In the instance the area is down you will have to understand up front that acquiring a property for wholesale real estate investing will require some intelligence. You will not want to be required to restrict yourself to purchasing a home that you will need to live in. For example, that means you buy a property and dwell in it until you flip it. In such a location you will have to get an edge on other investors. You will not be able to sell it for more than what the area supports. This is why you need to purchase at a substantial discount to retain a reasonable profit if you are planning to do this the traditional way.
In this case buyers will start by doing their homework on listings in the immediate locations. Given the immediate real estate areas and the number of motivated sellers, wholesalers who are flipping real estate are making out very well. Regardless of what you decide to do, at the end of the day, you have to determine what you can make against the amount of labor that was involved getting the home successfully flipped. Thus faster low risk methods like real estate wholesaling are ideal.
Of course be sure to educate yourself about assigning homes and/or consult a qualified professional before you decide on any new real estate business and investment goals.