Bette, Home Buyer in New Jersey

How do I find out about houses that are not on MLS in Mountain Lakes and Boonton Township?

Asked by Bette, New Jersey Wed Nov 21, 2007

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Hi Bette,

The vast majority of for-sale-by-owners will pay a commission to a buyers agent who shows their home to someone who ultimately buys it.

So the best way to find homes beyond the MLS is to retain a buyers agent who will interview all the for-sale-by-owners, negotiate a commission, and show you the homes. Unfortunately, if you sign an exclusive buyer agency agreement with a Realtor, and the for-sale-by-owner refuses to pay a commission, then you are stuck paying it.

The best way around this is to hire a buyers agent who agrees to step out of the way if a given owner refuses to cooperate.

That's the way I work. I don't require a written buyer agreement. If you would like me to canvass Mountain Lakes and Boonton for FSBO's (for sale by owners), I would be happy to do it. Just contact me through my website. I know there were several in Mountain Lakes last month.
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1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 21, 2007
All the advice below is fine, and is perfectly applicable to FSBOs. But let me try taking it a step further. How about houses that not only "are not on MLS" but also that aren't FSBOs? In other words, they aren't on the market at all right now.

Maybe they were at one point, but the listing was expired or withdrawn. Or maybe the house is sitting there vacant, but not on the market. Or out-of-town owners are renting the property, but really are open to selling it. Or a couple is getting a divorce, and the property isn't yet listed on the MLS. Or someone's a payment or two beind on the mortgage, looking at the possibility of a foreclosure, but hasn't listed the property. There are a lot of ways a house might not be on the MLS but still might be purchased.

Realtors can help you in many of these cases. For instance, they have access to expired and withdrawn listings. In many cases, the owners still would like to sell; it's just that the house didn't sell. Realtors also have access to out-of-town owners. A postcard or letter mailing, or phone calls, to out-of-town owners can turn up people who'd like to sell their properties. You can also purchase compiled lists of most of these.

For divorce situations, there are compiled lists, or you can go to your local courthouse and compile the list yourself. Or, look for bad rental situations in which the owner might be sick and tired of renting, and would prefer to sell. Go to the courthouse and check the court cases for eviction proceedings. Contact the owner and tell him/her that you've got a solution to their landlording headaches; you'd like to buy the house. For vacant houses, drive around the neighborhoods your interested in. Take a pad of paper and a pen. Jot down the addresses of vacant houses. (You'll find some.) Then go online to your city or county (or township) and find out who owns the property. Call or write, offering to buy it. Or...go through your newspaper looking at houses for rent. Call the number and ask if they'd be interested in selling. (I've done that, and it works.)

Once you find someone (or someones) interested in selling, you need to know what you're doing. Some Realtors can help (though, frankly, some will be uncomfortable since they're out of their element). Private real estate investors will also help.

Hope that helps.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 17, 2007
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
Hi Bette,
As an agent I want to assure you in this market you are better served by hiring a real estate perseon to represent you.In the long run you will negotiate the best price.Sellers have not yet come to terms with the new prices for their homes.An agent will more likely be more convincing than you will be.
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 17, 2007
Hi Bette,

One other thing to keep in mind. For-sale-by-owners may or may not be priced correctly. They usually do not have access to closed neighborhood sales, so they often price unrealistically, sometimes based on "what they heard the house down the street was listed for".

For that reason, you will want to have a buyers agent with extensive valuation experience in Mouuntain Lakes and Boonton to tell you what that house is really worth.
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 22, 2007
This is one of the many reasons why it is important to work with a local Realtor who has their ears open at all times. Often we hear of soon to be sellers who are starting to think about listing their homes. In these cases, if we have buyers who we know would be interested, it is possible to arrange to show them the house before it even comes on the market.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
The best way to get in front of upcoming listings and other opportunities that may or may not be in MLS is to hire an expert who specializes in the market you're focusing on. I advertise "homes needed for the following buyers" to get properties for the buyers that I represent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 14, 2010
Hi Bette,
If they have a sign out front but you don't find them on the MLS they may be under contract. If you have properties you want checked feel free to contact me at
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 22, 2007
Contact an agent in the area. They will be able to put out an inquiry to other agents to find out what is available but not on the mls. If you need a referral, please visit my website and make a request and I will be happy to have an area agent contact you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 21, 2007
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