Robyn Anshell of Atlanta’s Flipchic began her career as a real estate agent but has spent the past 20 years also focused on flipping houses for a profit. She spoke about everything from what flippers should look for in a property to why she doesn’t carry a gun to work anymore.
Q: What exactly is a house flipper? How would you describe what you do?
A: My basic job description is that I go into moderate-income areas where some homes haven’t been cared for. I buy them, tear them apart, fix them up and put them back together to make them beautiful again. My partner is a home builder, so I use my design style and his expertise. I’d say my style of flipping is unique though. I tend to take more expensive elements from my higher-end clients and incorporate them into the space. I’ll take a nicer chandelier or better-quality granite, for example, and put it in these homes. People seem to love it, and I typically get multiple offers the first day.
Q: It sounds like it takes a certain kind of person. How did you get involved in flipping?
A: Twenty years ago when I got divorced, I was a stay-at-home mom and realized I needed an income. I already had a real estate license, but I didn’t have the client base or length in the industry to support myself and my child. So I got a second mortgage, I bought an inexpensive home that needed work, and I renovated it. I then sold it, received a nice profit and knew I could make this into a business.
Q: What areas of Atlanta do you focus on?
A: At first, I sold mostly on the Southside, but I realized quickly that some crime-ridden areas in that neighborhood weren’t safe for me. I began carrying a gun for safety, and many of the houses I worked with started to have problems. I’d come back to the properties in the mornings and see broken windows, garbage in the homes, and there was even one time I returned to see that the dishwasher had been stolen. That’s when I stopped buying in those areas and began buying more in the Gwinnett area.
Q: What are some things you would tell someone looking to flip a house?
A: A couple things. First, check the comps to see what’s happening in the neighborhood. You want to get an idea of those other homes’ value. With the home itself, it’s important to look for any possible foundation issues or sinkholes. Those structural issues are important. Good bones are one of the most important things in a property. Also, look for seller disclosure. The seller is required to tell you certain things as a buyer of the home. Also, be sure to get it inspected to see what the house has been through. You just want to do your homework.
Q: Is there anything else you’ve learned over time?
A: It’s been lucrative to sometimes sell and even trade properties with other flippers. Sometimes I find properties through Multiple Listing Services, where agents go online to enter their listing and other agents can sell their properties. Sometimes, though, I get business by giving out cards to prospective clients that say I’ll buy their house for cash. I almost always buy with cash because it typically guarantees a quick close. I’ve also learned to rein myself in. Don’t overdo the renovations to the point that it’s no longer profitable. Use design materials that appeal to the general public, and try to avoid too much of a custom look. Flipping houses can be difficult at first, but profit is out there to be made.