What It Really Takes to ‘Flip’ a House

Brad Lauck has rehabbed dozens of properties over the last decade. It’s not as easy as HGTV makes it seem.
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Illustration by Adam Simpson

HGTV fans will be disappointed to learn that “flipping” a house isn’t as easy as Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, and Flip or Flop make it out to be. “It’s very unrealistic,” says Brad Lauck, owner of Lauck Properties, a real estate development company. “It’s a hard business. I wish it were easier.”

Lauck launched his company 10 years ago but has spent the last 15 either renting and selling real estate or rehabbing residential and commercial properties. Today, his company breathes life back into rundown apartment complexes, warehouses, and single-family homes.

Two variables come into play when choosing his projects: price and location. “I look for a price low enough where I can redo everything so there aren’t problems in the future,” says Lauck, who prefers the term rehabbing to flipping because of the latter’s negative connotation. With the help of just one full-time employee, Lauck buys the property, secures permits, and works closely with contracted engineers and architects to ensure every pipe, wire, and surface is replaced with high-end finishes. Think quartz counter tops, stainless steel appliances, and subway tile accents. “Everything’s brand new, except the floors; we refinish those,” he says. Depending on the size, each project can take three to 18 months. Then, if it’s a house, he’ll list it with a local real estate agent; if it’s an apartment complex, he’ll rent and manage the units or sell it to a management company.

In terms of location, Lauck primarily sticks to the east side and targets up-and-coming neighborhoods like Walnut Hills. Why? He’s familiar with the area. The Xavier University alumnus and his wife even rehabbed their own Avondale home. He says his love for old buildings motivates him. “I like taking something that’s vacant or in bad shape and making it new again.”

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