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How to Flip Houses

Editor's note: As a special feature for April, offers a 20-part series on virtually everything about real estate. This installment is part 17.

The state of the housing market is about as predictable as my 4-year-old daughter. Some days it's all good, some days it seems like it just comes crashing down.

Still, many wealthy people will tell you that real estate is the way to make millions. And that regardless of its ebbs and flows, real estate always has way of correcting itself.

But all the latest statistics show that home sales are down, prices are down, and, as a result, homeowners' confidence is down too.

To make matters worse, there were 430,000 foreclosures in the first quarter of 2007 according to RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosed properties. That's up 27% from the previous quarter and up 35% from the same quarter last year.

So maybe its not the best time to be dabbling in real estate.

But like the old saying goes, "one man's pain is another man's gain." And so it is with real estate. Enter the flippers, the folks who buy and sell homes for a living.

Remember, when a property goes into foreclosure, the bank takes it over. But the banks have no interest in being landlords. So they're eager to sell the properties.

"That's why some of the best opportunities to buy real estate cheap are out there these days," says Ralph R. Roberts, author of Flipping Houses for Dummies .

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