ESSAY: Why I Hate House Flippers, Part One

Rarely do I make sweeping generalizations about a certain class of people—for to do so in this sensitive day and age would be to expose one’s prejudice — however, I am going to go ahead and expose a deep prejudice of mine against a certain class of people that I have observed for years. And why not? Some of the best writing out there is nothing but prejudicial stories — that’s what writers do. It’s the story that counts.

I have a generally negative view of that certain class of people who call themselves “house flippers.” And I can tell you, I’ve known hundreds of them.

Essentially what we have in the modern era — say from about 2002 through the present (with a brief hiatus following the financial meltdown of 2008) is a large group of people who who purchase homes, fix them up (poorly), then resell them as fast as possible for the highest price they can get some dope to buy it for.

The best case scenario for a house flipper is to buy a house for peanuts, fix it up in the cheapest way possible, then collect a far greater sum for their efforts — all done under the perpetrated illusion that they’ve lovingly transformed a sow’s ear into a silk purse, all for the benefit of a dipshit buyer who is too dumb to realize that he’s buying a cobbled-together theater set that will fall apart and devolve back into the teardown it was just a few weeks prior.

Meanwhile, the house flipper takes his obscene profits (which add up quickly, for the most talented cons) and go on to the next deal — all the while growing more confident and smug in their false intelligence that they are the hippest money-makers, and the rest of us not flipping are fools. Yes, a common personality trait of the successful house flipper is their smugness and contentment with making a fast large bundle of money for minimal work, minimal investment, and minimal risk for passing off an inferior and cheap product.

The most fundamental goal of that species of con who operates as a house flipper is to perform a quick trick for big cash with no concern for quality, whatsoever. This, in my opinion, makes this most crass type of con a definite sociopath — for each of them know that they’re taking their buyers for a ride and selling them usually a piece of junk, or a house not truly worth what they’re paying for it.

For the successful house flipper increases his financial con by utilizing the cheapest building materials and the cheapest (often incompetent) labor to create the stage set, and then a buyer is stuck when their new palace turns into a turd heap in a few months.

The funniest (and simultaneously most disgusting) thing about these house flippers is to observe their own lack of, and disinterest in, basic building, construction, and related quality concerns. Indeed, in my own view, the standard variety house flipping con sets upon an even lower wrung on the morality ladder than the standard variety slumlord, in that the slumlord actually owns their property and is liable for, and personally invested in it—in otherwords, when something bad happens with their crappy properties, the slumlord has to do something about it, or face consequences. Not so these house flippers — essentially, they are highwaymen who use a smile (instead of a gun) selling stage sets to unfortunate dummies.

The house flipping scene is as active than what it was in the early part of this 21st Century. The massive price run-ups on the most basic homes in the big cities are approaching the pre-2008 levels. Why? Because nothing’s changed, whatsoever, in the dangerous financing policies of our long-insolvent American financial system. It’s just another pyramid scheme that holds out no hope for rational investment or savings, and simply insures that a new financial disaster will occur.

My paternal grandfather went through a period of years in his life when he was younger than I am now when he made his living building quite modest, yet extremely high-quality homes, in and around the southern hills of Kennewick, Washington. He made his living by eventually selling them — but what was interesting about it, is that he and his wife and family most often lived in these homes upon their completion for a time, before he sold them. Indeed, that the houses he built were constructed to his own high standards for he, himself, to personally live in for a number of years, was often a huge and convincing selling point. All of his homes not only are standing today, but have been well kept by their owners over the years, and they stand as a testament to the quality that he built—indeed, the quality that he personally insisted upon — and many of them comprise the central genesis of some of the most desirable old neighborhoods in the region. Grandpa always made a justifiable modest profit on his homes — not an obscene profit — and the people that bought them knew him, for he was often their neighbor living down the street in the next home he’d just completed.

To those creative individuals that want to renovate, build, or otherwise improve a property for their own reasonable profit in a quality manner — I say that is a noble and justifiable thing to do if you enjoy it. But for those cons operating out there today (and they are numerous) who seek to rip-off the next dope, I have no respect for, whatsoever. I have nothing but contempt for them. What goes around comes around—and often in the strangest ways—and there will come a day when they come to realize that they’re not so smart after all.

One is a greedy bastard who seeks to unjustifiably gain from producing something of intentionally poor quality. These are not good people, and it’s why I limit my interactions with them and keep them at arm’s length. I’ve found them to be boors and not even ten percent as smart as they think they are.

Tomorrow, I will speak of the buyers of these stage sets — and while they are largely dummies, I’ve found most of them to not have the immoral intent of the house flippers, and so I will treat them somewhat more gently.

Read Part Two…

John Corderman

John Corderman is a writer living in Phoenix, Arizona — with extensive experience in retail management, commercial construction, and financial brokerage services. He composes regular comments about American politics and culture.