Wholesale Real Estate: What You Need to Know
Want to invest in real estate with no financial risk and no money or credit? Wholesaling houses is a popular choice. I personally think wholesaling can be a challenging way to get started, but the fact that you can get started in real estate investing without any barrier of entry makes wholesaling an attractive option. If you can get good at this side of the business, you will be success with anything you want to do. The reason I say that is finding deals is what makes a wholesaler successful. If you can get good at finding deals, you have unlimited potential.
Once you find a deal, you need to understand how to sell it to make your profit. Here are four ways you can structure your wholesale properties.
Contract Assignment: This is the easiest, but comes with some risks if not done correctly. It is also somewhat restrictive as bank owned properties will prevent this. This works well when you negotiate your deals directly with the seller. The way this works is you will get a house under contract and then you will assign your rights in the contract to another buyer for a fee. That new buyer will take on the rights and responsibilities in the contract and will close in your place. It is best to get your fee paid up front, but it is very common to get your fee when your buyer buys the house. Here are a few things to keep in mind when assigning contracts.
Be sure that you always disclose to your seller that you are or may assign the agreement to another buyer for a fee. I suggest you actually put this in the contract. Sellers should be OK with this if you are transparent that you are an investor who buys houses for a profit before you start to negotiate.
I would get money from your money that is at least enough to cover any earnest money you put up with your seller. That way if your buyer defaults on the agreement you at least cover your costs. Always try to get the entire fee paid when you assign the contract.
I like this way the best because it is easy to do on your end, it is easy for the buyer and the buyer's lender, and it is the cheapest way to go.
Double Close: This just means that you actually buy the house and then resell it. There are several ways to do this, but the most common is to buy and sell in the same day or within a day. Typically, you will need to bring in financing to get your closing done with the seller, which is why this is my least preferred method to wholesale. Also, because you have two closings you will have two sets of closing costs, so it is the most expensive way too. With that said, some wholesalers prefer this method because they do not have to disclose to the seller their intent to resell and they can both keep their deal with the seller and their deal with their buyer private. It is believed by some that this is a good way to protect your profits. The information will all become public record at some point, but that is well after the closing.
This is the method you will use by default if you do not do your contract on the front end correctly, so we do see double closing frequently.
Flip the Entity: This has become the most common way to wholesale in my market. Most, if not all, the successful wholesalers will use this strategy. Especially when wholesaling foreclosures where contract assignments are forbidden.
The way this works is the wholesaler will set up a separate entity, like an LLC or a Trust, and put that entity as the buyer of the house to be wholesaled. They will then sell the entity itself for a fee. The benefit with using this strategy is that actual contract on the house does not change. Since the buyer of the house is the entity, there are no issues with any regulation or assignment restrictions. The downside is it could be more work because of the extra step to set up the entity, and there could be additional fees to register the entity with the state. The risk for the buyer is whenever you buy a company you are buying all of it. So, if the entity was used in another transaction and owes money to anyone, the new buyer could be on the hook. Knowing this, the best way to do this transaction is with a brand-new entity used for this one purpose.
Relationship Close: I don't know if there is an actual name for this method. In fact, it is rarely seen. What I mean by relationship close is that you have such a strong relationship with a buyer that you write offers in the buyer's name. For this to work, you should be a licensed agent and preview houses for your buyer. You would need to understand their criteria and only offer on houses they will want to buy. I have a client that works this way. He has an agent write his offers and the agent/wholesaler gets paid a commission with each successful closing. They do 2 to 3 deals a month with this strategy. My client just signs contracts without looking at them at this point and trusts what the wholesaler is putting together solid offers. There is always an inspection clause protecting the buyer and the agent, but more than 9 out of 10 houses that go under contract close. That is because the agent/wholesaler knows the business and knows what this buyer will buy.
I would stay away from this method, especially if you are just starting out. A lot can go wrong. I wanted to mention it because it is one of the 4 ways that I see people wholesale. If you are just getting started I would focus on contract assignments and then flipping the entity.