What to Do If You Get an Offer … But Your Home Isn’t for Sale

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Real Estate | 0 comments


It’s the knock on the door that comes out of left field. Or the unexpected envelope in the mail. A stranger says he wants to buy your house, and for a great price.

Or what’s even more common is that a friend of a friend or acquaintance approaches you about her desire to purchase your home.

What should you do when you receive an offer from a buyer when your home isn’t even on the market? It happens more than you would think, and it’s helpful to consider your options, whether you’ve thought about selling or not.

Why does this happen?

While you go about your day-to-day business and enjoy your home, able-and-ready buyers are desperate to be homeowners. In many parts of the country, inventory for homes is still at all-time lows.

Quite frankly, there just aren’t enough options for buyers, so they have to think outside the box.  Some aggressive buyers take matters into their own hands, mailing letters to homes in their desired neighborhoods and hoping for a winner.

What do you do?

If you have no desire whatsoever to sell your home, do nothing. But some homeowners will want to hear what the buyers have to say, while others might seriously consider an off-market offer.

Your first step is simply to listen. You’ll want to vet the prospective buyer over the phone to make sure they’re serious.

Ask how long they’ve been looking, if they’ve made other offers already, and what their desired areas are.

Then ask them why they chose your home. A buyer who mails an offer to you and only you probably really wants your home, as opposed to those buyers sending postcards to 50 people.

Hear them out and better understand their motivations, experience in the market, and possible price or terms, if any.

You will likely need to show them the home. If they seem serious, take that step, but be cautious letting a stranger into your home.

Enlisting a real estate agent

If you used the help of an excellent local agent when you purchased your home, you might want to re-engage them at some point.

While buyers and sellers dream of consummating a deal and saving money on real estate commissions, it’s often a better strategy to consult with an honest and experienced agent. A good agent looks out for the long-term relationship, and being an adviser to an off-market sale is in their best interest as well.

Many agents will assist in an off-market deal for a reduced commission, since they don’t have to prepare and show the home for weeks or months.

Off-market deals may not pan out

These deals don’t always come to fruition for a variety of reasons — frequently, it’s because the seller isn’t motivated enough to let the property go.

And in nearly every off-market deal, there’s a struggle over the last few thousand dollars — and that conflict often keeps the sale from happening.

The buyer wants a discount, because they know the seller isn’t paying a real estate commission. The seller wants their market value because the home is worth what the home is worth. Both parties wish to benefit from the commission savings.

In most cases, if the buyer wants to buy, they need to pony up. The seller has what they want, and purchasing off the market is, in some ways, an opportunity they need to pay for.

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