Last Updated on March 9, 2020 by Mark Ferguson
I buy a lot of investment properties from the MLS, but I also buy from wholesalers and other sources. It took some time to find good wholesalers or let them find me, but it was worth it. It can be frustrating because there are a lot of people who call themselves wholesalers who will never do a deal. You have to be diligent in your search if you want to find wholesalers who actually have great deals. While it takes time and work to find those people, a good wholesaler can make you a lot of money. I have bought more than ten properties from wholesalers this year alone!
What is a wholesaler?
A wholesaler is someone who finds really great deals on real estate and sells those deals to other investors. Often, the wholesaler never buys the property, but rather, sells the contract. The wholesaler rarely does any work to the property, and the buyer does not have much opportunity to complete due diligence. Here are the basics:
- The wholesaler finds a great deal with direct marketing or another source.
- The wholesaler gets the home under contract with the seller.
- The wholesaler sends the deal to their list of buyers or investors who are looking for flips or rentals.
- If the end investor likes the deal, they agree to assign the contract or complete a double close with the wholesaler.
- The wholesaler earns their money by selling the property or the contract to the investor for more than they agreed to buy the property from the original seller.
What are the pros and cons of buying from a wholesaler?
When a real estate investor buys a house from a wholesaler, it is much different than buying a house from the MLS. The investor does not have much flexibility with how long they have to close or other terms. Often, the investor has to put up a non-refundable deposit, and they get no inspection. The houses are sold in as-is condition, and no repairs will be made. These terms can make it tough to get a loan on a wholesale deal, especially if the lender needs an appraisal. It is tough to buy a wholesale deal as a new investor because of all these restrictions.
The advantage of buying from a wholesaler is that the end investor can often get a really good deal without much work. I have wholesalers bring me deals all of the time, and while many do not work for me, I have bought more than ten deals this year from wholesalers. Not every deal from a wholesaler is a good one. You must do your own analysis.
The video below goes over how wholesalers make money.
What makes a good wholesaler?
The tricky part when dealing with wholesalers is most never do a deal. There are a lot of people who call themselves wholesalers because it is the most common type of investing taught. There are a lot of programs that promise big money without using any of your own when you wholesale.
The investors who buy from wholesalers want a huge discount from what they could buy on the MLS, or it is not worth their trouble. The wholesaler has to get an awesome deal that leaves room for them to make money and room for the investor to make money. It takes a lot of time, effort, and marketing to find those deals. I would estimate that 90% of wholesalers never find a deal good enough to sell. Here are some problems I see with many wholesalers:
- They may find properties they think are deals, but they do not know market values well
- They overestimate market value, underestimate the repairs, and don’t really have a deal.
- They do not know how much profit an investor needs on a deal. Many flippers go by the 70 percent rule, and many wholesale prices do not have that much room for profit.
- They assume the repairs are the only cost on a deal and forget about carrying costs, selling costs, etc.
- They do not know how to market or have the money to market like they need to.
They will not tell investors they have never done a deal, so when looking for a wholesaler, you must be very careful. You can waste a lot of time with wannabee wholesalers who will never do anything. However, if you find the right wholesaler, they can be an awesome source of deals.
How does an investor buy from a wholesaler?
If you are on the wholesaler’s buyer list, the wholesaler will send an e-mail to all their investors listing the price, repairs needed, terms, and what they think the house is worth when they get a deal (never trust these numbers and always verify everything). The wholesaler compiles a list of investors who want to see the property and meet the investors at the house (usually more than one at a time).
Every wholesaler does business a little differently, so how they decide which investor gets the house can vary. In some cases, the first investor who says they want the house for the asking price will get it. Some wholesalers will use online forms to submit a contract, and the highest offer gets the deal. If there are not enough investors who want the deal, the wholesaler may negotiate their fee or try to get the seller to come down in price.
When I look at a property with other investors, I make sure to tell the wholesaler as soon as possible if I want the deal. You cannot be timid and wait for the wholesaler to talk to you or finish talking to other investors. If you want it, tell them right away.
Here is a house I bought from a wholesaler:
How do you find a great wholesaler?
There are many ways to find wholesalers, but they are not all effective. Here are some of the ways I have found wholesalers and ways I have heard of others finding them:
Real estate investor meetups:
Most areas of the country have real estate investors meetups, and they can be a great place to network. I have met many wholesalers at meetups and have never seen a deal come from any of them. I am not saying that you cannot find a good wholesaler at a meetup, but that is where many newbies go.
Many wholesalers have websites set up for investors looking to buy deals. You can search online for wholesalers in your area, but again, it can be hit or miss if they actually have deals.
Some of the best ways to find wholesalers is to network with other investors, but they may not be keen on giving you their source of deals. Besides investors, ask real estate agents, title companies, and other people in the business. Many wholesalers will e-mail real estate agents to find buyers.
Look for marketing by wholesalers:
If a wholesaler is marketing, you know they are at least trying to find deals. Instead of looking for wholesalers, look for their marketing. Look for bandit signs, billboards, Craigslist ads, Facebook posts, and call the number. Most wholesalers market by advertising they will buy houses fast for cash. Tell them you don’t want to sell your house but want to be on their buyer’s list. If you receive a letter from someone wanting to buy your house, do not throw it away. Call them back and tell them you are a buyer.
How have I found good wholesalers?
I have bought a lot of houses from wholesalers, but it was not easy finding them. It took a long time to figure out who the good wholesalers were. Here are a few ways that I have found wholesalers or they found me!
- They emailed every real estate agent they could find, and I was one of those agents.
- They listed a house on Craigslist, and I responded to the add.
- They listed a house in a local facebook investing group.
- I met them through my blog or YouTube channel.
- I called them after seeing their bandit signs or received a letter from them wanting to buy one of my properties.
Many wholesalers will go to real estate meetups and look for buyers. I have met many wholesalers this way but have never actually gotten a deal from any of them. I am not saying meetups are not worthwhile, but do not expect to get a ton of deals thrown your way after meeting a couple of potential wholesalers.
How is buying from a wholesaler different than the MLS?
When you buy from a wholesaler, you need to realize that it is not the same as buying from the MLS. The wholesaler is not the owner, and they usually make it as easy on the owner as they can. That means there is no inspection or appraisals, and it can be tough to get a loan. The owner may also leave quite a few things in the property when they leave, and they could be hiding issues with the house as well. I find quite a few people try to sell off-market because they know there are problems with the house, and they have a better chance of the buyer not finding those problems if they do not list with an agent.
The wholesaler will also want a non-refundable earnest money check to secure the deal. I find $5,000 is a pretty common amount for earnest money on wholesale deals. Wholesalers will also use an assignment contract to sell the rights to their contract with the seller to you. It is wise to review the contract they have with the seller to make sure it is legit and what they say it is before you pay them.
Buying from a wholesaler as a real estate agent
I am a real estate agent and broker, and I have to buy houses a little differently than other investors who are not agents. When I buy a deal that is not listed, I must disclose that I am an agent and abide by state laws for other disclosures as well.
There is a very good chance that the wholesaler will not have any lead-based paint disclosures or other required documents signed by the seller. I have to make sure we get these documents signed since I am taking over the contract, and I also have the seller sign my own disclosure saying I am an agent and that I may make money on the deal (I do that on all off-market properties that I buy).
I started my own brokerage, and while I was in the process of moving from my old office, I was fired from that office because I did not have lead-based paint disclosures signed on a wholesale deal I was buying for myself. I did not think it was a big deal that I had not disclosed to myself that a house might have lead-based paint. I called the real estate commission, and they did not think it was a big deal either but said, technically, I should have those signed on every deal, even wholesale deals. Make sure you check with your state real estate commission to learn all you have to do as an agent when buying wholesale or off-market deals.
Wholesalers can be a great source of deals, but the good ones can be hard to find. If you have met a few people claiming to be wholesalers who never have any deals, do not assume there are no decent wholesalers in your area. Just realize it might take a little more time and effort to find the good ones. It also helps to network and become friends with other real estate investors in your area as they might have extra deals to send your way.