In your case, if you were my client and said "Anna, I love this house. Can you find out if they may consider selling?". I'd check property tax records to see who owns it." I'd write a short note to the owner and be very specific about my client, so the owner knows I'm not just looking for a listing. If we got to the talking stage, I'd tell the owner that I would do a One Party Listing - meaning anything contractual would be with my client only and he's not bound to anything else. In the One Party listing (and there's a form for it) - I would include my clients name and what I expect for compensation should my client decide to buy it. If my client wanted to purchase and terms of the sale were agreed upon, I would do a regular sales contract and a regular escrow.
Anna Boyd - Re/Max Gold
El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento
Lic. # 01043604
I don't believe there is any technical term. Simply enough, you would be 'making an offer' and the only difference lies in the fact that the seller has not placed his or her house up for sale, whether that be on the MLS or FSBO (for sale by owner). One might use the term 'courageous' or 'hopeful'. And a Realtor can assist you in this effort if you desire, but it's likely that the seller will not want to pay a commission as is usually the case, but the buyer would pay for the services of the Realtor. Happy hunting :D
If you are looking at being a party to a 'for sale by owner' I would always still insist on using an escrow company to execute the transaction and get title insurance to protect yourself. There are more court cases involving for sale by owner transactions than any other type of real estate transaction...but that's another discussion. Just don't EVER do a transaction without title insurance , or you are assuming a huge risk.
In many instances agents can have "pocket listings" which never posted for sale via MLS, marketed due to celebrity status of home owner.
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I know that a lot of sellers today are not willing to take what they view as a "hit" on their home unless they "need" to sell. Most home sellers are wishing that their home was still worth it's value in 2006 and 2007 before the decline occurred.
A Realtor could best assess the situation and advise you and develop a strategy that should work the best for you.
Best of luck and happy hunting. Negotiations are fun!