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Northeast Los Angeles is one of the best markets for profiting on fixing up and selling homes. But tricks of the trade aren’t on all the TV shows.

While the television shows on house flipping might make it look easy – heck, they do it all in 30 minutes, right? – buying a house to fix up and sell rarely is. Do it wrong and you can lose a bundle. Still, there are people who have certain skills and the necessary financing to turn a home bought for $400,000 and sell it for $700,000, with a nice chunk of the margin being their profit. 

But if you’re working in Northeast Los Angeles – NELA, as the kids call it – you are working in one of the hottest house-flipping areas of the country. The real estate listing site Redfin positions Los Angeles as the leading city in the country for flips, and more specifically real estate in Mt. Washington and homes in Highland Park have been particularly productive in providing high returns (already in 2013 the pre- to post flip prices were $342K to $578K, a gain of $236K). Any neighborhood near the Metro Gold Line light rail system will offer opportunities as well.

If you want to try it – if you have carpentry or design skills, for example – you should first meet with people who have some experience in this area. Be sure to include a Realtor who understands the market, the inventory of homes that are for sale and what buyers are looking for and where. That said, there are a few things to look for if you want to succeed at flipping houses in places like Glassell Park, Eagle Rock, Garvanza and Hermon:

Good bones – Some homes simply need to be torn down, which is a different scenario altogether. Flippers like to work with intact basements, shells and interior walls, if possible. The changes to be made ideally are simple aesthetics, but very often it happens that new plumbing, roofs, appliances and windows will be necessary – and pricey. Know those costs going in if possible. 

Good-enough neighborhood – The magic to profiting from gentrification is getting into a neighborhood just a minute before it turns hip and expensive. In a flip situation it’s more likely you’ll target a neighborhood that is already on an upswing but where there are homes that need updating. This seems to be the case in many areas of Los Angeles, where flipping homes bought at $1.5-$2.5 million can still yield profits.

Good schools – Even if your potential buyer doesn’t have children, homes in good school districts fare better in down markets than those with mediocre public education. By and large a good school system translates into a higher-value real estate market.

Good financing – You need your own good credit score to get financing, as well as enough cash for a down payment, carrying costs of ownership (six months minimum, assuming you can do the renovations in two to four months) and renovation expenses – possibly through a equity line-of-credit on an existing property you own.

It’s possible to buy distressed properties at auction (see the Los Angeles County site to subscribe to their notification service, or, but be advised you are competing with professionals. Inspection of these properties in advance is limited. Realtor Tracy King can provide further counsel on how to engage in the flipping market by this and other means.

tracy 150x175With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, or planning her next trip to Paris. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Los Angeles, contact the Tracy King Team at 626.827.9795 or