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Making It in San Diego: Keys to a successful fix and flip in San Diego

Posted: 12:03 PM, Mar 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-09 09:42:59-05
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SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Ten years ago this week, the stock market hit bottom. The country was in a crisis and the glory days of flipping houses in San Diego were a thing of the past.

There are still people fixing and flipping houses, but if you want to make it in San Diego, you have to be a smart and savvy investor.

“I continued the large pieces of tile all the way over, and I used as much glass as I could to open it up,” says Elijah Zuniga showing off the remodel of his master bathroom.

Zuniga is not your average "flipper."

“I’m just like the TV shows, except I don’t have a sidekick,” Zuniga says with a laugh.

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A retired police officer and now a consultant, Zuniga buys about four homes a year. Not to live in, but rather as investments. He calls it his passion. And, he has a vision. Zuniga can walk into any home and see its potential.

“You have to imagine the finished product in order to work through it,” adds Zuniga.

Take the home he purchased in late November for example. It’s a 1974 single family home in San Carlos. The before and after photos are striking. Same with the bathrooms. Zuniga says the key is never cutting corners in the remodel. If you want to flip instead of flop, the investor must impress the buyer.

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“You’ve got to fix it to the ‘nines’ in order to get people to say, ‘I want this over everything else,’” says Zuniga.

He’s also built a trusted group of contractors who get in, get the job done, and get out. And if you’re going to flip, that’s the other key. The house must move quickly.

“We’re in the market of the moment, and we priced to sell,” says Lisa Becker.

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Becker is a Realtor with Keller Williams. She’s also Zuniga’s agent and helps him find investment properties in San Diego. Together they only buy single-family homes in the mid-level range to reach a much larger pool of potential buyers. And, their method works.

“So, this particular property, on the market less than a week, we had four offers,” says Becker.

That’s right, four offers in less than a week. Flipping or not, time is of the essence for the seller. In November when Zuniga bought the house, Becker figured after renovations it could sell for $750,000. Fast forward to the end of February, with more homes on the market, suddenly the home is valued at $720,000.

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“The buyer of this home is going to get a gorgeous home $30,000 less than they could have purchased at the end of last summer.”

No investor likes to lose money, but Zuniga always prepares for a potential market shift. He and Becker agree if you’re going to flip, the smart investor makes his money by buying low and then will price the home according to the market to sell fast.