How To Wholesale Real Estate In California

How To Wholesale Real Estate In California: Step-By-Step (2024)

real estate investing strategies real estate markets (states) wholesale real estate Mar 05, 2024

This article will guide you through what wholesaling real estate is, and more importantly, how it functions within the context of the Golden State.

By the time you finish reading, you'll have a solid grasp of the legality and advantages of wholesaling real estate in California:

Envision the vast opportunities waiting for you in California's real estate market. Home to over 38,889,770 residents in 2024, California is the most densely populated state in the U.S., boasting over 13.3 million households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Curious about how to tap into wholesaling real estate in California? Especially for those who are new to the investment scene, wholesaling presents an appealing advantage: it doesn't require a significant amount of capital or a real estate license to kick-start your wholesaling business in California.

*Before we begin our guide on wholesaling real estate in California, we invite you to view our video on How To Wholesale Real Estate Step by Step (IN 21 DAYS OR LESS)!

Host and CEO of Real Estate Skills, Alex Martinez, provides a comprehensive, step-by-step guide for beginners to start wholesaling real estate!


What Is Wholesaling Real Estate?

Wholesaling real estate allows you to buy real property with the right to assign the contract to another buyer. You are selling the purchase contract to another buyer at a higher price than what you offered the property owner.

A simple example of wholesaling involves finding a real property owner who needs to make a fast sale. Reasons for this predicament include defaulting on the mortgage and facing foreclosure or having other debts requiring fast cash.

Often the property needs repairs because the owner doesn’t have enough funds. Finding a homeowner desperate to sell to pay off debts while the property needs repairs gives you a chance to buy the home cheaply.

Your first step is to make an acceptable purchase offer to the homeowner. Then, you present a written contract to buy the home at a set price. However, your contract gives you the right to assign it to another buyer. After the contract is signed, you find a buyer for a higher price. You simply transfer the contract to the end buyer for a profit.

Potential buyers of wholesale properties are usually seeking investment property to purchase under market value. Depending on their investment strategy, these buyers may be flipping houses, buying rental properties, or scaling a multifamily portfolio.

The truth is that you can wholesale any type of property, including raw land and commercial real estate. Wholesaling properties is all about creating valuable opportunities and profitable real estate deals for the next buyer.

Wholesaling Real Estate Pros & Cons

Wholesaling can be a thrilling avenue to pursue, especially for those eager to dip their toes in the property market without the heavy financial lift that often accompanies traditional investing. However, like any endeavor, it presents a unique set of challenges alongside its advantages.

Pros of Wholesaling In Real Estate

  • Educational Goldmine: Wholesaling serves as a masterclass in real estate investment. It's low risk and demands less effort and time than other real estate transactions. You gain valuable insights without the financial weight on your shoulders.
  • Minimal Financial Entry: The beauty of wholesaling is the low financial barrier to entry. You can secure a deal with a homeowner without any initial investment. There's no need to pour funds into house repairs or renovations, which keeps your wallet comfortably intact.
  • Profit Potential: Your profit in wholesaling comes from what we call an assignment fee when you pass the contract to the end buyer. This fee usually ranges from 5-10% of the property's sale price. Plus, with a strategy called double closing, you have the chance to buy and immediately resell a property, creating profit potential without a substantial holding period.

Cons of Wholesaling In Real Estate

  • Time Sensitivity: Speed is non-negotiable in wholesaling. Your contract will have an expiration date, and you must secure a buyer before this looming deadline. It's a fast-paced environment that requires quick action.
  • Strategic Property Selection: Choosing the right property is more art than science. If you pick a property that's out in the sticks, chances are you'll struggle to attract investors. Location is more than just a buzzword; it's the heartbeat of a good wholesale deal.
  • Buyer Matchmaking: The endgame in wholesaling is to find a buyer, but not just any buyer. Your target market is made up of investors with specific tastes and investment appetites. Pinpointing the ideal buyer requires savvy market insight and a bit of finesse.

Read Also: How To Find Off-Market Properties In California: The 4 Best Sources


How To Wholesale Real Estate In California (9 Steps)

Here's our simple step-by-step process for wholesaling real estate in California:

  1. Partner With a Wholesale Mentor
  2. Learn California Real Estate Wholesaling Laws & Contracts
  3. Understand The California Real Estate Market & Lingo
  4. Build a Cash Buyers List
  5. Find Motivated Sellers & Distressed Properties
  6. Put Distressed Properties Under Contract
  7. Assign Contracts to Cash Buyers
  8. Close Deals & Collect Wholesale Fees
  9. Double When Necessary

steps to wholesale real estate in california

1. Partner With A Wholesale Mentor

Like any new career or profession, it's smart to work with an experienced real estate mentor. Even the highest achievers across many industries seek out expert mentorship and coaching. Especially for wholesaling beginners, having a wholesale mentor can literally save you years of time, let alone help you avoid potentially costly mistakes.

Learn how to make the most of your mentor-mentee relationship. They are meant to offer you invaluable guidance and support.

Read Also: Wholesale Real Estate Mentor: The ULTIMATE Beginner's Guide

2. Learn California Real Estate Wholesaling Laws & Contracts

Before you begin working in a profession involving legal contracts you need to be familiar with the federal, state, and local laws. This knowledge will help keep you out of legal trouble. For example, new landlords must know the federal and state anti-discrimination housing laws or face heavy fines and lawsuits for violating them.

The same goes for wholesaling laws and contract laws.

Keep reading as we will describe these 3 Methods that real estate wholesalers can legally use in California:

  • Assignment of Contract: Where you sell your property contract to a buyer for a profit
  • Double Closing: Where you have two simultaneous escrow closings, first your purchase contract and then your contract with the new buyer
  • Buying & Selling: Where you complete your purchase with the property owner and then sell it to the next buyer

Read Also: California Real Estate Contract: Requirements, Template & FAQs

3. Understand The California Real Estate Market & Lingo

No matter what you sell you must understand the buying and selling market. For new wholesalers, this requires knowing what buyers are willing to pay for certain types of real properties in a given location and time.

Fortunately, the California Association of Realtors (CAR) publishes regular real estate market data reports every week. Their monthly Latest Market Data shows what the market is doing along with what their Realtors are saying, and what they think will happen regarding sales, prices, and listings.

Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) lists all active homes for sale listings and recent closed sales prices along with photos and detailed information about each property. The best way to access up-to-date local MLS data is to work with or become a real estate agent in California.

The MLS system was created by real estate companies so they can list properties for sale for other agents to access to help find buyers for the listing agents.

The commission is split between the listing and the buyer’s agent. If you don’t want to work with a local real estate agent you can access MLS data through private websites like RedfinZillow, or HomeFinder.

CAR also publishes a comprehensive list of Real Estate Terms. From A to W, all of the essential realty terms are explained to you. 

*Before we continue our guide, be sure to watch our video on the 10 BEST States To Wholesale Real Estate and learn why California made our top 10 list!

Covering the entire span of the country, we delve into what sets each of these states apart, creating a perfect environment for both wholesalers and real estate investors.

Want more real estate videos? Be sure to visit our YouTube channel, here!

4. Build A Cash Buyers List

Sellers need cash buyers or they fail. We’ll give you some tips for building a buyers’ list:

  • Attend Real Estate Auctions – You will find all-cash investors bidding on properties. A great way to network with bidders is to hand out your business cards and brochures. Get their names and contact information. 
  • Local Real Estate Investors Networking Events – Find local associations, clubs, or investors' networking events. Wholesalers meet other investors and network with them. Some events will allow you to speak to the group to introduce yourself and explain what you are up to. 
  • Create A Website Looking For Cash Buyers – Many buyers look for wholesalers but don’t know how to find them. A localized SEO-optimized website can pop up in Google’s Top 3 or as the Featured Snippet for bigger exposure.
  • Join LinkedIn Real Estate Groups – The best B2B social media channel is LinkedIn. They have hundreds of real estate groups you can join for free. Many are localized for specific states, counties, and cities.
  • Network With Local Agents – The more experienced ones often have cash buyers. Some can lead you to distressed sellers. Work with the agent for a Win-Win deal where the agent gets a commission and you make a profit. Access their MLS data.
  • Research Public Records – All property sales become public records. Most counties allow fast online access. Pull a list of purchases over the past year and look for 3 things: 
    1.  Persons who make multiple purchases are usually investors.
    2.  Purchased properties with no liens mean an all-cash buyer.
    3.  Properties bought and sold within one year (or less) are indications of a house being flipped.

Create a list of these buyers and research their business or home contact information online. Or, you can hire a private investigator or use a skip tracer to find them.

Read Also: How To Find Cash Buyers For Wholesaling Real Estate

*Check out our video below where Alex Martinez breaks down how to easily find cash buyers online!

5. Find Motivated Sellers & Distressed Properties

This is the gravy train for wholesalers. Desperate sellers in need of fast cash. Public records will list foreclosures, real property auctions, and deaths.

Here are a few ways to find motivated sellers and distressed properties:

  • Saving the owner from facing a government auction for failing to pay property taxes or an IRS tax lien is a Godsend for them. You can clear their debts which helps raise their credit score to make them qualify for loans.
  • Many real estate auctions are put on by lenders who prefer getting the entire loan paid instead of what they can get at an auction. Pay off the loan and the extra fees and you make the lender and the property owner happy.
  • Obituaries are sad to read but useful for wholesalers because the heirs may not want to live in the deceased’s home. A quick sale brings faster closure with money for the heirs. Probate lawyers are also a good source.
  • Property owners facing bankruptcy will lose their property when the court orders an auction. You can contact the property owner’s lawyer to make an offer to buy the real property. Contacting bankruptcy lawyers for future leads also helps.
  • Network with city and county property inspectors who constantly look for code violators. Real properties are not up to code or in need of repairs due to safety or health code violations. Property owners with multiple violations usually want to sell quickly.
  • Properties with multiple liens indicate an owner in debt. Poor credit scores make it impossible to qualify for loans. They are usually motivated by a fast sale.
  • For Sale By Owner (FSBO) homes are also worth visiting. They may have many problems like a need for extensive repairs or high debt. Find fore-sate-by-owner websites like FSBO.com.
  • Look at MLS expired listings as they couldn’t find a buyer. Reasons for not selling include over-priced listing, poor showings (needing repairs), or unfinished projects.
  • Finally, the Pro Wholesaler VIP Program by Real Estate Skills helps investors to acquire, flip, and wholesale properties directly from the MLS.

Learn How To Start Wholesaling Without Any Marketing Costs: Apply To Become A Pro Wholesaler VIP™

Dive into real estate wholesaling with confidence. Download our FREE Wholesaling Cold Calling Script! 

download wholesale real estate cold calling scripts

Read Also: How To Talk To Motivated Sellers [FREE SCRIPT DOWNLOAD]

6. Put Distressed Properties Under Contract

Before you decide to make an offer, you need to calculate your estimated profits. This requires you to calculate the following estimates:

  • After-Repair Value (ARV)
  • Estimating Repair Costs
  • MAO Formula

After-Repair Value (ARV)

After-Repair Value (ARV) helps property investors estimate what a property is worth after purchasing and renovating. The formula to calculate ARV is as follows:

ARV = Property’s Current Value + Value of Renovation

Knowing how much a home is worth after renovations help you to decide the price you offer the seller.

For example, a home worth $200,000 with an estimation of $50,000 for renovations comes up with an ARV of $250,000.

Yet, there is more information you need to decide whether to make an offer to the seller and at what price.

Read Also: Free ARV Calculator: After Repair Value Estimator

Estimating Repair Costs

First, you need to pay a good contractor to inspect the home from top to bottom. The inspection report should show what needs repairing with an estimated cost.

If you are in a hurry to quickly estimate repair and renovation costs, read our useful guide explaining how to estimate rehab costs.

MAO Formula

The Maximum Allowable Offer (MAO) Formula is an equation that determines the price you should offer for a specific real property.

The importance of running your MAO Formula before making an offer boils down to the importance of having profit in your real estate deal. Are you fine with zero or negative profit? Probably not.

Therefore, in order to ensure a profit on any wholesale deal or flip, you must run these numbers.

The MAO Formula is:

After Repair Value (ARV) – Fixed Costs – Rehab Costs – Desired Profit or Equity = MAO

Simply take the ARV minus the fixed costs to buy and hold the home minus the renovation costs minus your equity or desired profit equals the MAO.

If this confuses you, our article explains every step in detail.

Read Also: MAO Formula In Real Estate: What Is A Maximum Allowable Offer?

Preparing the Purchase Contract

A wholesale real estate contract is a legal document creating a binding agreement between you as the wholesaler and the homeowner.

Unless you are an experienced real estate attorney, don’t rely on cheap online real property contracts. They are too basic and may not be legal in your state.

Check out our informative article explaining wholesale real estate contracts. We cover many of the important terms and conditions in a standard wholesale contract to buy properties and sell the contract to a buyer.

download wholesale real estate contracts for california

Read Also: Flipping Real Estate Contracts: A 6-Step Guide For Investors

7. Assign The Contract To Cash Buyer

After you get the seller to sign your purchase agreement you need to find a cash buyer for that contract. When you do, you need to get the buyer to sign an assignment of contract agreement. This allows you to transfer your purchase contract to the buyer.

8. Close Deal & Collect Assignment Fee

As mentioned above, you have 3 options for closing a deal:

  • Assignment of Contract
  • Double Closing
  • Buying & Selling

Your assignment contract makes the buyer pay you an assignment fee. Usually, this occurs when you and the buyer sign the assignment contract.

However, the other two options require waiting to collect your fee. As we will explain below, you can have a double closing where the closing with your seller occurs at the same time as your closing with your buyer.

Or, you can buy the home and close on it and then sell the house to your buyer.

9. Double Close When Necessary

Sometimes, the seller might not agree to an assignment of the purchase contract to a stranger. It’s like when you agree to buy a person’s car or furniture and you ask for an assignment to another person. The seller may feel uncomfortable when a stranger shows up with your assignment contract to take the car or furniture.

This is where a double closing becomes necessary. The seller signs the escrow closing documents and gets paid. Then, your buyer signs different closing documents to purchase your new home and you get paid. 

Double closing requires your taking title to the home before you sell it to your buyer, which may require two sets of closing costs.

*For in-depth training on wholesaling real estate in California, Real Estate Skills offers extensive courses to get you ready to make your first investment! Attend our FREE training and gain insider knowledge, expert strategies, and essential skills to make the most of every real estate opportunity that comes your way!

wholesale real estate California training


Yes, wholesaling real estate is legal in California.

For more about California wholesaling laws, see our article, which answers the important question: Is wholesaling real estate legal in California?

It explains why wholesaling is legal in California and cites specific California laws like their Business and Professions Code which oversees the state’s real estate laws such as:

  • Section 10016 defines a real estate agent as a natural person licensed to work under a real estate broker to receive compensation for helping property owners sell or lease their properties and helping their buyers and renters.
  • Section 10130 states that it’s unlawful for unlicensed persons to engage in the business, capacity, or advertising as a real estate broker or a licensed agent.
  • Section 10139 sets the penalties for violating the above sections with fines up to $20,000 or with a crime in the county jail for a term of up to six months or both.


How Much Do Real Estate Wholesalers Make In California?

How much a real estate wholesaler makes can range greatly.

A benefit California real estate wholesalers have is the potential to earn a significant income. Real estate prices in California are soaring, and therefore wholesalers can demand large wholesale fees. Wholesalers can make as much money as they want depending on how many deals they can do and the size of their fees.

According to Rocket Mortgage, a wholesale fee "usually costs 5% – 10% of the total property price."

This means you can put the house under contract for $120,000, and use your network to find a potential investor to buy the home for $150,000. The investor takes on this contract to make substantial renovations and resell the property for much more. Afterward, you can make $30,000 in profit legally without even purchasing the property yourself.

If a wholesaler in California earns $30,000 per deal, that would translate to:

  • 5 deals to make $100,000 per year
  • 10 deals to make $200,000 per year
  • 20 deals to make $400,000 per year
  • 50 deals to make $1,000,000 per year

With a proven wholesaling process, the sky is the limit with how much investors can make as a real estate wholesaler in California.

Ready To Learn How To Wholesale Real Estate? SIgn Up For Our FREE Training, Today!


Do You Need A License To Wholesale In California?

Our short answer is “No.” California does not require wholesalers to become licensed.

That’s because wholesalers do not sell real estate. They only sell a purchase contract to a buyer who enforces the contract so the property seller transfers the title to the new buyer.

If you are licensed to sell real properties in California (as a broker or an agent) you are required to disclose that to your sellers when you make an offer and enter into a contract. The Section 10139 penalties will apply to a broker or agent who fails to disclose.

how to wholesale real estate in California legality

Also, licensed agents and brokers may get sued by the sellers for failing to disclose their license status. This could lead to civil penalties and large damage awards too.

Real estate prices in cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles are some of the highest in the country. Therefore, as a licensed salesperson, the commission you earn per real estate transaction is likely MUCH higher than in most other states.

Read Also: How To Become A Real Estate Agent: The Ultimate Guide


Can A Realtor Wholesale Property In California?

Yes, as long as the proper disclosure is made to the sellers. There are numerous advantages to wholesaling as a licensed real estate broker or a sales agent.

Licensed brokers and agents have access to all of the Realtor contracts available through the California Association of Realtors, including proper disclosures and forms. Since they are licensed, there is less worry about the potential marketing property restrictions that unlicensed wholesalers may face. Also, agents can earn real estate sales commissions when they buy and sell properties for themselves, as well as, for others.

Wholesaling, as an acquired skill set, allows Realtors to help homeowners in more ways than the typical real estate agent or broker is capable of. This is mostly because real estate licensure training does not include any practical aspects of real estate investing. Very few agents can offer to purchase real estate directly from the sellers that they aim to serve, therefore, wholesaling agents are able to create a competitive advantage for their businesses.


Is Wholesaling In California Easy?

No, it's not easy because wholesalers need to understand the state and local contracts and real estate laws.

However, reading our informative articles here and taking courses will teach you everything you need to know about the wholesaling profession.

In addition, undergoing mentoring with an experienced wholesaler who can teach you the practical side of wholesaling beyond taking courses and reading articles. Coaches are available to teach you the finer points of the wholesaling profession.

After reading our articles and viewing our instructive videos we strongly suggest signing up for our Pro Wholesaler VIP Program!


Final Thoughts On Wholesaling In California

Breaking it down, there's real potential for you to do well in wholesaling real estate right here in California. You don't need a license or heaps of money to get started. In fact, you could even make up to $1 million per year or more as a wholesaler in the Golden State.

Following these nine steps can give you an edge in the market. But this guide is just the beginning. There's a lot more to learn about becoming a successful wholesaler in California.

At Real Estate Skills, we're all about helping you get to where you want to be. We understand everyone has different schedules and financial goals. That's why we've set up our free training program. It's a step-by-step guide that's been put together by expert wholesalers and investors.

So, why wait any longer? Join us at Real Estate Skills and start learning how to flip and wholesale houses today!

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