What Is Wholesale Real Estate? [How To Wholesale]

Published on June 30, 2023

What Is Wholesale Real Estate?

What is Wholesale Real Estate?

Real estate wholesaling is an often overlooked aspect of property investing that can actually provide opportunities for quick, low-risk profits. This strategy involves a middleman who coordinates between sellers and buyers without directly owning the property.

Sounds intriguing? This comprehensive blog will answer all your questions about wholesale real estate! From its difference to house flipping, its legalities, benefits and risks to the specific steps, we got it all covered.

What Is a Wholesale Real Estate? (Definition of Wholesaling Real Estate)

What is a Wholesale Real Estate? (Definition of Wholesaling Real Estate)

Wholesale real estate is an investment approach where an individual, referred to as the wholesaler, contracts a property with a seller and then assigns that agreement to an end buyer. 

Instead of purchasing and holding the property, the real estate wholesaler essentially becomes a middleman, facilitating the deal between a buyer and seller. The profit is obtained from the difference between the contracted price with the seller and the amount the end buyer pays, which is typically higher. 

This strategy can be particularly appealing to investors for a number of reasons. Wholesale real estate requires minimal capital compared to traditional real estate investments. This is because the real estate wholesaler doesn't actually buy the property but puts down small earnest money deposit to secure the contract. 

The risk involved in wholesale real estate is also usually lower. As the real estate wholesaler doesn't hold the property, they are not exposed to risks like market fluctuations or unexpected expenses related to property maintenance and repairs. 

Wholesale real estate can also serve as an excellent entry point for individuals new to real estate, allowing them to learn about the market, build networks, and understand the process of real estate transactions without the necessity of a significant upfront investment.

Example of Wholesale Real Estate

Example of Wholesale Real Estate

If you are still a bit confused about wholesale real estate, here’s a practical example:

Michael is a real estate wholesaler who has been in the market for a while. He discovers a property in a promising neighborhood that's been distressed and is being sold significantly under fair market value. The owner, Primo, is eager to sell quickly due to a sudden job relocation.

John signs a purchase agreement with Primo to buy the property for $150,000, with a contingency clause that allows him to back out of the deal if he cannot find a cash buyer within a specified period.

Next, John starts marketing the property to his network of investors. He finds an investor, Rose, who is interested in rehabbing and reselling distressed properties. Rose agrees to buy the contract from John for $175,000. This price includes the original price agreed upon with Sarah ($150,000) and John's wholesale fee ($25,000).

Once the deal closes, Primo gets his $150,000, Rose gets the property, and John walks away with a $25,000 profit without ever having to buy, own, or do any work on the property himself. 

Wholesaling Real Estate vs. House Flipping

Wholesaling Real Estate vs. House Flipping

Wholesaling and house flipping are two distinct strategies within the realm of real estate investing, each with its own unique characteristics, requirements, and potential rewards.

As discussed earlier, wholesale real estate is a real estate investing strategy where an individual, the wholesaler, contracts a property with a seller and then assigns that agreement to an end buyer. 

The wholesaler never actually owns the property but acts as a middleman, connecting sellers who want to sell their property quickly with buyers. The profit in wholesale real estate comes from the difference between the price that the real estate wholesaler contracted with the seller and the amount that the end buyer pays.

House flipping, on the other hand, involves purchasing a property with the intention of selling it for a profit. This typically involves properties sold under market value, often due to distress, which the flipper then renovates or rehabilitates before selling. 

Unlike wholesale real estate, house flipping requires a significant investment of both capital and time. The flipper must purchase the property, fund the renovations, and then hold onto the property until it can be sold. 

The profit comes from selling the home at a higher price than the combined purchase and renovation costs. House flipping involves a higher level of risk than wholesale real estate as it's dependent on the real estate market and the potential for unexpected repair costs.

Is Wholesaling Real Estate A Good Investment?

Is Wholesaling Real Estate A Good Investment?

Yes, wholesaling real estate can indeed be a good investment strategy, particularly for individuals interested in the real estate market but lacking substantial capital or a high-risk tolerance. 

It offers a way to get involved in the industry with minimal financial requirements, as it doesn't require the purchase of properties. Instead, the wholesaler profits from the difference between the contracted price with the seller and the final selling price to the buyer. 

Moreover, wholesale real estate typically involves lower risks compared to other investment strategies, like house flipping, as the wholesaler doesn't hold the property and thus isn't exposed to market fluctuations or property maintenance issues. 

Is Wholesale Real Estate Legal?

Yes, wholesale real estate is legal in the majority of states. However, the specifics of its legality can vary from one place to another, and it's essential to understand and abide by the local laws and regulations pertaining to real estate transactions in your area. 

Some states have specific rules about how contracts must be written and assigned, while others require real estate wholesalers to be licensed as real estate brokers if they conduct a certain number of transactions within a specific time period. 

The key to legal wholesaling is transparency and disclosure. As long as all parties involved in the wholesale real estate transaction are fully aware of the wholesaler's role and intentions, and all actions are conducted within the bounds of local laws, wholesale real estate is a legitimate and legal practice. 

Benefits of Wholesaling Real Estate

Benefits of Wholesaling Real Estate

More and more real estate investors are entering the wholesaling landscape and it’s easy to understand why. If you are still unsure about the wholesale real estate strategy, check out its advantages below.

Fast Profit Turnover

Wholesaling real estate stands out because it allows for rapid turnover of profits. Since the wholesaler doesn't have to hold onto a property for an extended period or oversee renovations, deals can often be completed within weeks or months, enabling quick returns on investment.

Prompt Revenue and Cash Flow

Unlike other real estate strategies where rental income may trickle in monthly or capital gains are realized only upon the property's sale, wholesaling real estate provides immediate cash inflow.

Once a contract is assigned and the deal closes, property wholesalers receive their profit, offering prompt revenue generation.

Ease of Understanding

Wholesaling is based on simple principles—finding a below-market-value property, securing it under contract, and then selling that contract to an end buyer. These straightforward steps make wholesaling an approachable entry point into real estate investing.

Rapid Market Entry

Given its simplicity and relatively low financial and regulatory barriers, wholesaling enables quick entry into the real estate market. This makes it a preferred choice for novices seeking to learn about real estate without significant upfront investment.

No Major Financial Obligations

Wholesalers secure contracts, not properties. As such, they don't need substantial personal financial investment or impressive credit ratings. The primary financial requirement is earnest money, which is usually a fraction of the property's purchase price, to secure the contract.

Geographical Flexibility

With advancements in technology, wholesalers can conduct local market research, find properties, secure contracts, and find buyers remotely, making it a location-independent venture. 

This flexibility allows investors to operate in various markets without the constraints of their physical location.

Practical Learning Experience

Wholesaling offers a real-world, practical education in understanding market trends, negotiating deals, networking with investors, and navigating legal contracts—skills that are transferable to other real estate investments.

High Demand

Rehabbers, landlords, and other real estate investors are continually seeking discounted properties for their portfolios, creating a strong demand for wholesaled properties.

Impressive ROI

As wholesalers secure properties at below-market prices and sell contracts for a profit margin, the return on investment, especially relative to the low initial capital reqired, can be quite high.

No Subscription Fees

Wholesaling doesn't typically involve recurring costs, such as membership or subscription fees. The main costs are marketing efforts to find properties and buyers and possible earnest money.

Potential for Scaling

Wholesaling is a volume-based business. As one gains expertise and builds a network of sellers and buyers, it's possible to work on multiple deals simultaneously, enabling wholesale real estate business growth and scalability.

No Renovation Responsibilities

Unlike flipping, wholesalers don't invest in property renovations or improvements. They're selling the contract for the property "as-is," which eliminates the risks and costs associated with repairs.

Limited Risk Exposure

Since wholesalers never actually own the property and can include escape clauses in their contracts, the risk exposure in wholesaling is significantly lower compared to other real estate investment strategies. 

However, it's important to note that while risk is limited, it is not entirely eliminated—deals can fall through, and market understanding is still crucial.

Risks of Wholesaling Real Estate

Risks of Wholesaling Real Estate

Wholesaling is by no means a perfect strategy in real estate investing. If you want to weigh its cons before going deeper into this path, let's review all the challenges associated with it.

Variable Income

Unlike a typical salaried job, wholesaling doesn't provide a fixed, regular income. The profits from wholesaling can fluctuate widely and be unpredictable, with income dependent on the successful completion of each deal. 

Some months might be highly lucrative if multiple deals close, while others may bring in little to no income, particularly during slower market periods or if deals fall through.

Reliance on Buyer Availability

A successful wholesale deal heavily relies on finding a ready and willing end buyer. This dependency can be challenging as market conditions and buyer availability change rapidly. 

If a wholesaler is unable to locate potential cash buyers before the contract with the seller expires, they may lose the deal and any earnest money deposited.

You May Need a Real Estate License

In some states, real estate wholesaling may require a real estate license. This stems from the fact that you may be essentially acting as a broker, finding sellers and potential buyers for properties without actually having ownership of those rental properties. 

Licensed agents are held to a certain standard of conduct and can face penalties or even lose their license for unethical behavior. So, if you are conducting wholesale transactions without a license, you might face legal consequences.

The Profit Margin is Lower Than Other Investments

One of the primary disadvantages of real estate wholesaling is that the profit margins tend to be lower than other real estate investment strategies. This is because you're typically not adding any value to the property or holding it for long-term appreciation; instead, you're making money on the quick turnover of contracts. 

The profit you make is essentially a finder's fee, which can be much less than the profits you could make from buying, rehabbing, and selling a property yourself, or from buying and holding a property for rental income or long-term appreciation.

Sweat Equity is Required

Real estate wholesaling isn't a passive investment strategy. Wholesaling real estate requires active participation, often referred to as "sweat equity," in finding deals, negotiating contracts, and coordinating with sellers and buyers.

This can be a demanding and time-consuming process, especially if you are new to the industry and still learning the ropes. It also typically requires strong people and negotiation skills, as well as a good understanding of local real estate markets. 

You also need to be prepared for deals that fall through and be able to quickly move on to other opportunities.

Challenging Buyer List Management

For a wholesale real estate business to thrive, it's essential to maintain a robust and active list of potential buyers. 

However, this task can be challenging and time-consuming. Real estate wholesaling requires continuous networking and marketing, regular communication to keep the list engaged, and diligent tracking of buyer preferences and capabilities

Possibility of Rejections

In wholesaling, rejection is part of the process. When reaching out to potential sellers, many may reject the wholesaler's offer, either because it's too low and doesn't reach the maximum allowable offer or because they prefer to sell their property through traditional means. 

On the other end, potential buyers may reject the wholesaler's deals if they don't meet their investment criteria. Overcoming these rejections, maintaining motivation, and persistently seeking out new opportunities are critical aspects of being a successful wholesaler.

How To Wholesale Real Estate

Every wholesale deal may have unique elements or challenges, which makes every wholesale real estate transaction different. But to help you begin your wholesaling journey, let's break down the general steps in the real estate wholesaling process. 

Step 1. Research About Wholesaling Laws

Wholesaling laws can vary from one state to another. Some states require wholesalers to have a real estate license, while others do not. 

It's important to understand local legislation to ensure that all activities are legally compliant. Consider consulting with a real estate attorney or experienced wholesaler in your area to understand all applicable laws and regulations.

Step 2. Find Off Market Properties

Identifying a suitable property is the first operational step. This typically involves finding a distressed property that can be purchased below market value. 

Effective strategies include driving around neighborhoods (driving for dollars), direct mail campaigns, online marketing, and networking with local real estate investors and or licensed real estate agents. 

Step 3. Do Financial Analysis of the Property's After Repair Value

Once a potential property is identified, it's crucial to run the numbers to ensure that the deal makes financial sense.

This analysis involves assessing the potential value of the property after repairs (ARV - After Repair Value), estimating repair costs, looking at comparable properties sold, and calculating potential profit margins and cash on cash returns. This step ensures that the deal will be profitable for both you and the end buyer.

Step 4. Contact the Seller

If the financial analysis looks promising, the next step is to contact the property owner. This might involve direct outreach, or if the property is listed, contacting the listing real estate agent. 

The goal is to negotiate a purchase price that's low enough to leave room for your wholesale fee and the end buyer's profit.

Step 5. Perform Due Diligence

This stage involves verifying all critical information about the property and the seller. This could include confirming ownership, checking for liens or other legal issues, and arranging a property inspection to confirm the condition of the investment property and the accuracy of the estimated repair costs.

Step 6. Put the Property Under Contract

Once the due diligence is complete, the next step is to formalize the sale agreement with the seller. This involves signing a purchase contract that includes a clause allowing the contract to be assigned to another buyer. 

The contract should also have an "inspection period" or "due diligence period" clause that allows you to back out of buying the distressed property if you can't find an end buyer.

Step 7. Find an End Buyer

With the wholesale property contract signed, it's time to find an end buyer. This usually involves marketing the deal to a list of potential buyers, which could include other wholesalers, cash buyers, rehabbers, or landlords. 

You'll need to provide prospective buyers with information about the investment property, including the potential ARV and repair estimates when you wholesale houses.

Step 8. Reassign the Wholesale Contract to the End Buyer

Once an end buyer agrees to the deal, the purchase contract is reassigned from you (the wholesaler) to the end buyer, typically to cash buyers. This process typically involves signing an assignment agreement, which transfers your rights as the buyer in the original purchase contract to the new buyer.

Step 9. Collect the Wholesale Fee

The final step in the wholesaling process is collecting your fee. This is the difference between the price you contracted with the seller for the distressed property and the price the end buyer or cash buyers pay for the purchase contract. 

The fee is usually paid after the closing costs, which is typically handled by a title company or real estate attorney.

How to Succeed at Real Estate Wholesaling?

How to Succeed at Real Estate Wholesaling?

Following the steps we shared above does not guarantee success in real estate wholesaling. That said, here are some tips that we have gathered from the most successful wholesalers in the industry.

Build a Network of Investors

Networking is key in the real estate wholesaling business. A strong network of investors forms a ready pool of potential buyers for your wholesale real estate deals. 

This network can be built through attending real estate investing meetings, joining online real estate forums, or becoming a member of local real estate investment groups. The goal is to become known in your local real estate community as a reliable source of good deals.

Find the Right Kind of Property

Successful real estate wholesalers understand their market and what kinds of properties are in demand by their end buyers. This might be single-family homes, multi-family units, or other types of properties, depending on the market. 

It's important to focus on properties that can be purchased below fair market value, often because they need repairs or updates.

Partner with the Best Lead Sources

Lead sources are the key to finding distressed properties. These can include a real estate agent, pay-per-lead platform like Property Leads, foreclosure lists, public records, and direct marketing to distressed property owners. 

Choose your lead sources wisely to ensure a constant flow of potential deals. Also, consider working with other real estate wholesalers, as co-wholesaling can be a great way to expand your deal sources.

Use a CRM

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can be invaluable for keeping track of properties, motivated sellers, and potential buyers. 

It helps manage your interactions with current and potential customers, track leads, and can help streamline your marketing efforts. This level of organization is crucial as your business grows.

Have a Website

A professional-looking website can lend credibility to your business and serve as a platform to showcase your available properties. It can also be used for lead generation, offering potential motivated sellers or buyers a way to contact you. 

Ensure your website is easy to navigate, provides clear contact information, and includes testimonials or case studies if possible.

Maintain Connections with Real Estate Attorneys

Real estate attorneys are an invaluable resource for a wholesaler. They can help ensure that your contracts are legally sound, advise on local real estate laws, and assist with the closing process. 

Building relationships with real estate attorneys ensures you have a trusted advisor to turn to when legal questions arise.

Know How to Delegate and Outsource

As your wholesaling business grows, it's impossible and inefficient to handle everything yourself. Understand which tasks can be outsourced or delegated.

This could be anything from hiring a virtual assistant to handle administrative tasks, engaging a call center to handle cold calls, or using a direct mail service for your marketing. 

Outsourcing helps free up your time to focus on revenue-generating activities, like building relationships and closing deals.

What Is Virtual Wholesaling?

Virtual wholesaling in real estate is a modern adaptation of traditional real estate wholesaling, leveraging digital technology to facilitate remote wholesale real estate transactions. 

In essence, it allows investors to find, inspect, create a wholesale real estate contract, and sell properties without being physically present in the location of the property. 

In a virtual wholesaling setup, the real estate investor identifies potential investment properties in any chosen market through online resources such as listing websites and digital public records.

They then negotiate with property owners regarding the property's fair market value and put the property under a wholesale real estate contract or purchase contract, all via remote communication channels like email, phone, or video calls. 

Property due diligence, including inspections and appraisals, can be outsourced to local professionals, with reports and findings shared digitally. Finally, the real estate investor markets the purchase contract to potential buyers through digital platforms, and the closing process is typically facilitated remotely with the assistance of a title company or real estate attorney. 

You can definitely make money virtual wholesaling and it also allows for geographical flexibility and the potential for broader market access. However, it also requires strong digital competency, a network of trusted local professionals, and a comprehensive understanding of varying real estate markets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need A Real Estate License For Wholesaling?

The requirement for a real estate license to engage in wholesaling largely depends on the specific laws and regulations of the state in which you plan to operate. 

Some states do require a license, particularly if you engage in wholesaling regularly, as it could be construed as practicing real estate without a license. Other states, however, have no such requirements, allowing anyone to wholesale properties without needing to be a licensed real estate agent or real estate broker.

Are Assignment Fees Taxable?

Yes, assignment fees in real estate wholesaling are considered taxable income. In the United States, these fees are generally taxed as ordinary income under the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) rules. 

It's important to properly document and report all income earned from wholesaling, including assignment fees, to avoid potential tax penalties. As tax laws can be complex and vary from one jurisdiction to another, it's always advisable to consult with a tax professional or CPA who is familiar with real estate transactions especially if the property is sold at a higher price and more than the maximum allowable offer.

Summary: What is Wholesale Real Estate? [How To Be a Real Estate Wholesaler]

Wholesale real estate provides a strategic approach to real estate investing, offering a faster return on investment with reduced financial risk. Whether you're a novice exploring the real estate market or an experienced investor looking to diversify your portfolio, wholesaling can serve as an accessible and rewarding avenue. 

With careful market research, due diligence, a strong network, and adherence to legal guidelines, you can navigate and potentially thrive in the real estate industry. The process will also be easier if you know where to find motivated leads.

One great way to find wholesale real estate leads is by bidding on your target areas in Property Leads. We generate leads through SEO, so you are guaranteed a high conversion rate.

Fill out our form below to start wholesaling real estate!

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