With its acres and acres of cornfields and its status as the top pork-producing state in the nation, you may wonder what opportunities there are for wholesaling real estate in Iowa. While rural areas may typically not lend themselves to real estate wholesaling, Iowa is also home to a few metro areas offering ample opportunity for steady real estate investment.
Among the most popular metro areas for real estate investing in Iowa are Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, North Liberty and Dubuque. Iowa’s infrastructure, education, quality of life and opportunities consistently land it within the U.S. News & World Report top 15 best states rankings.
According to the 2022 U.S. Census, there were nearly 3.2 million people living in Iowa and the state was home to about 1.4 million housing units. Zillow estimates the median home value in Iowa to be around $200,00, climbing 9% in price in 2022 compared with the previous year.
With this ultimate guide, we’ll help you learn how to wholesale real estate in Iowa, using our proven step-by-step wholesaling process. Read on to learn more.
Wholesaling is a real estate investment strategy enabling the investor to go under contract to purchase a real property while retaining the right to assign the contract to another investor-buyer. The goal is to profit by selling the rights to an end buyer for a higher price than your original offer. Here’s how wholesaling works:
The first step is to identify a homeowner facing a situation motivating them to sell. This is often the threat of foreclosure or other financial or personal circumstances. The homeowner does not want to make repairs, so is willing to sell below market price.
Once you’ve found a property, you’ll make an offer to purchase with an agreement retaining the right to assign the contract to another party. Once accepted, you reach out to an investor willing to pay more than the original contract. You then transfer the contract, including all rights and obligations, and collect your fee.
Investors flipping homes or looking for homes to hold as rental properties are good candidates for assigning contracts.
The best way to get on the road to success in real estate wholesaling is to develop a step-by-step process, then follow it consistently, fine-tuning along the way. Also, check out our in-depth video on how to wholesale step by step in 21 days or less!
With that in mind, here's our simple step by step process for wholesaling real estate in Iowa:
If wholesaling is new to you, your first step should be to partner with someone more experienced and willing to share some advice or offer a bit of coaching. Even if you split a few deals in exchange for their help, an experienced wholesale mentor can help you avoid potentially costly and time-consuming mistakes, particularly if you are a beginner wholesaler. You’ll be able to grow your business all the faster.
Read Also: How to Start & Grow A Real Estate Business
Before you jump into real estate wholesaling, it’s important to familiarize yourself with any federal, state, or local laws applicable to wholesaling houses in Iowa. Since you’ll be operating in the real estate sector, you should also familiarize yourself with fair housing laws and the Iowa Civil Rights Act as it relates to unfair or discriminatory housing practices. Familiarizing yourself with laws applying to you as a wholesaler in Iowa will help you steer clear of potential legal problems.
To start, be sure you aren’t engaging in activities only a real estate broker can undertake, unless you’re licensed as one. One of the most common missteps new wholesalers make is marketing the property to end buyers rather than marketing the contract.
There are three ways to wholesale properties legally in Iowa: assign rights to the contract to an end buyer, hold a double closing so both the original offer to purchase and your contract with the new buyer close simultaneously, or traditional buying and selling, where you close on the contract before reselling it to another investor. If you opt for buying and later selling, you may want to make use of a hard money loan for the purchase.
We’ll dig deeper into these strategies later in this guide.
Read Also: Private Money Lenders: The (ULTIMATE) Guide
Understanding the Iowa real estate market you plan to target—including its unique trends, statistics, and lingo—is key to your success. Networking with local real estate agents, as well as researching the local MLS, will provide you with a foundation of knowledge to launch your business. Your understanding of the local market—the type of properties available, sales history, inventory, and other trends—will grow with time.
The Iowa REALTORS publishes a monthly real estate market report with sales volume, median sales prices, the median price per square foot, and other valuable housing data for the area, making it an excellent source of local real estate market data.
Real estate wholesaling in Iowa is made easier when you develop relationships with the local real estate network. The Iowa Association of Realtors serves as the umbrella organization for 17 local boards, including the
Another great source for learning about the Iowa real estate market is to review the active home listings on the local Multiple Listing Services (MLS). The MLS is a system created by Realtor associations customized to local real estate markets. Realtors who belong to the association can add their listings to the MLS, making it a great source of localized housing market data.
If you don’t have your real estate license, there are other options for accessing the MLS data. You can partner with an agent, which has benefits to your business beyond access to the local MLS. Alternatively, you can gain access to MLS data via websites like Zillow, Redfin, PropStream, or Privy.
At the foundation of a successful real estate wholesaling business is a network of willing potential end buyers. Here are some tips on growing your cash buyers list:
You can also check out this video on how to find cash buyers!
To net a profit in real estate wholesaling, you need to purchase homes below market value. Motivated sellers most likely to prefer a quick sale over top dollar are those facing financial or personal stress, such as foreclosure, auction, divorce, or death in the family.
Position yourself as a problem solver and not just a wholesaler trying to make a profit. Show some concern for the situation they are facing and then provide a solution. Here are some sources for finding motivated seller leads, including ways to find off-market properties:
Prior to going under contract on an investment property, you will want to be sure the numbers make sense. Pay attention to the following calculations:
You will need to estimate the home’s value after it has been purchased and renovated. This is known as the After-Repair Value or ARV. It is calculated by adding the property’s current value to the value of renovating it:
ARV = Property’s Current Value + Value of Renovation
Calculating the ARV puts you a step closer to determining an appropriate offer price.
Hiring a contractor to inspect the distressed property will provide you with a needed list of repairs, along with anticipated rehab costs. Of course, if you feel qualified, you can take this step on your own to estimate rehab costs.
If you need help estimating costs, see our review of the Rehab Valuator. This software can assist you in analyzing potential deals, whether your goal is wholesaling, flipping, or rehab and hold. Rehab Valuator also includes features to help you market your deals to end buyers.
Once you’ve determined the ARV and estimated cost of rehab, your next step is to calculate the Maximum Allowable Offer (MAO) Formula. Calculating the MAO will help you avoid offering too much for a property, potentially ending up with no profit, or even ending up unable to find an end buyer to purchase the property. If that occurs, you will end up having to close on the property yourself.
The MAO is calculated as follows:
After Repair Value (ARV) – Fixed Costs – Rehab Costs – Desired Profit or Equity = MAO
After you’ve determined the ARV, subtract the fixed costs needed to purchase and hold the property. Then, subtract the renovation costs and finally subtract the profit you want to net. This will provide you with the property’s MAO, which is the maximum amount you should offer on the property you are considering.
Once you’ve determined the maximum amount to offer on a property and decide to move forward, you will need to prepare the offer to purchase contract. Keep in mind a wholesale real estate contract is legally binding between you and the homeowner. If you’re unable to find an end buyer, you are obligated to go through with the purchase of the property.
While it may be tempting, be careful using simple real estate contracts you find online. Many are too basic for wholesaling purposes, which could open you up to problems if the unique terms of wholesaling are not adequately spelled out. You might also be able to find contract templates through the local MLS if you partner with a Realtor.
However, if you’re creating your own contract and unsure what should be included, review our informative article explaining wholesale real estate contracts. You’ll learn about the terms and conditions to include in an offer to purchase wholesaling contract as well as assignment contracts.
After you have an accepted contract, find a cash buyer. Using an assignment agreement, enter into a contract with them, transferring the rights and obligations of the contract over to the end buyer.
Be sure the assignment contract contains all the terms and conditions of the assignment. For a downloadable example of an assignment contract, as well as other relevant information, check out our article on assignment of contract.
Once you’ve executed an assignment agreement with the end buyer, the last step is to close the deal and collect your assignment fee. There are three options for closing a real estate wholesale deal in Iowa: assignment of contract, double closing, and buying and selling.
If you have executed an assignment agreement, you will collect an assignment fee. The other two ways for the closing to occur require you to collect your fee at the property closing rather than beforehand. With a double close, there are simultaneous closings between the seller and the end buyer. If you opt for the buy-and-sell option, you will be closing on the property, then selling it to another investor.
There will be times the homeowner won’t agree to the wholesaling terms of the offer enabling you to assign the contract to a third party. Regardless of the reasons, these are the instances when you can opt for a double closing. The seller will sign the closing documents and get paid. Immediately afterward, the end buyer signs a second set of closing documents to purchase the home you just closed on, and you get paid.
A double closing requires you to close and take the title on the home before you ultimately sell it to the end buyer.
Wholetailing is also another wholesaling method which is a combination of a fix and flip and a standard wholesale deal. Using this method you’ll take ownership of the property, do some light repairs, and then re-list the property shortly thereafter on the market.
Wholetailing is often a desirable exit strategy because you can access a larger pool of buyers when you re-list the property on the MLS. These buyers typically use financing and are generally less sensitive to pricing as compared to cash buyers.
The short answer is yes, wholesaling real estate is legal in the state of Iowa. However, to follow Iowa real estate law, it must be done in a way that doesn’t require a real estate license unless you are licensed.
The Iowa Real Estate Commission is authorized by IAC Chapter 193E and sets forth rules and laws governing all real estate transactions in Hawkeye State. Wholesaling activities cannot fall into any category requiring a real estate license as delineated in Iowa state law. The primary laws pertaining to real estate wholesaling in Iowa include:
For details about the legalities of wholesaling real estate in Iowa, see our article, “Is Wholesaling Real Estate Legal in Iowa?”
Regardless of location, real estate wholesalers earn their living by closing deals and either collecting assignment fees, net profits from double closings or profits negotiated from agreements with partners through other types of real estate deals.
Because wholesaling is a form of self-employment, you have the potential to earn a significant income. Your income will be determined by the number of deals you are able to turn in a year and the size of fees you negotiate with end-buyer investors. A real estate wholesaler's salary can be anywhere from $0 to over $1 million - and even more.
While your potential income can’t be pinpointed, consider a benchmark of earning an average of $10,000 a deal. Using this scenario, it would take:
The takeaway is wholesaling offers unlimited earning potential. Wholesalers finding the most success follow a proven pathway. For those wholesalers, the sky’s the limit when it comes to their earning potential and growth.
You do not need a real estate license in Iowa to wholesale real estate. Wholesaling involves assigning rights and responsibilities under the offer-to-purchase contract. It is legal unless you cross the line and begin marketing the property itself.
There are advantages to becoming licensed for real estate in Iowa, however. Licensees have access to the local MLS and earn commissions rather than fees on real estate transactions. When making offers to purchase, you will need to disclose to homeowners you are a licensed real estate agent. Not doing so can bring legal problems down the road, so full disclosure upfront is your best route.
Of course, you could partner with a real estate agent who is knowledgeable about local markets and real estate investing in general. An agent can provide information about local real estate trends and introduce you to investors.
Wholesaling real estate in Iowa isn’t easy, especially if you are a first-time real estate investor. But there are steps that will help you build success. You should research the legalities and become familiar with contracts and assignment agreements. After those basics, you can move on to gaining know-how through articles and courses to establish a foundation for the growth and success of your wholesaling business.
Along with educating yourself, consider investing in the assistance of a coach or mentor. You’ll pick up on some practical steps to augment what you’ve gleaned from articles and courses.
Serious wholesalers will want to sign up for our Pro Wholesaler VIP Program. This program will help take your business to the next level by showing you how to:
The Pro Wholesaler VIP Program is designed for the modern entrepreneur to learn the basics and how to help new real estate wholesalers avoid the pitfalls typically found by beginners. It is 100% online and is used for local and virtual real estate wholesaling.
You can expect to realize substantial earnings if you educate yourself, partner with a mentor or coach, and establish a process for your wholesaling business. You could even earn multiple six-figure incomes, depending on how many deals you close each year.
Be sure you have a clear understanding of Iowa’s state and local laws impacting real estate. Never engage in any activity legally restricted to a licensed real estate broker and ensure you market the rights and responsibilities under a contract rather than marketing any property itself.
Success in real estate wholesaling often hinges on the ability to establish a process you can follow from start to finish. Take advantage of opportunities like our brand new free training to fine-tune your process and build a successful business.
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