How to Buy a House Before it’s Listed

If you want to find and buy your dream home, you’ll have to wait until it hits the market and is advertised on popular mediums like the MLS, right?


In fact, it’s very possible to find a home before it’s even listed, and sometimes that can be the key to buyers finding the right home when they’re in the midst of a particularly competitive market. With the right tactics and real estate team on your side, you can find and buy the perfect abode before it ever hits the market for all other buyers to see.

So, how can you stay a step ahead of the game and find a home before other buyers become privy to it? Here are a few tips to consider.

Work With an Agent Who’s Got Their Finger on the Pulse

Perhaps the best way to snag a home before it’s had a chance to be listed is to work with a real estate professional who is in-the-know about homes that are about to surface on the market. Experienced agents who regularly network with a large pool of listing agents will be able to gain insider information about properties that are being prepared for buyers.

Your agent may also have a seller client that they may be working with who is selling a home that’s right up your alley. Ask your agent if there are any listings being worked on that the seller hasn’t yet completed the paperwork to get listed. It’s possible that a deal can be made without other buyers getting involved. If the seller knows that there is already an interested buyer, they may be willing to lock in a deal if what you’re willing to offer is what they’re looking for.

Leave Notices on Door Handles

This is an old-school tactic, but it can still work. Leaving notices on doors in the neighborhood you’re interested in could turn into a successful real estate deal. While many homeowners are simply not interested in selling, others may have already given it a thought and haven’t yet taken the plunge.

Write a quick note informing homeowners that you’re in search of a home just like theirs and ask whether they may be interested in selling at any point in the near future. Mention the fact that you’re willing to offer a handsome price (that’s in line with what the current market dictates), and leave your name and contact information.

Look at Expired Listings

Not all listings inevitably end up selling. Some listings expire for whatever reason, whether it’s because they were overpriced, the seller had a change of mind, or too much time elapsed while the home was on the market. Regardless, some listings end up expiring before ever being sold.

Many expired listings wind up being relisted at some point shortly after, entering the market once again with a completely new MLS number. Before these listings are placed back on the market, your real estate agent can get in touch with the listing agent to see if the seller is willing to sell to you and strike a deal.

If there are certain listings that pique your interest, your agent can find out more about the property and what the seller’s motivations are. While this might take a number of phone calls, you just never know if one of these expired listings might turn into a new home for you.

Inquire at Open Houses

Visiting open houses in the neighborhood that you’re interested in can be a great way to get the scoop on any potential up-and-coming properties that are sitting on the fence. Inquire with the listing agent hosting the open house as well as neighbors about any homes that they know of that might be coming available soon.

Contact HOA Boards

If you are looking to buy in a specific HOA community, there’s no harm in contacting the board to see if they know of any unit owner who may be interested in selling some time soon. People in HOA communities talk, and word often gets around pretty quickly. You’d be surprised at how much insider information you can obtain just from contacting people who are part of an HOA board.

The Bottom Line

While the traditional way to find a home to buy would be to check out recent listings, you just might be able to snag the perfect house before it reaches the market. Doing so can help you get your foot in the door and avoid having to deal with potentially fierce competition.