House not listed

jbreeherFebruary 13, 2013

My fiancee and I are looking to purchase a house which is convenient for us commuting between two upstate, NY cities, you can read this as the "boonies". We have been looking for almost two years and because there aren't that many houses in this area, and housing is depressed, there is basically no newly constructed homes. The houses that have come on the market are either really over priced, or literally falling apart... they'll cost more to fix than to build new.

We've started looking into building new. In researching a lot, which has a great location, but had a deed dispute on it, I found out from calling one of the neighbors that the house across the street is going to be coming up for sale this summer. It's a great property, with all the amenities that we want, and seems to be in decent shape. The current owners are elderly, and have already purchased a house out of state to live closer to relatives.

The neighbor that told us, sort of told us as a "secret", but then said we should find a way to stop over there and tell them we are interested in moving into the area and see if they offer to tell us they are looking at moving.

I'm kind of nervous about just knocking on someone's door, that's the first problem... the second is that I'm not sure that's a good strategy. Some of the properties we've looked at that are very overpriced are older individuals downsizing who still think their houses are worth what they were before the housing crash. Some of these properties have been on the market for years... nice places, but I don't want to purchase useless debt.

So I'm wondering if it's a good idea to approach them. If we let on that we like the house and property, or that we've had trouble finding places... they could jack the price on us, or prevent us from offering low when they do list it.

On the upside... if we dealt directly with them they could save the 6% realty commission fee... cash in thier pockets, and maybe entice them to ask a little less?

I'd like your thoughts on this... if anyone has seen a similar situation and how it worked out etc.

Thanks in advance,

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Knock on their door and tell them that you are interested in buying the lot across the street to build because you love the neighborhood so much. Let them talk about all of the issues and encumbrances that the lot has, and then tell them that it doesn't really sound ideal after talking to them. Then tell them that you sure wish a home in the neighborhood would come up for sale "soon". If they are truly going to be listing this summer, then they will probably talk to you about doing just that.

Frankly, I'd use that strategy on several homes in the neighborhood, leaving your business card with all of them. That gets the buzz out and makes you seem like a nice friendly couple that the neighborhood would like to see move into one of the houses.

The only drawback to such an approach is if they do overvalue their property. You have to tread gently there in any negotiations and bring several comps to their attention. And, in the end, if you really like the location and home, you may have to be willing to pay a bit above true market price to get what you're looking for.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 12:34PM
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Can you ask the neighbor to be your official unofficial go-between? They seem to know these people and their business, surely they could say, "hey, we know a couple looking to buy here, want to talk to them?"

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 12:36PM
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Thanks for the validation... The first strategy is what our contact suggested, he didn't seem willing to be the go between, or even have us say... hey your neighbor across the street said you might be listing the house soon. However, he did offer to help us scout the building lot across the street that borders his land, he knows where the lot lines are and where the good building land is on the property. I think if we meet with him again, maybe he'll be willing to go between or even just let us mention his name as a conversation starter.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 8:11PM
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Just go knock on the door and ask them if they are interested in selling... don't beat around the bush. 3 years ago, someone knocked on my door asking me if I wanted to buy a vacant lot near my house. I did. You never know.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 7:09AM
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That's exactly how we bought our house last spring. We were told by a friend that "joe" got a new job out-of-state and would be selling his house. So THAT VERY DAY we went to Joe's door and asked him.

First of all, he was shocked to hear that we knew he had a new job (especially since he hadn't told his current boss yet!). But after he thought about it a minute or two, he invited us in and we visited with him and his wife. They showed us the house and quoted a price. That was on a Wednesday.

Thursday we called to see if we could come look again with tape measures in hand. And they let us. Sunday we stopped by and made a counteroffer and they took it.

All done!

We took possession about 40 days later.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 5:17PM
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I'd go with an agent.

here's a true story for you.

There was a house in our neighborhood that was on the market, got no offers and had been off for a year or more. The agent we used to sell our house (and he did it in under 6 weeks!) had another couple looking to buy in the area a few months later. He felt that house would be perfect for them. He marched up to the door, introduced himself, and sold a house that wasn't even listed. If you have the right agent, they will know exactly how to handle this situation. And by using a 3rd party, the whole thing will be handled more professionally. Much smarter way to go, IMO.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 9:51PM
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