Rehabbing/Flipping in Crestline, Arrowhead Big Bear So Cal Mountain Areas

40 Replies

I'm interested in buying houses in Southern California mountain areas for wholesaling, flipping and buy and hold and wondering if anyone has spent much time doing the same.

Hi Bill. I live in Big Bear and have done flipping and buy and holds. I also do property management here. I'm happy to help in any way I can. Michelle

I bought a place in Big Bear in April 2014. Been renting it out and doing really well on it- I love it and now looking to buy another. 

Account Closed I've never been to Big Bear, such a long twisty road to get there! However; I have looked online at properties, as it reminds me of northern California (the real nor cal, not the bay area) Are there certain neighborhoods that are better than others for vacation rentals, etc.? 

Definitely,  you can still buy homes for $150k or you can buy million dollar homes.  I'm still learning which neighborhoods are better but the fact that it is so close (60-90 minutes) to LA and Orange Counties makes it s unique investment opportunity.

I researched for a few years before I chose lower Moonridge. All depends what you are looking for, who you want to rent to. Since I do dog rescue I wanted to be sure to have a dog friendly property that allowed all breeds. I  put in new fences and made sure to buy one with hardwood floor. Most of my renters bring their dogs and couldn't be happier. 

There are many factors to consider in Big Bear that's for sure. Now as I look for my 2nd home- I know EXACTLY what I want- just based on what my renters have liked and didn't like about this place.

@Karen Margrave  Come up Hwy 38. Not bad at all! @Bill Manassero  is right. Certain areas are better for vacation rentals and others for full-time rentals.

@Mike R.  Lower Moonridge is a good area. I tell people to stay away from upper Moonridge. Those roads can get really treacherous in the winter.

Michelle, I wish we had enough snow that upper was a concern this year- ha. I did the seasonal snow plow instead of each time. Oops. 

I would think there are much easier fish to fry closer to your home. I'm in Riverside and have done a few deals up there. Even for me, it is 1-1.5 hour drive. Finding reliable & affordable labor has been a big challenge.

Yep. Very true. Good help is tough to find up there. I have been very lucky so far. My realtor recommended some great people- guy who built a fence, painters, cleaning crew and spa guy. 

Gotta get the right crew or it's a huge hassle and money suck.

I'd love to find a place somewhere else so all my eggs aren't in one basket, but I know it so well and have such great help, seems silly not to keep it easy on myself and buy another 

@Mike R.  I have a couple of great plumbers, an electrician, handyman, etc. If you ever need any of those people, let me know. I highly recommend them.

Thanks Michelle- right now I may be looking for a new spa actually. The one that came with the cabin- only has a single filter and meant for 2 to 4 people. I have been having many back to backs so the cleaning is beginning to get too costly. I think I need a newer better filtered spa

Just want to revisit here... Vacation rental vs. Long-Term rental in the mountains.  Which do you think is more profitable?

Vacation rentals. Those can average $150 to $500 a night for a 3+2 depending  on season  and be rented out 180 nights a year as opposed to longer term at maybe $800 to $1200 a month 

Had a cabin in Crestline for a few decades and watched the level of the population change from owners of a vacation home to those that bought because it was all they could afford. Still, after all that time, it was neat to see the neighbors take care of each other and help when needed. 

One of the things I saw when living there were the SB County sales. There were a lot of houses and plenty of empty land for a very low price. I would check there to see if there is anything that fits your criteria.

Vacation rentals near the ski resorts were going to be our niche before we moved to TX.

Good luck!


My personal preference is Lake Arrowhead > Big Bear. 

In either location, make sure it's 3 + 2 for the best occupancy.

Having been apart of the mountain community for many many years, I haven't seen too much equity build up. 

I would say, target the 100k - 200k range, find a good property manager, and rent it out. You'll have interested parties in both the summer and the winter, so it's a win-win.

Good luck!

Thank you very much.  Great advice.  Hey @Mike R. do you recommend a good vacation rental service/PM in the area.  Also, I see that home prices are highest in Arrowhead.  Is that a better vacation rental area?

Bill I like Big bear better as it has skiing, arrowhead doesn't. So Big Bear is 4 seasons. I am actually starting my own management company and would love to talk to you once you find a property. 

@Bill Manassero  Property management for vacation rentals and full-time rentals is exactly what I do. Feel free to contact me if you would like to talk about it.

If you are trying to decide which to buy, it really depends on the size and location. If you want a vacation rental, be sure to buy 3+ bedrooms. The larger, the better. 2 bedroom places don't rent near as well. I have a 5 bedroom place that rents almost every weekend, all year long.

Also, stay in the Big Bear Lake area for a vacation rental. You don't want to be in Sugarloaf, Big Bear City, etc. People want to be near the lake, village and slopes. 

I've been doing this a long time and am happy to help with any questions.

Hello big bear thread :)

I'm also looking at purchasing a 3bd+ property in Big Bear to use a a vacation home and to rent out as a vacation rental.  Based on some online searches, it looks like properties start at around 200k and go up from there.  I was wondering how the 2%/1% rule work out on these type of vacation rentals.  I'm trying to figure out what the return landscape would look like since these have additional utility expenses, management fees, etc.  Any guidance in this would be great.


What is the 1%/2% rule?

I have found that returns are what you put into it. The more you or your management is online 24/7 changing prices when not rented or when snow hits, marketing, using analytics to rise to the top of search, using social media, taking great pictures, answering emails at 2am etc.. the more money you'll make. 

That's sort of why I'm loving this so much. I get to be  creative with marketing as well as filling up my cabin with things I think people want- and I see the results. 

I have made 3x more in 8 months than I was hoping to make all year. I was told 100 nigts a year  rented is good- I'm already at 185 rented with 4 months to go. 

It really is what you put in. I have seen better houses than mine sitting there due to bad management.

It's a 24/ 7 job just like anything else. 

Hi @Fernando Corrado  . I have data on rental income for all sorts of vacation rentals in Big Bear. How much money you will get depends on how many people it will sleep, the location, and the amenities you offer. If you find one you like, let me know and I will tell you how much you can reasonably expect to make on it as a vacation rental.

I think it also does depend on who is managing. I have no doubt you are awesome at it Michelle- but I've been looking at some properties with horrendous rental histories on great houses in  Moonridge with views. I've seen as low as $8,000 a year gross on some amazing properties. Boggles the mind. 

Great, thanks Account Closed for the info.

Mike, 2% or 1% rule is what Josh and Brandon often talk about on the podcasts.  Here's a link to one of the posts about it:

I'll continue to look at properties in the area and see how it goes.


Ahh gotcha. In that case yes, since homes are relatively cheap in Big Bear and is sick a great vacation rental area,  1% is pretty easy. My first 8 months I'm at around 3.5%

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