Fix'n'flip is realtor slang for a house bought for cheap, fixed up and then quickly resold. Often, the person buying the house never lives there; the house is bought for short-term investment purposes only. The "flip" of fix'n'flip refers to the rapid change of ownership; i guess there's also a phenomenon of buying a house cheap, just cleaning it out, and "flipping" it, sans the fix bit. This probably appeals to get-rich-quick types; the fix'n'flip is more for people who want to turn their elbow grease into equity. It's more of a commitment, and potentially more of a return.

Fix'n'flip houses are often found where real estate is low-priced and moving quickly and the neighborhood has perhaps been through a few ups and downs, meaning there are houses that, while perhaps architecturally sound, have seen better days and can be purchased for cheap. The investor may be an experienced craftsperson, reclaiming the former beauty of original woodwork and restoring stylistic continuity to a house that had become a hodgepodge -- or he may be an optimistic but aesthetically challenged upstart, choosing the cheapest ways to cover over blemishes and "improve" the place. In searching through a variety of houses, you'll find truly loving handiwork, generic vanilla professionalism, and awful abortions of taste.

A fixer house, looked at with the right eye, seethes with potential and history. Many potential buyers aren't looking for potential or history - they just want a place that they don't have to worry about much, that they can move into with minimal fuss and that will keep them, their family and their stuff well-sheltered. When they look at a fixer, they say "No time. What a dump. What a broken-down dump." On the other hand, the mangy hideous carpets (in certain areas) often cover hardwood floors; ugly wallpaper conceals wonderful details; original wooden cabinetry just needs new doors. A little imagination can quickly make a list of the top five projects that will make this house far better. A badly-done fix'n'flip will probably be very difficult to sell; i have walked through houses that filled me with pity - for those who put their hopes and money into the effort, and for the house, which may never recover.

Because of the nature of the investment, these houses will tend to be found in areas of gradual urban renewal - perhaps a former slum is becoming a trendy place to live. This makes the process, like most all investments, a gamble, since these processes can be unpredictable and there are many elements at work in the evolution of any urban area. These refurbished beauties may find themselves a bit overdressed for the area for a while, and which may be ticklish if you're trying to attract those well-moneyed middle class buyers.

Personally, whether the fix is done artfully or not, i'm somewhat disappointed when i walk into an obvious fix'n'flip. The stone has already been cut, decisions made. Past living has been erased from the house to make it more of a saleable commodity. The neighbors are either happy (if they are owners; these are probably new to the neighborhood) or informed indirectly of impending rent increase. A certain continuity, if it ever existed, has been disturbed.

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