1. How Contract Assignment Works
2. Drawbacks of Contract Assignment

Updated July 10, 2020:

Assigning real estate contracts refers to a method of earning money from buying and selling real estate. You find a seller who is eager to sell their property at a price that is far below its market value. Then, you find a buyer willing to pay a higher price for it.

How Contract Assignment Works

The first thing you need to do for contract assignment is to find a motivated seller. This is a person who owns a property, and for some reason, needs to sell in a hurry. This is generally because of a problem they are having, such as needing to move to a new home quickly. You'll need to be able to tell the difference between this sort of seller and someone who isn't in so much of a hurry to sell, and perhaps just wants to know what the property is worth.

You can find motivated sellers by placing ads in the newspaper, marketing on the internet, or sending direct mail. A combination of strategies works best.

The next thing you need to do is to obtain an assignment contract document. You can find templates on the web, but it's a good idea to have an attorney look it over before signing anything. That way, you will know that everything is completely legal. You will also be able to use that attorney if things don't work out as planned.

After the contract is signed, you submit it to a title company or an attorney who handles real estate closings. They will then do a title search. This ensures there are no existing liens against the property. This step is crucial because you do not want to buy a property that has a problem with the title. The title company is objective and independent and therefore makes sure everything is fair and legal.

At this point, you may search for a buyer. This will require more marketing strategies and can be a difficult process, but when you do find a buyer, you can move on to the next step - closing on the property. You'll need to collect a non-refundable deposit known as “earnest money” to make sure the buyer won't back out. If the buyer does change their mind, you get to keep the earnest money. This amount can be determined by you or the buyer.

Next, you get paid! The amount you receive will cover the amount you agreed to pay the property seller, along with an amount you get to keep in return for finding the buyer and making the transaction happen.

While this process takes place, you should make sure the seller understands how the process works, and that you will make a profit from the transaction. Otherwise, either the seller or buyer may decide they don't like the idea of your profiting from the sale and may back out. Reassure the seller that they are still getting the amount agreed upon for the sale.

Most contract assignments are done for $5,000 profit or less, but you can do it for a higher amount if you choose. If problems arise, it's possible to do a double or simultaneous closing, thereby keeping both parts of the sale separate and anonymous. Some title companies may not agree to do this, so if it becomes an issue, you should discuss it in advance.

Drawbacks of Contract Assignment

Contract assignment, or wholesaling, can be a profitable venture, but there are a few pitfalls to watch out for, such as:

  • You cannot make any repairs or renovations to the property because you do not own it at any point.
  • You cannot offer any type of financing to the buyer.
  • You must get the sale accomplished within a short amount of time before the contract expires.
  • The process of closing on the property is detailed and can be complicated.
  • You must find a buyer who is willing to pay in cash because it's hard to find a lender who will approve a mortgage for an assigned contract.

You also need to check the laws in your state, because in some states it is not legal to market a property that you don't own.

If you need more information or help with assigning real estate contracts, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.