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Relatively low housing prices and interest rates have fueled a renewed fascination with flipping in the past few years. But competition from large private funds buying homes to rent out and rising prices are changing the market.

House flipping increased 19 percent year-over-year across the nation in the first half of the year, a July report from housing data firm RealtyTrac shows.

“I would say the climate is getting a lot more difficult for the house flipper,” says Ryan Meltcher of Brea, Calif., who invested in about 80 homes last year. “It’s harder to find good inventory.”

Investors have various ways to buy available, lower-cost properties. One route is to attend the auctions of homes going into foreclosure.

Homes aren’t the only properties on the block; apartment and commercial buildings are part of the mix, too. Postponements are common, as owners in default scramble behind the scenes for loan modifications, try to sell the home at a loss or file for bankruptcy. De Meire’s client who gave him the $1 million check didn’t score the property he wanted at the auction in Pomona. The sale rolled.

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