here?

    Sometimes lifetime under controlled conditions (which can in most cases be tested even without waiting a long time) is quite different from lifetime when you do something stupid. A nice example are some first generation compact disks that often do not play anymore as they used substances in the print colors that slowly ate through the disk over the last decades.

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  32. 32
    EconE says:

    It would be nice if Redfin retained all the original listing photos for closed sales. That way, one could get a better feeling for the value as they could tell that there was significant work done on the house prior to the sale whether it’s a flip or not. A long term owner could do the same work that a flipper could do and it wouldn’t be as obvious to the person looking.

    Why is it that in Seattle, only one photo is saved whereas in Los Angeles every photo is in the closed listings? Sacramento on the 3rd hand (a la ‘The Dark Backward’) doesn’t retain any of the listing photos.

    What gives?

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  33. 33
    Timmcb says:

    RE: JoeBlow @ 30

    Went his website and recognized a house we almost made an offer on too. I’d echo your comments but I came away thinking maybe he left a few easy small fixes for the inspector to hide more glaring problems. The inspector finds the easy stuff to prove his moneys worth, fluffs on less cosmetic stuff (using vague language to absolve responsibility) and everyone wins right?!?!
    In the case of the flip in our area the gorilla in the room was a recently full basement remodel (including former garage) that had a driveway that over the years lost its slope over time from settling and water was infiltrating back into the old garage area. The carpet was wet to give us an idea (rained the day before). It was taken off the market in Oct. and put back on I believe in May (then sold). As others have stated it pays to research property in the fall and winter. Water’s a big deal around here.

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  34. 34
    The Tim says:

    By EconE @ 32:

    Why is it that in Seattle, only one photo is saved whereas in Los Angeles every photo is in the closed listings? Sacramento on the 3rd hand (a la ‘The Dark Backward’) doesn’t retain any of the listing photos.

    What gives?

    Different MLSes, different rules. Redfin always shows users as much as they are allowed to by the MLS supplying the data.

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  35. 35
    Drone says:

    RE: EconE @ 32 – The online property records for King County often have more than one photo… usually a “fresh” photo of the current condition, plus an old black & white photo from the archives. Still, I find it useful to see what has been done to a property over the years.

    If you’re really lucky, the county records haven’t been updated yet so you get the archived photo, the “newer” pre-rehab photo, and the newest MLS photo.

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  36. 36
    David S says:

    RE: Daniel @ 31 – There are way too many engineers around for a question like this. I’d say do some research yourself and choose any type of plumbing you like as long as it is copper, PEX maybe second. Just remember the Seattle rat infestations love the PEX and the way it feels when gnawed, so keep this in mind.

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  37. 37

    RE: Daniel @ 31 – I think it is the thickness of the pipe, plus maybe the rust inside the pipe! ;-)

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  38. 38

    RE: EconE @ 32 – I think the NWMLS pulls the photos after a certain time, probably to reduce the database size.

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  39. 39
    David S says:

    As to flips, I’m all for them. If the flipper is expecting to get retail pricing for materials and is basing the profit on retail contracting, then they can keep them because I can get that pricing all day. If they are basing their margins on more of a wholesale price I might go for it because it would be a slightly better pricing tier than the full retail. If they are trying to get full retail general contractor pricing, well I can be my own GC and sub what I want for retail and buy all my own materials to my own spec. I would not have to repaint the house to remove the baby puke color if I did it myself. Good bones in a good neighborhood is all I really need.

    Granite stinks, so last decade, I’d go with Vetrazzo all day.
    http://vetrazzo.com/

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  40. 40
    EconE says:

    RE: The Tim @ 34

    That’s what I assumed. It would be nice to just keep it all. I’ve noticed that closed listings don’t have HOA dues either.

    RE: Drone @ 35

    Yeah. I’ve seen the pics on the Parcel Viewer site. It’s neat to see the old historical photos when they have them but the additional photos aren’t a good substitute for the MLS photos usually.

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 38

    If they can do it in Los Angeles, I’m sure they can do it in Seattle. I doubt it has anything to do with the amount of memory that a few photos need. Care to posit a different theory?

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  41. 41
    Pegasus says:

    RE: EconE @ 40 – If you hurry before they pull them Zillow has the original photos before they fixed it. You can see what the flipper bot. It looks like there was little if any remodeling in the last fifty years except some in the kitchen. The sales piece still on Zillow does not say anything about pipes, insulation, wiring or heating being updated. Claims new windows but those frames seem to exactly match the old frames. Maybe they just replaced the glass with double pane?

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  42. 42
    David Losh says:

    RE: JoeBlow @ 30

    Wow, look at the prices of those properties on the web site.

    You can be your own general contractor and in my opinion, at today’s, or I should say yesterday’s labor prices, many people should be thier own contractor.

    In my opinion there should be some clarification of terms. Rehabbing is replacing systems, and upgrading the property. Renovating is more finish work to bring the house back to original condition.

    Flipping is buying to sell. Flipping got a very bad name with Armondo, and his bride. Jeff Lewis Design, or some one like Jan Sewell, saw the potential in a property to capitalize on it.

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  43. 43
    Pegasus says:

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 24:

    Pegasus said” I am still not feeling the love for this house at $389,000 or the neighborhood that you real estate guys think I should. ”

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but who besides The Tim was speaking positively about the house? I’m not feeling the love for the house. Don’t see inside pictures, but I’m just visualizing “more of the same” granite and stainless, open floor plan, looks like every other house.
    Yes, it sure seems like a lot of money, and they sure could have picked a color besides baby vomit brown. But…that same house would cost how much more on Queen Anne? Another couple hundred thousand?
    It’s actually one of the nicer south end of Seattle neighborhoods, close to the park ( 2.5 mile trail along the lake), PCC store, Cafe Vitta, Pizzuto’s Italian Cafe, and not too far from Flying Squirrel pizza, arguably the best in the city, or from the ever so hip Columbia City neighborhood.

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 24 – Haha Ira. I could not resist. After Tim’s(who works for RedFin but is not a real estate agent)(and didn’t say anything about the sale price) fluff piece on this rehabbed house and after my first comment was auto-responded to my post by Kary with “The fact that it’s an 83 year old house increases its value”. Then you started jib jabbing about rehabs. I guess I find it hard to fathom living in an ancient blue collar neighborhood that looks far worse than it did 80 years ago while paying a ridiculous price to do so. Most blue collar workers can’t afford to buy there anymore unless they buy a dump and do the rehab themselves. The market is what it it is until it isn’t. With four years of backlogged foreclosures do you really think people paying the price paid for this house are really getting a good deal?

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  44. 44
    Racket says:

    you guys must be slow this winter.

    What is the best kind of flip? The one that makes you the most money.

    David many people can’t and shouldn’t be there own general contractors. It happens so often where people’s incompetence costs them a fortune, or delivers an inferior product.

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  45. 45
    EconE says:

    RE: Pegasus @ 43

    Calling the area “blue collar” is putting it nicely.

    Hop on google streetview, head 1 1/2 blocks west to Rainier. Then head either a block or two north or a block south and count how many long white t-shirts and sagging pants you see.

    I used to handle insurance claims in the area and had some musician friends that actually lived in the warehouse at Rainier Autobody.

    It’s “da hood”…no “politically correct” ifs ands or buts about it.

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  46. 46
    David Losh says:

    RE: Racket @ 44

    I would agree except for the level of competency in the construction field. I have, and would hire a designer, or even an architect, today, because there are so many good ones who don’t have enough work. You can check on them, in my opinion, better, and more thoroughly than you can on a contractor.

    The run up in Real Estate prices also made for a lot of hack contractors, as well as hack Real Estate agents. Some of the best contractors, as well as agents who actually could be of some assistance are retiring, or competing with discounts.

    My point would be that it is very hard to know who to trust.

    As a point in fact we are trying to collect from one of the big contracting companies today. Times are tough all over.

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  47. 47

    $395,000? You do realize what that kind of money can buy these days…right?

    http://www.redfin.com/WA/Kent/27636-116th-Ave-SE-98030/home/402136

    Price: $429,000
    Beds: 3
    Baths: 2
    Sq. Ft.: 2,000
    $/Sq. Ft.: $214
    Lot Size: 1.97 Acres
    Property Type: Residential
    Style: Split-Entry, Contemporary
    View(s): Mountain(s), Partial, Territorial
    Year Built: 1977

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  48. 48
    David S says:

    RE: Lo Ball Jones @ 47 – It appears they have had some sort of difficulty selling the place these last 4-1/2 years with no takers. Hmmmmm.

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  49. 49
    Agents Ranking Real Estate says:

    I was a pretty active rehab flipper during the real estate boom and it certainly wasn’t easy money. Rehabbing and flipping a house the right way is capital intensive hard work. There are a few guys in the MInneapolis real estate market that have started taking risks again flipping houses but they’re typically buying the really cheap homes; sub $100k and putting another $100 into them with the hope of selling around $290k. These guys earn their money that’s for sure. One bad deal and you can get wiped out.

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  50. 50
    sallybuttons says:

    flipping launders cash and that’s what it does best.

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  51. 51
    sallybuttons says:

    By EconE @ 45:

    RE: Pegasus @ 43

    I used to handle insurance claims in the area and had some musician friends that actually lived in the warehouse at Rainier Autobody.

    It’s “da hood”…no “politically correct” ifs ands or buts about it.

    “friends that actually live” Golly, more illuminating savvy from a dope. No doubt “insurance claims in the area” got you smartererer ’bout everythang ‘n stuff.
    Maybe not.

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  52. 52

    […] promised to send you a link on a recent article in Seattle Bubble that shows before and after pictures on a home that an investor fixed up and resold.  Seattle Bubble is a great resource for local […]

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  53. 53
    Civil Servant says:

    I agree with EconE, this is not a good neighborhood. I suspect the mental faculties of anyone with $389K to spend on a house who chooses to spend it here. I can say this because I live a few blocks away from this house. We rented a place in this area to test out its livability, intending to stay in the rental until we bought. At night I can’t walk three blocks without being hassled, I used to see drug deals and end-of-shift prostitution action in the early mornings before I got too scared to go running, and don’t even get me started on the horror that is the 7 bus. We are now looking to sign a new lease in a new part of town. Caveat emptor…

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  54. 54

    RE: Civil Servant @ 53
    I’m sorry to hear that, Civil Servant.
    Some streets off of Rainier are still pretty rough, especially as you head south of Columbia City. Same goes for parts of the Central District, some streets off of Jackson, Yesler, and Cherry are still pretty rough. It’s sort of block by block. Parts of the CD and parts of Seward Park/Columbia City/Lakewood are nice and safe and feel that way, yet other parts you just want to firebomb.

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  55. 55

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 54 – This discussion reminds me of one reason why I liked Skyway. Very low crime (ignoring that one apartment discussed this week). I always said that the criminals were more attracted to better neighborhoods!

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  56. 56
    Civil Servant says:

    Hi Ira — Oh, it’s fine, I don’t mean to be a complainer and I’m headed to the treadmill at my gym right now. It’s just, $389K for this level of quality-of-life detriment? Wow and wow. It’s true what you say about the fear factor being block by block. Some streets are nicer, but I’d mostly still have to walk on some bad ones to get to any house I lived in on a hypothetical nicer street. And there’s the rub, I have learned, of living in an “up and coming” neighborhood. Living here I’ve learned that I’d rather be in a neighborhood that’s already arrived, even if it costs rather more. So in that sense our livability test has been a wild success.

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  57. 57

    RE: Civil Servant @ 56RE: Civil Servant @ 56
    And yet another good reason to rent, especially if you’re not familiar or comfortable with a neighborhood. What if you’d have bought, because some real estate agent or website told you it was a hip groovy up and coming neighborhood? It’s usually a lot less costly to let a lease run out and move on than to try to unload a home in an ” up and coming” neighborhood.

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  58. 58

    […] to know if this sort of thing is becoming more prevalent down there as well. We talked about this about a year ago, but I thought it would be interesting for readers to share some recent flips they’ve seen in […]

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  59. 59
    AL says:

    I am the home owner at the property that is the genesis of this thread. I have now lived in the house for over a year. I have followed the comments and read with amusement all of the strange pronouncements made about my mental faculties, citizenship, and financial standing.
    Get a life!
    To all you haters out there:
    1) The Columbia City neighborhood is filled with children, walkers and runners, old people and young families of many ethnicities
    2) I know my neighbors, who are longtime residents. There is an excellent sense of Community
    3) All services for a viable neighborhood are within walking distance: Cleaners, gym, market, coffee, doggie daycare, child daycare, bakery, butcher shop, florist, and restaurants representing at least 9 different countries
    4) There are Temples, Churches, and Mosques all coexisting peacefully
    5) Lake Washington is a short walk from my front steps.
    6) Neighborhood parking is not an issue
    7) There are several well tended community gardens
    8) Downtown Seattle is a 20 minute train ride away

    Columbia City is a vibrant, diverse, urban area for all levels of income. Yes, it suffers from the same problems ALL cities have. There is good and there is bad everywhere. If you are satisfied with homogeneity, Ballard welcomes you.

    Finally, we chose an 83 year old home on purpose. My partner and I prefer the style, workmanship and history that old homes afford. The house was remodeled by a competent custom home builder who used good materials and updated everything! All we had to do was move in and not worry if the roof was going to cave in.

    That’s all I have to say.

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  60. 60
    4706 owner says:

    RE: Pegasus @ 7

    And its 4 years later and you are wrong on all your previous assumptions.

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