What to Do When You Find Your Dream Home . . . But It’s Not For Sale

dreamhomeforsaleDepending on where you’re looking to buy, there could very well be a major supply shortage.

But don’t let slim pickings in your local housing market stand in the way of you snatching up your dream home. If the listings are limited in your area, consider sending letters to homeowners expressing your interest in buying.

The worst case scenario is that you’ll get a simple “not interested.” But you’ll never know the answer if you don’t ask!

Plenty of buyers across the country are now living comfortably in their homes by taking this leap of faith. But how homeowners are approached is important, which is why you’d be better off having a real estate agent act as a buffer in this interaction.

Many homeowners might find it a bit odd to get an unsolicited offer on their homes. Many might even think it’s nothing but a scam. But if the approach is dignified – and the price is attractive enough – they just might take the bait.

Sure, the odds are stacked against you in this solicitation – only 1 out of 10 homeowners will actually agree to the offer. But that means that the rest – about 10% – actually do agree to sell after a prospective buyer approaches them with an attractive offer.

The point is that there’s still a chance of landing the home simply by asking.

In fact, you may be surprised at how many homeowners have contemplated selling, but simply never got around to it. Sometimes all it takes is making the first move.

In fact, this tactic is not entirely out of the ordinary in markets with sought-after properties, like San Francisco or Seattle. It’s actually pretty common in markets like these where the local market is very active.

Many homeowners of properties that have desirable features won’t completely take the idea of selling off the table. If the right offer comes along, they just might be open enough to taking it.

Name the price, and some homeowners just might accept. 

Of course, if you decide to offer to buy a home that’s not listed for sale, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s the seller who’s in the driver’s seat when it comes to the negotiating table. They can basically name their price.

Obviously, you don’t have to pay it, but you do have the power to choose what price you’ll consider. If you’ve been in the market for a long time and are growing tired of looking, you might not mind paying a slightly higher price.

Just be careful that you don’t pay much more than what the home is really worth according to current market values, or you’ll start running into problems with your lender or with the amount of equity that you’ll be left with in the home.

So how do you go about offering to buy a home that’s not currently for sale?

For starters, have your real estate agent set up alerts on specific property addresses of homes that tickle your fancy, even if they’re not listed for sale at the present moment. If any action happens on these properties, you’ll get an email alerting you.

Foreclosure listings are also an option. And pre-foreclosure listings offer even more possibilities. If a current homeowner is in default on the mortgage, but the bank has yet to take any action, you might have the opportunity to swoop in and take the home off their hands before foreclosure actually finalizes.

Your real estate agent can also pull a report of listings that have expired over the past couple of years or so. Many times these listings simply got stale after not getting any bites. Or perhaps the owners were able to get over some of the perceived negatives about the home and decided to stay put – for the time being, anyway.

Sometimes the owners might still have the thought of selling in the back of their minds. Maybe the situation is more favorable to sell today, compared to what it was back when they first listed their homes.

Whatever the case may be, offering to buy a home that’s not currently listed is a strategy you might want to consider in a market where demand outweighs supply.

Have a friendly note drafted up, and express your admiration for the home, which most sellers will likely appreciate and consider a compliment.

If they’re not ready to sell, perhaps you can come up with an arrangement that will soften the experience and ease into the transition, such as coming up with a rent-to-own agreement at first.

It should be noted that it’s illegal to put anything in another homeowner’s mailbox. So make sure you either leave the letter at their door, or send it via the postal service addressed to the “resident.”

Even if the homeowners don’t seem interested in selling right now, they’ll have your number handy in case they change their mind in the near future.

The lesson here is that when looking for a home to buy, you don’t always have to rely solely on “For Sale” signs. Think outside the box, and you just might wind up with the house of your dreams.

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