I've often wondered about this. There is a section in the offer form where you can request the owner's acknowledgement of the offer, but I have a feeling this doesn't always happen.
I am certain that some realtors don't make their clients aware of certain offers and give priority to offers from buyers represented by agents in their own office, or may shy away from offers via agents they dislike.
What I suggest is to mail or deliver a copy of your offer to the owner of the house. No reason why you cannot do this. You could include a personal letter emphasizing why you love the house, etc., and let them know you plan to live there and be part of the neighborhood, etc. I know I'd prefer to sell my home to someone who'd be a good neighbor than someone who'd just rent it out. There are ways to find the names of owners (like using http://www.blockshopper.com
) or property tax records.
I believe there are some really unscrupulous realtors around -- especially in Clayton where I know of one who even told me that they like to keep listings "in-house" as "special gifts" for buyers who work only with them (those would be the "coming soon" homes that don't get signs put outside until it's sold and never go on the MLS. This realtor will argue that some clients like the privacy of such a sale ... but I imagine that's only after the realtor has painted a horror story for them first. Yikes.