> Lean on your real estate agent. “With a flipped house in particular”—where a buyer has gotten the property for a reduced rate, made some fixes, then put it back on the market—“the knowledge that agent has access to is invaluable,” says Betsy Kiley of Sibcy Cline. “Who’s on that property, what did they pay for it, what created that increased value, and is it worth it?” Searching deeds for liens, she adds, is crucial in any flipped-home transaction.
> Get a whole-house inspection. Aesthetic “fixes” to major problems (i.e., burst pipes, leaky roofs) are possible. “The idea is that they don’t put too much in and they try to get as much as they can out,” says Alan Hendy, of Neal’s Design & Remodel.
> Work with your lender. Banks take steps to protect clients from bad flips, including doing multiple appraisals to make sure buyers don’t overpay, says Fifth Third’s David Gunn: “We want to protect our customer.”