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  1. Blog
  2. How to find houses for sale before they hit the market
Home buying tips & advice
06 May 2022

How to find houses for sale before they hit the market

GetAgent Team

Table of contents

  1. 1. Why are some houses sold off market?
  2. 2. The benefit of off-market properties
  3. 3. Three tips to help you find off-market properties

Unfortunately, the state of the housing market means it’s not easy for buyers to climb their way up the property ladder. Houses are in high demand, getting snapped up as soon as they hit the market, and sometimes even before that.

According to the estate agent Hamptons, more than 37,000 homes were sold off-market in the first three months of 2020 — the highest quarterly number recorded since their records began in 2007.

An off-market property is one that hasn’t been listed for sale through the usual channels. Although you may have more difficulty finding the elusive off-market home, getting an early lead on other buyers gives you an edge that makes the journey to homeownership less stressful.

Continue reading to find out more about off-market properties, their benefits and most importantly, tips on how you can find one.

Why are some houses sold off market?

There are several reasons why sellers may choose to skip listing their home for sale and sell their house off the market, including the following:

  • They don’t have the time or desire to make their homes look showing-ready. Selling houses through traditional channels may require sellers to fix up their property, including touching up paint, decluttering and other maintenance projects. Some sellers would rather not put in this effort, even if it means selling for less.
  • They aren’t in a rush to move, but they’re open to it. Some homeowners don’t necessarily need to sell, but they might be tempted to if the right offer came in ,particularly in a hot housing market.
  • They want to maintain their privacy. High-profile homeowners, and those who crave privacy in general, might want to keep their home away from the prying eyes of neighbours and the general public. As well as the marketing required to sell a property, sellers have to deal with open houses and showings, which can be uncomfortable. Selling properties off-market reduces the buyer pool significantly, ensuring greater privacy.
  • They want to create a sense of exclusivity. Some homesellers believe that creating an air of mystery and exclusivity around their property will lead to higher, more serious offers. On the flip side of the coin, other sellers believe the competitiveness of a listed home does more to drive up the house price.
  • They want to avoid gossip. Transactions often take place off-market for unfortunate reasons, most notably the ‘three Ds’: Divorce, Death and Debt. Sellers may not want to announce to the world that they’re going through a tough time and choose to sell off-market instead.

The benefit of off-market properties

For most buyers, the greatest benefit of buying an off-market house is that they avoid much of the stress of a traditional real estate transaction. As we mentioned above, we’re currently in a seller’s market. When trying to buy a listed property, you could be competing with a dozen other offers. You may be forced to up your offer to stand a chance of securing the house.

In a nutshell, buying off-market means less competition and therefore, a greater chance that your offer will be accepted.

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Three tips to help you find off-market properties

Below, we’ve outlined three top tips to help you find houses before they hit the market.

1. Build relationships with estate agents

Finding an off-market property has a lot to do with the people you know. Forging relationships with estate agents means they will be more likely to tell you of any properties that are about to come to market.

To build a relationship with estate agents, consider the following:

  • Visiting them in person
  • Sharing your property needs with them so they fully understand your requirements
  • Checking in regularly (a weekly phone call or email)
  • Demonstrating that you’re in a strong position to buy by sending them your mortgage agreement in principle. Agents will feel more confident recommending you to prospective sellers when they’re certain about your ability to buy.

2. Ask friends and family

Most off-market sellers will circulate the message that they’re selling via word of mouth. Again, it’s all about who you know. So, turn your family and friends into property scouts and tell those around you to keep a lookout for any suitable properties about to come on the market.

If your friends are contractors — even better. Contractors can be a great way to find off-market deals because they’re usually working with property owners. If someone is preparing their property to be sold through repairs, they might share that information with the contractor, who could pass it on to you. This insider knowledge will allow you to get in touch with the seller and state your interest before the house goes to market.

3. Turn to off-market buying agents and online resources

If you don’t want to put the energy into sourcing off-market properties, you can hire someone who does. An off-market buying agent will have a vast network they can plug into to scope out the best properties before they hit the market.

In addition, there are websites that can help put you in touch with off-market sellers. For example, Boomin’s matchmaker service helps buyers connect with homeowners who aren’t yet on the market.

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