'King Flipper' - The Irishman who has 'flipped' more than 20 homes for profit since the crash
To estate agents, tradesmen and rival buyers in the property market Stephen Van Den Bergh is the "King Flipper".
Since the market started to show early signs of stabilisation in 2011, the former landscaper from Dublin has bought and sold 20 homes at a profit - usually racking up 10pc or more in profit and often working rapidly through three or four homes a year.
'Flipping' is the term used to describe someone who buys a house and then sells it on again quickly at a personal profit. Sometimes this exercise involves a complete degree of renovation and sometimes just a basic decorative makeover, but it must always involve a degree of speed.
What is notable about Van Den Bergh's work is the turnaround times that he can manage for quality finishings of top properties. For example, an average semi detached house which requires a complete repainting, replastering, replumbing rewiring, new kitchen and bathroom and an extension can be turned around by Steven and his team in six weeks. From acquisition to returning to market.
This will seem remarkable to anyone who has had the usual experiences of getting plodding builders and tradesmen in for a simple kitchen extension, having been promised an eight week turnaround only to find them still there four months later.
"Well because I've flipped so many properties now I've learned the lessons, so I manage every project myself and impose strict deadlines on every job. But tradesmen also know I am reliable for more work and that I always, always pay them on time. At this point we have the coordination of tasks fine tuned. "
Van Den Bergh is noted for picking run down properties in better parts of south Dublin, usually in Dublin 4 or along the Dart line. The latest project he has ready to sell is a period villa-style two-bedroom home at Blackrock's Avoca Place, a short stroll from the seafront and the Dart. However, unlike many of his other turnarounds, this one involved a good deal more work.
"We found Avoca off market through contacts and it was in very poor condition. We bought it for €475,000 a year ago and we got the machinery in and started knocking it down from the inside. So all that's left of the original is the front and side walls, the chimney stack and the roof tiles which we had removed beforehand and put back after. It's essentially a whole new house." Now it's on the market for €895,000.
The work involved adding a whole new open plan kitchen, living room and dining space. The house has a top end fit out which includes Neff units, a salvaged oak-parquet herringbone floor and underfloor heating. There are two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a newly landscaped garden. The property is being marketed to those looking to trade down in the upmarket seaside suburb.
Van Den Bergh currently has two other properties ready to start on, and another finished house for sale in Stillorgan. "We'll finish with four flipped this year. My advice is to pick period homes in good areas which look like they should be listed but aren't. Keep tight to your budgets but never skimp on fit out and finish, that's a big mistake. Keep decor and trim relevant to the style of the house. Make sure you have someone do your paperwork because there's lots of it. Always, always know your market. Last is, you must love it, or there's no point."
9 Avoca Place
Asking price: €895,000
Agent: Five Star (091) 511111