Last Updated on August 29, 2020 by Mark Ferguson
It is possible to make one million dollars a year flipping houses, but it takes a lot of work and planning. Flipping houses is a great way to make money, but you can also lose money if you don’t do your homework. I have anywhere from 5 to 22 flips going at once and I have sold more than 20 flips each of the last three years. While I have flipped a lot of houses (almost 200), I have never made one million dollars in a year from flipping. The math seems pretty simple to make that much money, but there are many problems that arise when trying to do that many deals.
How much money can you make flipping?
It is possible to make a lot of money flipping houses. In the past, I have averaged more than $30,000 in profit on my flips. However, that was when I was doing fewer flips than I am doing now. There are a lot of costs associated with flipping houses and while it is possible to make $30,000, $40,000, or $50,000 on a single flip, it is tougher to consistently make that much money as you handle more and more projects.
You may see advertisements or data that says the average profit on a house flip is $60,000 or more. The truth is that number is not accurate. The number is simply the selling price of a home minus the purchase price. The number is taken from all sales in a certain time frame across the USA and does not account for any repairs or other costs. That would be awesome if the average profit on a house flip was $60,000 but it is not the case.
It also takes time to flip a house. I average about 6 months from the time I buy a flip to the time I sell it. If you are able to do one flip at a time, that means you might make $60,000 a year flipping houses if you are able to earn $30,000 on each flip. To make big money flipping houses, you need to scale and able to do more than one flip at a time.
If you do the math, you need to flip about 34 houses a year to make one million dollars assuming you make $30,000 on each flip. As I said earlier, it is not easy to keep making that much money on each flip as you grow.
How much money do you need to flip a house?
Not only is it hard finding deals you can flip and make a profit on, but it is also hard to get the money together. I have a great relationship with a local bank, private lenders, and hard-money lenders, but I still have to use my own money on each deal I do.
I finance properties in different ways with different down payments, and the video below goes over what each of those options cost:
On a flip that costs $100,000, here are what the costs might look like:
- Purchase price: $100,000
- Repairs: $30,000
- Carrying costs: $5,000
- Buying Costs: $3,000
You would need about $140,000 to flip this house assuming you are paying all cash. There would be selling costs as well, but those will be paid when you sell the house and are not out of pocket costs. If you finance the flip, you can get a loan to cover many of those costs. You may only need $20,000 with hard money or $50,000 with a bank loan for flips. It is very hard to flip houses without using any of your own money. It is possible…but very hard.
How long does it take to sell a flip?
When I flip a home, it takes at least one month to fix them, two to four weeks for the home to be on the market before we get a contract, and one month to close a deal in a perfect situation. In a perfect world, it takes us 3 months to flip a house, but things almost never go perfectly!
In reality, it takes me over six months to complete a flip because I have so many going at once. My contractors are not able to start on a flip right away. So it can take a month or two before the work is even begun. It would also be awesome if every job only took a month to complete, but often, it takes longer. Sometimes, it takes longer to sell a flip as well. Overall, we usually take at least 6 months to flip a house.
That means if I want to flip 30 houses in a year, I need to have at least 15 going at once. I have actually had up to 22 going at once, but we have never flipped 30 houses in a year—26 was our best, and we did that twice. The problem when you get that many houses going at once is I don’t have enough people to fix them all, and we end up holding them even longer than 6 months!
How hard is it to find a house to flip?
I am in Colorado, and our market is extremely competitive. Investors are all over the place looking for deals, and many have given up on the MLS. I still buy houses from the MLS as well as wholesalers, auctions, direct marketing, FSBO, and more. There will always be deals, but that does not mean it is easy to find 30 deals in one year!
Having said that, it is possible to find that many deals and more. In fact, I have bought more than 30 properties in a year before. I have had goals to flip 36 houses in multiple years, and while we never did that many, we did do 26 in multiple years.
One issue I ran into when trying to flip that many houses was I started to stretch the numbers to make more deals work. I bought houses with lower and lower profit margins, and I made less and less money. On some houses, I lost money. When you are flipping a lot of houses, the costs go up! You have to make sure to keep your profit margins high or even higher than if you are doing fewer deals.
Here are some quick tips on getting deals from the MLS:
- Become a real estate agent: I can view a house and make an offer within hours of it being listed.
- Check MLS ten times a day: This is easier for me because I am an agent. I literally check the MLS or new listings and listings that have come back on the market five to ten times a day.
- Look for aged listings: This tactic has not worked well lately because the market is so hot. In the past, I would look for decent deals that were listed for over 60 days and make a low offer (20 percent below list).
- Look for auction properties: I used to buy 90 percent of my flips at the trustee sale. Now, I buy none because the competition has gotten so crazy there. It is still a good idea to check out foreclosure sales in your area.
- Be willing to do repairs: Almost all of my flips need from $15,000 to $40,000 in work. To get good deals, you have to buy houses that need work.
- Act fast: I mentioned being an agent lets me act fast, but when I do find a deal, I also make a decision right away. I don’t wait a day or even half a day—I write offers as soon as possible.
- Find a great real estate agent: If you aren’t an agent, find a great agent who will act fast for you.
How much money am I making on flips?
We have gone over the basic costs and time frames on flipping for my business model. But what about making one million dollars a year flipping houses? The simple math says that you need to flip 34 houses and make $30,000 on each house. Here is the problem with that math.
- When you flip that many houses, it is really hard to get them repaired quickly. The longer it takes to repair them, the more your costs will be. You have more carrying and financing costs. The profit decreases with each deal.
- When I am doing a lot of flips, I cannot manage it all myself. I have a project manager, a bookkeeper, and other help as well. I not only have the costs associated with the flips but costs for people and even an office.
- When you do that many flips, it is easier to miss things and not catch mistakes quickly. We tend to have more mistakes because there is so much going on.
The more flips we do, the lower our profit margin is. While it may seem like we could do 34 flips at $30,000 in profit each, that is not the case. When we do a lot of flips, the profit margin is more like $20,000 or even less. That means you need to do 50 flips!
What if I bought more expensive flips to increase my profit?
Another option to make one million a year is to increase the purchase and sale price of my fix and flips. There are a lot of risks involved with buying more-expensive flips, and I would expect much more profit per deal. A more-expensive flip takes a larger down payment, more interest charges, more carrying costs, and usually takes more repairs. The more expensive a house, the nicer it has to be and the more expensive the remodel is. The more-expensive flips also take longer to sell because there are fewer buyers in the higher price ranges.
If I buy more expensive flips, I want my profit percentage to be similar to my lower-priced flips. If I make $30,000 on a flip that costs me $150,000, I want to make at least $60,000 on a flip that costs me $300,000. It is tougher to find those high of margins, even in higher-priced homes.
I have made more than $100,000 three times in my career on flips, but that was over 15 years. Those deals do not come along very often! I think that you set yourself up for much more risk when you take on the high-end flips. You could do ten flips at $100,000 profit each and get to one million dollars a year. You would most likely need to be in a very expensive market that supports many higher-priced sales.
I think it is possible to make one million dollars a year flipping houses, but it would take a lot of work and some really good systems put in place. I think you would have to flip more houses than you think because of all the extra costs that come along with doing more and more deals. I never did come close to making one million dollars a year flipping, even with 26 completed in one year. Will I ever make one million? Maybe, and if I do, I will be sure to write about it.