Someone Wants to Buy My House, But It’s Not for Sale. Should I Take the Offer?
It’s a hot market out there, and many homebuyers are getting desperate. In fact, with rising prices (up 12% over the year!) and very few listings to choose from, some are seeking out homes that are not for sale.
If you’re in an in-demand area, you might be contacted by one of these hopeful homebuyers — or possibly their agent.
Should you accept their offer? What should you think about when making your decision?
5 questions you’ll want to ask yourself before making any moves if your home is not for sale
1. Is the price right?
You’ll want to weigh the offer in relation to two things: Your current mortgage balance and other recent home sales in the area.
Comparing the offer to your mortgage balance shows you how much you stand to profit. Take the offer price, subtract your balance, and those are your potential profits from the sale. Just remember, you’ll have moving costs, repairs, and various other expenses if you sell, too. These will vary depending on your area and the condition of the home.
You should also take a look at recent home sales. What price did they sell for? Pay careful attention to homes that are the same size and age as yours. These will be a good barometer of how fair the offer is. To do this part, you’ll probably want to enlist a local real estate agent. They can dig in and analyze recent sales in your community.
2. What would the money mean for you?
Once you know what your profits would be, think about what that cash would do for your household. Would it let you pay off credit card debt? Would it give you the funds you need for a newer, larger house? Could it ease financial stress a bit? If it’s money your family could use — and it’s a bigger profit than you’d stand to gain in other circumstances — then it might be worth consideration.
If it’s not necessarily money you need — then think about what you’d do with the cash. Could you invest it? Put it toward retirement? Make sure there’s some sort of benefit for you and your family before making such a big change when your home is not for sale.
3. Do you have somewhere to live?
Selling your house means you’ll have to move. Do you know where you’d go? Though buying another home is an option, with the supply shortage currently going on, it might take a while — and cost a pretty penny.
Would you be willing to rent a property or live with family for a while? What about staying in an Airbnb for a few months? You’ll need to explore your options — as well as the costs of them — before accepting any offers if your home is not for sale.
4. Are you married to your area?
Moving also means leaving your neighborhood — not to mention the people, businesses, and schools that surround it. What does that mean for your morning commute? Would your children have to change schools or could they still attend their current ones once you move?
Generally speaking, if you’re retired or don’t have kids, it’s probably a bit easier to up and move. If you’re still working or have school-aged children, there’s a lot to consider here — both logistically (getting to and from work/school) and quality of life-wise.
5. What’s the offer look like?
The price isn’t all you’ll want to look at when your home is not for sale and you get an unsolicited offer. You’ll also want to consider things like the buyer’s contingencies, closing date, preapproval status, and more to gauge how difficult the transaction will be.
First up, is the offer contingent on anything? Is the buyer wanting a home inspection before they’ll follow through? If so, you might find yourself making major repairs (and paying for them). Is there an appraisal or financing contingency in place? Both of these can throw off the sale at a later date, too — or even reduce the profits you stand to gain.
You should also look at the closing date. How soon is it? Are they flexible with the date? Would they let you rent the home back for a few weeks or months afterward to give you time to move? You need all this information before you can properly evaluate an offer — no matter how high it may be.
Get help from a pro when your home is not for sale — yet
You shouldn’t go through this process alone. If you’ve been contacted by a homebuyer, get in touch with a local real estate agent who knows the area. They can negotiate on your behalf and ensure you get a profitable, flexible deal that works in your favor. (They can also help you spot a bad deal, which is just as important!)
And if you do opt to sell and buy a new home, make sure you get prequalified for your mortgage loan before starting the house hunt (or consider our Approved to Move program). This will give you a competitive edge over other buyers and help you stand out.