Home buyers making offers before houses even hit market


All across America, Realtors are knocking on doors and making cold calls to put their customers into houses that aren't even on the market yes. And as the Houston real estate market continues to boom, it looks to be a trend that'll continue to grow.

Jason Abrahamson had been searching for a home for three frustrating months.

"I looked at easily 30 properties," home buyer Jason Abrahamson said.

Then he found his dream home. The problem? It wasn't for sale. But his Realtor changed that with a knock on the door.

"I was very excited to find out the seller was willing to sell the unit after putting in the offer," Abrahamson said.

Realtor Joe Grunnett says the combination of low inventory, high rent and low interest rates in the last four years is forcing Realtors to get creative.

"Door knocking, making cold calls, sending out direct mails, sending personal letters to sellers. You know, are you open to selling if I have the right buyer?" Grunnett said.

And homeowners are responding. Cindy Holby didn't want the hassle of putting her house on the market. When her neighbor made an offer, she couldn't refuse.

"Keep your options open and see what they have to say. I mean, you can always say no," homeowner Cindy Holby said.

Brendon Desimone is a national real estate expert and columnist for zillow.com. He says while you may end up paying a bit of a premium to convince the owner to sell, you won't end up in a bidding war.

"They can actually get in under the radar of all the other buyers and scoop up a home without having to go through the competitive bidding process," Desimone said.

But he warns, before you let a Realtor through your front door, make sure he's legit and has an actual interested buyer.

"Agents are out there, desperate for real estate listings and they will just send out blind letters to a whole bunch of people, trying to get someone who might be interested to actually give them the listing," Desimone said.

He suggests you ask questions and make sure the buyer is qualified before taking the next steps. A simple bank letter can do that.

As for Abrahamson, he's glad his home's former owners said yes.

"I was very excited. Pretty much no strings attached. It was great," he said.

Buying off market can also help save on Realtor fees, that's if you approach the owner on your own and try to get them to sell. You'll still be responsible though for closing loan costs, and title fees.

Find Jeff on Facebook at ABC13JeffEhling or on Twitter at @jeffehlingabc13

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