Protecting Profits Inside An LLC Before Purchasing Another Property
Can I open, let's say, a Nevada LLC, house the money there while we find the CA property (could take longer than 3 months and I'd hate to pay the franchise tax before owning the property), extract it from the LLC for the down payment, then incorporate the building (or at least register it in CA), thus protecting my asset?
Your plan looks ok to me, I presume you want to have the money invested in an LLC regardless of whether the real estate deal goes through or not.
You can certainly use an LLC formed in another state for that purpose. Nevada is ok, though a bit expensive because of the business license and initial list filing requirements, so you might want to consider the alternatives (such as Delaware or Wyoming).
The way I see it, you would first receive the money form the sale of your NY property as an individual, pay your taxes on the capital gain if any, and then invest it in the new LLC. Then, when the real estate deal would go through you could either use that LLC as the title holder for the property (in which case you would register it as Foreign Entity in California), or form a new LLC in California, owned fully or partially by your first LLC, and then invest money into that new LLC to buy the property.
Of course your accountant and certainly an attorney should be involved in the decision making for this project, as there might be some surprising tax or legal consequences we are not aware of resulting from this plan.