Hi Tina, I would recommend not limiting yourself to any particular geography within San Diego. Rather, look for types of homes in market segments and follow the smart money.
Savvy investors are buying assets below intrinsic value and receiving 5-10% net ROI, while like investors validate this sea change. More than specializing in a particular area, I help folks focus on a method, using my "Market Bottom Triangulation" principle:
1. Sales price falls below the cost to buy the lot and build the home.
2. Net annual return on an all cash purchase exceeds 5%.
3. You have to win seller acceptance over competing offers within a matter of days.
How do you really find a property trading below intrinsic value? Find a good agent. With $200k as a down payment you are in a position to swing a pretty big hammer. I can help you optimize your return on investment. Re: duplexes, I'd stay away from them for now, because the cashflow is not there yet... the prices are still too high. Your best bet it to take advantage of the retail sector where folks are getting squeezed. Most duplexes are owned by investors who are more insulated and who recognize that rental incomes will be trending higher with continuing foreclosure displacement.
Be careful of fixers unless you are a sophisticated investor who knows what they are up against. There is a huge REO market gone berserk largely because many "investors" got swept up in the marketing spin about fixer romanticism.
Give a call and we'll discuss in greater detail. Or check out my blog, which is loaded with useful resources for people just like you :)