House flipping is back, but the returns? Not so much


A new report conducted by ATTOM Data Solutions, a property database provider, shows that house flippers are getting back into the game, even though the heady days of quick, easy money seem to be a thing of the past.

The 2019 U.S. Home Flipping Report showed that 245,864 single-family homes and condos were flipped last year, up 2% from 2018. The number of homes flipped represented 6.2% of all home sales in the nation during the year, an 8-year high. That was up from 5.8% of all home sales in 2018 and from 5.7% in 2017.

Tight margins, however, are holding back many potential investors, as profit margin belts continue to tighten. According to the study, homes flipped in 2019 typically generated a gross profit of $62,900 (the difference between the median sales price and the median paid by investors), down 3.2% from $65,000 in 2018 year and 6% from the post-recession peak of $66,899 in 2017.

“Home-flipping profits across the U.S. dropped again in 2019 as the business of buying and selling houses absorbed its worst year since the housing market was mired in the fallout from the Great Recession,” said ATTOM Data Solutions Chief Product Officer Todd Teta in a press release. “This happened as the cost of buying properties continued to rise faster than gains on resale. That’s not to say that the home-flipping industry is tanking or losing its allure for investors because home flipping rates are higher than they’ve been in eight years. But profits did continue to decline again for investors.”

While house flippers in 2019 did not make the 51.4% return on investment they realized in 2017 or the 45.8% ROI they saw in 2018, the typical gross flipping profit of $62,900 in 2019 translated into a 40.6% ROI.

But lowered profits didn’t stop investors in Atlanta, where home flipping activity was up 39.1% as compared to 6.2% nationwide.

Nationwide, the average time it took to flip a home in 2019 was 178 days, down slightly from 179 days in 2018.

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