Flipping to Hipsters? It's Automatic for Eichlers

A straightforward Eichler, as picturesque as they come, via larryncelia.

SFGate's 'On the Block' blog this week identified a familiar trend with a funny new name: Flipping to hipsters. The idea here is that sellers in more affordable markets can find opportunity in targeting hipsters, which The Chron's Anna Marie Erwert identified as basically anybody between the ages of 25 and 35. This demographic owns homes at a lower rate than the rest of the country, and represents an under-valued marketplace.

But while Erwertt is quick to distance this notion from the sometimes-charged word "hipster," which actually came from the source material for the article, a survey on RealtyTrac, we at the Eichler network will be unapologetic about it. Those in love with vintage style, who shop on Etsy, collect vinyl records, and go thrifting (that is to say, hipsters of the first order), are exactly the types to understand the value of an Eichler or other classic mid-century modern house.

And Bay Area sellers are in luck, per Realty Trac, because two of the top 10 most profitable markets in which to flip to hipsters happen to be areas where Eichler homes can be found: Oakland and Concord.

The idea of flipping to hipsters isn't arbitrary. To do it, you can't just buy a house, rehab it cheaply, then hope a young person comes along when you put it on the market. You have to actively target the demographic. Eichlers, with their cult status and cool profiles, have a head start in that department.

"Real estate investors who want to tap into that trend should start with location: finding homes in communities with a heavy hipster demographic, and that are affordable for that demographic," RealtyTrac's Daren Blonquist writes. Check. Oakland and Concord are both connected to the greater Bay Area by BART and have vibrant local scenes of their own.

Then you have to rehab the home to hipster tastes. That means openness, simplicity, and a vintage look. Check. Those are the built-in hallmarks of Eichlers.

Granted, only about 250 Eichlers are located in Concord and Oakland, but this notion of "flipping to the hip" extends both to other mid-century modern homes, and to other cities, provided the math works out. The Sacramento area, with its supply of Strengs, would be a good option too, based on realtor Steve Streng's comments to me last year.

Basically, it seems, anybody who gets a deal on a distressed mid-century modern property in the Bay Area stands a good chance of flipping it for a healthy profit as long as they just maintain the original look and avoid bargain-basement upgrades that will cost long-term profits.

Flipping to hipsters is easy when your home is already as cool as they come.