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House Flipping Makes a Comeback

December 9, 2009

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Four years after the collapse of the U.S. housing bubble, flipping homes is back in fashion.

Jon Mirmelli, a Phoenix real–estate investor, learned late in the morning of Sept. 28 that a never–occupied custom house on the northern fringes of this Phoenix suburb was going up for auction around noon the same day. The six–bedroom home, built on a three–acre desert plot, has a kitchen with two dishwashers, four ovens, “antibacterial” copper sinks, and a master “spa” bathroom with space for a flat–screen TV visible from the tub.

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The minimum bid, as set by a unit of Citigroup Inc., which had a $1.3 million mortgage on the home, was $379,900. After several minutes of bidding among investors and their representatives, some wearing shorts and flip–flops, Mr. Mirmelli won the home for $486,300. A week later, he agreed to sell it for $690,000 to a woman who moved in this month.           more A lot of good content

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Not all flippers come out on top. Mr. Goodman says one of his legal clients, bidding on his own, unwittingly bought a house that was still subject to a first–lien mortgage. To gain control of the property, the client had to pay off the first mortgage. As a result, says Mr. Goodman, the client, who declined to be named, is likely to have at least a small loss on the deal.

Last summer, Phoenix investor Greg Thielen bought a home at an auction and later found that the former owner had stripped out air–conditioning units, granite countertops and kitchen cabinets, and uprooted palm trees from the lawn. Repair costs came to about $30,000, leaving Mr. Thielen with a small loss on the purchase. “It’s not as easy as people think,” says Mr. Thielen.   …………….

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