If you are not someone who watches HGTV on a regular basis, a flipped house may not be something you are familiar with. Basically, a flipped house is a piece of property bought at a price below market value, usually because it is in a state of disrepair and is fixed up and then sold for a profit. What they don’t show you on those fancy HGTV shows is that to make any real profit on a flipped house, the materials used have to stick to a strict and limited budget. In other words, the stuff used to fix up the house may not be what you would buy to put in your long-term dwelling.

So why would a physician ever buy a flipped home? Well, they are very pretty. The fresh coats of paint, the smell of new carpet, and stellar curb appeal can cloud anyone’s judgment when looking at a home to purchase. So, what should you look for when buying a home that looks extra spruced up for sale? Start with the basics. James Russo, owner of Lawrenceville Home Improvement, took time to speak with Physician’s Weekly regarding the pitfalls of flipped houses.

How can you tell a house has been flipped?

There are a lot of great apps out there that let you see the value history of a home. Compare the asking price with its previous selling price. If there is a big jump in cost, that is a good sign of flipping. Also, the house will likely be back on the market quickly after its most recent purchase—there is no profit in holding on to a flip.

What are the biggest things to look out for when deciding whether to buy a flipped house?

Become familiar with the basic materials of home improvement. Windows, for example, range greatly in levels of quality and value. Most contractors looking to fix up and sell for a profit will get the cheapest windows on the market that will look great when they are put in but will be compromised and drafty in as little as five years. Appliances, doors, roofing, flooring, and other overlooked basics may also be low in quality but attractive when newly installed.

Should a physician never buy a flipped house?

Never rule out any options. For some people, the hassle and headache of home improvement projects make a newly renovated home a good fit. Or perhaps their timeframe for staying in the home is such that they plan to leave before items start failing. So long as you go into a home purchase with eyes wide open and all the facts, there is no wrong choice.