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Flipping 101: The fluff and buff

Lynne Caloggero

March 5, 2021

So, you want to try your hand at “Flipping”? Looks so easy…fun even! What a great way to make extra money. Or, is it?

What HGTV doesn’t tell you about flipping is that it takes a gut of steel. It wakes you up at night as you wonder if you confirmed with the mud & tape guy and authorized the shipping fee on the cabinet order, and rest only comes on the day you close the sale of your flip.

If you have a strong stomach and access to extra cash (I can’t stress this enough...everything ends up costing more than you think it will, and the last thing you want is to start a flip and not be able to finish it because the passage of time will erode your profit), let’s use this time together to start at the beginning and identify the flipping species.

There are basically two varieties of flips: the “fluff and buff” or the “total gut job”. Everyone wants the workload of the former with the profits of the latter, but in order to come to a successful completion, within budget, it’s really important not to commingle the two categories. Attempting to flip a more aggressive project house with only cosmetic basics will guarantee that you own this house for quite a while.

What happens in a fluff and buff?

The “fluff and buff” is easy to recognize using a few of your five senses. Is it absent the smell of mold? Can you walk across the floor without feeling like you’re tipping to one side? Is it relatively quiet without wind whistling through gaps in doors or windows? Can you count electric outlets every six feet? Is the floorplan conducive to family living? Use your common sense: would you live here?

If the answer is an unequivocal “yes” to each question, perhaps you have found the rarest of candidates in today’s hot market, a true “fluff & buff” flip. Please confirm your personal conclusions with a qualified home inspector. In my experience, flippers are the most optimistic of people, often seeing (hearing and smelling) what they hope is real. A true fluff & buff flip is absent any fatal flaws on the official inspector’s report (they typically color-code their findings. This type of flip will have few, if any, red warning symbols).

Congratulations! You can possibly make a small profit with cleaning products, a paint brush/roller, new light fixtures, carpeting, a rake, and hedge trimmers.

Before you begin to choose all your favorite colors, flip through some current decorating magazines. Choose colors and textures that appeal to a wide population. Personal choices, especially when you’re first starting out and lack experience, only serve to limit the buyer pool and cause your flip to languish on the market.

If your only experience in painting is your bedroom in high school, it is best to leave it to the pros. A professional paint job will set your flip apart and demonstrate quality to your buyers. You can roll up your sleeves and clean, clean, clean in preparation for the painters to arrive.

If you’re ready to dive into flipping, I would love to put my 27 years of flipping experience to work and help you find a property that can translate to a paycheck. If you are interested in a more aggressive project with a bigger payday, be sure to check back for the next installment of Flipping 102.