Flashpoint Extra: Black Philly house flippers defend against bad press; how sellers can beware

Cherri Gregg
October 01, 2019 - 8:19 am
Kyle Easley and Bryheim Murray run BK Partners

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — House flipping is big business in Philadelphia. But a pair of home grown real estate investors identified in a recent newspaper article as the latest example of the practice of "exploiting the poor and poorly informed" are defending themselves.

"They painted a picture of us that was inaccurate," says Kyle Easley, who runs BK Partners with Bryheim Murray. "Ninety-five percent of people negotiate with us. And you would have to imagine that, for every yes we get, we get 100 nos."

The real estate investors buy and sells property throughout Philadelphia. So far, they say, they've closed more than 100 deals over five years.  

"We basically look for tax delinquent nuisance properties in the city — vacant land, vacant structures," says Murray, noting that most of the properties they purchase have been ignored for years, sometimes decades. "We go in and collect all the liens the debts and the judgment, anything against the property. We package that, and we make them an offer."

The duo claims they do not exploit the poor or target any type of homeowner. Instead, they say, their focus is the property.

"We have no idea who is on the other end," says Easely.

BK Partners is one of the few Black-owned real estate investment companies in the city that operates as real estate "whole seller." The Philadelphia natives believe that they were featured as the bad guys and had questions as to why. They wanted to tell their side of the story — specifically with regard to communities of color:

"We not trying to take advantage — not just of our people, but of anybody," says Murray.

"We did not invent this game. It's been around for ages. And we are not even the top people doing it," says Easley, noting that the real estate investment market is dominated by white males.

"I hate to pull to pull the race card," says Murray, "but after reading the article like 10 times, I had to wonder why we were targeted."

Easley and Murray are among many who are hoping to cash in on the Philadelphia real estate market. The market is hot with home values trending upward. It's not illegal to low-ball a homeowner. So experts say: "Sellers beware."

"Many long-time homeowners may be surprised at how much their homes are going for now," says Michael Froehlich, an attorney with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (https://clsphila.org/).  

He says his organization has received an uptick in calls from property owners who accepted low prices for their homes. Froehlich notes owners should know how much the property is worth.

"Talk to your neighbors, talk to a licensed realtor, and make sure that you're paid fairly," he says.

"Many, but not all, [house flippers> are opportunists. They are just trying to get the best deal," says Algernon Allen, a real estate agent with a business in West Philadelphia. "Most real estate agents would be more than happy to come and assess a property, because their goal is to get market value for it."

Contact Save Your Home Philly Hotline at 215-334-4663 to speak to a professional.