Remember the house-flipping frenzy in Florida during the height of the housing boom? In those days, speculators could make $100,000 in a day off a quick purchase and re-sale. Those crazy profits aren't around any more — but that doesn't mean that house flipping is a thing of the past. There are still investors in Florida who know how to make money buying and selling houses for a fast buck.
The Herald Tribune reports that flips are declining as margins tighten in South Florida. But some flippers are still doing a good business (see: "Flipping remains hot in Southwest Florida," by John Hielscher). "Investors in Southwest Florida are still flipping homes at one of the fastest clips in the nation, although they are slowing down," the paper reports. "The Sarasota-Manatee region ranked fifth among major U.S. metro areas in the first quarter for flips as a percentage of all home sales. Just over 7 percent of local single-family homes sales were considered flips — an arms-length sale for the second time within a 12-month period — real estate researcher RealtyTrac reported Wednesday."
"Among Florida flips, the average purchase price was $131,820 and the sale price was $187,970, a gross profit of $56,149 for a 42.6 percent return on investment," the paper reports.
And it's still a lot of houses, the Sun Sentinel reports (see: "Housing market: Home flipping falls in first quarter," by Paul Owers). "The 882 flips from January through March accounted for 7.9 percent of all single-family home sales in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, down from 10.5 percent a year earlier, according to the RealtyTrac listing firm."
With the oversupply of foreclosed houses on the market drying up, says RealtyTrac vice president Daren Blomquist, flipping's margins are shrinking. "The perfect storm for flipping has passed in a lot of markets," Blomquist says.
But there's still big money in flipping for the savvy investor. And there's also big backing available, Bloomberg Business reports, in the form of Wall Street investment firms who still see opportunity in the game (see: "House Flippers Are Back Together With Wall St. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" by Heather Perlberg).
"Colony Capital Inc., Blackstone Group LP and Cerberus Capital Management are among the companies that have started making bridge loans to investors who buy homes to sell them quickly for a profit," Bloomberg reports. "Borrowing costs -- traditionally the highest in residential lending -- are tumbling as the firms compete for customers… Bridge loans, also known as hard-money or asset-based loans, give flippers cash for home purchases and construction with about a year to repay, and are backed by the real estate."
The money firms' venture into flip financing "represents a deepening bet on the housing market by Wall Street-backed companies, many of which have built rental-home empires during the past three years and started specialty-lending businesses to finance smaller investors," Bloomberg reports. "Blackstone, the world's biggest alternative-asset manager, is seeking to make $1 billion of the loans a year, according to Nick Gould, executive chairman of the firm's B2R Finance unit."