Buying with a proxy
A poster here recently asked about buying his house under another name, due to privacy concerns about public records. My question is a little different. Our neighbors are putting their house up for sell soon, and its unique situation (related to property lines and variances) would keep most people from wanting to pay top dollar for it. My relatives might be interested in buying the property, and not only would they not mind this unique situation, there would be advantages to us if they owned the adjoining property. (I'm being purposefully a little vague, because you never know who's reading this board!)
So, essentially, this property is worth more to me and my relatives than it would be to the average buyer, and my neighbors know that, of course. So if my relatives were to bid on the place, the neighbors might try to get the most money out of them as possible, since they'd be pretty motivated. Is there a way for them to put in a bid as an "anonymous buyer"? People don't really use buyer's agents around here - when they're interested in a house, they call up the agent on the sign and he/she shows them around, and they put in a bid through that agent, knowing full well that the agent works for the seller. This is a small-town environment, and between us and the other relatives who have bought nearby, we have good relationships with several area realtors, although none has ever been working "for us." There are also lawyers in town that we know and trust.
I'd really like my relatives to buy this place, due to these unnamed advantages to us, but I wouldn't want them to pay more than they had to. And, they should consider the resell angle, too. If they bought this house for what it's worth to them, and then tried to sell it later, it wouldn't be worth nearly as much to someone not closely related to us. A family around here bought waterfront property, and then their adult children bought the back lot behind them, knowing that they could cut through their parents' property to get to the water. Now the adult children are trying to sell the place, and they're having trouble finding someone who will pay what they want, since it won't be the new owners' parents living next door!