I agree with most of the comments below and offer some additional tips, since one of my buyers and I just closed on a 'nightmare' flip property.
In addition to having an inspector evaluate the property, keep in mind the following:
1. The 'flipper' may not have pulled permits. It's easy to check. Since you state you are a homebuyer from Los Angeles, go to the LA Dept of Building and Safety website which has lots of great information, including permit application updates and certificate of occupancy verifications. When we did our original research, we found that permits had been pulled but that a Certificate of Occupancy had not been issued. The C of O is the critical document you want to have; anyone can pull permits.
2. Review a COMPLETE title report, not just a property profile or a preliminary title summary. When we looked at ours, we discovered that the City of LA had filed a 'substandard lien' against the title. This type of lien can only be removed by completion of the remediation work AND the City approval of the C of O.
3. As noted previously, if this is an investor flip, your lender will not approve a loan unless that 'flipper' owner has owned the property for at least 90 days, so you'll want to verify that information as well.
4. Since the property was built in 1920, depending upon what the fliipper has done, you may have an insurance issue. Most insurance companies are hesitant to insure properties unless all systems (electrical, plumbing, heating) have been updated to current code. In fact, the insurance companies my clients chose on my last three buyer transactions actually sent an agent out to see the interior of the house before agreeing to underwrite a policy on it.
But there's good news, too! The seller's contractor on our 'nightmare' flip property actually did good work to current code. So our 'nightmare' was mostly patiently waiting through a long escrow while the seller obtained the C of O and got the substandard lien released. That patience was also rewarded by closing below current market value, since competing buyers disappeared when they became aware of the issues.
As you can see, flip homes can be great opportunities and values as long as you know what to look out for.
Good Luck and make sure to get a knowledgeable agent who is a strong negotiator to represent you.
DRE Broker #01142186
Keller Williams Realty
1660 Hillhurst Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027
323-300-1110 - Direct
323-300-1001 - Fax
323-230-9749 - Cell