Realtor says house flipping trend is back

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MANATEE COUNTY - The real estate industry is a big part of the Suncoast's economy, and right now there are signs it's a sellers market.  Because of that and other factors the practice of flipping properties for quick profit is making a strong comeback.

"Were seeing a steady increase of prices from month to month," said local realtor Greg Owens.  He works for Keller Williams on the Water and is talking about the price of homes on the Suncoast.

"As we see that steady increase of housing prices, its a better market for what we use to refer to as flippers or home investors who can do that work and make it available to the people who want to purchase those kind of homes," said Owens.

Flipping refers to renovation process for homes that have been run down and in many cases are uninhabitable.  A situation that resulted when people walked away from the homes and opted for foreclosure, taking everything from the counter tops to the appliances with them.

"We took one of the one of the biggest falls in the country. So, when you fall really hard then you have climb back up again," said Owens.

And, because of the long climb, Owens says investors are realizing the profit margins and buying up a lot of the housing inventory.  One of those people is Mark Flanagan.

"I have bought homes for $79,000 and sold them for double that $160,000 to $170,000," said Flanagan.

But the work Flanagan does to those homes isn't small.

"The conditions in most cases have been very very poor. Roofs leaking, they have been vacant for 3 to 4 years, furniture left, food and rats, kitchens gutted, ceiling fans pulled out," said Flanagan.

But even though the homes are getting a face lift, there are some negatives to flipping.

"One of the downsides of this is investors can crowd out regular home buyers because they have available cash funds they are able to purchase quickly, have quick closings, and not having to worry about financing," said Owens.

In addition Owens says as investors flip homes they are also bring down the housing supply in the market, which in turn, drives prices up.  "Anytime you fix up a house your bringing up the grade of the house, it helps property value."

And according to Owens in the pass several months the industry has seen a 7% prices increase, which many attribute to home flipping.