Wholesaling houses is the real estate investing strategy of choice for many beginners. For those brand new to the business, it appears to be the best place to get started because it typically requires little or no money and it also appears to contain very little risk. However, all that glitters is not gold. There is a dirty little secret that most beginners are unaware of when it comes to wholesaling. Here is what they don't tell you about wholesaling houses...
Definition of Terms Digression: The term "wholesaling" is relatively new in creative real estate investing circles. Originally, anytime you resold a property immediately, or even quickly, it was called flipping. However, a few unscrupulous investors gave "flipping" a bad name so creative real estate professionals coined the phrase "wholesaling" to distance themselves from the negative connotation of flipping. Then came along some popular television shows which brought the word flipping back to the mainstream. So now, flipping refers to buying, fixing it up and then re-selling a property, whereas wholesaling refers to re-selling a property immediately without buying it or fixing it up first. Now back to what they don't tell you about wholesaling...
Where Great Wholesale Deals Come From
Of the millions of homeowners out there, a very small portion of them at anyone time want to sell their homes. Then, of these sellers, an even smaller percentage of them (our studies show less than 5%) are so incredibly driven to sell their property that they are willing to give it away for a very cheap price (or very favorable terms). Commonly referred to as "motivated sellers", it is from these people that most wholesale deals are created. In many cases, motivated sellers are in a tight spot and they have very few options left in selling their house. When a person is backed into a corner, they usually become emotional and sometimes irrational. So the emotions and irrationality of these people is both and good and bad to a real estate investor. On the one hand, the fact that circumstances in their lives have created this situation provides wholesalers with the opportunity to get a good deal. (To join the debate on the ethics of this, check out Is Wholesaling Real Estate Ethical?) On the other hand, those emotions and irrationality creates a volatility that can be like gun powder and one spark can set them off.
What They Don't Tell You About Wholesaling Houses from Motivated Sellers
Here's where things can go terribly wrong in a wholesale deal that is rarely mentioned or talked about. If the motivated seller, who is usually at a financial collapse in their life, sees that you are about to make $5,000, or $10,000, they may get very upset. Why? Put yourself in the sellers shoes for a moment. Perhaps they have owned the home for 10 years. In that time, they may have replaced the roof, the A/C, some appliances, have done tons of handyman fix up jobs, paid for the property taxes, the insurance, etc. To the homeowner, they have been paying their dues on that house, spending a small fortune to keep the house in good working order. And then, you come along, with no skin in the game, and you're going to make thousands of dollars on their house without, in their minds, doing anything. Do you see the rub, here? This point of view is not based on the facts of business and commerce, but it can be the reality of what is going through a motivated seller's mind.
The Most Valuable Skill in Real Estate
In real estate, brokering a deal is an extremely valuable skill. It's more valuable than the work of fixing up the house, originating the loan or closing the transaction. Putting a buyer and a seller together in a real estate transaction is the most lucrative part of the deal. If you don't believe me, just look at any closing statement and see who gets the biggest check. Motivated sellers rarely understand this fact. Instead, what they see is some person having them sign a contract and then a few weeks later, collecting thousands of dollars without lifting a finger. They don't realize that the person who can locate a buyer willing to pay more for the property than what it is under contract for is an extremely profitable real estate skill.
When Things Fall Apart
So rather than be happy with what they are getting, oftentimes motivated sellers become enraged when they see the profit a wholesaler is making on the deal. And this is when things can really fall apart. Boy, do I have some stories....on a deal I was doing many, many years ago, on the day before closing, once the seller saw on the closing statement that I was earning $7,000 on a house he was selling to me for $21,000, he left a voicemail on my phone that said, "You son-of-a-$%^#&. You're making $7,000 and you haven't done a damn thing! This deal is off. I don't care what our contract says. I want out and if you don't cancel this agreement, if I find out where you live, I will blow your head off with my shot gun." True story.
So how do you avoid this unintended consequence? I'm glad you asked 🙂
Steps to Avoid Wholesaling Disaster
1. Lay the Foundation:
You have to lay the foundation with the seller that you intend to make a profit. Make it very clear to the motivated seller by asking, "Sir, are you OK with me making a profit from this deal? Are you sure you are OK? So if you find out I am making a profit, you're not going to flip out and go crazy on me, right?"
2. Plan Your Closing:
Even if you have laid a great foundation, you still have to be aware that people don't always follow through with their verbal or written commitments. If the deal is nearing the closing and your gut tells you that the seller may flip-out if they find out you are making a profit, you will then, in most cases, have to do two closings. If you think the seller will be cool with your profits, you can roll the dice.
The first closing would be you buying the property from the seller and the second closing would be you selling the property to the new buyer. Both closings could actually be scheduled for the same day, in sucession, but it would double your closing costs and in most cases, transactional funding would be required which would further cut into your net profits. It is likely that in some cases, going with two closings could whip out a wholesalers profits altogether.
Rolling the Dice:
Although doing two closings is the safest route to keeping your profit amount private, it may not be practical due to the extra costs. You may have to roll the dice and brace yourself for the whole thing to fall apart. I recommend prayer in such cases.
The Cool Seller:
If the seller is cool and you think they won't care about your profit amount, just have your profit on the closing statement and hopefully the deal will close like a hot knife through butter.
The All Cash Buyer:
If the new buyer is paying all cash, sometimes you can convince them to pay you an assignment fee just before the closing, off the closing statement. This is the ideal way to get paid when wholesaling houses. But most all cash buyers won't pay you until closing actually occurs.
The Loan Buyer:
If the new buyer is getting a loan, this creates all kinds of problems for a wholesaler. The two closing approach is very difficult unless the buyer is working with a mortgage broker schooled in the art of originating no-title-seasoning-requirement loans. Plus, many loan underwriters will reject a wholesaler's assignment fee on the closing statement. That's why most wholesalers sell their deals to all cash investors. Our team, along with some brilliant closing attorneys, crafted a wonderful way to get paid on wholesale deals when the buyer is getting a loan but that's one of many proprietary techniques we hold back go just those who are members of my Apprentice Program.
Wholesaling Houses is More Complicated Than It Appears
As you can see, wholesaling houses is more complicated than it seems. Although many beginners feel that it is the best place to get started in creative real estate, for many, it is a tough way to break into investing without the help of a mentor or coach. Although it may not require much money to complete the transaction, wholesaling houses successfully often involves considerable knowledge. And if you aren't careful, you could create quite a sticky situation with an angry seller. That's what they don't tell you about wholesaling houses.