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Veterans Are Finding a Second Career in House Flipping

By Tanya Svoboda
October 2019

Veterans are discovering that real estate investing, or “house flipping” is a career path that is well matched with the skill sets they learned in the military. The article, 5 Reasons Veterans Make Great House Flippers, explains “Flipping a house can be a very stressful experience for the average person, but for our men and women in uniform, it’s a perfect fit of skill and temperament.”

Andy and Ashley Williams are veterans, home flippers and hosts of the show Flip or Flop Fort Worth on HGTV. After being discharged, both struggled to find a career that felt like a good fit. In the article, How Flipping Houses Helps Veterans Transition to Civilian Life Ashley recalls, “I got a new job and immediately my job said, ‘You’re great, you do your job awesome, but you’re too intense,’ She said I didn’t fit the culture because I was too direct.”

But the directness Ashley learned in the military was a trait that served her well when she and her husband began flipping houses. “Being direct has been a very effective tool because everyone knows exactly what is expected of one another,” Ashley says. “Since construction work has many areas of expertise, it is important to be able to describe exactly what you’re looking for to not confuse the contractor while and clearly defining your vision.”

For veterans interested in pursuing a career in house flipping, the following three tips can help you get started.

1. Find A Mentor

Andy of Flip or Flop Fort Worth shares that he often works with fellow vets who reach out for advice. “Oftentimes a veteran would call me, and I would mentor [them] then invite them to see what I do and how,” Andy says. “Other times I would go to an organization and select a veteran that I would see needing a mission, then empower them. The intent is that if I were to teach one, they would teach one to teach one.”

While Andy might be hard to reach, his philosophy of veterans helping veterans is not unique. The website Meetup.com is a good place to find local meetings where you can share ideas with like-minded military investors. The Meetup category VA Loan Groups lists gatherings across the United States, like The Military Real Estate Investing Network in OH and NYC/NJ Veterans in Real Estate Investing.

2. Learn About VA Financing

Investing in real estate using VA loans can be complicated, but it’s worth learning what you can and can’t do. The benefits VA loans offer, like no down payments and low interest rates, can translate into big earnings for veteran house flippers.

VA loans do come with requirements that make the real estate investment process quite different from civilian investing. To give you an idea, here are a couple of their requirements, as well as ways veteran house flippers can work within them.

Requirement: VA loans must be used to acquire your primary residence.

As a veteran you can use a VA loan to acquire a property that you intend to flip – if you use it as your primary residence during the renovations. That property can then be either flipped for profit or kept as a rental property.

There is currently no limit to how many times you can use the entitlement provided by your VA loan to purchase properties. VA loans can also be used to purchase multi-family units that you can rent for profit – provided you will be living in one of the units.

Requirement: VA loans are only given for property in good repair.

As an investor shopping with a VA loan, you won’t be able to buy a dilapidated property to overhaul. But you can buy properties whose value can be significantly improved with renovations that update the appearance of the home. Things like a new kitchen and new siding can go a long way in providing a return on your investment.

There is also something called an FHA 203K Rehab Loan that VA Home Loan Centers can help you acquire. Their website explains that an FHA 203K loan is government insured and allows deep renovations. It can be used to renovate foreclosures, unfinished construction, condemned buildings, abandoned properties and property flips.

The requirements for VA loans are frequently changing, so it’s important to be aware of the latest developments if you plan to use them for house flipping. Which brings us to our third and final tip.

3. Work with a REALTOR® that holds an MRP certification.

An MRP, or Military Relocation Professional certification, is given to real estate professionals that have completed training on how to work with veterans. This training includes a thorough understanding of the VA loan process, and all its current regulations.

REALTORS® with an MRP designation are going to be able to steer you towards investment homes that fulfill VA requirements. They’re also trained on how to negotiate with sellers who might be reluctant to work with a buyer using a VA loan.

House flipping is just one of many careers that discharged veterans are suited for. But the flexibility and the opportunity to build an independent business it provides, make it an especially good match for many.


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