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How to Buy an Off Market Property

by Elle Di Jensen, studioD

When you're looking for a new home, you don't have to resign yourself to settling for a house that has a "For Sale" sign in the front yard or is being actively marketed otherwise. If nothing on the market interests you, go off-market to find the home you've been looking for. As Dolf de Roos points out in his book "Real Estate Riches," published in 2004, just because there's no sign indicating a house is for sale doesn't mean that the owner isn't willing to sell it.

Contact the owner of the home to express your interest in buying the property. You can do this face-to-face by knocking on the door, making a phone call if the owner's number is listed or you can always draft a letter explaining that you want to buy the house and were wondering if he's open to selling it.

Submit a purchase and sale agreement if the owner is open to entertaining offers. Researching comparable homes in the same neighborhood or area for sale will help you determine a fair price to offer. When researching comparable homes, try to find ones with similar features like the same square footage, the same size garage and the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Negotiate a sales price with the property owner if he doesn't accept your initial offer. This may involve compromising on price, fixtures or appliances to be included or the closing and move-in dates.

Sign and initial the purchase and sale agreement and have the seller do so as well, once a sales price and terms have been agreed upon.

Request that the seller orders a title search on his home so that there will be no problems or questions about clear title when it comes time to close on the sale. If you are taking out a loan for the home, your lender will order the report. You're entitled to see a copy of the search once it's done; ask an attorney to review it for you if you are unfamiliar with reading title reports.

Inspect the property personally but hire a home inspector to go through the house and certify that it is up to code and there are no problems with things like the wiring or the plumbing.

Hire an appraiser to value the house for you. If you are financing the home your lender will take care of this step for you.

Set a closing date with a title company or a real estate lawyer once you've had a chance to thoroughly inspect the house and the appraisal has been completed. If you are taking out a loan for the home, your lender will schedule the closing for you.

Meet with the escrow agent or real estate attorney to sign the closing papers. If you're closing the sale through a lawyer, his office will prepare the closing papers and everyone will meet at once at his office. Closings at title companies are handled differently; the escrow agent will prepare the closing papers and the buyer and seller don't have to come in at the same time -- but the sale isn't considered complete and the documents can't be recorded until everyone has signed the papers.


  • If you want the option of renegotiating the sales price based on a low appraised amount,you'll want to include that stipulation in the purchase and sale agreement.
  • Real estate agents sometimes have an inside track on private listings, also called "pocket listings." These are properties that the owners actively want to sell but they don't want to be listed on the state's multiple listing service. If you don't find the property you're looking for, ask a real estate agent if she knows of any pocket listings in your preferred neighborhood or price range.


About the Author

Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images