House flipping in West Vancouver is a great way to earn extra money. However, there are many different factors to consider. Some of them are a drop in the real estate market, a lack of financing and the potential of litigation.
Assignment deals can lead to litigation
An assignment deal is a sale transaction whereby a buyer transfers ownership of a property to a different party. This is a legal practice in several industries. In real estate, however, this is a very common technique used to increase the value of a property and earn commissions for the realtor.
Assignments are legal, but some unscrupulous agents take advantage of them. For example, some original listing agents may represent subsequent assignment buyers and sell the contract to purchase the home before closing.
It’s also not unusual to see a realtor earning two or three times the usual commission on a single house by reselling it to a new owner. A similar scheme has been used in Toronto and Edmonton during hot markets.
Another problem is the potential for non-compliance. The Ontario provincial office of the superintendent of real estate released a consumer alert in May 2008 highlighting the risks of an assignment.
In order to sell a house for a profit, the sales representative must identify the right buyer and set the correct sale price. That’s not an easy task. Even the most savvy of realtors will make mistakes in this area.
Luckily, there are rules in place to avoid this type of mishap. Agents must disclose their personal interest in the deal and abide by certain disclosure requirements. They must also inform the seller of the intention to hold the property.
Despite the fact that these laws have been around for decades, some brokers are still able to pull off the assignment trick. Some savvy realtors are even using the technique to sell the same house several times.
These schemes have been known to work, but the practice has not gained the attention of media outlets in B.C. or in the rest of Canada.
There are also potential legal and regulatory issues involved with the use of an assignment clause. One issue is the potential for a tax on speculators who are engaged in the shadow flipping.
A drop in real estate prices is bad for house flippers
If you’re planning on flipping your West Vancouver house, you may be in for some disappointment. Real estate prices in the city fell by more than $350,000 over the past year. A drop of 10% can mean a major loss, especially if you’re relying on a property transfer tax to cover the costs.
The market has slowed in all areas of the city, but it’s the west side that has seen the biggest decline. That’s because, traditionally, Chinese buyers have made up the bulk of ultra-luxury buyers in the area.
As a result, the market in the “high end” segment has dropped by 22-30 per cent. However, the price declines on the lower end are less dramatic.
One of the largest Chinese real estate search engines has seen a surge in inquiries for West Vancouver homes. And one of the city’s largest realtors, Clarence Debelle, says that more than 70 per cent of his ultra-luxury clients are Chinese.
But as the market has continued to soften, some real estate professionals say that the worst of the downturn is over. They say that, while a few houses are being snapped up at a discount, there aren’t many “flipping” deals to be had.
One Vancouver flipper, Jeff Carnahan, is looking to buy in the $1-million range. He says that, when he meets the same prospective buyers at weekend open houses, they all know the home isn’t worth the asking price.
While the market isn’t crashing yet, it’s a good idea to start taking precautions. Realtors have cut back on marketing budgets and are focusing on finding new business.
Meanwhile, a new campaign group is demanding market control. It’s called Housing Action for Local Taxpayers.
There is a growing sense that foreign investment has played a role in the rise of housing prices. However, there is no proof. For example, the Canadian government doesn’t keep records on the nationality of the people who purchase properties. Nevertheless, academics and speculators have anecdotal evidence that the Chinese have been driving the boom.
While the market isn’t yet crashing, it is clear that the correction is coming. Even industry insiders don’t see a full-blown 2008-style housing crisis in the coming years.
MLS listings are a good avenue for finding properties to flip
If you’re looking to buy a property to flip in West Vancouver, you may have a few options. One is to approach the homeowner directly. The other is to work with a real estate agent.
A real estate agent can provide you with access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), a database of properties for sale. This can be a great tool for finding the right home to flip. However, the MLS is only available to licensed realtors.
MLS listings are competitive. You can find homes that are priced well below the benchmark. However, you’ll have to compete with other home buyers. In addition, you’ll need to cover a lot of fees. For example, if you want to purchase a house in West Vancouver that costs $3 million, you’ll have to pay taxes and commissions totaling $175,000, as well as the Property Transfer Tax of $150,000.
Off-market listings are also available. These are called “pocket listings.” Realtors and other real estate professionals can list their own homes for sale in a less competitive market. Purchasing these homes can be a profitable investment. But, they can also present a risk.
To find traditional exclusive off-market homes, you’ll need to do your homework. Some of the best sources are online. Searching the internet can help you locate real estate agents with lists of sellers. Other sources include newspaper classifieds and mailers.
Using an agent to find a home to flip can help you speed up the process. Your agent can work with you to prepare an offer and create a letter explaining why you’re interested in the property.
While it can be a good way to find a house to flip, the risk factor is high. House flippers often find themselves in the red in a tough market.
With a 10% drop in the market, you could face losing a considerable amount of money. It’s also not a good idea to go into the real estate business on your own. Many lenders require you to have a walkthrough of the home before financing it. Also, there are no guarantees that the property will sell at auction.
Getting a home flipped requires a 20 percent downpayment
If you want to flip a home, you’ll need a lot of money up front. While you could use the equity you’ve built up in your current home to get the down payment you need, it’s also possible to get a loan.
The amount you’ll need for your down payment will depend on the type of loan you’re applying for. You can use a hard money loan, which is often used for flips, or a personal loan. These loans can be a good choice if you don’t have good credit.
Another option is to find a real estate crowdfunder. Many of these sites, such as Realtyshares and Fund That Flip, are dedicated to raising capital for real estate investments. In order to become a funder, you’ll need to pitch your project as a viable investment. This means you’ll need to include costs such as interest and closing costs.
There are also down payment assistance programs. These are often funded by state and local governments. Some are available in the form of grants. They’re not always for everyone, though. Make sure you check with your Realtor about these programs.
Depending on how you’re planning to finance your home flip, you’ll have to consider your interest rate. Home equity loans offer low interest rates for people with good credit. However, you’ll need to make your primary residence a security for the loan.
Getting a 20% downpayment can be a challenge. However, it’s a necessary first step for any home flip. It shows lenders that you’re a good risk. Plus, it can allow you to buy a house sooner. Having a larger down payment can also help you avoid getting hit with high interest rates.
Lastly, consider the type of home you’re flipping. Your expenses will vary depending on the size of the home and the work you’ll be doing to it. Often, the cost will be based on local prices for labor. Also, your property taxes will differ by region. Keep these things in mind and you’ll be able to determine the best type of loan for you.
Among many other things, David A. Grantham is a contributing author to UmassExtension West Vancouver Blo. He is a renowned expert on real estate in BC.
Born in North Vancouver, Louisiana, Dr. Grantham grew up in Lower Lonsdale. He then went on to complete his business degree at the University British Columbia. As of this writing, Grantham has completed over 100 projects, including the development of a high rise building in Vancouver.
He is a husband, father, son, brother, and friend. He was a dedicated outdoorsman and enjoyed sports such as hunting, fishing, scuba diving, and snow skiing. His wife, Alison Grantham, and their two daughters survived him. He is survived by his wife Alison Martin Grantham and two daughters.