Ah, beautiful San Diego. The city’s warm air and ocean-scented breeze are just as lovely as its pristine, stylish, and vibrant cityscape. That’s exactly what I thought when I started my real estate investing company there, but what I really should have focused on was how to scrape together leads for off-market properties in San Diego instead.

Early on in my business, I quickly realized that the best way to avoid competition with other investors was to find leads that they weren’t aware of and then move on them before the properties went on the market. Doing anything else pretty much guaranteed a bidding war in San Diego—even in the early 2000s when I got started. So, I targeted the off-market, and that’s where my troubles began.

 off market properties san diego

I spent so much time looking for good, unlisted properties that I was burning through more money than I had from the deals that I took. Even though my leads proved beneficial when it came to fix-and-flips, they were a lot less favorable when I took into account the value of my own time spent on leads. I’m here today to share my wisdom with you so that you can run your business more efficiently than I did when I first started. So let’s dive in by learning a bit more about the San Diego market and why it’s worth finding off-market leads there.

Welcome to the San Diego Real Estate Market

The San Diego real estate market is a lot like other high-pressure markets you may have heard of. There’s an abundance of moneyed buyers and sellers, high rents, generally rising home prices, and plenty of newer housing stock in varying conditions in every segment of the market. Furthermore, there are a handful of different neighborhoods; some are up-and-coming, others are booming, and a few are nascent.

In summary and as a result of the factors above, the market in San Diego is:

  • A hard place for new investors to get started
  • A great place for well-heeled investors to drive growth
  • Highly competitive for buyers and sellers alike
  • Full of opportunities such that most real estate investing strategies will be viable

At the same time, there are a few downsides specific to the San Diego market. Especially in highly developed areas, the municipal development authorities, community associations, and commercial associations are both powerful and assertive when it comes to using their power to restrict or shape any type of urban development. That means you’ll need to tread lightly and expect to work around the regulations, requirements, and even the preferences of the local power brokers. But you probably won’t have a tough time finding ample and inexpensive labor for making renovations, which is quite helpful.

Aside from these pros and cons, the San Diego real estate market is also characterized by the distance between its coast and downtown area. Neighborhoods that are adjacent to the beach, like the Point Looma and Pacific Beach areas, are going to be significantly more expensive and attract wealthier buyers. Likewise, downtown areas like Old Town, Mid Town, and Little Italy are high-priced and highly dynamic, so don’t expect properties to stay on the market in those locations for too long.

In contrast, areas like Cherokee Point and Clairemont Mesa East are where you’ll find the largest concentration of downmarket homes. There, you’ll have a good shot at closing quickly with a cash offer, and that’s quite appealing to many investors. But many of the structures in those areas are a bit older and less well-kept, so expect to invest a bit more in repairs. In terms of the most attractive areas for house flippers, many investors find the bustling midmarket, which includes neighborhoods like University Heights and Grant Hill, to be quite worthwhile.

Best Practices for Finding Off-Market Properties in San Diego

Now that you’re up to speed on what’s going on in the market, it’s time to learn how to find off-market properties in San Diego. In a nutshell, the same methods that will work in most other markets should perform just as well in San Diego.

For example, you could find off-market homes by:

  • Performing public records searches to identify underwater homes
  • Buying billboard space for advertising your purchase intent in certain areas
  • Setting up flyers or internet advertisements encouraging homeowners to sell to you in exchange for cash
  • Reaching out to homes in pre-foreclosure with an offer to buy
  • Sending mailers to all of the addresses in a neighborhood to find people willing to sell
  • Knocking on doors to network with homeowners directly

As you may have noticed, all of these activities are time-consuming, and none of them have a very high hit rate. Therefore, you’ll need to be doing them consistently and over time if you want to secure a few leads for off-market properties in San Diego. It’s helpful if you can hire an associate to help, but if you can’t, expect to invest a few hours every day if you want to see results.

And keep in mind that you probably won’t see much of any return for your time until you find a lead that’s within the scope of what your business can handle. Don’t get discouraged if the right type of opportunity doesn’t crop up when you expect it to—that’s the name of the game. And that’s why you should also be going full-bore on your main lead-generating activities for finding on-market homes at the same time. You’ll need to find as many leads as you can to keep your deal book active.

You Don’t Need To Spend All Day Hunting Down Leads

Rather than scrounging for off-market properties in San Diego themselves, many real estate investors in the area find that it’s a lot easier to team up with a national real estate franchise that can generate leads for them.

By becoming an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchise owner, you’ll learn the ropes of the house flipping trade from start to finish, including how to find both on and off-market leads. Franchise owners also gain access to leads generated from the nationally trusted “We Buy Ugly Houses®” marketing campaign, so you’ll effectively have billboards set up everywhere to juice the top of your deal funnel. To sweeten the pot even more, all members get direct access to a hard money lending portal, the opportunity to work with experienced investors who can provide mentorship, and the ability to become a member of a national network of other like-minded professionals.

When it comes to providing your business with the fuel it needs to grow in San Diego or any other market, franchising with HomeVestors® is a decision you won’t regret.

Want to learn more about how to find leads for off-market properties in San Diego or elsewhere in California? Request information about becoming a HomeVestors® franchise owner today.



Each franchise office is independently owned and operated.


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