Guess what? Many house flippers do bad work
WAMU-FM/NPR has a multi part series on the pitfalls experienced by purchasers of "flipped houses" where the "renovators" did a lousy job:
- A Dream Home Becomes a Nightmare
- For The Developer From Great Falls, A Great Fall
- As Development Spreads Across D.C.’s Neighborhoods, Can Regulators Keep Up? -- this piece airs tomorrow
This is news? This is more an "evergreen story." Crappy renovations are the rule, rather than the exception, in house flipping.
I remember a comment on the Columbia Heights e-list from around 2001 that was very funny. A person wrote that he was looking to buy a "fixer upper." Someone replied stating: "just buy a house that is marketed as 'recently renovated.'"
The point was obvious, that the renovation was likely to be incredibly poorly done.
The "Flip or Flop" people do reasonably decent work, although they don't deal much with houses more than 40 years old.
Of course, Nicole Curtis, in "Rehab Addict," is superb, but she is extranormally motivated. Rudy Martinez, in a show no longer filming on A&E, did pretty good work in Los Angeles. While the jokey-hokey elements of the hosts of "Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines" bug me to no end, they do great work fixing up abandoned historic houses in Waco, Texas, etc.
These people, especially Nicole Curtis, the Gaines', and Rudy Martinez help to rebuild neighborhoods in need of special assistance. (Not unlike the great work done by the Patterson Park Community Development Corporation in Baltimore as well, although that organization went belly up in the current recession.) From a story on Rudy Martinez:
Martinez had a hunger to make a difference in his community from an early age. Following several years of service in the U.S. Army, he founded City Housing Development, Inc. (CID), intended to transform various properties from eyesores to beautiful, inhabitable structures that would raise the desirability and value of an entire community. Between 2006 and 2012, his efforts resulted in 51 restored homes and the many impressive home makeovers that he has achieved since then. “Flip This House” and “Flip That House,” two hit cable shows, captured his efforts to raise home values and transform the quality of life in several L.A. communities.Park View DC blog.
By contrast, many of the small businesspeople focused on this type of work, including renovators in DC, do a terrible job (e.g., "D.C. Officials Order Brand-New Condo Building Torn Down," Post) Gharai, Civil Action No. 2012-1400 (D.C. 2013)).
There isn't a really good way to stop them.
In Aspen, renovators are required to take an online course and test in order to be certified to work in the historic district, but I don't think that can prevent most of the worst work done in a place like DC.
They are more focused on extracting value from place, rather than contributing to the long term value of individual houses and neighborhoods.
As long as demand for housing is greater than supply, poorly done renovations and what I call "wacked houses," will sell, as long as they aren't done too badly, and the house will appraise at the value necessary to get a mortgage.
Looking at houses in 2008 in Brookland, and in talking with a realtor I worked with on the Brookland Main Street program, I was shocked that she didn't agree with me that the houses her firm touted and that we looked at the weekend before were horrid--poorly renovated with lots of elements that would need to be "fixed."
Instead, she focused on all the people who attended the open houses, and the number of offers that were coming in. But in a time of hyper demand, people will buy anything, believing that they have no choice, or out of a lack of experience.
The biggest thing I learned, from my previous disastrous experience in buying a house in DC is to walk away from a house that you have reservations about. But it can be hard to stay the course if you come to believe that it's impossible to find a house that is particularly noteworthy.
OTOH, so many people now want houses to be in perfect condition, and that isn't possible either. We've had to do a lot to our house, and we'll continue to have to fix things, from windows to the roof, as they reach the age of their useful life or to fix previously poorly done "fixes/patches" (like with some windows.
But the basic bones of the house are still firm and the house has plenty of useful life remaining.