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By Shaina Mishkin
December 17, 2019
Jeff Manes—Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you’re considering embarking on a home flipping project, now might not be the best time, according to a recent report from ATTOM Data Solutions.

Nationally, 56,566 single family homes and condos were flipped in the third quarter of 2019, according to the company’s 2019 U.S. Home Flipping Report. That’s down 6.8% from the same time a year ago, and down 12.9% from the second quarter of 2019, the report says. (When a single-family home or condo is bought and sold within a 12-month period, it’s deemed to be a “house flip” in the report.)

At first glance, the landscape for house flippers who sold in Q3 2019 might actually look rosy. Their gross profit in Q3 2019, calculated by comparing the median sales price and the median paid by investors, was $64,900, up 3.5% from the same time in 2018, and up 1.8% from Q2 2019, according to the study.

That said, higher profits don’t necessarily mean flippers are better off. In fact, when the profit is compared to the original acquisition price, investors are actually seeing a smaller return on their investment. Flippers’ return on investment dropped to 40.6%, down from 41.1% in the second quarter of 2019. While home sales do tend to experience a seasonal dip in the winter, flipping ROI is even down from the third quarter of 2018, when investors saw a 43.5% return on investment, according to the report.

“After a springtime selling binge earlier this year, the home-flipping business settled way down over the summer amid a continuing scenario of languishing profits,” Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions, said in a release. “The retreat back to more normal levels of sales comes amid broader market forces that are making it harder and harder for investors to complete the kinds of deals they were getting as recently as last year. Those forces are keeping profits way down from post-recession highs and show no signs of easing.”

Of course, there are other important factors to consider if you’re thinking about trying to make money buying and selling a home. The survey arrived at the median profit figures by calculating the difference between the median sales price and the median price paid by investors — in other words, the hard work and home renovations that went into flipping those homes, which can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, are not accounted for in the final figure.

If you’re considering flipping a house for the most money possible, it’s important to focus on the renovations that return the most value at sale. Once you know what rooms you want to update, you can use your home’s value to help calculate your renovation budget.

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