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    It’s a strange market out there, and many homebuyers are getting desperate. In fact, with rising prices and very few listings to choose from, some are contacting homeowners whose homes 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?

    Why Would Buyers Make Unsolicited Purchase Offers?

    There are numerous motivations behind a buyer’s decision to initiate an unsolicited offer. For investors, the appeal often lies in perceiving your property as a valuable asset for potential resale. Investors typically seek out affordable properties or those in distressed conditions, as these present opportunities for cost-effective acquisition, renovation, and subsequent profitable resale.

    Regular buyers, on the other hand, may resort to unsolicited offers when they have faced challenges in their house-hunting endeavors. In competitive real estate markets, attractive homes tend to be swiftly claimed, leaving prospective buyers starting from scratch in their search.

    Unwillingness to wait for prime properties to appear on the market is a common factor that prompts buyers to submit unsolicited offers. It’s worth noting that an increasing number of homes change hands in response to such off-market purchase proposals.

    Are Unsolicited Offers a Cause for Concern?

    It’s natural to be skeptical about unsolicited offers, but it’s important to recognize that the majority of these offers are not fraudulent. In fact, engaging with such offers can sometimes lead to profitable outcomes. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to exercise caution and differentiate between genuine offers and potential scams.

    One red flag to watch for is the payment method proposed in the offer. Offers involving an upfront cash payment often fall significantly below the fair market value, typically ranging from 70-80% of the property’s actual worth. Accepting such an offer may result in missing out on a considerably higher sum.

    Another way to assess the legitimacy of an offer is to research the company or individual making the purchase proposal. Investigate their reputation, reviews, and feedback from other sellers, particularly when dealing with investment firms or “we buy houses for cash” companies with an online presence. If you’re uncertain, seek guidance from a qualified real estate agent who can determine the legitimacy of these offers.

    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!)

    • Don’t feel pressured to make a decision immediately: Take your time to carefully consider the offer and gather all the necessary information before making a decision.
    • Don’t hesitate to counteroffer: If the offer is not to your liking, you have the right to counteroffer with a price and terms that better suit your needs.
    • Be prepared to walk away: If the offer is not satisfactory or if the negotiations reach an impasse, don’t be afraid to walk away. There may be other opportunities in the future that better align with your goals.

    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 Win theBid program). This will give you a competitive edge over other buyers and help you stand out.

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