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Would you buy a flip?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis September 28, 2012 07:55 AM

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Given all the run-down, overpriced homes for sale in Greater Boston, choices are limited.

So if you want to snag something below $400,000 inside the 495 beltway, you are going to have to do some work - or pay someone else to do it.

That's where the flippers come in. Rundown homes and foreclosure specials are a flippers delight - it's how they make money. And a lot of people are in the game right now, particularly small-time investors and brokers.

Here's a link to a pair of dudes from Boxborough who were recently featured on A&E flipping homes in Lynn and other North Shore towns. The duo's efforts were also chronicled in the local papers as well - here's a piece from the Lynn Journal.

Frankly, I'm inclined to be suspicious - why pay a big markup for fresh paint and redone floors when you can do that work yourself, or, for that matter, contract out for less? At least you know what work was actually done - and hopefully have a better sense of the quality.

I bought my Natick fixer-upper for $280,000 back in 2002. Karen and I stripped the wallpaper off of every room - particularly laborious given the old, horsehair plaster walls - and did the painting. We tore up the carpet, cleaned the mountains of junk out of the basement and paid short money to some floor guys to buff up the nice hardwood beneath.

We brought in an electrician to do some quick upgrades, had a new toilet put in, and shelled out a few thousands for a kitchen rehab.

It was relatively short money and made our house a pleasant place to live until we put on an addition in 2008, six years and three children later. That's was for bigger money, but we got a house that we are happy with and ready to live in until retirement and beyond.

Yet all that requires a big commitment in time and patience - not always realistic if you and your significant other are commuting to 50 to 60 hour a week jobs. Throw in a couple small children and all bets are off.

Mass-surfer recently shared his story on the comment board of this blog - he bought a flip for under $400,000 in Natick and is living happily ever after right now.

I was looking i the under 400K range last year bought a 1890/sqft 4br/2ba colonial on 1/3 acre in Natick for 395K Was a flip, fresh paint, new floors, new kitchen, new baths, Roof done in 2008 have had to do zero work,perfect for my family of 4. I am 1/4 mile form Wayland 1 mile from Weston, so nice quiet section of town, yet can be at the grocery store in 5 minutes if I want to. Love it, love the area, and yes I paid under 400K.

Is Mass-surfer onto something or did he just get lucky? So would you buy a flip?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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