) -- A study by real estate site HousingPredictor.com finds there's little reality in reality TV programs that make "flipping" homes for fun and profit look easy.
"TV shows are for entertainment. I've never met anybody who really did flips like they do [on] TV," says Mike Colpitts of
, which recently concluded just three U.S. markets appear ripe for home flips this year.
Flipping typically involves buying foreclosures or run-down homes on the cheap, making a few cosmetic updates such as new paint or carpeting, then "flipping" the properties to new owners at higher prices for some quick profits.
Lots of Americans made bundles of cash flipping homes during the U.S. housing boom.
"There were people who made upwards of $10,000 a flip, and in many that I did, we netted upwards of $50,000 in a few months," says Colpitts, who flipped some two dozen properties earlier in his career.
Unfortunately, today's housing bust means the days of easy home flips are long gone.
"Most places are way too risky for flipping a home these days, with home values falling in the majority of the country and foreclosure rising," Colpitts says. "You [have to] be sure you're stealing a house before you even consider doing a flip today."
Here's a look at the only three markets HousingPredictor.com believes are ripe for home flips in 2012: