The Art of the Flip

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It’s kind of astounding how many books there are for sale regarding this philosophy. Is it really an art? Probably. Can anyone do it? Probably not. Have I done it with some success? Sure. But I’m not paying my mortgage from it. Maybe you just don’t work at it hard enough Paul. Maybe you’re right. But what your excuse? Huh? Huh?

As people passionate about cars, you have probably followed a car from Craigslist or eBay to Bring a Trailer and thought that was easy money. Assuming it sold for more on BaT after the BaT bump. But how much does it really cost to flip? For that, I present case study No. 1. a 1971 Alfa Romeo GTV 1750 we sold on May 4th on BaT. It is now for sale at Beverly Hills Car Club for $46,500, a pocket packing $4,500 profit. But let’s break that down.

  • Buyers premium at BaT 5% on $42,000 = $2,100
  • Transportation to California from Michigan. Let’s assume they have drivers = $500
  • Title transfer fee = $30
  • Insurance, overhead, In-N-Out lunch, allocated to this vehicle = $100
  • Negotiation on sale price = $500

Total equals $3,730, give or take some of my ignorance of the art. That’s roughly an $800 profit. Now, let’s consider this is a lost leader, an advertising tool to bring more people their site. It’s hard to place a value on that. Or maybe they took this car in on trade and the previous owner took a small hit. Regardless, the new owner took delivery of our GTV after the BaT auction and was really happy. As stewards of these cars, I always think we are providing an heirloom for future generations. Perhaps that is a romantic notion and a bit naive. But after initially being taken back by seeing this flip, I can only hope the new owner will appreciate it as well. Maybe even a bit more, having paid a little more for their piece of art.

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