Guard against shoddy work on home flips, restorations

Don Fenley 

Flipped homes are an important part of the local housing market. They account for about 10% of existing home sales and half of them are always in the affordable and work-force housing price ranges.

The flip market is also fertile ground for local entrepreneurs. But there’s a dark spot on this shiny story.

City officials say the instances of shoddy work, lack of permits and the likes have increased in almost direct proportion to the decrease in housing inventory and increase in prices. In these “lipstick on a pig” cases, the work can become a money pit instead of savings.

Here’s some pointers from local flippers and Realtors® who have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of flipped homes.

If the seller is a flipper, ask for the names of people who bought a home from the flipper then talk to the buyers.

Get a detailed list of what has been done. Eyeball the improvements, open and shut the doors, and get a hands-on impression of the quality of the work. Check that all the work that has been done has the permits and inspections. This can be done at building departments. Kingsport has an online portal that Realtors® and individual can use to check out permits. It can be accessed at

Buyers should also hire an independent home inspector who is licensed and insured. And if there’s anything even remotely suspicious, don’t hesitate to seek the next level of expert to check out the work.

Flipped homes are an important part of the local housing market because they take homes where maintenance has been neglected, ones that are dated and need a facelift – or more – and get them back into the housing inventory. A good flip can mean a good deal. But a poor flip can be a money pit for buyers who don’t do some extra due diligence.

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at