By Jennifer Stojanovich, Realtor, Better Homes Realty
Demand is high in today’s real estate market. With record-low interest rates and a shortage of inventory, we’re in a seller’s market. That means it can be tough to purchase a home when so many other buyers are competing. With limited options, house hunting may feel like a lost cause. But don’t count yourself out just yet. One thing you may want to try is to put in an offer on a home that isn’t currently listed. While it can be a challenge, it isn’t impossible. Here’s what you need to know about buying a home that isn’t for sale.
Figure out exactly what you want. If you’re going to put in offers on homes that aren’t for sale, then you need to be perfectly clear about what you want. You certainly don’t want to waste anyone’s time by looking at homes you aren’t seriously interested in buying. Make a list of your needs and wants and determine your budget. That way you can target your search to your specific criteria.
Get pre-approved for a mortgage. As with any home search, you need to get pre-approved for a mortgage first. Getting pre-approved shows a seller that you are a serious buyer. In order to convince a homeowner that you are both willing and ready to buy their property, you need to have your financial ducks in a row.
Check out specific neighborhoods. Once you’ve nailed down your pre-approval and know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start exploring neighborhoods. Take a drive and write down the addresses of homes that you would be interested in viewing. Give that list to your agent, who can then follow up with the owners to see if they would be open to talking about a sale.
Do some digging. In addition to driving around neighborhoods, you should also do research on homes in that area. Check online for expired or withdrawn listings. These are homes that were once on the market but have been removed or the listing expired before they sold. There are a variety of reasons why a home may no longer be for sale, and the owners may still be open to offers. If you find any expired listings you’d like to see, see if your agent can set something up with the owner. You can also check tax records to see if the owner of a property has a different address on their tax returns. This could suggest the home is an investment property and the owner may be willing to sell for a good price.
Understand the owner’s mindset. If an owner of a home is interested in talking to you about a sale, then don’t assume you’re in the clear. Knowing there is interest in their home could mean more potential buyers may be just around the corner. They understand they might be able to get more money if there is more competition. As a buyer, be ready to make an attractive offer immediately. If the owner knows that the sale will be hassle-free, then they’ll be more likely to accept.
Work with a pro. Finally, the best way to find a homeowner who may be open to your offer is to work with a professional real estate agent. When interviewing agents, ask if they are willing to take the extra steps needed to find your perfect house – even if it isn’t on the market. With a little luck and a lot of digging, you may just find yourself the new owner of the house of your dreams!