Buying homes under the radar

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

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

"I looked at easily 30 properties with different Realtors, different companies," Abrahamson said.

Then he found his dream home, only problem was that it wasn't for sale. His real estate agent 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 Grunnet said the combination of low inventory, high rents and low interest rates, as well as a lack of development 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?" Grunnet said.

Homeowners are responding. Cindy Holby hadn't wanted the hassle of putting her house on the market and when her neighbor made an offer she couldn't refuse, she didn't have to deal with the typical drama of selling.

"Having to keep you house clean and having to, you know, vacate it when somebody wants to see it and just living under that pressure," Holby said. "It's just, it's not fun."

Brandon DeSimone is a national real estate expert. He said while you may end up paying a bit of a premium to convince the owner to sell, you won't end up stuck in a bidding war.

"They can actually get in under the radar of 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.

Holby said she never would have made the move is she hadn't been asked.

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

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

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

Buying off market can also save on Realtor fees if you approach the owner on your own and try to get them to sell. However, depending on state laws, you may have to bring in a real estate attorney to draft the necessary documents before you can seal the deal.