Home Buying in 95032>Question Details

Jennifer Kre…, Home Seller in 95124

Is it okay to approach a home owner about selling their home to me if they don't have the home on the market?

Asked by Jennifer Kretschmer, AIA, 95124 Sun Jun 24, 2007

I've seen a few homes that I'd consider buying, because of the location. Is it okay to ask a homeowner if they are ready to sell their home if it is not currently for sale? Is this a good strategy or a poor one?

Help the community by answering this question:


Hey Jennifer,

Sure! Why not? Nothing ventured - nothing gained.

When I cannot find the right home for one of my home buyers using the multiple listing services, I resort to knocking on the door and introduce myself. The worst that may happen is that they say "no" or do not answer the door thinking you are a salesperson.

If personal safety is a potential issue or concern, why not write them a letter and mail it to them?

Should the homeowner say "yes" to a potential sale, be sure to have a real estate attorney or Realtor draw up the purchase and sale agreement using the appropriate forms for your state. The nominal flat fee that they charge you will be well worth it.

Good luck!

Ted Shoop - ABR, e-PRO, Realtor
Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Partners
Web Reference: http://MyGeorgiaHomes.com
8 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 24, 2007
Vicki Masell…, Real Estate Pro in Duluth, GA
I'd pray first, then write a list of what it is you find appealing about the home. If you're working with an agent, ask her to prepare a market analysis first, determine a fair price you'd pay, then approach the seller.

Ask yourself why you want to do it this way though--honestly, is it because there are no homes like this on the market? you think you can save money? that particular home meets a personal need (near a relative, job or school)?

Personally, I've done this successfully for buyers--even some that were truly miracles as far as win-win for both buyer and seller. If you're considering this approach, you'll l ikely want to work with an ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) to escort you thru the reports and disclosures and you may need to pay that agent a commission, as the seller may not want to pay any commission (or a minimal amount) due to these circumstances.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2007
It it absolutely okay to ask a homeowner if they would consider selling their home to you. I assume you are considering asking these homeowners because you have been looking and have not found a home that you would consider buying in the location of your choice. If that is the case then being active in your search and asking homeowners if they would consider selling is a common practice Realtors do for their buyers rather than just waiting for the "right home" to come on the market. As a buyer you may do the same on your own or ask your Realtor to approach them for you. There are numerous ways to approach homeowner but unless you know them personally I would recommend you write them a well thought out letter basically stating that you have are looking to buy in their area and would they consider selling their home to you. If no response after a week follow it up with one more letter. The real issue with this approach is what do you do to make sure that this is a fair deal, it has been done legally and to the satisfaction of all parties involved if they say yes to selling thier home to you. Both buyer and seller should be aware of all their rights, duties and obligations with regards to the sale and transfer of this property. The state holds sellers to the same standards as Real Estate Brokers with regards to selling their home and the sellers must be aware of this. This will only be a poor strategy if the transaction itself becomes a nightmare with legal issue because proper steps were not taken to ensure a smooth and "clean" transfer.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 13, 2007
I would certainly ask the question but be sure to be polite and if perchance they are interested I would recommend asking if your Realtor could discuss the possibility with them further. If you proceed without a professional involved you may be considered as an anxious buyer and the asking price may elevate, if the seller is astute.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 28, 2007
Sure! If you wish you can also ask a realtor to find out if they are willing to sell.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 25, 2007
Sure, you can do that. If they're interested or not, they should feel complimented. If you're not comfortable doing it yourself, I'm sure your realtor would be happy to do it for you.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 24, 2007
I cant tell you how many agents I have had knock on my door and ask If I wanted to sell.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 27, 2009
Go for it.... Let me tell you a few stories that may help you. I know a gal that target a highly desirable neighborhood that she liked. She target home owners that had lived in a home for a long period of time thus may be looking to down size. Her letter explained her objectives offering reasonable price to TBD and included a brief family scenario. Sure enough, an older couple responded and she bought a beautiful house at a reasonable price with no competition. There also was an older couple that wanted to sell their house but did not want to have a sell sign on it or listed....sure enough a friend of mine bought it for a reasonable price. Contact a Realtor and they could get you the name and address of the home owners.

Hope this helps you and good luck on your search.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 10, 2008
I agree with Jeremiah regarding the occupant a lot of single family homes are being rented and there are often no obvious signs to clue you in, in that regard. If you are going to ask them to find out, I suggest asking in the most positive way possible, maybe even assume they are the owner and ask "How long have you owned this property?"
With regard to the Zillow figures they seem to be inaccurate in some areas, sometimes lower than actual sales and sometimes higher. I have a feeling, from what I've seen, their algorithm must include a larger area than would normally be averaged by those who know this Valley well.
Web Reference: http://www.zillow.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 16, 2007
By all means asking the home owner if they would consider selling their house is fine. But be sure they are the home owner and not the renter. Also do your homework. Know what the home would be values at in that area. For some people they want way too much for their house. Check out http://www.zillow.com. I read last week that they have a “Make Me Move” feature that home owners have said I will sell my home at this price. Most of the time they are a little bit higher then the other home in the area. And consult with an area agent that can over see your contracts and they can help you make sure you get what you real want.
Web Reference: http://www.4saletours.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 16, 2007
Yes, it is certainly OK to approach a homeowner and ask if they might consider selling. While it can be a good strategy, but you must be careful to not appear too anxious. A property owner's natural and immediate reaction is often that they are now firmly planted in the driver's seat.

As a buyer's agent, I have approached homeowners. A response reiterated more than a few times was, "Well, if they want to pay me my price." This leads to a discussion about agency relationships, who am I representing, etc. Next follows my dialog about market analysis and comparable properties as it pertains to pricing. Sometimes a property owner will say, "Make me an offer." You won't know if this is prompted by sincere consideration to sell, or only curiosity.

Still, approaching homeowners can be a very good strategy for locating properties that meet you requirements. Just be prepared and find that balance point of appearing serious without being over anxious.

Good Luck
Web Reference: http://PeninsulaFirst.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 13, 2007
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
In many cases you wouldn't want to do this, take for instance someone i know did this and once they got in they told me what a wonderful deal they got. I couldn't help but ask if there were any inspection or representation on her part, she said no we all saved money and smiled. After month she had still not made the move, come to find out the house needed a new roof, pipes, and fireplace, with this in mind, she said she would have never done it if she wasn't cohersed by her mother in law. So I would advise calling a realtor who will keep your best interest at heart and move it along from there I am always available
Denise Stuart 408-893-3400
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 26, 2007
Totally! I would be happy to do it for you if you give me the address. You never know
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 6, 2014
As you can see, Jennifer, the consensus is yes! Did you ever see the movie The War of the Roses?
The wife absolutely fell in love with this one neighborhood home and every week after her children's soccer practice she would leave a note telling the owners how much she loved the home, etc. She kept saying that one day she would own that home and she did. It took time, but shows how persistence pays off.

Of course be sure you are represented by either a Realtor or a real estate attorney.

Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 14, 2013
Its on Zillow listed make me move
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 5, 2013
I feel that if you are interested in buying a house in a particular neighborhood it is very appropriate for you to approach any and all houses. Be aware that some sellers will be abrupt. If you never ask you never know!
Because you're doing something out of the box there is a higher chance you will be able to buy in that neighborhood.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2013
Why not? You identify yourself as a home seller. Think about what approach would work if you were in the seller's position. I would advise using a real estate agent to help you as the highest percentage of lawsuits occur with unrepresented parties.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 25, 2011
Jennifer, it never hurts to ask. But how will you know what to offer?! With the market dominated by distressed sales, you should make certain that the agent you use will have visibility to un-published sales and auctions by banks within 1-2 mile radius of this home which could affect the price of your targeted home.

Good luck.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 29, 2010
As an aside, I've made it a strategy to send letters once a year to neighboring (especially adjacent) home owners if they want to sell. At least once in the last 5 years has this strategy been very fruitful. As for your question, definitely go forth and write unsolicited offers. You never know what might happen. At least it will get the owners talking to you. When you ask a propety owner what was the best deal they every purchased, the answer tends to be when they knew of a property that was not on the market.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 13, 2007
Mario Pinedo,…, Real Estate Pro in Cupertino, CA
Yes, it is fine to approach a home owner about selling, even if it is not on the market. You never know what is going on in their lives and I approach land owners all the time and honestly, many are very receptive to hear what I ave to say. So, I say, give it a shot, you have nothing to lose, just be careful and take your safety into consideration as well, use your intuition as to which ones to approach.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 24, 2007
There's in Lowell MA love to sell and looking forward if you are enterested to buy a house like ours:)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 5, 2013
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