Flipping Houses in Hawaii


When I moved to Honolulu from Washington DC in the summer of 2006, it wasn’t because of anything related to real estate. I was actually entering the doctoral program of the geography department at The University of Hawaii. Flipping houses was about the furthest thing from my mind; it wasn’t even on the radar. I was moving here to study maps, satellite images and coastal regions.

Seven years later, I find myself not a professional geographer, not a beach doctor, but a guy flipping houses in Hawaii. A real estate investor, to use the more common phrase in the industry. Life has its funny ways of pushing you along unexpected paths, right?

If you dig into it, there are a lot of people around America, from Honolulu to Nashville and Detroit to Dallas who flip houses. Thousands. It’s still a huge industry, despite all those who left when the housing market crashed not too long ago. Much of it, I believe, came from the glamour of reality TV shows, most notably A&E’s “Flip This House” (more on that later). But 30-minute episodes every Saturday morning aside, many people devoted part or their entire careers to flipping houses — buying a house, fixing it up and reselling it on the open market — as a way to get more out of life, perhaps escape a traditional 9-to-5 workday or move to a field they found more enjoyable. To each their own, but there’s no denying the number of people who decided to give it a try.

Why Hawaii is Different

But flipping houses in Hawaii is very different than in places like Jacksonville, Memphis, Phoenix or most cities on the mainland. It takes a lot more capital to buy a house here than in almost any other market. We have unique geographic conditions, being an archipelago of tropical islands subject to forces like coastal erosion, hurricanes and tsunamis. And we have different demographics that express themselves differently in how we populate and utilize our land.

Hawaii is truly a unique place and that can make it more difficult to flip houses without specialized knowledge. But it can also make it more rewarding if done well.

The higher price point of the Hawaii market means that one house flip could achieve the same amount of success as 3 or 4 in some mainland cities — no one ever wants to work more to achieve the same result, right?

You also get to work year-round as opposed to delaying a renovation project to avoid the cold winter months. It actually can get a bit chilly here in the winter — my wife and I were shivering a bit last night outside Kau’aina in Ward eating our (delicious) burgers — but no one ever stopped construction for cold weather here in the islands.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. If you’re going to be a real estate investor who flips houses, then Hawaii is a great place to be.

But no matter where you are, you need to learn the basics:

  • How to work with home sellers in Hawaii who need your help
  • How to work with home buyers
  • How to work with private capital lenders if you will be using other people’s money to fund your deals
  • How to market your real estate business
  • How to build productive relationships with agents, brokers, contractors and others
  • How to bring value to everyone around you
  • How to work ON your business, not IN your business
  • More, more and much, much more

There are a lot of places to learn how to flip houses, both locally and nationally, some free, some paid. It depends on your needs and how big your dreams are.

House Flipping Pros Coming to Hawaii

If you’re serious about building a real business that invests in real estate this way, then I highly suggest you look into the FortuneBuilders Mastery real estate education program. It’s where I learned a vast majority of what I know now. The founders were actually some of the first starts of “Flip This House” and have an incredible track record of not just doing their own deals, but helping other people like you and me achieve the same thing.

My friend Ryan Burk and others from FortuneBuilders will be here in Hawaii for a training within the next few weeks, so I highly advise you to sign up if you’re serious about changing the path you’re on. You won’t want to miss this opportunity.

Click to access FortuneBuilders Mastery

  • Jessica Sala

    Like your story man! it’s a very unconventional business, but totally works for so many of us!

    • http://bigrockinvestments.com/ Michael Borger

      Thank you, Jessica. Many people fall into this field after being unfulfilled elsewhere. Life takes some interesting turns sometimes!

  • Tyler Oto

    Hey Mr.Borger,

    Been reading up on your website since your introduction in BiggerPockets. Lots of good information here. Hoping to get started in this industry soon. How’d the Iolani condo sale go? Looked awesome.


    • http://bigrockinvestments.com/ Michael Borger

      Thank you, Tyler. It’s a great industry for the entrepreneurial mindset. The Iolani condo was an adventure, and now we’re on to bigger and better things! Stay tuned….

  • Jeff Crane

    Great tips thanks for sharing. Hawaii is indeed a nice place to settle in.

    Jeff Crane