New book covers cosmetic improvements, buyer's market

If you have been fascinated by reports about how to earn profits fixing up and quickly selling houses for large profits "Flipping Confidential" by Kirsten Kemp reveals how she profitably flips houses. As TV host of The Learning Channel's "Property Ladder," Kemp has become an expert at how to recognize houses with profit potential and those to avoid.

She explains how to earn the first profit at the "buy," meaning when the house is purchased. Then she emphasizes techniques for upgrading houses with cosmetic improvements that add more market value than they cost. Lastly, Kemp shows how to quickly resell the house, even in a slow buyer's market, by "staging" the home so buyers won't have to use their imaginations to see how attractive the home can be.

Dozens of before-and-after photos add to the easy understandability of this book. Written in a practical manner, with lots of good and bad examples from the author's personal experiences renovating houses, this guidebook shows how to create a profitable home-flipping business.

Especially useful is the emphasis on budgeting for virtually every expense and projecting net profits after resale costs, even including the capital gains taxes. Although Kemp doesn't specifically state her profit target, her goal seems to be to at least earn double the cost of improvements.

To illustrate, if she spends $25,000 for improvements, her net profit goal would be $50,000. Not bad for a few months' work.

Even if you are not interested in flipping houses but are perhaps looking to remodel your personal residence, the author's chapter about interviewing contractors is especially valuable. She lists the key questions to ask each renovation contractor and the right answers to hope you get.

Although Kemp says investors can get started with little or no cash, she recommends making at least a 20 percent cash down payment and then arranging a home equity credit line to pay for the renovations. She also explains the various mortgage types available, recommending the interest-only alternative because the holding period for most flipper houses is usually less than six months -- so mortgage amortization is not important.

While the book is strictly about flipping houses, it could have been made even more valuable to readers by including alternative flipper strategies, such as renting the fixed-up house to tenants or selling it on a lease with option to purchase, especially in a slow buyer's market.

Chapter topics include "My Story"; "Getting Started"; "Assembling Your Team"; "Building a Budget"; "Creating a Time Line"; "Improving the Property"; "Staging the Flip"; "Flip-Flops"; and "Frequently Asked Questions."

This new book is designed to overcome virtually every objection a potential home flipper might have. It anticipates and resolves issues that prospective home flippers often encounter. The book is especially valuable and believable because Kemp shares her personal experiences, along with before-and-after photos, to add realism to the topics discussed. On my scale of one to 10, this excellent book rates a solid 10.