Thursday, August 16, 2012

Flipping Houses Vs Flipping Tickets

Like many of you, I am always looking for a new way to make a buck. Also like many of you, I have looked into a number of opportunities in several fields. For example, I have owned several pieces of real estate. I am currently a landlord and have been for 15 years. I see no reason to believe that I will not be for the next 15. I have bought and held onto a property for years and sold when I thought the market was right or wanted to avoid having to put K into it for the next tenant.

I always struggled with making a decent return on the House Flip. Buy and hold has done right by me. I find that no matter how dilapidated a house is, the owner is never so stupid to sell to me at 50 cents on the dollar. When I have been able to buy under-market, the cost of upgrades ate into my profits.

The foreclosure route was not much better. Those foreclosure auctions seem to attract enough of a crowd these days to drive up the price to near market.

Even though I have a preference for buy and hold, everyone who hears that I have invested in real estate wants to here about my experience as it relates to flipping houses.

"How many have you bought and sold this year?"
"uh.., none but I did last year and I wish I held onto it."
"No you did the right thing. Where are you looking now? Can I get in?"

People love the flip. Everyone want to flip a house. I can even watch some cable TV shows about flipping houses. If you are a house flipper - power to you. I dislike the pressure of having to move it quickly. I like knowing I will hold onto a property for a and get a better return.

If you want to flip something, I have a better suggestion - sports and concert tickets. Half of you said to yourselves "Ticket scalping?" and the other have asked "Is that legal?". Yes and yes are the quick answers but let's take a closer look at the concept and the ability to make money.

Ticket scalping gets a bad rap. Somewhere it got embedded in our minds that we have an inherent right to purchase tickets for our local team or concert directly from the source. Anything that impedes that is an attack on our basic human rights. Hogwash. As an entrepreneur, you have the right to seek out markets where there is a limited supply of a product and the demand exceeds that supply. Tickets fit the bill.

Still not sold? I figured a few of you needed more. I brought up the house flipping scenario for a reason. People love the house flip. Buy under market value, slap a coat of paint on and sell over market value. The value the house flipper brings to the table is upgrading the "curb appeal". I haven't met a house flipper yet who wanted to upgrade the heating system. Now what do which is closer to meeting a basic need - shelter or a baseball ticket? Not even close.

Please do not read this the wrong way. I am not attacking house flippers. I love house flippers. I have done it and will do it again. But the general population loves the house flipper and loathes the ticket flipper. One serves a want and one serves a need.

Now hopefully most of you have made the mental switch that it is OK to flip tickets. Lets get down to business and talk about how some people are making money at it and why this is a good thing to look into.

Let's start with the reasons this is a good market to jump into

Low barriers to entry - You can pick a hot concert touring the country buy some tickets for a few hundred dollars and resell them on line. It is not unheard of to get a 20 - 50% return on a deal like this if the show is popular. While you might not retire on a few hundred dollars profit, there is always someone touring that you can score some tickets to. Not a lot of industries offer an ability to get in and out so quickly without much cost.

Quick Inventory turnover - If you are buying and selling concert tickets, you might be holding your inventory for about three months on the long end. Like Sports? If you are working with sports tickets you might hold them for six months. Regardless, when you are making 20 - 50% returns in a two to six month period, the annual return is that much higher.

Many places to sell - there are several places to sell your tickets online. Each has some pros and cons. ebay of course seems to have the most volume, but you have to deal with your own shipping, listing fees and the expected eBay buyer who decides not to buy after all. Stubhub seems to be the leader of the pack in the non-eBay crowd. They have completed over 12 million transactions. The have higher fees than eBay but they include the shipping, only charge a fee when something sells and take care of all those nasty people who change their mind about buying your product. RazorGator is another place that follows the StubHub model. They just do not get as much traffic.

TicketNetwork and EventInventory each have high volume but these places cater to the full-time ticket broker instead of the person doing this on the side or a newbie. Lastly, if you want to scrape the bottom of the barrel and make extra work for yourself, you can always post your inventory on CraigsList.

Is it Legal? - While there are some restrictions in some states - every where else it is fair game. For example, If I live in New York and the venue seats more than 6,000 people, I can only mark the ticket up by 45%. If I do not live in New York, I can sell the ticket for any amount I choose.

The laws regarding this are old and are written to keep people away from selling tickets outside a stadium. In an online world they are just antiquated. There is a trend in state legislatures to ease up on these laws. With a market size billion dollars, go figure that ebay and StubHub have hired some lobbyists to help ease up on the laws.

Flipping tickets is a good place for an entrepreneur to look into making some cash. At least compare to flipping houses, it has lower startup cost, higher returns and quicker turnover. Everything you want in a business.

Whether you want to dive off the deep end solo or get some help from people who have been there. That help is relatively inexpensive and provides a high value regardless of where you get it from. It is definitely cheaper than a real estate attorney.

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