Can I Find Properties Before They Are Listed

There is another category of property that, though rarer, offers potentially greater financial opportunities to you, the buyer. This is a property that has not yet come onto the market.

Sellers have a world of reasons for selling. Sometimes it is a well-thought-out decision determined over a long period of time. In other cases a sudden event such as job change, illness, or death may cause a quick decision to sell.

Regardless of how it happens, there is always a period of time between when sellers make the decision (or are close to making the decision) and when they actually list the property with an agent. I call this the "golden time."

How Do I Find "Golden Time" Homes?

During the golden time, the sellers are willing to sell, but haven't yet fully committed to an agent or anyone else. If you can come in at that point with a reasonable offer, the sellers are very likely to accept. They will be thinking about all the hassles of selling that you will save them. No agents to deal with. No commission to pay. No time spent showing the property and waiting for buyers. You're a lifesaver if you come during that golden period.

Unfortunately, the golden time lasts only a few days to a few weeks. Also unfortunately, it's very hard to learn about sellers who are in that golden time. Often it's only through friends or acquaintances or associates at work that you learn that Jim is considering selling his home or Mary is planning to list her property.

When you do learn of this, however, act immediately. Contact Mary or Jim that very day or evening at the latest. Tell them you are actively looking to buy a home and would very much like to consider theirs. Will they just let you come over and look?

Then go look.

Chances are the house will be in a terrible location or will be too small or too big or too crazy. But every once in a while, it's just right. When it is, strike a deal right there and then.

Presumably by this time you know what houses are going for in the area and you know what a good price is. Come to terms and have your agent or attorney handle the paperwork later.

By getting to a house before it gets listed or goes up for sale, you can often save a lot of money and get superior terms. (Of course, you can hire an agent on a fee-for-service basis to handle all the paperwork.)

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