HOW TO START FLIPPING HOUSES WITH NO MONEY DOWN

In this post, I’m going to discuss how to start flipping houses with no money down.  Let’s get started.

So you’ve caught the house flipping bug, huh?  Well, I understand.  I caught it too back in 2013, and it hasn’t left.  

If you’re looking for an adventure filled with excitement & disappointments, then flipping houses might be for you.  

If you like taking something ugly and making it beautiful, then house flipping might be for you.  

If the idea of making money excites you, and you are willing to take risks, then house flipping might just be for you.  

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Flipping houses with no money down comes with a little bit of a challenge, though.  You still need money.  

You need money not just to buy a property, but you need money for renovations.  You also need money to tie you over while the house sits on the market for possibly months on end while you wait for a buyer.

Now, if you’re like me when I started, you don’t have piles of cash sitting in the bank collecting dust.  

So, is there a chance for the average person without much savings to start fulfilling their dream of flipping houses with no money down?  Absolutely, and I’m going to tell you exactly how to do it in 7 steps.

Step #1: Identify Your Target

Think of flipping houses like hunting.  You wouldn’t just shoot at anything that moves, would you?  Well, maybe you would, but that’s not the recommended approach to take when shopping for a flipper.  

You want to identify what your target property looks like, and we’re going to focus on these 3 characteristics: price, bedroom count, & square footage.

Name Your Price

We’re going to discuss the “getting money” part in step #4.  

For now, I want you to think about a maximum price you’re comfortable spending on a house to flip.  Notice I said “comfortable.”  Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with.  Forget the location, the property description, and anything else about the property.  Forget all that for a second.  

Put a number is your head, and keep increasing that number until you get that funny feeling in your gut that tells you “Yeah – I’m not comfortable spending that much on a house to flip.”  

What’s the number that comes just before that icky gut-feeling?  You got that number?  Good. Hold onto it for now, and we’ll come back to it in a little bit.  

Determine Bedroom Count & Square Footage

While markets differ depending on where you’re looking to buy a house to flip, in my experience, properties that make for good houses to flip, tend to fall into this range:

2-4 bedrooms
600-2000 sq. ft.

  • 3 bedroom at least 1100 sq. ft.
  • 4 bedroom at least 1500 sq. ft.

Nothing wrong with single-bedroom 500 sq. ft. homes or large houses with 5+ bedrooms, but they just won’t appeal to the mainstream.

Now, there’s much more to consider than just square footage and bedroom count, but we’re going to stick with these two for now.

Step #2: Use Realtor.com To Research Houses

Now, here’s what I want you to do.  Go to www.realtor.com, and follow these steps:

Make sure you select the “buy” option at the top of the page.  In the white search bar, enter the city or zip code you want to buy a flipper in, and click the red “search” button.

flipping houses with no money

On the following screen, select the “price” option.  Leave the minimum price field at “No Min”, and select the maximum price that’s closest to the maximum price you determined earlier.  In this example, I’ve selected $50,000.

flip houses

Next, select the “Bed” option which should be just to the right of the “Price” option.  Enter 2 in the left field and 4 in the right field.

flip a house

Then, select the “Property Type” option, and make sure only “Home” is selected.

house flipping no money down

And, last but not least, select the “More Filters” option, scroll down to the where it says “Home Size” and select 500 sq. ft. to 2,000 sq. ft.  I realize our minimum is 600 sq. ft., but 500 sq. ft. is the closest choice.  Click the red “listings” button at the bottom.  

flipping a house

On the following screen you’ll see listings that not only meet the size requirements we want but also fit within what you’re willing to spend.  

To the right of the “More Filters” option, there should be a button that says “save search.” Click that, and take the time to create a free account with Realtor.com if necessary.  This way you can easily come back to this report at a later time.

Take some time and review the results from the Realtor.com search, and choose 3 properties that stand out to you.

Step #3: Consider Crime & Schools

Next, I want you to research crime and school statistics for the 3 properties you’ve selected.

When it comes to flipping houses, you need to consider buyers.  Safety and good schools are at the top of the priority list when people are deciding where to buy a home.  As someone who will be looking to sell, you want to make sure you research crime statistics and the quality of nearby schools.  

The site www.spotcrime.com is an easy-to-use website for getting crime information.  The site shows you which crimes were committed and the frequency of crimes.  Simply visit the website, and enter an address to get started.

neighborhood crime stats

When it comes to schools, if you’re not sure which schools are nearby, Zillow can provide this.  Just go to www.zillow.com, enter the property address, and scroll down to the bottom of the page where it says, “Nearby Schools.”

In order to research the quality of nearby schools, visit www.schooldigger.com or www.greatschools.org.  

You can quickly get stats such as:

  • Average # of students per classroom
  • Average test scores
  • Reviews

…and more.

Quick Recap

Ok – we’ve just covered a lot in our pursuit of learning how flipping houses with no money down works, so let’s pause for a moment, and do a quick recap.  In steps 1-3, we’ve accomplished the following:

  • determined maximum price we’re comfortable paying
  • Identified target property by square footage & bedroom count
  • learned how to conduct & save a search on Realtor.com
  • picked 3 properties to explore further
  • reviewed crime statistics and school information 

 

Step #4 Where To Find Money

Even though the title of this post is “How to start flipping houses with no money down,” you still need money.  

You’ll need money to purchase the property, renovate it, and some money to pay for things like homeowners insurance, property taxes, and utilities.  Here are the 5 ways you can acquire  funds to flip houses even if you don’t have your own money:

Let’s review each one in more detail.

Hard Money

Hard money is private money.  A hard money lender can either be an individual or a company.  

Unlike bank loans, hard money lenders are less concerned about your credit or ability to repay the loan.  Rather, hard money lenders are primarily interested in the collateral (real estate) being used to back the loan.  

Unlike banks, hard money lenders will likely loan at a much lower LTV – likely a range of 50%-70%.  LTV stands for loan-to-value ratio.  Most banks will lend at around a 80%-85% LTV.

Here’s an example to better explain LTV:

Let’s say you want to purchase a house for $50,000, and it’s worth $50,000.  If a hard money lender is only willing to loan you money based on a 50% LTV, then the loan will only be for 50% of $50.000.  This means you’ll have to figure out another way to come up with the remaining $25,000.

So, while hard money lenders can be a great resource to get money for flipping houses with no money of your own, especially if you can’t get a bank to finance the purchase, there will still be a down payment you’ll have to come up with.

Additionally, hard money loans are typically short-term (usually 1-5 years), so payments will be high along with interest rates that are double or triple what a bank would charge.  

If you decide you want to pursue hard money, here’s a directory for hard money lenders all across the county.  If you’d like to consider a bank loan, check out this post.

Personal Loans & Lines of Credit

A great way to come up with cash to start flipping houses with no money down is to use personal loans or personal lines of credit.  Most major banks don’t offer these as much as they used to, but there are lenders who still offer sizable personal loans or lines.  Here are links to some of them:

Borrow From Family & Friends

See if family and friends have money they’d like to invest.  This can be a great way to start flipping houses with no money down.  I first borrowed money from my father-in-law and paid him back with interest.  He has loaned me money on several occasions.  

This works great for me because I get cash for purchases and renovations, and he’s making much more interest than his former bank CD was giving him.  

Consider Owner-Financing

If all of these options just aren’t feasible for you, then owner-financing may be your only option to start flipping houses with no money of your own.

Owner-financing is what is sounds like.  The owner (seller) of a property serves as the lender when you buy a property from them.  

Just like getting a loan from a bank, you would make monthly principal & interest payments to the seller for so many years along with paying for property taxes and homeowners insurance.  Check out this post for more on owner-financing.

Step #5: Hire a Realtor

Now that you’ve determined 3 properties of interest, researched schools and crime statistics, and hopefully figured out where to get money, it’s time to start working with a Realtor.

The great thing about working with a Realtor, is their services come at no cost to you, as the buyer.  This is because in a real estate transaction, the seller pays all real estate commissions. 

If you don’t know anyone who is a Realtor, try to get a referral, or just call a real estate office local to where you want to buy property.  Ideally, you want to work with someone who has at least a few years of experience and has worked with house flippers in the past.  

In addition to getting you access to the properties, a Realtor will also be able to pull what’s called a seller disclosures statement for each property.  This statement is filled out by the seller and should disclose major known issues such as:

  • roof issues
  • termite damage
  • foundation problems
  • leaks
  • plumbing issues

…and more.

Once you find a property you like, your Realtor will draw up all the paperwork you need to submit an offer, and help you with the negotiations.  Realtors can also research properties for you as well, of course.

Step #6: Touring The Properties

It’s time to go and check out some properties.  This is an exciting process.  

Be sure to take your time.  Now, if don’t have any prior background in renovating houses, you’re not going to know what to look for to determine whether a house is a good buy or not.  

If this is the case, you’ll want to work with a local, trusted renovation contractor.  If you don’t know anyone, sites like Angie’s List & Home Advisor are great resources to help you find someone.

I also recommend reading this post I’ve written about “What to look for when touring an investment property.”

Don’t expect some contractor to follow you around all day for free.  Ask him what the charge would be for the day to get his opinion on a few houses.

Step #7: Determining Your Costs

Making money flipping houses is no different than making money buying and selling anything else.  To make money, your proceeds from the sale need to be more than your costs. When flipping houses, your costs fall into these 3 categories:

  • buying costs
  • renovation costs
  • selling costs (closing costs)

To get a better understanding on these costs, check out my post “How much can you earn flipping houses for a living?

Conclusion

In this post, I’ve given you some pointers on how to start flipping houses with no money down by explaining how to identify your target property, how to find properties, where to find money, and how to determine your costs.

I’ve also provided links to other resources to help you find success in flipping houses.  Hope it helps.    

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