Is Wholesaling Real Estate Legal? [What States Do I Need A License?]

Published on June 30, 2023

Is Wholesaling Real Estate Legal?

Is Wholesaling Real Estate Legal?

Wholesaling is quickly gaining significant attention from real estate investors in recent years and it is easy to see why. This strategy is known to minimize risk and maximize returns in every deal, plus it doesn’t require the wholesaler to buy the property.

If you are new to real estate investing, you might be wondering if wholesaling real estate is legal or if a license is required to engage in this practice.

To help you out, this blog focuses on the legality of wholesaling real estate across the United States as well as the gray areas of this real estate strategy. Read this article until the end because we also included a secret on how to find motivated leads so you can start wholesaling!

What is Wholesale Real Estate?

What is Wholesale Real Estate?

Wholesale real estate, in its own definition, is a unique investment strategy in the real estate industry. In essence, it involves an investor, known as the wholesaler, acting as a middleman between the property seller and the end buyer. 

The wholesaling process starts with the wholesaler identifying a potentially underpriced property and entering into a contract with the property owner to purchase it. The contract must mention that there is equitable ownership between the owner and wholesaler.

Instead of buying the property themselves, the wholesaler looks for an end buyer willing to purchase the property at a higher price. The contract is then assigned to this end buyer.

The profit in wholesaling houses comes from the price difference, known as the wholesale fee, which the wholesaler negotiates with the end buyer. This fee is typically a percentage of the property's resale value.

For instance, if a wholesaler contracts a property at $150,000 and finds an end buyer willing to purchase it for $170,000, the wholesaler would make a $20,000 profit from the transaction without ever having to buy the property themselves.

One of the key attractions of real estate wholesaling is that it allows people to participate in the real estate market without the need for substantial capital or the ability to qualify for traditional property financing. 

Wholesalers also avoid the costs and responsibilities associated with owning and maintaining properties.

Despite the potential for profit and minimal capital investment, the legalities of real estate wholesaling can be complex and vary from state to state. We’ll discuss more of this in the succeeding sections.

Is Real Estate Wholesaling Legal?

Is Real Estate Wholesaling Legal?

Wholesaling real estate is legal in the United States. However, the laws and regulations surrounding this practice can vary significantly from state to state. 

Some states have strict regulations for real estate wholesaling, requiring individuals to have a license to wholesale real estate. These regulations are typically in place to protect consumers from illegal practices and ensure that those involved in real estate transactions are adequately trained and knowledgeable.

In states like Illinois and Oklahoma, there are specific laws regarding real estate transactions that require a real estate license. In Illinois, the law specifically prohibits unlicensed individuals from engaging in more than one real estate transaction within a 12-month period.

On the other hand, some states have more lenient laws surrounding wholesaling real estate and do not require a license even if you are double closing or co wholesaling. However, it's still essential for wholesalers in these states to adhere to general real estate laws and ethical guidelines.

Where is Wholesaling Illegal?

Real estate wholesaling is legal in all 50 states in the United States. There is no state that views wholesaling real estate illegal. The debate whether this strategy is illegal revolves around strict regulations that can differ greatly according to location.

As mentioned, in some states, wholesaling may require a real estate license, while other states have fewer regulations around wholesaling and double closing.

Do You Need a Real Estate License in Wholesaling?

The need for a real estate license in wholesaling largely depends on the regulations specific to the state where you're operating. 

In general, if you're wholesaling in a manner where you're directly selling or marketing the real property (that you do not own) to potential or prospective buyers or you are double closing, some states may require you to have a real estate license.

This is because you're essentially performing the same service as a licensed real estate agent or real estate brokerage where valuable consideration directly or indirectly paid by bringing together a buyer and seller. 

However, if your wholesale real estate transactions involve assignments of real estate contracts - where you're selling your real property interest in the purchase contract to an end buyer, rather than the property itself - many states do not require a real estate license since you are not acting like a licensed agent. This is because you're technically selling a real estate contract, not a real property.

Regardless of the state and the specific method of wholesaling you choose, it's highly recommended that you research the regulations in your state or consult with a legal real estate professional. 

Understanding the legalities involved in wholesaling is critical to ensure that you're operating within the boundaries of specific state real estate law's requirements.

What States Do I Need A License for Wholesale Real Estate?

What States Do I Need A License for Wholesale Real Estate?

As of writing, only a few states require a license for real estate wholesalers. These are Illinois and Oklahoma. 

The Real Estate License Act of 2019 in Illinois (the act that replaced the Real Estate License Act of 2000) has made it clear that real estate wholesalers need a real estate license if they plan to do more than one wholesale deal in a year. The law also lays out certain restrictions on activities wholesalers can engage in, such as offering real estate advice or negotiating on behalf of clients. 

Meanwhile, in the state of Oklahoma, wholesaling through the sale of a real estate contract is considered illegal if carried out without a real estate license. 

According to Section 858-301 of the 53rd Oklahoma Statute, anyone who "publicly markets for sale an equitable interest in a contract" is considered to be performing the functions of a licensed real estate professional.

How to Choose the Best States for Wholesaling Real Estate?

Choosing the best state for wholesaling real estate is a decision that hinges on several key factors. The "best" state is often one where the conditions align most favorably with your real estate wholesaling business model, resources, and strategy. 

To help you make an informed decision about the best state for your wholesaling real estate business, below are some vital aspects to consider.

Legislation and Regulations

As a starting point, familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations of wholesaling real estate in various states. Some states have stricter rules and may require you to have a real estate license or limit the number of deals you can do in a year. 

Others are more lenient. Familiarity with these rules will help you navigate legal hurdles and ensure that you operate within the law.

Local Factors

Every state, city, and neighborhood can have unique factors that might affect your success in wholesaling real estate. Consider local factors such as neighborhood reputation, school district quality, crime rates, local amenities, and future development plans. 

Market Conditions

Study the current real estate market trends in various states. Consider aspects like average housing prices, the speed of sales, and the overall health of the market. States with fast-growing markets often present more business opportunities for wholesalers. 

Demand for Housing

High demand for housing can mean more potential buyers for your wholesale deals. Look at states with growing populations, thriving economies, and high employment rates. These factors often lead to increased demand for housing.

Property Values and Growth Potential

Consider the average property values and the potential for growth in the market. States, where real property market value is on the rise, can lead to more profitable wholesaling real estate deals. 

Presence of Distressed Properties

A real estate wholesaler often targets distressed properties or motivated sellers looking for quick sales. States with higher rates of foreclosures, auctions, and distressed properties could provide more opportunities for profitable wholesaling real estate deals.

Networking Opportunities

Look for areas where there are real estate investor groups, seminars, and meetups. These can be valuable sources of networking and learning opportunities.

Your Familiarity with the Area

While not a necessity, being familiar with the state or area where you want to wholesale can be an advantage. Understanding the local market, demographics, and trends can help you spot potential deals.


States with lower competition from other wholesalers might offer more opportunities. That said, a certain level of competition can be a sign of a healthy market, so this shouldn't necessarily be a deterrent.

What Do the Experts Say

If possible, consult with an experienced real estate attorney or an experienced wholesaler who understands the state-specific laws and knows the local real estate market. They are great at explaining in-depth market conditions so you can work around so many laws, too. Remember that there are many wholesaling deals that require legal advice.

Best States To Wholesale Real Estate

Best States To Wholesale Real Estate

As mentioned, identifying the best states for real estate wholesaling can depend on numerous factors, including market conditions, housing demand, population and economic growth, as well as the state's regulations on wholesaling. 

Based on these factors, here are the best states to wholesale real estate:

  • Texas: Robust real estate markets in cities like Houston, Dallas, and Austin, coupled with growing populations and strong economies. Texas laws are relatively wholesaler-friendly. But what is most interesting is that you can wholesale here without a license.
  • Florida: High population growth and a strong demand for housing, particularly in areas like Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa. Florida's regulations for wholesaling are also less stringent, contributing to its favorable wholesaling environment.
  • Ohio: Lower property prices in cities like Cleveland and Cincinnati provide more opportunities for wholesalers to find undervalued properties and sell real estate for a profit.
  • Tennessee: Nashville, in particular, has been a hot real estate market with significant growth and potential for profitable wholesaling.
  • North Carolina: Rapid population growth in cities like Raleigh and Charlotte coupled with active real estate markets make this state attractive for wholesalers. You can also wholesale here without a license.
  • Arizona: Phoenix and Tucson provide promising opportunities due to their fast-growing populations and thriving real estate markets. 
  • Georgia: Atlanta has a strong housing market with high demand, providing ample opportunities for real estate wholesalers.
  • Indiana: Indianapolis has affordable housing and a stable real estate market, which can be beneficial for wholesalers. You can wholesale here without a license.
  • Colorado: Denver's strong economic growth and dynamic housing market create a conducive environment for real estate wholesaling.
  • Missouri: Kansas City's affordable housing market and strong rental demand make it a good place for wholesaling.

Best Practices and Ethical Considerations When Wholesaling Real Estate

Successful wholesaling requires more than just knowledge of the real estate market and mastery of assignment contract negotiations. A successful wholesaler should also follow best practices and uphold high ethical standards throughout the process. 

That said, here are the key best practices and ethical considerations you should bear in mind when wholesaling real estate.

Legal Compliance

Ensure you are in compliance with state and local wholesaling laws. As discussed earlier, some states require a real estate license for wholesaling, while others do not. Some also have specific rules on how to wholesale.

Nevertheless, expect that certain aspects of wholesaling can blur the lines of legality. Particularly, problems arise when individuals partake in illegal advertising, such as promoting a property without having ownership prior to the advertisement. Regulations regarding real estate transactions typically add exemptions for licensed real estate agents.

That being said, familiarize yourself with these wholesaling laws governing specific states, and when in doubt, consult with a real estate attorney. Ensure that whatever relevant agreement language the market requires is followed.

Respect for Contractual Obligations 

As a wholesaler, you enter into a contract with a seller with the promise to close the wholesale deal within a specified time frame. 

It's essential to honor this purchase agreement. If you can't find potential buyers in time, work out a solution that is fair to the seller, even if it means forgoing your assignment fee and adjusting the closing costs mentioned in the contract.


Transparency is the foundation of ethical wholesaling. All parties involved should understand the wholesaler's role in the transaction. Be clear about your intentions to sell the contract to an end or principal buyer rather than purchasing the property yourself. 

Also, be honest about the potential profit you aim to make from the transaction. Inflating property values or understating your potential profit can lead to mistrust and legal complications. Also, you should present the disclosure agreements to the buyer.

Due Diligence

Conducting thorough due diligence is crucial. Ensure the properties you deal with are as they are represented, and verify all information provided by the seller before furnishing sales agreements. Ensure that there is no illegal claim to the property, too.

Misrepresentation of property conditions not only compromises your reputation as a wholesaler but can also lead to legal repercussions.

Fair Profit 

While wholesaling is a business intended to make a profit, excessive assignment fees could be seen as taking advantage of sellers in distress. This can also prevent you from developing good buyer's list.

Strive for a fair profit that reflects the real estate service you provide and the value you bring to the transaction.

Training and Education 

Lastly, continually educate yourself on investing, contract laws, state laws, state's real estate statute, and market conditions even though it is perfectly legal to wholesale without a license in most states.

This will not only make you a more effective wholesaler but also help you navigate potential legal and ethical pitfalls for your business enterprises.

Final Thoughts: What States Is Wholesaling Real Estate Illegal? [What States Do I Need A License?]

Understanding the legality of real estate wholesaling in different states is a critical aspect of closing a deal. In this blog, we explored the states where certain aspects of wholesaling real estate could be considered illegal without a real estate license. 

We hope that by now, you are already equipped with the knowledge you need to wholesale properties legally and successfully. And as promised, we have one secret tip for you to find wholesaling clients! That is to buy highly motivated seller leads from Property Leads!

We generate our seller leads from SEO and sell them exclusively, so you are guaranteed a high conversion rate! Fill out our form below to start getting wholesale leads.

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