So You Want to Be a Wholesaler? Here’s What NOT to Do

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Right now, I am looking for 3-4 strong wholesalers in my market. We have more funds, several quality contractors, and we want to start flipping one property every other month, while simultaneously buying 3-5 more rentals in the next 12 months.

So I have been searching high and low for wholesalers generating real, actual deals. The last couple weeks, I have had three encounters with three different wholesalers. One that is really promising — and two that, if not incompetent, were woefully under-prepared, with ZERO actual understanding of the deals and the values of the subject properties they were selling.

Here is how one of them went…

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The Story

It was the end of a long day.

I honestly was ready to get home, see my wife and kiddos and enjoy some time at home. I am a seriously fired up Royals fan, and unless you have been in a HOLE somewhere (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), you know that the Royals are headed to play in the ALCS on Friday in Baltimore.

However, the Royals have also recently played some of the longest games — maybe ever — and after all of these amazing games (that have kept the entire city up until the late hours of the evening), the Royals have a few nights off, and thankfully the fans do, too.

Related: 9 Blunders Every Wholesaler Must Avoid (Or Else!)

After speaking with the wholesaler about a great deal they had, I told my tree guy (an awesome guy who pays cash), who was interested in obtaining a property, about the house, and we scheduled a time to go see it. I was pretty familiar with the area, as I previously owned three other houses over that way.

The price on the subject house was right. Or, should I say, it SHOULD have been right.

Failed Communication

First, communication was a bit off-putting from the beginning. I tried connecting with them 3-4 times over two days, after running across a Craigslist ad that said something to the effect of, “MUST SELL HOUSE. TAKING OFFERS.” (This was actually an ad for a different property from the same wholesaler.)

You would think someone that desperate to sell would be a lot more, say, Johnny-on-the-spot? Yeah, I thought so, too. So after multiple texts, I finally got them on the phone, wanting to get the run down on everything. #details #imtootypeAforthis

I’m told the house needs a “roof” and “some work” on the inside. Should be just a few thousand to finish it up. Ok…cool. That seems good enough.

Houses in the area sell for $20-25k in tenant rentable shape, maybe $30-35k if they are really nice. The wholesaler was asking $9k. I was happy to make $1-2k — and my buddy would get a good house. All in at $15-16k; that seemed reasonable enough for him that I felt good about it. $11k purchase, $2,500 for a new roof, and $2,500 to finish what sounded like some painting, maybe carpet, and boom. We have tree guy’s first house.

It took the wholesaler more than a week to set a time to see the house. Awesome.

I asked for the pictures of the property.

The wholesaler asked me to take pictures and to send them over while I was there.

Um. Is my official title: Nathan Brooks, (free) photographer? No. No…it doesn’t.

We finally got a time scheduled after I sent a text that said, “We can do 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. on Monday.” And I literally (kid you not) got a text back that said, “Ok, if 5:00 or 5:30 on Saturday is good for your guy, I can check to see if that is ok.”

Hmm. I Didn’t that say I could do MONDAY(??)

So, rant aside…I drove in the awesome 5 p.m. traffic around half the world and a million aggressive drivers to look at this house. I pulled down the street, and there is my buddy, the tree guy, and there…

Oh no. Seriously? You are kidding me, right???

THIS is the “needs a little work and a roof ” house??? 



The outside of the house looked terrible. Horrible. Windows broken. Stairs on the front literally falling off the house. The decking on the stoop was a few weeks from someone walking onto it and falling through.

And we stood there for 15-20 minutes waiting for said “seller” to come let us in. Meanwhile, people up and down the street starting coming out onto their porches and were very interested in what we were doing. We stood there, being stared at: my friend, his wife and their young daughter. Hello, awkward eyeballs. This is awesome. #doyousensemysarcasm

Related: The Real Estate Agent Nightmare: Wholesalers

One of the people outside started walking into the street towards me. I walked towards him and asked how he was, and he pointed towards the house, said whatever pleasantries back to me, and I asked if he was the owner. He said he was…and was waiting for our phone call to let him know we were on our way. Hmm. That would have been good to know.

The “Hole” House


He opened the door, and boom — the ceiling opened up to the heavens, and my view is now into a house that is far from a “few thousand” from being finished; rather, it is a house literally littered with debris, with a subfloor that feels like soggy toast, and, well, not much else. There is no kitchen. No appliances. No bathroom. Half of the drywall that was there would need to be removed because of mold. Rotten carpet. No HVAC. The list goes on and on.


We finally walked out of the house, the seller still chatting me up trying to get us interested in the house…and frankly I am pissed. We walked back over the awesome floors (that you could fall through and make your own HOLE) and then over the landing outside the front door, and onto the broken staircase.

And then I apologized to my friend. Again and again — and promised him I would find him a good house. One that will work. Not this piece of crap.

That was how NOT to be a wholesaler.

I got on the phone as soon as I left the house, and I called said wholesaler. I let them know first that the deal was NOT a deal and that they had wasted my time, as well as my friend’s time. I didn’t take a lot of time explaining all the various issues, but I got my point across. There was a lot of silence on the other end of the phone.

Come on, people.

And truth be told here: shame on me. I should have known once I was asked to be the photographer and wait a week to get into a vacant house (that should have had a combo box on it) that it was headed for something like this. There was nothing about the deal that was true other than roughly the price I had heard.

So You Want to Be a Wholesaler?

If you are a wholesaler, do your job.

If you want to be a wholesaler, learn HOW to do your job. It’s not about you making a buck. Anyone can do that. It’s about creating a value for the investors you are working with.

If you aren’t creating a value — for your time and your effort — then you are making yourself look foolish. If I can go buy the same house for 10 0r 20% less on the MLS, then what is the point? Obviously there is some value in the fact that an off market deal has less competition, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know exactly what you are selling.

3 Rules to Live by as a Wholesaler:

1. Know Your Market

Is the property for flippers or investors who buy and hold?

If it is a flip, have a good sense of the expected repair costs to similar properties in the area, what that might cost, and what the ARV (after repair value) is. If the property is more geared towards buy and hold investors, make sure you understand the repairs as you would for similar rentals, as well as what the properties would rent for — and therefore its ROI and cash flow analysis.

2. Know What You are Selling

If you haven’t been inside the property, you better be working with someone who has. There is NOTHING worse in my mind than losing someone’s trust.

If you tell me a property needs a little work, it better need just a little work. Otherwise, I am not looking at another deal from you.

3. Paint a Clear Picture

I suggest a “one-sheet,” i.e. several pictures of the property, a link to a Dropbox with more pictures, values, repairs, offering price, etc. Build a template, and use it each time you do your properties. If it is in a nicer area, I even have some wholesalers who have had actual appraisals done. But do your homework. You still have to know the intricacies of the property you have, who the best buyer is, and how you accurately paint the picture with the least effort and most efficiency.

Real estate is a business of relationships. We have to take them seriously. And be willing to put in the effort to become successful in our business.

How are you setting yourselves apart in your business to become trusted and successful? What’s the least honest deal you’ve fallen prey to?

Let me know in the comment’s section below!

About Author

Nathan Brooks

Nathan Brooks is the co-founder and CEO of Bridge Turnkey Investments, a Kansas City-based company renovating and selling more than 100 turnkey properties per year. With over a decade of experience in real estate, Nathan is a seasoned investor with a large personal portfolio and a growing business portfolio. Just last year, through Bridge Turnkey Investments, he helped investors add over $12 million in value to their real estate portfolios. Nathan regularly produces educational content to fuel his passion for helping other people learn about and find success in real estate investing. He has been featured regularly on industry podcasts such as the BiggerPockets Podcast, Active Duty Passive Income Podcast, Freedom Real Estate Investing Podcast, Fearless Pursuit of Freedom Podcast, Titanium Vault, The Real Estate Investing Podcast, The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show, the Good Success Podcast, FlipNerd, Wholesaling Inc., The Real Estate Investing Profits Master Series, Flipping Junkie Podcast, Flip Empire podcast, Think Realty Radio, and more. He is a sought-after speaker and writer and can be found on stage regularly at events across the country.


    • Nathan Brooks on

      Hey Trevor … I have not wholesaled anything out of state, but I have bought numerous houses out of state on/off the MLS. To me, you have to have boots on the ground who you trust, to put numbers together, take pictures, and know the type of property and scope of work. Otherwise, you bring no value because you can’t know what you are selling.

  1. Marques Barton on

    Great Post Nathan!

    As a person on the outside looking in like myself trying to break into RE investing wholesaling always comes to mind because of the smaller capital cost to get started.(I think) I like to see what others have did wrong so I wont make the same mistakes, trust is a major issue but it seems like the type of wholesaler you described in this post makes it hard investors to deal with wholesaler newbie’s in general because you wont know if they made an honest mistake with details about the property or if the yare flat out just shady.

    I’m in Detroit area/surrounding suburbs and after attending a REI meeting in Aug I see the investors here really don’t take kindly to newbie’s jumping into wholesaling. Seems to be a certain stigma that seems no matter how good my plan is I wont be able to shake if I so happened to make mistake on my first deal I secure and try to offer to a buyer.
    sorry for being long winded lol great post again!!!!!

    • Nathan Brooks on

      Marques … long winded is ok!

      Here is my thinking, wholesalers, the good ones, started knowing nothing. That’s ok. My best advice is to get a mentor who IS doing a great job, and is actually doing a lot of deals. Learn from them, grow, bring in deals, learn to deal, learn the structures of the deals, and then as you learn and make money you can expand on your own.

      Keep after it!

  2. Dawn Anastasi on

    It seems like many wholesalers love to use the phrase “needs a little TLC” or “minor repairs” when in fact it needs more than TLC and there are major repairs. The good ones are the ones who will be successful.

    • Nathan Brooks on

      Dawn … totally agree. And it also seems like they want to make a lot of money, while giving no value to the investor. So, all you investors out there … don’t buy those kind of properties at the wrong price! And all you wholesalers … start doing a good job.

      See Dawn, problem solved 🙂

  3. Hello Nathan –

    May I start off by saying… GO SF GIANTS!!! Okay.. now that that is out of the way.

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I am a beginner in the real estate investing world and I am starting with Wholesaling. I have been doing my homework non-stop and reading and webinar-ing (if that’s a word) as much as possible. I totally agree with your 3 rules and that is what I am working towards learning. Its great to get some insight from experienced investors on the “do’s and don’t”, and I will definitely take your advice and run with it. Well, at least start out walking. 🙂

    Again, thanks for the information!

    • Nathan Brooks on

      Hi Samantha … well, the Giants do look good, but the Royals are Americas team 🙂

      Doing your homework, learning, reading, driving, doing, all awesome things. Partnering up with someone else who has been in the business for a while is perfect … just keep learning, keep going after it, and learn the in depth workings of whatever part of real estate gets you fired up!

      Good luck!

  4. Great Post! A lot of educators promote wholesaling as a way of getting into RE Investing with little or no money down, so a lot of newbies start here. What they don’t understand is what it feels like to buy a Fix N Flip with a hard money loan, and spend a lot of time and money on it only to make a very small amount of money in return or break even because they did not buy right. (Been there, done that.)

    I started wholesaling AFTER doing a couple of Fix N Flips and it really changed the way I thought about it. It’s so important to know the numbers and walk through with someone knowledgeable about repairs.

    It’s also very beneficial to partner up with someone more experienced. You might make less in the beginning, but you can learn the ropes. I’m working on my first Lease Option, which is also a probate deal, and the first thing I did was bring in another investor to help. Will I make less? Yes, but he’s more experienced in this field and so I can learn and I’ll know what I’m doing the next time. Totally worth it.

    • Margaret,

      Exactly! We’ve probably all “been there done that” if we have been around a while, and we learn quickly to bring in people that know more than us. It’s such a benefit to have someone with you working through how to structure complicated deals, and analyze your first few fix and flips.

      Sounds like you are doing great! Keep after it …

  5. Nice article, and again, thanks for the transparency. My favorite is when I am emailed “deals” from wholesalers, and then find they are right on the MLS. I am a Realtor and likely already know about the house if it is a good buy, so please don’t try to pass it off as your exclusive deal.

  6. Another great, practical post, Nathan. This is something a lot of us new wholesalers can use. I personally want to know what buyers want in a wholesaler so I can be that for them. I’m currently running some direct-mail and pulling in a few leads. I’ve looked at several houses and put one under contract but the deal didn’t work out (my numbers were bad when I made the offer). I’m meeting a seller today to put an offer on another but the difference is…I’ve already got a buyer lined up. 🙂 How much I make is going to hang on my negotiating skills today. It’s a 3/1 with a full basement. ARV is around $85k but it needs updating/cleanup on the inside (looking at about $20k of work). Good roof, newer mechanicals. Took TONS of pics on the initial walkthrough and the buyer is willing to pay about $35k. If I get a deal worked out with the seller today it should close in the next 10 days or so and I’ll have completed my first deal. 🙂 Seller gets out of a house they’re willing to burn down if I don’t get it off their hands…buyer gets a decent deal for their first flip…and I’ll get my first check as a wholesaler! 🙂 I’d call that a win-win-win. Again, thanks for all your helpful posts and keep it rollin’, Nathan!

  7. You always have good stories and a knack for telling them.
    Another fun post to read.

    Wish I could say that this is a same $hit different day experience with the wholesale “deals” that I get sent. It is amazing how little someone can know yet try to get you to give them several thousand dollars for things that aren’t worth close to what they are asking.

    Only good thing is that so much of the garbage I get sent is so far off I don’t have to waste a lot of time evaluating them. I can often rule out a place just doing a simple 70% rule MAO screen.
    If they say a place has an ARV of $100K and needs $10K of repairs and they want $80K for it doesn’t take too much effort to realize any time I put into evaluating this deal is time that is definitively wasted.

    • Shawn …

      Thanks man! I appreciate your time in writing the response, and your kind words. It is very frustrating when people don’t value what they are sending you … which is precisely what had happened in that situations, and precisely why I won’t be using them again.

      But, it’s also a great reminder on what we SHOULD be doing in our own business.

      Take care!

  8. Daniel Nolan

    I’ve always been committed to providing value to my customers throughout my long business career. As I enter RE as a licensed agent and wholesale supplier of investment properties, I’m concerned about the reputation the field has earned. which I hope to overcome. I have a number of cash buyers who have asked me to find deals for them. While systematically scouring the MLS for opportunities, It appears a large majority of deals in my area are from REOs and I’m not sure how to proceed. Any suggestions? Thank you!

  9. Uyenchi Ho

    Wow, this post blew me away. Nathan, I’m sorry you had to go through that. As a newbie who wants to start in wholesaling, I’ve started thinking about my mission statement, my value to the industry, my letters to my potential buyers, etc., I’ve always thought of myself as an extension of the buyers, in a way – like I’m a personal shopper for the buyers. I know that the buyers are my lifeblood in this business, and when I’m good to them, it’s good business for me. So the idea of a wholesaler treating you that way just blew me away.

  10. Justin Stamper

    I wish that the “first step into real estate investing” advice that everyone seems to give is not to “try and wholesale some houses” because it seriously burns the names of guys like me(professional wholesalers) who take this very seriously. #endrant

  11. Laura Entwistle

    Hi Nathan,

    Great Post. I’m new to investing in the US and I’m looking to wholesale as well. This has really helped, i think mentors are very important when starting out too. Though I’m not sure how some wholesalers can be so lazy and expect to make any money.

    As I’m very new, I’ve introduced myself to some agents who do send me properties on the MLS and I’ve been calculating how much I would offer and spent some time understanding how to calculate ARV’s and Repair costs as well but I understand that that’s not the best way to find deals. I’ve seen other advice such Craigslist, bandit signs, driving round the area and yellow letter marketing, are there any other ways that know are good to find deals?


    • John Hamilton

      Hi Laura, I thought I would add my two cents here.

      Maybe your county has its online documentation system up and running. It may costs you some dollars here and there. However, you can find a wealth (pun intended) of information on deeds, cash buyers, probate, divorce, etc…anything that is public record.

      There is a multitude of sources when looking for deals. MLS is the least favorite and for good reason. Lazy wholesalers use the MLS and try to pass it off as their deal. Yet, there are others that wholesale wholesale deals; think #daisychain.

      I for one took the step and started my wholesale business and using DM PostCards campaign. I intend to follow that up with yellow letters and Zip letters, as well. I focused on absentee owners, but there are so many other filters, like those I mentioned earlier.

      Much success

  12. Melvin H.


    Great article I really found this to be a helpful and informative read. I totally agree with the points you make in the article. I do have one question regarding the “One Sheet” do you have any examples or templates you use?

    Thank You,

  13. Don Johnston

    Nathan, I appreciated your article very much. I have been in construction off and on my whole adult life. I am now starting out on the real estate investing side. I can do the math. I can run numbers through evaluators. I can even do the work. One of my problems is knowing how much of an upgrade/update should be done and what it should be. Therefore my numbers could be off for the rehabber I want to wholesale to. I have not contracted any properties yet to present to buyers but I have been in contact with a couple who say they buy houses. Can’t seem to nail them down on what they want. Answers are “just not high end” or just send it to us and we’ll let you know. As a buyer, you don’t want people wasting your time. As a wholesaler, I don’t want people wasting my time. I am in total agreement with the need for trust and honesty in the relationships we form. Let’s just be sure it is in both directions.
    Sorry I kind of “rabbit trailed” through several thoughts but I guess that is what good articles do to us, make us think.

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