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How Real Estate Deals Really Get Done: A Behind-the-Scenes Look

In the world of real estate, understanding how to analyze deals is crucial to making informed investment decisions. Whether you’re wholesaling, flipping, or tackling low-equity deals, you need to know your numbers. Let’s dive into some practical tips and strategies on how to keep your deals profitable.

Defining Key Terms

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of deal analysis, let’s define some key terms:

ARV (After Repair Value)

The ARV is the estimated value of a property after all the repairs and renovations are completed.


Wholesaling involves finding a property, getting it under contract, and then selling that contract to another buyer for a profit.

Assignment Fee

The fee a wholesaler charges to transfer their contract to another buyer.

70-75% ARV Rule for Flippers

Flippers typically aim to buy properties at 70-75% of the ARV, minus repair costs, to ensure a profitable flip.

PITI (Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance)

The four components of a mortgage payment.

Amortization Schedule

A table detailing each periodic payment on a mortgage loan.

Due on Sale Clause

A clause in a mortgage contract allowing the lender to demand full repayment if the property is sold.

Joint Venture (JV)

A business arrangement where two or more parties agree to pool their resources for a specific task.

Deal Analysis for Wholesaling

Wholesaling can be a lucrative real estate strategy if done right. Here’s how to analyze a wholesale deal:

  1. Determine ARV and Rehab Costs
    • Research comparable sales to estimate the property’s ARV.
    • Get a quote or estimate for the necessary rehab work.
  2. Calculate Maximum Allowable Offer (MAO) at 75% ARV
    • Multiply the ARV by 0.75 to get the maximum allowable offer (MAO).
  3. Subtract Rehab Costs and Mortgage Amount from MAO
    • From the MAO, subtract the rehab costs and any outstanding mortgage balance.
  4. Remaining Amount is Potential Assignment Fee
    • Whatever is left after subtracting rehab and mortgage costs is your potential assignment fee.

Deal Analysis for Flipping

Flipping involves a bit more complexity due to holding and closing costs. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  1. Use the 70-75% ARV Rule
    • Start by calculating 70-75% of the ARV.
  2. Factor in Holding Costs, Closing Costs, Realtor Fees
    • Estimate your holding costs (monthly expenses while the property is on the market).
    • Account for closing costs and realtor commissions, which can be around 6% of the sales price.
  3. Calculate Potential Profit Margin
    • Subtract all aforementioned costs from your potential sale price to get your profit margin.

Deal Analysis for Low Equity Deals

Low-equity deals can be tricky but profitable if handled correctly. Here are two key rules:

Double Cash Rule

  • Cash Invested x 2 = Minimum Equity at Closing
    • Whatever cash you put into the deal (for repairs, catching up payments, etc.), you want twice that amount in equity at closing.

18-24 Month Rule

  • Recover Initial Cash Investment within 18-24 Months from Cash Flow
    • Ensure that your deal’s cash flow allows you to recover your upfront investment within 18-24 months.

Evaluating Subject-To Deals

  • Calculate New Basis
    • Consider the mortgage payoff, liens, and rehab costs.
    • Make sure there’s sufficient equity for your exit strategy, whether that’s rental, owner financing, or refinancing.

Exit Strategies for Low Equity Deals

Here are some key exit strategies for low equity deals:


  • Cash Flow Analysis
    • Make sure the rental income covers all expenses and provides a profit.
  • Appreciation Potential
    • Consider if the property is in an area likely to appreciate in value.

Owner Financing

  • Wrap-Around Mortgage
    • Create a new loan that includes the existing mortgage plus your profit margin.
  • Spread between Subject-To Mortgage and Owner-Financed Mortgage
    • The difference in interest rates between what you owe and what you charge.

Refinance with Private Lender

  • Income-Producing Asset with Equity
    • If the property is generating income, it’s easier to secure refinancing.

Personal Residence

  • Move-In and Sell After Appreciation
    • Live in the house for a few years and then sell it after it appreciates.

Finding Private Lenders

Securing funding can make or break a deal. Here’s how to find private lenders:

Networking and Building Relationships

  • Attend meetups and real estate events.
  • Establish connections with potential private lenders.

Self-Directed IRA Accounts

  • Many investors use their self-directed IRA accounts for real estate investments.
  • Offer them a good return on their investment.

Offer to Deploy Their Capital

  • Position yourself as someone who can effectively and profitably deploy their capital.

Importance of Accurate Numbers

Accurate numbers are the backbone of any successful real estate deal. Here’s how to ensure you get them right:

Use MLS Comps

  • Avoid unreliable sources like Zillow or Trulia.

Partner with Contractors for Rehab Estimates

  • Work with reputable contractors to get precise rehab costs.

Verify Mortgage Payoff and Reinstatement Amounts

  • Always confirm these numbers with the lender to avoid surprises.

Overcoming Analysis Paralysis

Stop overthinking and start doing. Here are some tips:

Set Percentage/Number Targets for Deals

  • Establish clear targets for what makes a deal worthwhile.

Develop Scalable Processes

  • Create simple, repeatable processes for analyzing deals.

Don’t Overcomplicate Simple Concepts

  • Keep it simple so you can scale.

Live Deal Analysis Example

Let’s look at a practical example:

Property Details

  • Mortgage: $168,000
  • HOA Lien: $13,000
  • ARV: $315,000
  • Rehab Cost: $20,000

Calculations for Wholesale and Flip Scenarios

  • Wholesale: Sell the contract for $267,000. Subtract rehab and lien costs, leaving a potential $66,000 profit.
  • Flip: Total costs will be $201,000. Sell for $315,000, yielding a profit of $114,000 minus additional holding and transaction costs.

Subject-To and Owner Financing Potential

  • Take over the $168,000 mortgage.
  • Secure $33,000 for rehab and lien costs.
  • Potential resale or owner financing revenue from an ARV of $315,000.

Risk Assessment and Mitigation

Assessing and managing risk is crucial.

Understand Your Risk Tolerance

  • Know how much risk you’re comfortable taking on.

Diversify Exit Strategies

  • Have multiple plans to exit a deal profitably, including rental, resale, and owner financing.

Communicate Transparently with Sellers

  • Be clear and direct with sellers about your plans and potential profits.

Key Takeaways

In real estate, the ability to analyze deals accurately is the cornerstone of profitability, whether you’re wholesaling, flipping, or tackling low-equity deals. By understanding key terms, following proven strategies, and using reliable data sources, you can navigate the complexities of real estate transactions with confidence. 

Remember, accurate numbers and flexible exit strategies are essential to mitigate risks and maximize returns. Stay informed, build solid relationships, and always keep your financial goals in focus to thrive in the dynamic world of real estate investing.

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