How to Calculate the Maximum Allowable Offer (MAO) for Real Estate Wholesalers

I will be blunt here because I can't think of any other way to say this... Just because you put a house under contract doesn't make it a wholesale real estate deal.

It happens all the time to people new to the business. They start looking at houses listed on Craigslist and Zillow, or they may have spotted a house driving down the street and set an appointment to see it. They have a good rapport with the seller and ask what the price is, the seller responds with their number, and the wholesaler says I'LL TAKE IT!

Then three weeks later, when there are only days left until the closing is supposed to take place and the wholesaler has a pit in their stomach because they have no buyer lined up, they can't figure out what went wrong... Now they have to call the seller and tell them that they need more time, the deal is falling through, or they need a price reduction, and chances are the seller will be VERY UNHAPPY.

​Now that I've painted that ugly picture, I'll tell you how to significantly lower the chance of this happening by showing you how to calculate a wholesale offer on the property, starting with the most common method... The 70% Rule.

The 70% Rule

It's straightforward, as a professional real estate wholesaler, you need to develop incredible negotiating skills to get houses under contract substantially below market value. The 70% rule will help you achieve this by making you aware of the maximum allowable offer you can make on any property. Remember, I just said "Maximum Allowable Offer," and that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to contract it for less.

​I remember when I first started learning about the wholesaling business, and someone said if you're not scared to tell the seller your offer, then it's too high... In other words, when making your offer, you need to start low so you have room to negotiate and still get the house for a wholesale price.

Using the 70% rule is relatively straightforward: take your After Repair Value on the property, subtract 30%, and then subtract the estimated repairs and your assignment fee. Let's do a quick example below to show you how this all looks on paper...

First, take the value of the house and calculate what 70% would be...

After Repair Value $150,000 X .70 = $105,000

Then take the 70% number and subtract your rehab costs...

$105,000 - $18,000 Rehab = $87,000

Then you take the after-rehab number and subtract the amount you want for an assignment fee...

$87,000 - $4,000 = $83,000

And that's the secret sauce on how to calculate the maximum allowable offer, nothing else to it.

(These numbers are for example only, you need to calculate the ARV, Rehab Costs & Assignment Fee on each property individually)

The "All In Number"

Everyone always talks about the 70% rule, but there is another way that I determine my maximum allowable offer on many properties. Some of my investors have an "All In" number they use on any property they purchase for rental properties and fix & flip deals, and it looks something like this...

Let's say one of my buyers has an "All In" number of $45,000 on any properties he buys; that means the purchase price + repairs need to be equal to or less than $45,000. So If I'm looking at a property that needs $10,000 worth of work, and I want to make at least $2,500 for an assignment fee, my offer can't exceed $32,500.

​Knowing that I'll often go in with my first offer around the mid-'20s and negotiate a deal on the property, hopefully, lower than the "All In" number.

$45,000 Investors All In Number

- $10,000 Rehab Estimate

- $2,500 Assignment Fee

= $32,500 Maximum Allowable Offer

(Yes, sadly, in my primary market, some home values are this low and sometimes even lower)

This is an excellent example of why knowing your investor's buying criteria is essential. Armed with the knowledge of what they pay for houses, you can look at properties, ballpark a rehab price, and come up with a number on the spot without having to go back to your desk and calculate an After Repair Value.

That's it, short and sweet...

Now you know how to determine what you should offer on a wholesale real estate deal.

MAO Recap

  • Importance of knowing how to calculate the MAO
  • The 70% Rule
  • Investor's ALL-IN Number

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