Good neighbor, now there’s a major component in a successful flip! can make or break you in real estate house flipping. Any seasoned investor will be able to tell you multiple stories related to neighbors and how they impacted the value of a flip. or for that matter how they helped or hindered the sale. All of these homes had a common thread running through their flip history. With almost every flip, I try to introduce myself to the neighbors so they are assured I will be making improvements and to let them know that there will be crews working on the home for a few weeks. This usually sets a great tone and they most often want to help out, gives them comfort and makes me the Friendly Neighbor. Almost always it’s a positive experience…But sometimes, as in these three flips, neighbors can smile, lead you to feel secure and unfortunately..Drum Roll Please…turn on you!. Each one of these together have the same commonality, being involvement with my neighbors. But each one had its own fun twist.
With Mountain Ave, the ‘good neighbor” next door felt so bad for a homeless man sitting a few blocks away, he thoughtfully offered our vacant home to him so he could get out of the cold, telling the homeless guy that if he stayed there at night, no one will know.
Nice guy, yes, but it would have been nice if he (our neighbor) would have told us he offered our home. As it turned out, our homeless man liked to sleep in during the mornings and when my crews got there at 7am to start working, they woke him up….. THREE days in a row! Even after we changed the locks and secured the house with motion lights, Mr. Homeless guy decided he would break in the front door...two days before the home was to close escrow. Ugh!What a nightmare because Mr. Homeless guy began to think he was entitled to live in the home…We had to have a few of our crew stay in the house until it closed to make sure he stayed away….Wow, that was a rough one!
With our home on Osbun, we owned another flip just blocks away. I found out we had an out of work neighbor living up the street. Good guy me…(dumb move), felt bad and offered to let him do the gardening to earn a few bucks. He did such a nice job we gave him Osbun to trim as well. Then, we gave him responsibility to enter Osbun using a crew combo box to check water pipes for leaks. The nice guy he turned out to be, he decided he wanted the new stainless steel hood in kitchen for his wife. When we discovered it was stolen (because a rear window was broken) and we never suspected him…Until Osbun was closed and I went to his house to pay him for the yard work. He wasn’t home, so his wife let me in. The entryway had a nice shot of the kitchen and low and behold, there was the stainless hood from Osbun, with coincidentally an identical “custom” dent in it from when our crew dropped it taking it out of the box. In a quick moment I asked myself…Hmmm, I wonder if the manufacture dropped all of them that way…But NOPE, his wife was nice enough to share with me that her husband found it a few weeks back and hung it up for her because the dent wasn’t so bad…..I made a great profit by that point and had no reason to go into it with her…so maybe I shouldn’t be so trusting? Neh, I’d rather think I helped someone in need. Moral of this story, be careful of nice neighbor without a job!
Our house on Sierra had nearly the same story as Osbun, only the beauty in this story was with the neighbor to the right who liked to “borrow” all our staging furniture for his living room (seen here in Sierra’s living room before he “borrowed” it). This guy was just so “helpful” he wanted us to watch out for the neighbor on the left, because he steals things…Wasn’t that nice of him? Once again, nope! Several weeks after staging the house when our crew went to go remove the furniture because escrow was closing, most of it was missing. As a thank you for watching the house for us, I went over to give them with a Home Depot gift card…Once again I could see the entire living room from Sierra in his living room in the back of the house. When I confronted him about our missing loot in his living room looking like ours, he quickly stuttered and reminded me to keep an eye out for neighbor “leftie”. and quickly closed the door with a thank you.
The problem with any of these stories is that we make great profit and never see these neighborhoods much after flipping. To keep the peace we often need to factor in the losses. Typically knowing the neighbors are a great part of the equation. But every now and then you just cant help but get the best of the bunch!
This post is written by (me) Don Gilmartin in order to inspire the DIY, design & flipping community. As CEO and founder of Fliptechs I have over 20 years of design, construction, and real estate, experience to share.