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The Fix and Flip Fisherman

by Marty Boardman on July 14, 2011 · 19 comments

fishing for real estate deals

Bill and Frank rent a boat and go fishing. They catch a lot of fish and return to the shore. Bill says to the Frank, “I hope you marked the spot where we caught all those fish.” Frank replies, “Yes, I marked an ‘X’ on the side of the boat to mark the spot.” Bill says to Frank sharply, “You idiot, how do you know we’ll get the same boat?”

I hate fishing.  It’s boring.  And monotonous.  Cast and wait.  Cast and wait.  Is that a fish on the line?  Nope – just a bunch of garbage.  Time to cast again.  How many times do I have to do this before I’ll catch the big one?

Fishing is no fun.  That is, if I’m fishing for fish.

My day usually starts around 6am.  After reading the local newspaper cover to cover I check out some of my favorite blogs (BiggerPockets tops the list).  Then it’s time to get on the multiple listing service.  I look for short sale and REO listings that have been on the market 60 days or more. 

After lunch I start reviewing the list of homes going to auction the following day.  I typically spend 2-3 hours researching prospective houses.  On a busy day I’ll bid on as many as 10 properties. 

Yesterday was no different.  By 9am I was at 4070 Big Horn, a short sale – 239 days on the market with a list price of $235,000.  I figured it was worth about $270,000 retail.  Two hours later I emailed the agent a contract for $215,000.  An hour after that the agent sent me a fully executed contract and a promise to upload the offer to Equator immediately.

I also keep tabs on the auctions.  They take place at 10a, 11a, 12:30p and 2p.  In between the contract writing and phone calls I’m reviewing title and drive reports for the houses I researched the day before.  If they’re clean I place my bids. 

I bid on four houses yesterday.  Two of the sales got postponed.  I was outbid on the other two – one of them by $32,500. 

It’s like that in this business.  Since the beginning of the year I’ve bid on 293 houses and won 10.  The bottom feeding I do on the multiple listing service for short sales and REO properties is equally as redundant.  Out of 30 offers written so far this year I’ve had 2 accepted.  That’s a lot of casting and waiting.

I’ve learned that in order to find really good deals on a consistent basis I need to keep multiple lines in the water.  Reeling in a profitable auction, short sale or REO deal takes a lot of patience and persistence.  Maybe this fishing thing isn’t so bad after all.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Z July 15, 2011 at 10:18 am


To carry your story one step further how big were the Fish you caught??? Are you happy with the catch both Quantity and Quality? What if anything would you do different?

Good Investing


Marty Boardman July 16, 2011 at 10:57 am

Mike, we’ve flipped 50 houses in the last two years. We’ve lost money, broke even and landed a few big ones. It’s a numbers game – call it dollar cost averaging. Out of ten deals 2 will be great – 6 average – 2 busts.


Liz Benitez July 15, 2011 at 10:21 am

Love the fishing analogy. It sounds like a lot of work, and if/when I finally get around to investing I’ll have to pull this play by play up as a guide :-D


Joshua Dorkin July 15, 2011 at 11:59 am

Liz – We’ve got thousands and thousands of articles and hundreds of thousands of forum posts you can turn to here on BiggerPockets to help you get started with your real estate investing. What are you waiting for?


Marty Boardman July 16, 2011 at 10:59 am

Joshua, I was wondering the same thing.


Marty Boardman July 16, 2011 at 10:58 am

Liz, what’s holding you back from getting starting? Time? Money? Education?


Liz Benitez July 16, 2011 at 11:07 am

All the thee above. I could run off a list of why nots but that would be just making excuses. In the end, even though I see opportunity after opportunity, I am not ready to jump in yet.


Joshua Dorkin July 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm

When you’re ready, we’re here to help out.

Ernie July 18, 2011 at 8:31 am

Good to hear the “fishing” experience of others. I did my first deal this past spring and know there is money to be made in real estate, however, getting offers accepted on another property has been trying my patience. I’ll keep right on casting!


Marty Boardman July 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Ernie, one of the biggest myths, perpetuated by real estate gurus, is that real estate investing is easy because of all the motivated sellers in the world. Yes, there are plenty of motivated sellers but here in Arizona there are just as many motivated buyers (investors) looking for a great deal. That’s why I have so many fishing poles.


Rusty July 18, 2011 at 9:23 am

Do you inspect the properties before or after you get a offer accepted?


Marty Boardman July 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Rusty, I rarely ever go look at a house before I write an offer. This can be done once our offer is accepted. The standard real estate contract in Arizona gives us 10 days, but I usually change that to 5.


Rusty July 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm

We also have a standard of 10. How often do you have to re-negotiation the price after because the condition is worse than expected? Do you build that into the first offer? If you do re-offer, does it often fall through?


Marty Boardman July 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm

We’re buying newer homes (1990 or newer) so it’s a little easier to estimate repairs. I typically build in a worst case into our offer price. The banks will usually negotiate with us if the house has been on the market 45 days or more.

Rusty July 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Thanks for the info… I appreciate the time! I’m currently pursuing a rehab and hold strategy… But I will eventually run out of money. I plan on pursuing a fix and flip to fund my buy and hold addiction when I get to that point.


Marty Boardman July 20, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Rusty, we’re finally generating enough revenue from our fix and flip business to pick up a few buy and holds this year. We call it our retirement fund. Good luck to you!


Melinda Allen July 20, 2011 at 9:28 am

Thanks for the great article and the wonderful comments! I have learned, and continue to learn so much from other investors. I love this website. I have yet to do a deal, I am looking for one, but I’m a little nervous. I don’t have funding lined up to purchase something and I’m afraid that if I find a good deal I won’t be able to find $ in time.

I have several questions about investing, my biggest one is this: What is the correct order to do things? Make an offer, hopefully get it accepted, get a contract (what about a ratified contract, what is the difference?) then what? I know I need to get an inspector out there and get a title company to do a title search, what else needs to be done? If the house needs repairs and I want to have a contractor do it, when do I schedule that for an esimate? How do I fit all the pieces of the investing puzzle together?



Marty Boardman July 20, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Melinda, first of all congratulations for taking the first step – getting educated. Before you write your first offer I would recommend you find an experienced investor in your area and ask him or her these questions. If you lived here in Phoenix I’d be happy to discuss what’s going on in the market and help you get started. I wouldn’t worry too much about where the money for your first deal will come from. If you find a good enough deal the money will find you. You can find an experienced investor in your area by calling title companies. Ask them if they work with investors. If they do then ask them to connect you with an investor that’s active in the market. If you have any other questions feel free to call me at 602-319-5931. Good luck!


L. Gale September 10, 2011 at 2:28 am

Great article, in fact I have read several of yours today and so far all have been good. I have a question for you on the trustee auctions. Do you do your own bidding, or use a third party bidding service? I don’t feel like I am ready for either of the above, but curious if your experience gives you the confidence to handle the auction yourself.


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