An Interview with Sensei Sean Gilliland

By Christina Suter on Jan 27, 2018 at 10:45 AM in Real Estate Issues
An Interview with Sensei Sean Gilliland

This week on my Ask Christina First Radio Show, we aired an interview I did with Sensei Sean Gilliland. Sean earned the nickname "Little Sensai" as a child who was involved in martial arts and who followed his instructor everywhere, wanting to be like him. Since 1995 Sean has been a real estate investor and he is the founder of Black Belt Investors. He has been a speaker at my FIBI Pasadena meetings and he uses the discipline and knowledge he obtained as one of the top 3 martial artists in the US to run his business. Sean was kind enough to answer some investment and wholesale questions I had about his work.

What are some of the difficulties you've faced? 

"People ask me why I waste so much time on a deal and my response is it's not so much the deal as it is, someone is in need and we are here to serve. We serve our clients first and if I can reap some benefits from that, fantastic, but that's not my primary strategy.

"In real estate there are always hurdles, complications, and pitfalls. I don't look at them as difficulties, I look at them as challenges to get past that help me sharpen my skill set."

What Is Wholesaling?

"I'm a wholesaler at heart. I will generate income through flipping contracts, and assignment of double closing, but I'm also a rehabber. When I buy, fix, and flip I do so at a wholesale level. I'm also a landlord and I don't pay retail for properties, I buy at the wholesale level."

Wholesaling is the foundation of all real estate; it's where you outsource the real estate to others. There are 3 parts to wholesaling, #1- flipping properties without the use of cash or credit, #2- Rehabbers, who are people who invest their money or credit, but still at the wholesale price, and #3- Landlords who buy and hold to generate passive income. 

How Did Real Estate Start For You?

"I started flipping in the 90’s and I knew very little, but I put together a team and my team was honest and disciplined and I bought a 42k property, put 17k worth of money in it to rehab it. The problem I had was no rehab money, so I pulled the money off a credit card and rotated the balance between credit cards, and 9 months later I made 9k over it when it sold. I was hooked after that, just like I can't eat just one Doritos chip, I wanted more of flipping." 

Why or How Do You Choose Certain Cities?

"Before I learned how to choose a market, I had flipped in other states before eventually making it back to CA. Business in all those states helped me learn different markets, and the laws of each state. I was spending so much time on the flips so I figured out how to make it easier, by delegating jobs and I looked at where I was getting my properties. One of my sources was a guy who went by the name, Mr. Wholesaler, and I started doing what he was doing, flipping properties without the risk. I learned a bunch of other techniques and now I can wholesale, rehab, and purchase and those options helped me to thrive during the recessions."

How Have You Made Your Work Profitable?

"I go into primary markets in CA, Phx, and Vegas for dirt-cheap. I wait for the hedge fund buyers raise the value, then I cash out, and move over to the Midwest. There I buy property for cheap, wait for the hedge fund buyers to exhaust the primary market and when they come to the secondary market, I let them raise the value there, and then move to the suburbs of places like Cleveland. There I buy residential properties for low prices, like 40k, and I wait for those to go up in value. When the hedge fund buyers exhaust places like Kansas city during recessions, which happen every 10 years or so, and once the recession is over we pull our money out of the lower markets and move it to the primary market and start over again." 

"I learned that once you make enough money you start creating wealth. Build your portfolio after you’ve built your income streams."

Contact Sensei Sean Gilliland at, by phone at 951.280.1900 or email him at [email protected]

As an added bonus, Sean is giving away a free fix and flip calculator to all who contact Black Belt Investors and ask for one.

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