Given that the house is right next door they may believe you'd be willing to pay more than someone else. It would be better to have an agent make the contact so you can remain anonymous during the negotiations.
I would recommend you hire a real estate broker to make the contact. It is very difficult to negotiate for yourself. Also, buying a home now days is quite complex. If you are not paying cash, you should get pre-approved for a loan, so you can make a strong offer if the owner is interested in selling.
Finding a motivated seller who will sell at the market price is the biggest challenge we real estate brokers face.
Good luck and I am happy to answer any further questions you may have.
I would be happy to help you if you contact me directly.
Good luck to you in any case,
Isaac Real Estate Team
Champions Real Estate Services
TriStar Finance #MLO-107799
Office: 425-483-6849 Cell: 206-841-9976
Winner of Seattle Magazines 5 Star
Real Estate Agent Best in Client Satisfaction Award
Mortgage Loan Originator Best in Client Satisfaction
I recommend that you review the public records to see if there has been any recent activity on title, such as the filing of a lien or or quit claim, or other legal notice. For example, if the home is going into foreclosure, then it may be useless to approach the owner.
Next, you should review the tax-assessed value and the date & amount of the last sale. The public records will show you what the owner paid for the home. If the owner paid $400,000 and you're thinking about offering the owner $300,000, then you may want to re-think your offer.
May I also suggest that you could contact an experienced Realtor? This is what Realtors do. They evaluate real estate, provide opinions of value, and help buyers with purchase strategies. A Realtor is your advocate in these situations, and he/she is working for you. An experienced Realtor could be invaluable in helping you approach and successfully negotiate with the owner. Good luck!