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This Content Creator Bought A Flipped Home That Turned Out To Be A Trainwreck—Does She Regret It?

Picture this: You tour a house that feels light, bright, cheery. You decide to take the plunge and put in an offer. Every space might not be exactly what you want aesthetically, but it’s move-in ready and will likely require very little work until you can save up and do some of the remodels you have in mind (the kitchen, specifically).

“We loved the character of this house, especially the vaulted ceilings,” says Deema Lopez of the home she and her husband bought in 2019. “It was ‘turn-key.’ The previous owners had done some renovations and painted it all white and made it look so pretty and it felt very happy. But then…DUN DUN DUN.”

a recent iteration of deema’s living room. she loves to tinker and move things around regularly, which is so fun to watch.

I’ve been following Deema of Pretty on Fridays on Instagram for about three years. Aside from being just a delight to watch (read: she’s hysterical), I’ve always been taken by her enviable creativity. There’s the “subway tile” she drew on with a Sharpie in her kids’ bathroom. And the window-pane grid “wallpaper” in her bedroom that was crafted with pencil. And of course, maybe her most famous DIY of tiny little flowers she hand-painted on the walls in her main hallway. I watched that come to life on Instastories across five full days. Oh, and how could I not mention the painted patio floor? What. A. Journey. For her and for her audience. 

“I faked everything. I did pencil and sharpie tile, faked a backsplash, painted our checkers outside, painted our ‘wallpapers’,” Deema tells me while we reminisce about how I first found her (the pencil wallpaper). “We did so many budget-friendly things like that until we could afford real stuff.” After all, when your walls are chipping, there are mysterious smells everywhere and your windows are leaking (ruining your wood floors you never planned on changing), you gotta save where you can.

Back to the DUN DUN DUN: “There were so many things wrong with this house that it’s hard to keep track,” Deema says, half laughing. “So many bandaid solutions that on the surface level looked so pretty and you’d have no idea about but once we got in closer, it was a train wreck.”

For ease of reading, I’m going to list out in bullet points all the things Deema recounted to me that came up after they moved in. 

  • Plumbing issues galore. “They didn’t connect the pipes underneath the ground so we had a really bad smell near the laundry room and it all had to be rerouted which cost a few thousand dollars.”
  • Air duct issues in the attic. “I don’t feel very well-versed in what happened there, but we had to pay a couple grand for that.”
  • Toilets that weren’t sealed. “We noticed a smell around the ring underneath the toilets and called a plumber who told us the problem was they weren’t sealed. Just floating.”
  • Fireplace detaching from the house. “All the previous owners did was fill the cracks with paint or some glue that wasn’t great.”
  • Windows weren’t sealed from the outside. “When it rained, all the water seeped in under our hardwood floors.”
  • Doors to kitchen cabinet drawers were falling off. “All they did was paint the kitchen cabinets horribly and add plastic hardware. The doors to the drawers would fall off constantly. I can laugh about it now. The caulk was coming off. Things were just uneven, outlets, plumbing…the kitchen was not great.”
  • Entire house was painted without priming. “Everything was constantly chipping.”
  • The divider between wood and tile flooring was not secure. “They just pop off all the time between rooms.”
  • Spray-painted things to cover up. “Let’s see, they tried to cover up rust everywhere; all our hinges, and things in the bathroom. They also spray-painted the soot in the fireplace instead of just cleaning it.” 
  • Major electrical safety concerns. “There was one instance where we were installing a light and we found out our electrical was such a hazard that it could have set our house on fire. I’m not sure how that got past the inspection. It was on some setting that was too high and we only found it out replacing a light.”
  • Subfloor separating. “This was a really big thing and held up our kitchen renovation for months. After removing our hardwood for the renovation, the contractor realized they had laid concrete on one side of the kitchen and a different concrete on the other and they didn’t connect them so there was a HUGE crack that ran under the whole house. We had to get an engineer and pay thousands of dollars to fix it. The old homeowners had to have known because it was new concrete. The engineer showed me where the new concrete was laid, so they didn’t disclose that even though they knew. If we didn’t fix it, it would keep separating, and ultimately, our floor would have busted open. It was so bad.” 
  • Even more subfloor separating. “My daughter has a dip in her room under the hardwood and I suspect the same thing is happening there that we found in our kitchen. We’ve been avoiding it because it’s going to be more thousands spent.” 

Whew. When she was going through all this, I just kept dropping “wows” and “ohmygods” and the occasional awkward laugh because that’s just who I am when someone is telling me their comedy of errors. You might expect these kinds of things in a fixer-upper, sure, but in a “turn-key” house you purchased? Not exactly. 

deema completely overhauled the kitchen in her family’s home to make it far more functional. faulty drawer doors not included.
she used the existing fireplace to separate the kitchen cabinetry from the dining room built-ins. let’s hope it doesn’t fall off the house, right?

“I get pissed off every day when something falls off or chips or we find another thing wrong. There goes another couple thousand dollars, okay,” Deema adds. “It’s constant.”

After that laundry list of disasters, I ask her a provocative question I thought I knew the answer to. “Do you regret buying this house, considering all of this?” Preparing to hear an adamant “yes,” Deema surprises me. 

we love a dining banquette around these parts.

“I don’t. I love this house. I don’t want to live here forever but I love this house. We bought it right before the pandemic so I’m so grateful for it. I regret not asking the right questions and what we didn’t do before signing the papers, but we probably would have still bought the house and maybe have the owners fix some things. I’m not really someone who has regrets, but I just wish I would have known what was waiting for us, what money would need to be spent.” 

As someone who has lived through what feels like all.the.things, I asked Deema her advice for anyone considering a flipped or owner-renovated home so that they don’t end up with the unexpected money pit she did. Learn from Deema. Ask the right questions or do a little digging, such as…

as dema mentioned, the bathrooms were aesthetically in good shape when they bought the house and apart from resealing toilets and uncovering spray-painted rust, they haven’t done much in here.

5 Crucial To-Dos Before Buying A Flipped Home (So You Don’t End Up Regretting It)

  1. Always—ALWAYS—check if the owners pulled permits for the completed work.

“We never checked to see if the previous owners had permits for the renovations. I could be wrong but I don’t think most first-time homebuyers think to check for this. I mean, we didn’t. In retrospect, we know they hadn’t pulled permits which is a huge red flag.”

  1. Skip the traditional inspector.

“A lot of my friends have said that they have hired contractors rather than an inspector to walk through the home prior to buying it. From what I understand, many inspectors just have minimal training and really only look at surface-level stuff, but a contractor would flag a lot more. If I ever buy another home, I’m hiring a contractor to do the walk-through inspection for me even if I have to pay them more.”

  1. Check when the owners purchased the home and then when they put it on the market. 

“I can almost guarantee that if they bought it, renovated, and flipped it back on the market quickly, there are going to be issues. Permits can take a while to get, so if something happened too fast, they maybe didn’t even get permits. It’s hard to mess things up if you have a permit and it’s inspected and approved. Our house, for instance, had been purchased by the previous owners, ‘renovated’, and put up for sale within a year’s time. I don’t think we’ll ever buy another home that has a similar story.” 

  1. Ask more questions if another buyer takes back their offer.

“Someone had put in an offer before us and ended up walking away from the house. The realtor said it was because it was on a busy street, which it is, but knowing what I know now, it makes me wonder. You likely won’t be able to learn the real reason why someone rescinds an offer, but if you hear that information, you should probably go into things more cautiously. It makes me wonder if they had checked for permits, and realize there were none, and backed away. Do a bit more digging. I know there is a privilege of time to do all of this, especially in this market, but if you can, it’s worth it.” 

  1. Learn what you can about the owners.

“We never got to meet the owners or know anything about them. Is that normal? They were very weird about the whole process and secretive. They were these mythical creatures that only spoke through their realtor. Maybe this is common, but in retrospect, it feels weird.” 

deema repurposed a dresser and made it look built in in her daughter’s room.

So there you have it. If you’re a seasoned homeowner or have gone through the buying process before, maybe you know a lot of this already. But even if you are, you might not have gone the route of flipped home. In supersaturated markets like LA, the flipped property is so commonplace, often purchased as an investment to make a quick return, that Deema’s troubleshooting is a welcome lesson that she and her family sadly had to learn the hard way. 

And because the EHD community is so knowledgeable with tons of home life experience, I’d like to open it up in the comments to add any of your own red flags or must-asks prior to signing on the dotted line. 

Thank you, Deema for chatting with me and pulling the curtain on your home’s woes. If you’re looking for a new follow and love vintage, thrifting, art and a whole heap of creativity (you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t), go check out Deema’s accounts (Instagram, TikTok, Threads) and sign up for her great newsletter that I’ve shared before on The Link Up. You won’t regret it!

Your friend in design, 

Arlyn 

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🥰 Rusty
10 months ago

LOVE Deema!!! 💕 I look forward to her newsletter each Friday – I dare anyone to not laugh while reading it.
#She. Is. Hilarious!!!
.
Oh my, all.the.things!
I stopped my adult nephew from buying a flipped house. He and his wife fell in love with it and asked me to go look. I am in no way a builder and all the dodgy work was right there in front of my eyeballs! Spray-painted bits n bobs, drummy walls (most walls here are brick), I looked through the slats to under the house and there were pipes.all.over.the.place.
The list went on. That house is now known as Dodgy House and they bought another house nearby for @ the same price with solid work having been done.
I’d also recommend checking that no roadworks (widening, new roads through a nuture strip, etc.) are planned.
You can NEVER do too much research.

Tarynkay
10 months ago

I agree about checking for permits and definitely hiring a contractor. But I think it’s actually pretty normal to never meet the sellers. Most real estate agents like to keep buyers and sellers apart, ostensibly so they don’t somehow torch the deal. My state doesn’t require sellers to even be at the closing.

We met the people we bought our house from separately and then decided to buy their house, but it definitely got weirder once we started making the deal. They found out we weren’t vegans and were upset about that. Then after we bought it and found that they had also done a lot of very bad DIY and started fixing things, that was very upsetting to them as well. Homes are very intimate. You let a LOT of stuff go in your friend’s house, but if say, for example, the ceiling fan is hanging from the drywall in your new house, you’re not going to leave it there to be polite and just hope it doesn’t fall on you.

Lauren H
10 months ago

The work Deema has done on that house is absolutely gorgeous.

Abbey
10 months ago

Open all the cabinet doors! Some flips have really awkward placement that only becomes apparent when you try to use the space.

Tarynkay
10 months ago
Reply to  Abbey

So true! We looked at a house where you couldn’t open the dishwasher all the way because it would hit the island.

Lane
10 months ago

I’m sorry you had all those issues. I know how hard it can be. We bought a home that was a rental property and owned by at least 3-4 families in the 20 years before we bought it. That’s a red flag for this neighborhood, where most people are long time owners. But it might more common for the current times. This means owners didn’t give a lot of love to this house. We’d still buy the house. It has lovely architecture, a lot of character, a big backyard. There weren’t that many properties in out budget anyway. Even though we spent a lot of money on renovations. I figured that all old houses will have issues that have to be fixed. You can’t renovate a kitchen or bathroom without taking it to the studs and replacing rough plumbing, electrical, insulation, and everything else if you don’t want things to break down after the reno. It’s nice to buy a home with newer windows, but they might have been the worst quality imaginable. If there’s a choice, I prefer an older home that can be renovated slowly, to a contractor renovated and move in ready house that was done solely… Read more »

Ellen
10 months ago
Reply to  Lane

i totally agree on renovating slowly….. it really helps the homeowner stay sane. you dont need to anything HGTV fast.

Saima
10 months ago
Reply to  Lane

Totally agree on buying an older home! I went out of my way to AVOID flipped houses when we were looking for a new place in 2021. I don’t usually like the finishes a flipper chooses, I don’t trust the work they do when they are under time and budget constraints, and they frequently remove original details like flooring, windows, trim which IMO give the home its soul. Give me an old fixer any day!

Jen
10 months ago

Most of those issues would have absolutely been caught by a decent inspector. Pro tips: ask local realtors who they would use to inspect their own home, don’t pick your inspector based on price, and make sure you read every line of the inspector’s report. (I am not saying she didn’t, this is just my PSA to home buyers 🙂

Alice
10 months ago
Reply to  Jen

On the other hand, you could end up with an inspector who is in your realtor’s pocket and who doesn’t mention major problems and code violations. Voice of experience here.

Samantha
10 months ago
Reply to  Alice

Same. Our inspector was in our flipper’s pocket unbeknownst to us till later.

JP
10 months ago
Reply to  Alice

Here’s the thing — hire an ethical realtor and you won’t get recommendations for inspectors that will gloss over issues just to keep the sale together for their realtor buddy. Also, a good and ethical realtor would have done the digging prior to submitting an offer to determine for their buyers: how long the current owners had owned the house, what they paid for it, what work was done to it, if it was properly inspected, etc. It’s not unusual to not meet the sellers or know anything personally about them, but the history of the home is generally found through county and city tax records, city permitting office, etc. I think the issue here is not that the home was flipped and not that they didn’t meet the sellers but that their realtor clearly didn’t do their ONLY job which is to protect and represent their client. I’ve been in real estate handling corporate relocations for 25 years now and I’m constantly amazed at the amount of highly successful yet totally INCOMPETENT realtors there are and the buyers are completely clueless. Finally — some things no one will see until you start opening walls and floors, that’s just what… Read more »

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Jen

In my area it’s pretty obvs that msny real estate agents have “relationships” with property inspectors.
It sucks.

Cris S.
10 months ago
Reply to  Jen

We’ve twice used the inspector recommended by the realtor. I wouldn’t recommend it as the realtor is invested in a quick sale and not in losing sales and the inspector, especially if he works regularly with the realtor, is invested in making the realtor happy. I would also go the contractor / renovator route as they are invested in doing the work on what they find wrong! Yes, you will pay more but it’s worth it. The inspector in our first house basically just listed the window screens that were missing. He totally missed the gas leak from the water heater and the very dodgy electrical. Our experience tracks with Deema’s; the first house’s seller was in construction and would by homes, do some surface work and then sell after a couple of years. No permits pulled and just enough work to make it look good and not enough for it to actually be good.

Jen
10 months ago
Reply to  Jen

To clarify, I am suggesting that buyers ask local realtors (+ friends and family of course) who they actually used to inspect their personal homes, not just who they recommend to their clients. Another way to phrase it is, “if your mom was buying this property, who would you hire for the inspection?” 😉

Emily
10 months ago
Reply to  Jen

that doesnt stop someone from still pointing you toward the inspector in their pocket though…

Christina
10 months ago
Reply to  Emily

No, but truly successful realtors get a lot of repeat business and referrals. The more ethical and competent ones are motivated by making sure you’re protected and well represented, so that when you are next planning a move they are the ones you want to call. Yes, the sooner you buy or sell the sooner they get paid, but if they’re doing this ethically as a career their motivations are broader than that. The realtors we’ve worked with have had ongoing relationships with inspectors and other tradespeople they trust because they can deliver better service and have more repeat clients that way. Obviously not all realtors work this way, but many do.

Kimberly
10 months ago
Reply to  Jen

100% right. Ask for inspector recs from people you know who used them. If they’ll share the reports they received, even better. The report when we bought our very modest 1200sq ft home with no real issues at all was over 80 pages and had so many photos. No stone was left unturned. We had such peace of mind about all of the big stuff.

monica
10 months ago

This reminds me of the last house that Chris Loves Julia had in Idaho. The new owner (Butlerhousedesign) keeps finding frightening safety things like leaking gas pipes and incorrect electrical as well as shoddy work overall! It is sad what people will do to save money or perhaps even more frightening to think that they just don’t care or know that they should be checking and monitoring for safety issues!

Tracy
10 months ago
Reply to  monica

I’ve been wondering why the new owners aren’t posting much anymore. I am guessing a cease and desist/social media defamation order?

Louise P-G
10 months ago
Reply to  monica

That’s so interesting. I notice that Chris Loves Julia hired out a lot of the work for their new house. I wonder if they realised they were out of their skill level 🤷‍♀️

Erin
10 months ago
Reply to  Louise P-G

CLJ had contractors do quite a bit at that Idaho house, it wasn’t all DIY, although Julia did all of the design. I think once they found the black mold in the exterior walls and Julia’s health took a hit they knew the scope was out of their range. From the stone and tile work to the windows, landscaping even wallpapering was done by contractors. I’m pretty sure they hired out for plumbing and electrical as well so this would be an issue with finding quality contractors and not necessarily DIY fails. Love CLJ

Jamie
10 months ago

Very helpful information. We have had similar situations with homes bought in the past. This go around we are building new from scratch. New builds can often have their own set of kerfuffles but at least we are on sight to undo the problems before the build moves forward. Your home is beautiful now!

A
10 months ago

Oh man! Really turning a nightmare into a dream, however slowly. I can 1000% second bringing a contractor through your house before you buy it. We did (it was a family friend, fortunately) and it made me feel so much better about buying. Also, sounds like maybe their realtor wasn’t super transparent with them about what was normal and what wasn’t?

Karen
10 months ago

absolutely spend some time in the basement thinking about water!! especially older homes and ones that have a sump pump. There is a sump pump there for a reason! Water and flash flooding is becoming an absolute nightmare all over the country, even if you are not in a flood plain, or near water (we had underground springs, we had no idea what that really meant). and look for evidence of a water flooding line – our house is 175 yrs old so it’s an unfinished basement and duh, we after our purchase we discovered a faint grey line 3 feet up omg!!. While some people think a sump pump will save you: 1) the power usually goes out in floods & pumps are electric 2) the incoming water can be more than your pump can handle. We had to be saved by the local fire company’s giant pump. And if the power does stay on it’s dangerous af to be in 3 feet of water with active electricals, it’s a no win situation. While sometimes people feel it’s not a big deal if the basement is unfinished, let me tell you 3 feet of water will take out your… Read more »

Cris S.
10 months ago
Reply to  Karen

RE: the power and sump pumps – I’d almost blocked out the memory of what happened to us, or more accurately, what we did to ourselves. We bought a home to first renovate and then move into less than a block from our home at the time. Closed on the house and the previous owners of course had the power turned off and moved out of their name (that’s what you do! No blame to them). But because we weren’t moving in for a while and renovations were starting in a few weeks, my husband didn’t bother the get the power turned on yet. Cut to a couple of weeks later when I take my visiting mom over to see the new house, open the basement door and get hit with a wave of mold and water smell, and put my hand out in the dark and touch a soaking wet wall, turn on my phone flashlight and am greeted with a view down the stairs of 4 feet of standing water. Um yeah – sump pumps need to be running regularly and two weeks without one in Chicago will flood the entire basement. $6000 to pump it out and… Read more »

Alice
10 months ago
Reply to  Cris S.

I can’t imagine. That’s a true horror story. I don’t blame you for blocking it.

Karen
10 months ago
Reply to  Cris S.

holy smokes that is horrible!! I had no idea Chicago was such a water zone. What is everyone doing with their power in between house sales?! It can def cause PTSD – anytime I hear about a big rain coming I can feel that dread in my gut.

10 months ago

I have friends who found themselves in a similar situation after buying a freshly flipped house. Improperly constructed shower that leaked into the dining room through a light fixture, active radiator buried in a wall that turned the wall to mush, shoddy wiring, and very weirdly, toilets that fill with hot water when flushed. And this is only a partial list! I don’t know how flippers can do these kinds of things and live with themselves, but so many of them do!

10 months ago

Her creative solutions are so brilliant and easy! Who would have thought to use pencils or sharpies for home decor. // Our last house was a flip house and yes we regretted buying it (such a weight off our shoulders now that it’s sold). Even though we were in our 40s and had experience from other homes, we weren’t wise enough to have asked enough questions to uncover all we were put through.

Erin
10 months ago

Buy with your brain, not your heart. I purchased a home right after I got divorced about 3.5 years ago, and I was so frightened (but excited) by the whole process that I really was going on emotion. I think that’s pretty common, especially for new home buyers. I don’t genuinely regret the home – my kids and I moved in three weeks before COVID hit, and I have absolutely no idea how we would have navigated the next year of work and school from home without such a great house/neighborhood – but it was a flip and there were a lot of unpleasant surprises. So my key lesson would be: remember that buying a home is a financial decision that can affect your well-being for years. Buy with your wallet, not your emotions. (Also, make sure your realtor is thinking long-term, and not trying to steer you toward an easy buy… but if you’re buying smart, you’ll already be on top of this.)

Rebecca
10 months ago

Love the idea about looking up permits. We bought last year and inspection found a lot, but not everything that’s made it hard and expensive to live in. They DIY’d everything and not well – but they used furniture and other obstacles that the inspectors couldn’t move to hide so many problems. Once they’d moved out it was like a full blown horror show and we couldn’t move in for a few months because of all the hazards (and giant holes in the wall). It drained our maintenance fund and it’s been a slow crawl since. Unfortunately, it’s too expensive to go after them legally (we looked into it 2x). In this market it’s difficult to do due diligence beforehand when things get bought site unseen by cash buyers, etc. Now, it feels like we’re flipping it, it’s needed so much work. I feel like part of it is just down to luck with this low inventory market! Love Deema’s attitude. Thanks for the tips 🙂

Stacey
10 months ago

I can so relate to this post. We bought a flipped house in December, had it inspected, and also had our contractor walk through it with us, and still discovered a lot of issues after we moved in, including shoddy electrical, cheap fixtures, and of course no pulled permits (we didn’t think to check either). 2 days after we closed escrow, we had a major plumbing backup, because the sewer line from the house to the city line was totally blocked by tree roots. It cost $11k to fix… though it could have cost $30-$40k if the blockage was closer to the main line and we had to dig up the asphalt on the street. If the house is more than 20 or 30 years old, it is worth it to pay for a plumbing/sewer line inspection which costs about $250 in addition to the regular inspection. I would never buy a flipped house again – it’s just not worth it. The sellers are so incentivized to just make everything look nice, that they don’t actually spend any time or money on what’s underneath.

Sarah
10 months ago

Love Deema but had no idea of the house issues. Karma will catch up w the flippers.

N.
10 months ago

Some notes for buying:

  • We used the inspector our realtor recommended but made sure to check the online reviews first. We had a great experience with him — he took several hours to walk us through the inspection and sent a massive report with every note, the “urgency” of any suggested fix, and photos to support everything he listed.
  • I wish we had our sewer line inspected. Haven’t had any issues yet but it’s one of those things that could end up costing $$$ after buying.
  • This may really depend on your area but we decided to buy flood insurance just in case. We do NOT live in a flood zone but after knowing so many friends with unexpected flooding, it’s been great for peace of mind.
Cassie
10 months ago

I love the idea about hiring a contractor for the inspection! my advice is be present for every inspection or have your agent present. We requested the sellers have the sprinkler system checked out and verified it was 100% before we would buy the house. They provided us with a report from a sprinkler company that said it was all good to go, no leaks, no issues, nothing worth noting. Totally operational. We closed and had the sprinklers running for two weeks before we moved in (out of state). We got a water bill that was astronomical. We didn’t think it could possibly be from the sprinkler because we just had it certified. We turned the sprinkler system on in all zones and found several surprises. First, the leak was absolutely coming from the water sprinkler. Second, in our backyard 4 of our heads appeared to be in our neighbors yard! This led us to discover that the previous owner and the neighbor installed a fence that was seven feet into our property line!! We are missing a substantial amount of our yard. Third, many of the heads were not popping up and were absolutely not operational. We got very… Read more »

Monique Wright Interior Design
10 months ago

The hiring a contractor instead of an inspector is huge. Agree 100%. Maybe they would have flagged our leaking shower before we moved in…since the previous owners did a huge shower reno and didn’t use a p-trap, or even properly install the membrane. A 13k fix for us. 😳

All very good advice! And what a beautifully designed home! Going to pop over to her Insta now. Be back in an hour.

Lucy
10 months ago

This home is STUNNING. Well done, Deema!

priscilla
10 months ago

My stepson continues to buy flipped houses despite having had a very bad experience with the first house he bought (think basement entry tiled over to make a powder room, leaving open walls behind cabinets, not hooking up the bathroom plumbing in the worst way possible, don’t make me go on). He asked me to check out a house for him he was abroad, i took a contractor. We found mildew galore, sewer pipes eaten thru, and attic asbestos flowing into the house thru the a/c vents. The last house i was not consulted on, and he found a lot of similar issues, which he did not tell me about (but i found out anyway). Not to air dirty laundry, but never take my stepson with you to see a house!

Leslie
10 months ago

A lot of people recommend a structural engineer or other kind of engineer for inspections. The inspectors I’ve had were very thorough. Once we backed out of a house that had a long horizontal crack in basement wall, which he said showed a poor foundation. But we also bought a house with numerous problems another time– but we were ready and knew what it needed.

Jessie
10 months ago

This is a great cautionary tale, and Deema’s tips are great! About a year and a half ago, my husband and I were selling our house and looking to buy a small, potentially imperfect house to live in while we built our dream house. My husband and his family run a scaffolding and shoring company, and he could spot structural issues a mile away because as he put it, “we get calls to hold up buildings with these same problems. An inspector may say that crack is fine because it’s so common, but unless you have a structural engineer look at it, you just don’t really know.” It was quite an eye opener. He can also spot asbestos without testing, because remediation companies use their equipment to access what they need to remove – so there were instances where he’d look at a particular linoleum tile and say “that’s 9×9″ and avocado green – it’s almost certainly asbestos, and if the tile isn’t, the glue holding it down is.” All this to say, yes, an experienced contractor is going to see things that an inspector wouldn’t be allowed to put in a report unless they pull up a sample of… Read more »

IreneL
10 months ago

I love Deema! I have followed her on IG for a while and I also receieve her weekly newsletter. I have not been following lomg enough to be aware of all the isues she has encountered but I always love what she does – some serious style and panache and a little of the unexpected thrown in:-) Thank you for posting so many good tips to remember when buying a flip house, or any previously owned home.

Jenn
10 months ago

VERY PRETTY! What is the fabric on the red/white chair? anyone know? so hard to find a good red/white striped linen (not even sure that is a linen)

Kj
10 months ago
Reply to  Jenn

Looks like this chair (available from a few different sites and in a few different colors): https://www.walmart.com/ip/14-Karat-Home-Stripe-Armchair-Accent-Chair-with-Wooden-Legs-for-Living-Room-Grey-Stripe/561874929

Jeffrey C
10 months ago

I’m not sure I would only turn to a contractor. In the US, look for a home inspector that is credentialed/certified by a legitimate professional association such as the American Society of Home Inspectors.

KL
10 months ago

I didn’t want to buy a flipped house (they’re common where I live) and I also wanted an old home with character to remodel slowly myself. That being said, the house we ended up winning the bid on (very competitive market where I live) had just been painted white (you could smell it!) and the wood floors were refinished and I was so relieved to move in somewhere freshly painted since we would have to save up for the remodeling. Same as Deena, the people who fixed up my house for sale didn’t use primer and just painted over everything including wallpaper. It chips and peels so easily. It was also a terrible paint job but I couldn’t tell because they staged it and had furniture hiding all the bad areas. And similar to Deena, I love my house and have no regrets! One thing to add to all of the great ideas being shared is I looked up whether my house was in a flood plain, earthquake slide zone or liquifaction zone, or fire zone and what the air and noise quality nearby was like from traffic. Things I wish I had done include trying to scratch some paint… Read more »

Paula
10 months ago

I hate flippers, and I hate HGTV for glorifying them.
However, Deema has definitely made lemonade here. I didn’t find a single picture that I didn’t like and most I REALLY liked. Congrats, Deema! Oh, and I love the suggestion of having a contractor do your walk through instead of bog stand inspector. I’ll remember that one.

Karyn Meadows
10 months ago

We bought our house in Bay Area a LONG time ago (nearly 30 years) but when inspection happened, found duct work for heating and cooling laying on ground in crawl space under house. Homeowners refused to fix it. We threatened to sue them all the way to Idaho (cause prices were going up nearly 100K/month then and we loved the house). The folded. We’ve been here ever since. Real estate now is a freaking horror story but lawsuits are still decent remediation for people in these situations. Because the owners KNEW they were covering up stuff that should have not been in that state, you could have sued them for cause and damages.

Gina
10 months ago

This is such great content! Home buying advice AND reno advice in one?! And the added bonus of being introduced to another great content creator?! Get me a spoon cuz I’m eating it up, Arlyn!!

Roberta Davis
10 months ago

We bought a house 3 yeas ago. It was 14 years old. Beautiful house in a planned community and our particular neighborhood is wonderful. However, there are two things I wish I had thought more about, although I’m not sure I could have done much about one of them. First, if you buy a 14-year-old house, you are going to find yourself replacing a LOT of things in the short term. Second, we found out that that the builder put all their money into the “eye candy” (millwork, etc.) and skimped on some very important things- especially plumbing. The neighborhood next to us is about the same age, 120 houses, and probably 1/3 to 1/2 of them have gotten a new roof in the past 3 years. This summer, there must be 25 houses getting new roofs. I asked why- they all said the builder-grade shingles were crap. We have replaced all 4 toilets, fixed a sink leak, replaced one bathroom faucet and had to have the drain at the kitchen sink flushed out to the street for $1700! (Do NOT put grease down your sink, as our prior owners did!) New dishwasher, furnace, hot water heater. But a worse… Read more »

Kj
10 months ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

InterNACHI has a great “Standard Estimated Life Expectancy Chart for Homes”: https://www.nachi.org/life-expectancy.htm

Roberta Davis
10 months ago
Reply to  Kj

Awesome! Thank you!

Renee
10 months ago

As a former flipper, I agree with all of her recommendations, especially the one about hiring a contractor instead of a traditional inspector. There are a lot of bad flippers out there, and buyers need to do their due diligence when buying flipped homes.
Since my husband was the listing realtor, we were always at the open houses and were an open book about what work we had done and the permits we had acquired to get that work done. If the realtor is not open about the work being done, walk away! Or if the flip was a quick one, walk away! A good flip should take months to do! Our flips always took at least 6 months to complete since we were re-routing plumbing, taking down walls and adding extra electrical service. All that work takes a LOT of time. It was very maddening when other flippers were just quickly “putting lipstick on a pig” and buyers were falling for it.

Christina
10 months ago

I’m guessing he spray paint over the the soot was the cheapest to deal with of the terrible choices by the previous owners, but also the one that most surprised me. Who does that?
I too have loved following Deema on Instagram, and I’m glad she loves the house despite the costly unpleasant surprises. Of the three houses my husband and I have bought, we only met the owners of the most recent one and we didn’t meet the buyers when we sold. As other people noted, it’s pretty common for realtors and lawyers to insulate you from interacting with the other party, but it did feel reassuring to meet the owners before we took possession. But they’d been in this house for a long time, so very different from a flip.

Anne M.
10 months ago

Had a similar experience with my condo in Chicago, except it wasn’t exactly a flip. The elderly lady who owned the condo was a bit of a hoarder and the unit wouldn’t sell because of the condition. (Found this out from my neighbor after moving in.) The owner’s real estate agent talked her into one of those programs where the real estate company arranges
for renovations to the unit and then takes the cost out of the seller’s proceeds. They charged her $25,000 (I know from the closing docs), but cut SO many corners on the renovation. The tub faucet leaked, but instead of fixing it, then hid the leak toward the wall, creating water problems behind the tile/drywall. The (very cheap) new carpet was roughly laid and isn’t tacked down at all. The hardwood floor in the kitchen must have had issues; but instead of fixing them, they attached vinyl peel-and-stick tile over it and NAILED IT DOWN. The list goes on. Three years later, I’m still throwing money at this place.

Samantha
10 months ago

Been there. Done that. Our first home in the US we bought from a flipper. We ended up having to fix everything! foundation, plumbing, electrical, the bathrooms, the kitchen. You name it. It cost us well over $50K in the end.