The article below was written at the time that Austin was emerging from the dot-com bust. Conditions for flipping have changed dramatically and flipping is now possible in the greater Austin area but there is still considerable risk for the "newbe".
Back in the 1970's & 80's, before it was fashionable, I used to flip houses. I was a "serial flipper" because I lived in each house. I learned a lot and made good money flipping but my primary motivation was to have a house that worked for me in the location where I needed to live. I would look for a sturdy house that was in original condition and located in a desirable neighborhood. I was able to buy each house at a bargain price because it had an "ugly factor" and needed updating. After I bought the house, I would move in, renovate it to my liking, and then sell it in about three years and move on to the next house. I did this in California, Texas, and North Carolina while being an academic vagabond and collecting University degrees. If you would like to see a sample of my work, drive by 2611 Salado Dr. in the West Campus area of Austin - it still looks good on the outside despite the fact that it has been rental property since 1979.
By comparison to today, flipping houses was easy in the 1970's and 1980's because there was little competition. Today, in Austin, the competition is fierce for a house that is cheap enough to flip. It is extremely rare to find a house listed in the MLS that is cheap enough to flip. Experienced renovators who have flipped houses for years are finding that their margins are shrinking. Renovated houses are staying on the market longer and poor workmanship done by amateurs has made Buyers wary. Even investors buying foreclosures for cash on the courthouse steps are finding it difficult to buy a house cheap enough to make the time and risks of flipping worthwhile.
The TV program Flip This House is entertaining but check the numbers the next time you watch. Notice that the program never mentions the interest costs of carrying the property or the very real costs of marketing and selling the property (totaling between 10-15%). When you factor in those numbers you will find that the TV Flippers are losing money most of the time.
If you are still interested in flipping houses, I recommend that you read Flip - How to Find, Fix, and Sell Houses for Profit by Rick Villani and Clay Davis. As a general rule,investors should not pay more than 65 - 70% of the After Renovation Value of a house if they hope to make a profit and even that number is "tight". In all likelihood I can not help you find a property cheep enough but I can help you with the After Renovation Value, help you choose the appropriate level of renovation for the neighborhood and help you market the property after the renovation is complete.