Evaluating a Flip

February 25, 2009 · 4 comments

I’ve had countless newbie investors ask me how I decide whether or not to take on a flip project. For the most part, what they’re asking is, “How do you know if (financially) the numbers work out in your favor?”

Most investors have some quantitative analysis technique for determining whether to pursue a project or not. Some use analysis techniques that require spreadsheets and/or complex formulas; other don’t use any formulas, but just go off a gut feeling they may have for the property or the location. While I’m certainly not a fan of the “gut feeling” method, I’m also not a huge fan of the complex analysis method either. While this may surprise some people (especially those that know my tendency to sit in front of large spreadsheets for hours on end), one of the main goals of my financial analysis is to be able to do it in my head in less than 10 seconds while standing in the property I’m considering.

Certainly the whole analysis can’t be done in 10 seconds, but most of it can be. The goal of my analysis is to determine what’s the highest price I can pay for a property and still make my desired profit. If I can purchase the property for that amount (or less!), I’ll take the deal. If not, I’ll pass.

So, what’s my formula for the maximum purchase price (MPP) of a flip property? Here it is:

MPP = Sales Price – Fixed Costs – Desired Profit – Rehab Costs, where

Sales Price equals the conservative estimate of what I can sell the property for (not the list price!).

Fixed Costs equal all the costs, fees, and commissions that I can expect to pay during the project.

Desired Profit is the minimum amount of money I want to make off the project when it’s complete.

Rehab Costs are the material and labor costs required to rehab the property into resale condition.

As an example, let’s say that I have a property I’m considering purchasing. I believe I can easily resell it in rehabbed condition for $90,000. Additionally, I know my fixed costs to be $17,000 (I’ll discuss this in a future post), my desired minimum profit is $15,000, and I’ve estimated the rehab costs to be $15,000.

In this case (this is the actual analysis from The Red Garage House, btw), my maximum purchase price is:

MPP = $95,000 – $17,000 – $15,000 – $15,000

MPP = $48,000

If I can purchase this property for $48K or less, I’ll jump on the deal. In the case of The Red Garage House, I purchased the property for $45,000, making it a deal I was happy to pursue.

In future posts, I’ll go into more detail about how I figure Fixed Costs and Rehab Costs, as these are two very important components when determining MPP.


4 responses to “Evaluating a Flip”

  1. Bilgefisher says:

    Glad for the last sentence. I was trying to figure out why 17k for fixed costs. Just seemed high to me, but I guess I’ll just have to wait for the movie.

  2. chris says:

    i looking to move to altanta this summer and looking for areas to buy in. i think you are right in building a system to sell alot of houses. my goal is 25k profit or more in the first time homebuyers range. with 2 rentals for living expenses. how is that market? i been looking at antanta for a long time i am moving from chas,sc where i done section 8 housing for 18 years i sold out at the right time. one move left to sell.
    i notice in the 40-60k range 3bed 2 and 1/2 baths 1990 year and up are flying out the door less repairs and newer subdivions so now is the time to move. thanks for any ideas you can give me and you fixed up houses look great that what sells thanks agan

  3. felix anthony says:

    How much of the total cost of purchase and rehab not the interest rate. 184000 purchase and 67000 rehab

  4. J Scott says:

    Hi Felix,

    I don’t understand your question…can you clarify?

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