Dump to Silk Purse in Right Zip Code

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Rancho Santa Fe, California is a wealthy community where single family homes currently *average* $2.4M.

Last December, in divorce recovery and as an experienced interior designer and home stager, I bought my first investment, another successful divorce-recovery realtor friend advised me this was the “last dump” in RSF — she told me about flipping properties, 1031's, and suggested I “paint and paper” and resell this condo.

But it was too sad for just that.

The 2/2 garden property, 1 of 12, was built in 1970, with 7′ popcorn ceilings, indescribably awful berber carpet, black metal sliding windows/doors, an 8′ square kitchen, 2 outdated baths without windows and an institutional smell — all in some kind of time warp.

I bought it in the $700Ks, $150K below the ridiculous asking, with minimum down, gutted it (which I wouldn't recommend again for a first-time flipper, but this was necessary), redid everything — moved kitchen and baths around, created a library/media room, a formal dining room, a 3rd bedroom, vaulted ceilings and applied finishes to transform it into a European pied-a-terre appealing to the sophisticated buyers of this Spanish hacienda-style town.

Renovation time was essentially 4 months, but was extended due to my newness at this and working with “unsavory” contractors.

Realtors who saw it as a dump have *loved* the new look, several wanted to buy it from me directly and all said I should get my price. Said it deserved a “before ‘n' after” spread in “Decor & Style” local mag. Numerous lenders have walked through and offered to fund all my next deals.

The condo was recently appraised at $500K over my purchase price.

I am now a Realtor and will market the property aggressively starting this week at $150K over appraisal, at a price mid-range for current in-town condos. I am looking for a 30-day close and an empty-nester target customer.

Am already looking for next single family fixers around San Diego and have been approached by several renovator/investors to partner with them on 2006 deals.

Good luck with your investments in 2006!

Lisa Clark
Rancho Santa Fe, CA

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Dump to Silk Purse in Right Zip Code

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