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Best fixer deals for investors; advice on making offers

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Listing Information

  • Bedrooms: 0
  • Baths: 0
  • Partial Baths: 0

Property Description

The pictures you see are before-and-after shots of a fixer I sold in the summer of 2010, at 459 Sears Av., San Diego CA 92114. My buyer paid $180,000 cash, way below the price of surrounding homes -- and you can see why. The interior had severe water damage, which caused mold and forced the removal of large chunks of the walls. But my investor repaired and upgraded everything, installed a new kitchen (seen here) -- and re-sold it about two months later for $260,000.  That's a gross profit of 44% in two months. And that's actually a low amount for a flip deal. On many of my other sales, investors are seeing gross profits of 50%-100%.

Deals like these obviously go so fast, I can't always post them at my website before they sell. Please like my Facebook business page, Hillier Taylor Property Advisors, to see deals as soon as I find them:

You can also subscribe to our list of OFF-MARKET deals. These are properties either not on the MLS, or me or my partners have them under contract -- so they're ready to be sold or assigned to you. Access is only $19.95/month, cancel anytime. The profits from just one deal will pay for your subscription many times over. To subscribe, use this link, or the SUBSCRIBE button on my home page:

Here's the criteria I normally use for target properties:

* Accepting offers at 75% or less of ARV (after-repair value)
* Property must be either a potential fix-and-flip, development deal, or profitable rental.  
* Homes needing major repairs (in many cases only accepting cash-offers).
* Properties located in San Diego or Orange Counties. 

Here's what I offer:
* Intimate knowledge of San Diego neighborhoods. I've lived here for 20 years. 
* 33 years of buying and selling experience (I bought my first house in 1986)
* Investment property expertise. Unlike many Realtors, I own investment property myself in Colorado and Arizona, plus I've owned my primary home in La Mesa for decades.
* A promise of fast, personal service. Once we start doing business together, I answer your phone calls!  
* Free DocuSign services, allowing you to sign offers without coming to my office.
* Access to info either on the MLS, or from deals I hear about from the 600+ agents at my brokerage's other local offices.
* My staff handles all your paperwork once offer gets accepted.
* Once your rehab's done, I can list your property for sale to a retail buyer. 
 In return, here's what I need from you:

* Minimum $250,000 proof of funds for all-cash offers. Bank letter or bank statement (please black out last few digits of your account #). Letter or statement must reference your LLC or other entity under which you're making offers. I'll keep it on file and attach to each offer.
* Copy of earnest money check (last few digits of account # blacked out). Or, if you prefer, you can leave the amount blank, and let me fill it in for specific offers. Check must have your entity's name printed on it. Make it payable just to "Escrow". I will keep it on file, and attach to each offer. Saves your time, and mine.   
* Allowing me to be your buyer's agent on deals I find for you. I spend a lot of time and effort finding my clients the best deals. So, please do not use the property addresses I give you to buy straight from the listing agent. 
* Realistic offers. Sellers with fixers in San Diego usually get multiple offers close to list price or above, and sometimes that is still a great deal. I will work closely with you and the other agent to come up with an offer with a lot of profit potential for you, that also has a good chance of being accepted.   

Once I have your information and proof of funds, I'll e-mail you the deals as soon as I hear about them. I include all the information you need to make a decision, including comps, estimated after-repair-values, street views, and any info that's not in the MLS. All I ask is that if I bring you the deal, you write the offer through me. That's how I get paid.

I'm looking forward to adding you to my buyer's list. Let's close some deals together!

Sean Hillier

CA DRE broker lic #01872754


So, you've found a great deal on an investment property. Just tell your agent to offer X amount, right? Well, it's a little more complicated than that. Sellers, especially banks, often have very specific requirements on what must be included with your offer.

Below is a typical list of requirements I see all the time:


1. Need a copy of a pre-approval letter not dated over 30 days

2. Seller does NOT accept “electronic signatures”. Copy of earnest deposit should be made payable to Listing Office in the amount of at least $5,000. Name on the check needs to match the name on the Purchase Agreement.

3. If buyer is a Corporation, LLC or LP, a copy of the Articles of Corporation or other required legal documents need to be submitted along with the offer.

4. Proof of funds need to have buyers name, not dated over 30 days, and name needs to match.

So, please provide your agent with ALL the items above -- to get your offer submitted successfully!


When you offer to buy a fixer "all-cash," the seller will most likely ask you  for something called "proof of funds," or POF. As an agent (and out-of-state investor) who has a lot of investor clients, some of the most frequent questions I get are about this item. New investors always want to know what is required, what works, and what doesn't.

Like a lot of things about real estate, there are no hard-and-fast rules. But I can share my experiences with feedback I've received from banks. And when a property has multiple offers that are all about the same price, your proof of funds CAN make the difference between getting an acceptance-- or a rejection.

For simplicity's sake, here's a list, from weakest to strongest, of various Proof of Funds (and earnest money checks) I've actually seen on all-cash deals in the past few years. All names have been changed to protect the guilty: 

   Lamest: Letter from Quik Cash Solutions (with Florida P.O. box) saying MegaInvestors LLC is approved for hard money loan up to xx amount to purchase property. Earnest money check drawn on Uncle Bert's personal account, even though he's not the buyer named in the offer. 
   Lame: Copes of five different bank account statements from your various personal accounts, which all together add up to the purchase price-- but the offer is in name of LLC. Earnest money check printed with your name.
   Weak: Bank account statement from Podunk Credit Union in Massachusetts, screen-shot off internet, showing sufficient funds, but missing the entity's name you're offering under -- oh, and the screen shot has a date from 7 months ago. EMD shows your entity's name.
   Slightly better: Bank account statement on bank letterhead from out-of-area bank with your name on it, showing sufficient funds , but it's from 7 months ago. EMD with entity's name on it.
   Stronger: Bank account statement with your LLC's name on it, from a local bank, showing sufficient funds, and it's dated within the last 30 days.
   Even better: Bank account statement with your LLC's name on it, from a major bank (BofA, Chase, Wells, etc.), showing sufficient funds, and it's dated within the last 30 days. EMD shows entity's name.
   Best:  Bank account statement with your CORPORATION's name on it, from a major bank (BofA, Chase, Wells, etc.), showing sufficient funds, and it's dated within the last 30 days. Corporate papers included. EMD shows entity's name.

Now, I realize beginning investors are not going to have a bank account stuffed with $250,000 or more in cash right away. But this is just to show you what I've seen, and the feedback I've gotten from sellers.

If you have any questions about proof of funds, or earnest money amounts, feel free to drop me a line. 

============ TIPS ON GETTING SHORT SALE OFFERS ACCEPTED =============================

As an agent who specializes in selling to investors, here are some free tips on how to get your short sale offer accepted:

     1) Don't just call the list agent. Follow up with an e-mail. If the original buyer falls out of escrow, and now it's months later & foreclosure is looming, the agent will be under the gun to get it back in escrow asap. He or she won't have time to call back all the 146 people who called him originally. He'll e-blast interested parties, and one of the investors who responds might be you. (As a buyer's agent, I closed a deal like this last year)
     2) Short sales typically don't require any earnest money deposited until the lenders approve the short sale in writing. To show your seriousness, offer to deposit a nominal amount ($500-$1000) in escrow *immediately* while you wait for the approval. Of course, add language that your deposit will be refunded if lender does not approve the sale on your price/terms
     3) Tell the agent how many deals you've closed. Provide addresses. If you closed quickly (i.e. in a week or less), let the agent know that also. Did you close *early* on any deals? Brag about that! It's all about building up your credibility as someone who can not just close, but close ON TIME. Agents do not like investors who repeatedly ask for extensions. 
     4) Close in the same entity that's in the original offer. With short sales, it's extremely difficult to get lenders to approve a change of buyers once you've entered escrow.
     5) Have all your paperwork ready. That means Proof of Funds with a recent date, copy of earnest money check, etc.  
     6) Don't assume the agent wants to double-end it. Ask first. Sure, they'd love to get a double paycheck. But this tactic has become so common, it's lost much of its power. More list agents I know say their sellers are now forbidding dual representation. Think about it. If you're listing a major fixer, and get 25 investor offers, and 23 of them offer you double-ending, how do you effectively represent 23 double-ends? One agent told me he'd feel an obligation to tell all 23 the other's price. Is that really what you want as a buyer? And, believe it or not, some older agents say it's just not right to represent both sides. They're more concerned about their integrity than making a few extra bucks (and low-priced fixers aren't exactly big commissions)
     7) Go to see the inside of the property. Provide proof (have your agent leave a card, or leave one yourself). More and more agents in my area are putting the the MLS remarks that you must actually see the property, and cannot submit "blind offers." 



My realtor was Sean Hillier and I couldn't have been happier with him. We literally looked at hundreds of homes until I found the right one. He wrote dozens of offers and never complained.

We once spent the day looking at 17 houses, he had set up appointments with each one and mapped out the locations to make sure we maximized our time and even treated for lunch.

Weather we spent the day looking at several houses or just one, Sean took the time to always accommodate my schedule.

His attention to detail on finding the house best suited for my needs was a pleasant surprise and pointed out things that nobody else noticed.

I highly recommend Sean Hillier as your realtor.

-Mazen H.


I'm a licensed broker and investor so I am intimately familiar with what it takes to be a really good, stand-out agent. I will not work with most. Sean Hillier is one of the few, rare agents that really understands what it takes to be in this unforgiving industry.

I've worked with Sean Hillier and purchased several properties with him in the last year. Sean has impressed me from day 1 with his professionalism, knowledge and overall understanding of the real estate business. If you want good advice, hard work and great service, Sean is your man.

-Kevin D.
































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Contact Information

Photo of Sean Hillier Real Estate
Sean Hillier
Coldwell Banker West
9555 Grossmont Summit Dr.
La Mesa CA 91941
Direct: (619) 820-7202
Fax: (619) 502-7526

CA DRE Broker lic. # 01872754