Assignment of Contract – Assignable Contract Basics for Real Estate Investors

Beginners to investing in real estate and wholesaling must navigate a complex landscape littered with confusing terms and strategies. One of the first concepts to understand before wholesaling is assignment of contract, also known as assignment of agreement or “flipping real estate contracts.”  

An assignment contract is the most popular exit strategy for wholesalers, and it isn’t as complicated as it may seem. What does assignment of contract mean? How can it be used to get into wholesaling? Here’s what you need to know.

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What Is Assignment of Contract?

Assignment of real estate purchase and sale agreement, or simply assignment of agreement or contract, is a real estate wholesale strategy that facilitates a sale between the property owner and the end buyer.

This strategy is also known as flipping real estate contracts because that’s essentially how it works:

  1. The wholesaler finds a property that’s already discounted or represents a great deal and enters into a contract with the seller,
  2. The contract contains an assignment clause that allows the wholesaler to assign the contract to someone else (if they choose to!), then
  3. The wholesaler can assign the contract to another party and receive an assignment fee when the transaction closes.

Assignment of contract in real estate is a popular strategy for beginners in real estate investment because it requires very little or even no capital. As long as you can find an interested buyer, you do not need to come up with a large sum of money to buy and then resell the property – you are only selling your right to buy it.

An assignment contract passes along your purchase rights as well as your contract obligations. After the contract assignment, you are no longer involved in the transaction with no right to make claims or responsibilities to get the transaction to closing.

Until you assign contract to someone else, however, you are completely on the hook for all contract responsibilities and rights.

This means that you are in control of the deal until you decide to assign the contract, but if you aren’t able to get someone to take over the contract, you are legally obligated to follow through with the sale.

Assignment of Contract vs Double Closing

Double closing and assignment of agreement are the two main real estate wholesaling exit strategies. Unlike the double closing strategy, an assignment contract does not require the wholesaler to purchase the property.

Assignment of contract is usually the preferred option because it can be completed in hours and does not require you to fund the purchase. Double closings take twice as much work and require a great deal of coordination. They are also illegal in some states.

How Assignment of Contract Works in Real Estate Wholesaling

Ready to see how an assignment contract actually works? Even though it has a low barrier to entry for beginner investors, the challenges of completing an assignment of contract shouldn’t be underestimated. Here are the general steps involved in wholesaling.

Step #1. Find a seller/property

The process begins by finding a property that you think is a good deal or a good investment and entering into a purchase agreement with the seller. Of course, not just any property is suitable for this strategy. You need to find a motivated seller willing to accept an assignment agreement and a price that works with your strategy. Direct mail marketing, online marketing, and checking the county delinquent tax list are just a few possible lead generation strategies you can employ.

Step #2: Enter into an assignable contract

The contract with the seller will be almost the same as a standard purchase agreement except it will contain an assignment clause.

An important element in an assignable purchase contract is “and/or assigns” next to your name as the buyer. The term “assigns” is used here as a noun to refer to a potential assignee. This is a basic assignment clause authorizing you to transfer your position and rights in the contract to an assignee if you choose.

The contract must also follow local laws regulating contract language. In some jurisdictions, assignment of contract is not allowed. It’s becoming increasingly common for wholesalers to assign agreements to an LLC instead of an individual. In this case, the LLC would be under contract with the seller. This can potentially bypass lender objections and even anti-assignment clauses for distressed properties. Rather than assigning the contract to someone else, the investor can reassign their interest in the LLC through an “assignment of membership interest.”

Note: even the presence of an assignment clause can make some sellers nervous or unwilling to make a deal. The seller may be picky about whom they want to buy the property, or they may be suspicious or concerned about the concept of assigning a contract to an unknown third party who may or may not be able to complete the sale.

The assignment clause should always be disclosed and explained to the seller. If they are nervous, they can be assured that they will still get the agreed-upon amount.

Step #3. Submit the assignment contract for a title search

Once you are under contract, you must typically submit the contract to a title company to perform the title search. This ensures there are no liens attached to the property.

Step #4. Find an end buyer to assign the contract

Next is the most challenging step: finding a buyer who can fulfill the contract’s original terms including the closing date and purchase price.

Successful wholesalers build buyers lists and employ marketing campaigns, social media, and networking to find a good match for an assignable contract.

Once you locate an end buyer, your contract should include earnest money the buyer must pay upfront. This gives you some protection if the buyer breaches the contract and, potentially, causes you to breach your contract with the seller. With a non-refundable deposit, you can be sure your earnest money to the seller will be covered in a worst-case scenario.

You can see an assignment of contract example here between an assignor and assignee.

Step #5. Receive your assignment fee

The final step is receiving your assignment fee. This fee is your profit from the transaction, and it’s usually paid when the transaction closes.

What Is an Assignment Fee in Real Estate?

The assignment fee is how the wholesaler makes money through an assignment contract. This fee is paid by the end buyer when they purchase the right to buy the property as compensation for being connected to the original seller. Assignment contracts should clearly spell out the assignment fee and how it will be paid.

An assignment fee in real estate replaces the broker or Realtor fee in a typical transaction as the assignor or investor is bringing together the seller and end buyer.

The standard real estate assignment fee is $5,000. However, it varies by transaction and calculating the assignment fee may be higher or lower depending on whether the buyer is buying and holding the property or rehabbing and flipping.

The assignment fee is not always a flat amount. The difference between the agreed-upon price with the seller and the end buyer is the profit you stand to earn as the assignor. If you agreed to purchase the property for $150,000 from the seller and assign the contract to a buyer for $200,000, your assignment fee or profit would be $50,000.

In most cases, an investor receives a deposit when the Assignment of Purchase and Sale Agreement is signed with the rest paid at closing.

Be aware that assignment agreements can have a bad reputation. This is usually the case when the end buyer and seller are unsatisfied, realizing they could have sold higher or bought lower and essentially paid thousands to an investor who never even wanted to buy the property.

Opting for the standard, flat assignment fee is much more readily accepted by sellers and buyers as it’s comparable to a real estate agent’s commission or even much lower and the parties can avoid working with an agent.

Assignment of Agreement Pros & Cons

Real estate investors enjoy many benefits of an assignment of contract:

As with most things, there are important drawbacks to consider. Before jumping into wholesaling and flipping real estate contracts, consider the downsides.

In the worst-case scenario, if a wholesaling deal falls through because the end buyer backs out, the investor or assignor is still responsible for buying the property and must follow through with the purchase agreement. If you do not, you are in breach of contract and lose the earnest money you put down.

To avoid this worst-case scenario, be prepared with a good buyer’s list. You should only put properties under contract that you consider a good deal and you can market to other investors or homeowners. You may be able to get more time by asking for an extension to the assignment of contract while you find another buyer or even turn to other wholesalers to see if they have someone who would be a good fit.

Assignable Contract FAQs

What is the difference between assignor vs assignee?

In an assignment clause, the assignor is the buyer who then assigns the contract to an assignee. The assignee is the end buyer or final buyer who becomes the owner when the transaction closes. After the assignment, contract rights and obligations are transferred from the assignor to the assignee.

What Is an assignable contract?

An assignable contract in real estate is a purchase agreement that allows the buyer to assign their rights and obligations to another party before the contract expires. The assignee then becomes obligated to meet the terms of the contract and, at closing, get title to the property.

Is Assignment of Agreement Legal?

Assignment of contract is legal as long as state regulations are followed and it’s an assignable contract. The terms of your agreement with the seller must allow for the contract to be assumed. To be legal and enforceable, the following general requirements must be met.

  • The assignment does not violate state law or public policy. In some states and jurisdictions, contract assignments are prohibited.
  • There is no assignment clause prohibiting assignment.
  • There is written consent between all parties.
  • The property does not have restrictions prohibiting assignment. Some properties have deed restrictions or anti-assignment clauses prohibiting assignment of contract within a specific period of time. This includes HUD properties, short sales, and REO properties which usually prohibit a property from being resold for 90 days. There is potentially a way around these non-assignable contracts using an LLC.

Can a non-assignable contract still be assigned?

Even an non-assignable contract can become an assignable contract in some cases. A common approach is creating an agreement with an LLC or trust as the purchaser. The investor can then assign the entity to someone else because the contractual rights and obligations are the entity’s.

 

Assignment agreements are not as complicated as they may sound, and they offer an excellent entry into real estate investing without significant capital. A transaction coordinator at Transactly can be an invaluable solution, no matter your volume, to keep your wholesaling business on track and facilitate every step of the transaction to closing – and your assignment fee!

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