Investor Buys 60 Foreclosures in 6 Years

While everyone is worrying about the recession, Portland, Maine investor Debbie Kilmartin is busy buying, fixing and flipping foreclosures for a living.

Since 2003, Kilmartin has purchased 60 foreclosure properties, which she quickly flips for a tidy profit.

“I want cosmetic pig sties,” says Kilmartin in her thick New England accent, explaining how she finds, fixes and flips foreclosures. “I like to get in and get out quickly.”

The South Portland investor, who uses RealtyTrac to locate foreclosure properties, enjoys attending the monthly foreclosure auctions in Cumberland County, Maine. In June, she bought a Portland home for $160,500, and the week before she snagged a two-story duplex for $109,500. She said she intends to make a small profit on each.

“I try and get the houses painted and rehabbed in a few weeks,” claims Kilmartin, who works with a team of painters, carpenters and rehabbers. “I already have a buyer for the duplex and I haven’t even closed the deal. The two-family is probably worth $285,000, but I’ll probably sell it for less to move it quickly.”

She said the market for foreclosed properties is profitable, in part because home prices have declined and because mortgage interest rates are at historic lows, plus first-time homebuyers are flooding the market because of the new $8,000 homebuyer tax credit.

“My goal is to do four foreclosure flips this year,” says Kilmartin, a realtor-turned-investor. “I’m not greedy. I’ve done OK with my foreclosure business. It’s my livelihood. I’m just a little Maine girl trying to make a living.”

But she has noticed a change in the current real estate landscape.

“It’s harder now because we’re in a declining market,” she said, noting that she is being more careful on her real estate purchases. “I don’t buy junk. I buy location. It’s all about numbers. I want to see at least $45,000 equity for a deal to work.”

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