House hunting 2013: Mesa real estate agent goes to property 'war'

MESA, AZ - Mesa real estate entrepreneur Doug Hopkins will appear in the second season of "Property Wars," a Discovery Channel reality show about the bidding wars of metropolitan Phoenix's real estate market.

"Property Wars," a show that follows teams of bidders as they buy and then flip auctioned homes, will aired the first episode of the second season Thursday on the Discovery Channel.

"It's a lot like `Storage Wars,' only they're betting hundreds of dollars on lockers," said Mesa native Doug Hopkins. "We're betting $100,000s."

Working as a real estate agent, he's learned what customers look for in homes, Hopkins said. Living and working in the area, means he knows nearly every subdivision in the East Valley, as well as the model of homes in each development, he said.

Peeking inside windows and checking for additions or renovations that aren't included on the listing help to find a good flip, Hopkins said.

"There are so many ways to get a clue (of what's on the inside)," Hopkins said. "If the outside of the home has not been maintained, the inside will be like that too."

After winning the bid, changing the locks and assessing what changes need to be made, the main money-maker element comes into play, Hopkins said.

"At the end of the day, we're all within $5,000 bid," he said. "The higher the bid on the house, the more successful you can be. I just have to figure out how to fix it up the cheapest."

That means relying on trusted contractors who repaint, carpet and tile the home, Hopkins said. In many ways, the way he updates his homes is similar to the way a builder builds a spec home.

"I use the same paint, the same carpet," he said. "They know the plan."

The house usually goes back on the market in 10 days, he said.

Knowing the area so well is Hopkins' biggest advantage, he said. Hopkins graduated from Mesa's Mountain View High School before majoring in real estate at Arizona State University, and still lives in Mesa today.

"I know this area like the back of my hand," he said. "I've been raised in the East Valley, I moved here in 1987."

Hopkins owns Red Brick Realty, a real estate company, Posted Properties, a company that buys investment properties for clients and, a website that buys homes for cash.

"I knew when I went down to my first auction," Hopkins said. "I fell in love with it. I called my parents up and told them my whole life had changed; just loved it."

In an average month, Hopkins will buy about 150 houses, some of which are for his Posted Properties clients, he said.

"Cameras or no cameras, I'd be doing this anyway," he said.

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