It was the American Dream. You’d save your pennies, buy a house and…install an open-plan kitchen, retile the bathroom and sell it for a tidy profit. But in a market where bargains are hard to find, and the cost of labor and supplies can increase dramatically during the five months it takes the average flipper to rehab a home, the take-home is dwindling. People are still flipping, but profits are down 2%—a lot, in a tight margin business—and returns haven’t been this low since 2011.
Not everyone would miss the presence of flippers in the marketplace. But they might when they realize what’s displacing them, namely, faceless iBuyers, click-and-invest firms, and corporate landlords. Nobody wants to watch an HGTV show about that!