Spike TV’s reality program “Flip Men” follows real estate pros Mike Baird and Doug Clark as they rush to swipe up foreclosure properties, fix them up and turn them around into profitable sales as quickly as possible. Given the glut of foreclosure inventory available today, it goes without saying that the pair has seen it all when purchasing foreclosures.
“In one home, the previous owners left raw ground beef throughout the house and there were so many maggots and thousands of flies I was sick to my stomach,” says Baird, a licensed real estate agent who has bought and sold more than 500 investment properties.
While most people would run away from such an encounter, Baird and Clark bought the home for $1 more than its opening bid. “Someone asked me what I was going to do with the house, and I simply said I’m going to clean it up and sell it,” Baird says.
It’s nothing new for these Utah-based real estate investors, who have made a living turning foreclosed properties into profit. In addition to Baird’s success, Clark’s Equity Capital Group and Clark Venture Capital have purchased nearly $50 million in property. The pair acquires most homes sight unseen, and they never know what’s behind that door. In one episode, the home was previously used as a meth lab; in another, they found squatters living in a home littered with sexual paraphernalia.
Typically the homes are abandoned, but some have included squatters, gang members, dead animals and more. Back at the home that needed ground beef removal, the men are armed in hazmat suits and, with the help of a 30-yard dumpster, they removed the meat and cleaned out the house. “The smell was so bad that the police showed up and made me guarantee that I would remove it by 5pm because it was so hazardous for the community.”
After cleanup, the duo made a $17,000 profit on selling the home.
The men agree that the goal of a successful foreclosure purchase is to make sure you do not get emotional about the sale. “We buy foreclosures because they are the lowest price, and you can instantly buy three or four products in one day,” says Clark. “Otherwise you become emotional about one house that’s taking a really long time to buy.”
That’s also hard to do when every home comes with a story. The pair recognized this and started telling their stories about the homes on video and putting them on YouTube.
Clark remembers one purchase where they found that the previous owner had built a shrine to himself. “There were thumbnail prints and within any 5-inch section of wall, there was a picture of himself,” says Clark. “He traveled the world and would put his picture on thousands of postcards. We don’t get to meet these people, but we feel like detectives seeing how people lived.”
That’s when they were discovered and given their own show. On the first season, the cheapest house they purchased was for $39,000 and the most expensive was $1.6 million, with 14,000 square feet, two theaters and a gunroom. “We put $220,000 into improvements,” says Baird. “It also shows that this isn’t just a low income problem, everybody is being affected by this. The economy questions the value of our home, job and relationships. Finding the greater purpose in the monetary value is the key to our success. We’re trying to restore pride of ownership in the neighborhood.”
“We see as many as we can, but we avoid things to, such as weird looking homes or busy streets,” says Clark. “Inside the home, we don’t have any idea what it looks like until we buy it, but we ask ourselves if we would be proud to raise our children there and if they took care of it.”