Property programme George Clarke’s Flipping Fast sees six teams of wannabe, novice property developers get their hands on £100k each to find, buy, renovate and flip a run-down property, ready to put back on the market and, hopefully, make a profit – sound easy? In a Covid-19 pandemic property market that is scorching hot, just managing to secure a property is the first major hurdle.
None of the teams have any previous experience as developers but are all passionate about property and have radically different approaches to try and secure the life-changing prize. Everyone gets to keep the profit they make but the team at the top of the leaderboard when the competition closes also keeps the initial £100,000.
Fronted by popular presenter and architect George Clarke, the Channel 4 programme follows all the highs and tear-producing lows as the six teams battle it out to make the most profit. Along their journey they are guided by experienced sibling property experts Scarlette and Stuart Douglas.
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Episode one of the first series saw competitor Harriet leap to the top of the leaderboard with a massive £18,000 profit on her first flip, and now the competition’s hotting up. In episode two Welsh brothers Ricky and Andrew from Swansea are pitted against mother and daughter team Janet and Olivia, based in Blackpool, and both teams are on the hunt for a three bed house to flip within the areas of the UK that they know.
Can either team stick to the spending limit of £100,000 for buying and renovating each flip and take the top spot for the £100,000 prize? If either team goes a penny over the budget they are immediately eliminated from the competition.
Ricky, 22, a mechanic and Andrew, 29, a maths teacher both live with their parents and although come across as laid back and calm, underneath the calm exterior is a steel-like determination to win. The brothers’ strategy is to buy and flip fast with the target of three in a year.
Ricky says: “We’d be lying if we said we didn’t really really want to win it!”. Andrew adds: “Inside there’s such a desire to win, we don’t want to be here just to make up the numbers. This opportunity is massively life-changing, but it’s only life-changing if we do it right ultimately.”
But not everyone is feeling the calm confidence that the Welsh lads are projecting. Scarlett says: “I’m not too confident with those too, I just think they’re quite green, I don’t think they know what they’re in for.”
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Brother Stuart agrees, saying: “They are lovely guys but I think this could be out of their depth”. But George is definitely ‘Team Swansea’, thinking that the pairing of a practical mechanic brother with a maths teacher brother looking after the budget could be a winning combination. He says: “I think they might be the dark horses!”.
So the boys are ready to do their first flip and it doesn’t start too well. With the proclamation that they are going to definitely stick to the budget they promptly go over it by almost £10k bidding in an online property auction.
The house that has caught their eye is a three-bed in Port Talbot but it needs a lot of work so they set their maximum budget at £77k, but with five minutes to go they have been out-bid at £77.5k, which then quickly climbs to £85,000 with three minutes to go until the auction finishes.
The boys get over-excited and put in a cheeky bid of £85,500 with 50 seconds to go, and the house is theirs. Oh dear, way over budget and with little to spend on the renovation project.
With fees added onto the purchase price, the total Ricky and Andrew have now spent without even plugging in a power tool or picking up a paint brush is £90,000 and one week into the project they have already spent £3,000 and the kitchen is likely to eat up another £4,000. But the boys seem happy with their purchase and progress; until they meet up with George.
George is flabbergasted at their budget situation: “S**t! I reckon the kitchen is four grand in, maybe more. Tight? It couldn’t be any tighter! You could spend just £1,000 on little bits that you didn’t think you needed; nails, screws, grout. You probably could have done with buying this place cheaper. I’m worried that you’ve over paid for it.”
George is very worried as, according to estate agent estimates, the house has a re-sale value of £100,000 to £110,000, so there’s a chance the brothers could actually not make any money at all, and if they go over-budget they will be instantly eliminated.
George says: “If you get an offer of £100,000, you’ve made no money, you’ve put in loads of work, loads of hours and not made a penny. You realise the competition is about making money don’t you?!”.
Andrew says he was worried at first but as the weeks go by he is feeling less worried, whereas George at this time might understandably be thinking his dark horses are galloping headlong into a flip failure.
George leaves the brothers to their renovation but is struggling to see why they are so calm. He says: “They have a big problem on their hands, they’ve only got 7k left in the pot to transform a house that is actually quite big and for some reason they don’t seem that worried about it, but I am!”
Bartering with local trades people and doing the vast majority of the work themselves, Ricky and Andrew push on to finish the project. A meet up with fellow siblings Scarlett and Stuart helps to spur them on.
Andrew says: “When we spoke to George he was convinced we didn’t have the budget to complete it, we perhaps shouldn’t have been as calm as we were at that time!”
But Stuart can’t conceal his positivity for what the Welsh boys have achieved so far. He says: “Considering you’ve done it yourself, you’ve done a good job. I can’t plumb so for you to have done this straight away, I applaud you.”
He is intrigued though by the brothers trying to smash the ceiling price of the street and make it the most expensive ever sold at an asking price of £125,000. He says: “But no house has sold for £125,000 on this road, they are trying to set a precedent and they’re doing the work themselves, it’s going to be a tough task.”
Ricky says: “We were definitely cutting the budget fine, we had to pull back in the end on the nice things that would have perhaps made it a bit more homely, if you like.
Andrew adds: “The budget was shoestring tight, we had days when we were like, ‘oh my God, how are we going to do it?’ but it’s worked out great, we’re over the moon.”
They are happy because the property sells in a matter of weeks, as does competing team Janet and Olivia’s three-bed in Blackpool, but who has made the most profit and will either team be shown the door for going over budget?
The very hot Welsh housing market might save Ricky and Andrew, but they will not know until they meet up again with the rest of the competing teams, George, Scarlett and Stuart to see the final financial outcome. Will they be galloping off to do their next flip or will they have fallen at the first fence?
Ricky and Andrew spent £85,500 buying the house, and a total of £99,241 with all costs including fees and renovation – less than £800 from being chucked out of the competition. They sold the house for £125k so, minus selling fees, have made a profit of £23,000 – phew.
But Janet and Olivia made a profit of £23,598 and put that down to dressing the house to look very stylish using charity shop bargains that they then sold with the house – pretty clever idea.
Andrew says: “What they did furnishing wise was fantastic but we’re not capable of doing that. The fact that we’re still getting along is because we didn’t do any interior design!” So the boys do indeed race to their next renovation project and property flip and in second position on the leaderboard too, but there’s still a long way to go before the finishing line.
George Clarke’s Flipping Fast is currently on Channel 4 on Wednesday at 9pm, with catch-up available on All4. And to make sure you never miss the best dream homes in Wales, renovation stories and interiors, join the Amazing Welsh Homes newsletter, sent to your inbox twice a week.