If the area is down you will have to know up front that purchasing a investment for wholesale real estate investing will take some smarts. You will not want to have to limit yourself to obtaining a property that you will have to live in. For instance, that means you buy a property and live in it until you turn it. In such an area you will have to get ahead on your competitors. You will not likely be able to turn it any higher than what the market can handle. This is why you need to tie it up at a big discount to retain a reasonable profit if you are doing this the old way.
In this case flippers will start by doing research on listings in the current areas. Because of local real estate locations and the amount of motivated sellers, wholesalers who are flipping real estate are doing very good. Regardless of what you choose to do, at the end of the day, you have to decide whether the money you made against the level of effort that came into play getting the investment successfully turned. This is why easier low risk methods like real estate wholesaling are suggested.
Remember to educate yourself about flipping homes and/or seek an experienced expert before you decide on any new investment business and investment pursuits.